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Davis Polk Is Found Not Liable to Kaloma Cardwell after Jeh Johnson Complained 3 Weeks

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Jan 29 –  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

Jeh Johnson of Paul Weiss, for David Polk: They have withdrawn the so-called Black Restaurant allegation.

Jump cut to November 17, 2023 when 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."

On December 5, Judge Woods ordered "Defendants' requests for the exclusion of certain of Plaintiff's witnesses and for the determination of a trial clock on each side are granted in part and denied in part. The following Plaintiff witnesses are excluded from trial: Neil Barr, Gar Bason Jr., Bruce Birenboim, Susanna Buergel, Gina Caruso, Michael Davis, Martin Dellacona, Charles Duggan, Kathleen Ferrell, Michael Flynn, Arthur Golden, Monica Holland, Larry Jacobs, James McClammy, Byron Rooney, James Rouhandeh, and Jill Sterner."

On December 6 Judge Woods ordered: "ORDER. The Court has been advised that a large number of juries are scheduled to be selected on January 8, 2024, the trial date for this matter. Given that fact, and the anticipated length of the trial in this matter, the Court believes that a jury questionnaire will need to be administered to the venire on January 2, 2024."

On December 21, Judge Woods held a telephone conference ruling on motions in limine. Among many other things, he ruled that Davis Polk client identities are not admissible. But other things are, on the issue of retaliation.

On December 26, defense counsel pointedly wrote in that "we contacted Plaintiff's counsel today three times - at 11:29 am, 5:03 pm and 8:08 pm - to ascertain Plaintiff's position and have received no response." So, no modifications to the jury questionnaire...

On January 3, 2024 the submission about jury selection reflected that out of 26 disputed jurors Davis Polk was the objector as to fully 22 of them.

On January 9, Cardwell's counsel was examining a witness now at Cadwalader, Inner City Press live tweeted, threadette here:

OK - now in Davis Polk discrimination trial, Kaloma Cardwell's lawyer is questioning a witness who trained him (before leaving for the Cadwalader firm).

Cardwell's lawyer: What is this?

Witness: It's an email that I wrote. Cardwell's lawyer: How do you recognize it? Witness: Because I'm looking at it? I wrote it.

Cardwell's lawyer: Admit PTX 209 into evidence. Jen Johnson: No objection. Judge: Admitted.

 Now with jury out of courtroom on break, Judge is telling plaintiff's lawyer about the numbering of exhibits, and refreshing recollection.  Now a full break is called.

January 10 ended with counsel for Davis Polk asking for, and Judge Woods encouraging, faster disclosure of the identity, order and anticipated length of testimony of witnesses by plaintiff's counsel, as well as a list of exhibits by 9 pm.

Jump cut to January 29 - after three weeks of trial, the jury found Davis Polk not liable to Cardwell, 13 answers of "No."

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


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