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Davis Polk Was Sued By Kaloma Cardwell, Jeh Johnson Complained, But Trial Approaches

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Nov 17–  Kaloma Cardwell filed a racial discrimination case against his employer, the "white shoe" law firm of Davis Polk and Wardwell.

He'd been employed there from September 2014 through August 2018, then alleged that "defendants quarterbacked and permitted a playbook that marginalized, discriminated against and retaliated against Plaintiff, the only Black male associate in the Davis Polk's 2014 associate class." Then there was a delay in discovery.

 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Gregory H. Woods held a proceeding on July 28, 2022. Inner City Press covered it.  

On March 22, 2021 on very little notice, Judge Woods held another proceeding. Inner City Press covered it. The defendant's lawyer Jeh Johnson was complaining that Kaloma Cardwell had declined to show up for his deposition, despite they said their promises to limit access to the transcript. Cardwell's lawyer said the defense does not have an automatic right to a "fourteen hour deposition."

Jump cut to February 16, 2023, when Judge Wood denied some claims, but allowed others to proceed: MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER re: [220] MOTION for Summary Judgment . filed by John Bick, Brian Wolfe, Thomas Reid, Daniel Brass, Sophia Hudson, Davis Polk and Wardwell LLP. ENDORSEMENT: For the reasons stated above, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. First, Defendants' motion is granted as to Plaintiff's aiding-and-abetting claimscounts six, eight, ten, and twelve. Second, Defendants' motion is granted as to Plaintiff's discrimination-based claimscounts one, three, five, and nine. Third, Defendants' motion is denied as to Plaintiff's retaliation-based claimscounts two, four, seven, and eleven. However, for the reasons explained above, because William Chudd, Sophia Hudson, Harold Birnbaum, Brian Wolfe, and John H. Butler did not have requisite knowledge to take retaliatory action against Plaintiff, they are not subject to liability on these (or any) claims and will be dismissed from the case. Finally, Defendants' motion is granted as to Plaintiff's claimed frontpay and backpay damages but denied as to Plaintiff's claimed compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorneys' fees, and further relief. The Clerk of Court is directed to terminate the motion pending at Dkt. No. 220 and to remove William Chudd, Sophia Hudson, Harold Birnbaum, Brian Wolfe, and John H. Butler from the caption of this case. William Chudd, Harold Birnbaum, John H. Butler., William Chudd, Sophia Hudson, Brian Wolfe, Harold Birnbaum and John H. Butler terminated. (Signed by Judge Gregory H. Woods on 2/16/2023)"

Previously, Jeh Johnson appeared. Inner City Press live tweeted, here:

 The gloves are off - Davis Polk is asking for sanctions against Cardwell / lawyer David Jeffries for alleging that evaluation of plaintiff was back-dated, says the amended complaint contains "conspiracy theories."

 Davis Polk's lawyer derides Cardwell for claiming that a Davis Polk person asked him for "a black restaurant recommendation in Harlem" - says it was for a restaurant "near the Apollo Theater." Wants Rule 11 sanctions for baseless allegations. "Over."

Cardwell's lawyer: Rule 11 is not the appropriate vehicle to address this issue. Defendants told is the issue could be addressed by amending the complaint and we did that. We got 99,000 pages in January. 40,000 in December.

Judge Woods: Counsel for Plaintiff, you're in the Safe Harbor period. The Advisory Committee notes specify candor in acknowledging a lack of factual support.

Jeh Johnson of Paul Weiss, for David Polk: They have withdrawn the so-called Black Restaurant allegation.

Judge Woods: So I understand the Safe Harbor has expired and the motion can be brought. So we'll have motion practice. 

Counsel for Cardwell: We will withdraw.

Judge Woods: Withdraw from Second Amended Complaint Para 408, 409 and 410 & the 449 last sentence about Ms Hudson asking for a recommendation for a "Black restaurant"?

Counsel for Cardwell: Yes, Judge

Jump cut to November 23, 2022, when Judge Woods ruled: "ORDER granting in part and denying in part [296] Letter Motion to Seal. In sum, Defendants' renewed motion to seal is granted in part. All of the information highlighted in yellow in all of the exhibits attached to Ms. Buergel's declaration may properly remain sealed with one (technical) exception... The information highlighted in red in exhibits 30, 38, and 39 may remain sealed as well. However, Defendants have failed to show that the information highlighted in red in exhibits 12, 13, 14, 17, 40, and 41 may properly remain sealed. Accordingly, Defendants are ordered, no later than fourteen days from the date of this order, to either submit additional explanation as to why the redactions purportedly to protect attorney-client privilege in exhibits 12, 13, 14, 17, 40, and 41 are necessary to protecting that privilege, or to refile those exhibits with only third-party names and not client information redacted. Finally, Plaintiff's request to this Court that Defendants be required to refile new versions of Dkt. No. 223-23 and Dkt. No. 256-24 is denied. These determinations are made only with respect to the information at issue at this stage of the case and on this record.  SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge Gregory H. Woods on 11/23/2022)."

On November 17, 2023 a lengthy pre-trial conference was held. Inner City Press went. Davis Polk was seeking to exclude what it said where late- or non-disclosed witnesses. Cardwell's lawyer asked until December 11 to brief but that amount of time was denied. Then this order: "ORDER. As stated on the record during the conference held on November 17, 2023, Defendants move under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 to exclude 11 of Plaintiff's listed trial witnesses for failure to timely disclose them under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26. See Dkt. No. 334 at 35 & n.3 (listing 11 witnesses). As requested by Plaintiff, any additional written opposition by Plaintiff in response to the motion must be filed within a week of this order, or by November 24, 2023. The Court will hold a pretrial conference on November 27, 2023 at 2:30 p.m. to continue to discuss the parties' witness lists and related matters. At the conference, Defendants may inform the Court if they wish to submit a written reply in response to Plaintiff's opposition brief, if any, or if they wish to be heard during oral argument during the conference. (HEREBY ORDERED by Judge Gregory H. Woods)."

 The case is Cardwell v. Davis Polk and Wardwell LLP et al, 19cv10256 (Woods) 


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