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G.M. HARSTON CONSTRUCTION CO., INC. v. CITY OF CHICAGO

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division


August 4, 2004.

G.M. HARSTON CONSTRUCTION CO., INC., and GLENN M. HARSTON, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF CHICAGO, an ILLINOIS municipal corporation, DAVID E. MALONE, JUDITH RICE, RICHARD KINCZYK, STAN KADERBEK, PAUL SPIELES, HUGH MURPHY, JOHN KOSIBA, and HARSTON/SCHWENDENER, a Joint Venture, Defendants.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES MORAN, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Harston/Schwendener, a Joint Venture (HSJV) talked to Navigant Consulting, Inc. (NCI) in June, 2003, about NCI providing expert services to HSJV in relation to this litigation. HSJV actually engaged NCI on July 30, 2003. In the meantime, on July 18, 2003, the City engaged Tucker Alan, Inc. as its expert. On January 30, 2004, NCI acquired substantially all the assets of Tucker Alan, thus creating a situation in which the experts for opposing parties were both from the same firm. HSJV proposed that there be a "Chinese wall," with dual representation, and NCI was amenable to that. The City was not. HSJV now moves to disqualify NCI as the City's expert or, in the alternative, to permit dual representation. That motion is denied.

There may well have been confidences shared by HSJV with NCI prior to the merger, but that relationship was just getting started when the conflict developed. We are mindful of the City's concerns: it is inherently difficult for two experts from the same firm to be as critical of each other and of the other's analysis as it would be for experts from different firms. And we are satisfied that NCI has maintained and can continue to maintain a separation from its engagement with the City those who had contact with HSJV and any information they may have received.

  The City has already spent almost $300,000 for expert services from the firm. The only downside to HSJV is that it will have to retain a different expert — but, as the court is somewhat painfully aware, an exploration of the merits is just now getting underway.

20040804

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