Get to the Good Hotel First If Litigating Against Skadden Arps

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The law firms of Skadden Arps and Quinn Emanuel are on opposite sides of the Barbie-Bratz doll lawsuit, which is being tried in Riverside, California.  As I can tell you from personal experience, by far the best place to stay in Riverside is the Mission Inn, partly because it is a historic landmark and partly because the options in Riverside are few.

According to the WSJ and Daily Journal, lawyers from both firms planned to stay at the Mission Inn and use it as trial HQ.  When Quinn lawyers tried to book rooms, though, they found out Skadden had gotten there first.

True to its reputation for ruthlessness, Skadden had not only booked first but had the hotel sign a contract precluding it from renting rooms to anyone from Quinn Emanuel.  Skadden said it was concerned that confidential material might inadvertently be delivered to the wrong room, based on an incident where a package was inadvertently sent to a Skadden lawyer.  That lawyer, of course, took the package directly to opposing counsel — which actually is required under California ethics rules — but apparently Skadden does not trust Quinn lawyers to do the same.

Reportedly, Quinn asked the judge to declare the contract unenforceable, but he declined.  It appears that the contract did not completely exclude Quinn from the hotel, but they had to reserve through a third party rather than directly through the inn.  Not sure how that protects confidentiality, but that was the report.

Skadden partner Tom Nolan claimed that "exclusion contracts" of this kind are common.  (To my knowledge, we’ve never used one.)

Quinn lawyers say they are perfectly happy at the Marriott anyway.

Link: Law Blog –