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5/24/2019 Avenatti Booted From Class Counsel In Surgical Gown Suit - Law360

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Avenatti Booted From Class Counsel In Surgical Gown


Suit
By Emily Field

Law360 (May 23, 2019, 4:49 PM EDT) -- A California federal judge on Thursday removed embattled
attorney Michael Avenatti from his role representing a class of buyers suing Kimberly-Clark
over allegedly defective surgical gowns, saying that his criminal charges of bank and wire fraud
aren't likely to be resolved anytime soon.

U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee said she has considerable doubt that Avenatti can adequately
represent the interests of the class as he defends himself against charges that he embezzled client
money and attempted to extort $20 million from Nike. Therefore, removing him from the position
would be proper, even if he didn't consent to it, the judge said.

In his stead, the judge appointed William Hearon of William C. Hearon PA and Ahmed Ibrahim of AI
Law as class counsel, over the objections of the receiver for the now-defunct Eagan Avenatti law
firm.

Though the receiver, Brian Weiss, had argued that Ibrahim was conflicted by his representation of
another plaintiff in a similar suit against Kimberly-Clark Corp., Avenatti told Law360 on Thursday he's
pleased with the ruling.

"I requested to be removed weeks ago out of an abundance of caution and I am very pleased the
court agreed to appoint Mr. Ibrahim and Mr. Hearon in my place," Avenatti said. "It not only was my
preference but more importantly, it is what is best for the class."

The dispute centered on control of a case first filed by buyers of the allegedly defective surgical
gowns in 2014, accusing Kimberly-Clark and spinoff Halyard Health Inc. of falsely representing the
gowns' effectiveness in blocking the spread of pathogens. A California federal jury in 2017 called for
Kimberly-Clark and Halyard to pay $450 million in damages, but the judge later cut it to $20 million.
The appeal challenging that ruling is pending at the Ninth Circuit.

After Avenatti was charged in New York with trying to extort $20 million from Nike and in California
with embezzling $1.6 million in client money and bank fraud, Weiss sought to replace him with Frank
Sims & Stolper LLP in the gown class action. Frank Sims includes former Eagan Avenatti attorneys
Jason Frank and Scott Sims, who have battled Avenatti in their former firm's bankruptcy matter.

Frank Sims declined to comment beyond congratulating William C. Hearon. The other parties didn't
immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Weiss is represented by Jack A. Reitman of Landau Gottfried & Berger LLP.

Kimberly-Clark is represented by Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., Julian W. Poon and Theane Evangelis of
Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP. Halyard is represented by Donald B. Verrilli Jr. and Daniel P. Collins of
Munger Tolles & Olson LLP. Both companies are also represented by Alexander G. Calfo, Julia
Romano, Chilton D. Varner, Stephen B. Devereaux and Madison H. Kitchens of King & Spalding LLP.

The case is Bahamas Surgery Center LLC v. Kimberly-Clark Corp. et al., case number 2:14-cv-08390,
in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
https://www.law360.com/articles/1162715/print?section=california 1/2
5/24/2019 Avenatti Booted From Class Counsel In Surgical Gown Suit - Law360

--Additional reporting by Andrew Strickler. Editing by Orlando Lorenzo.

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