Over the years, the law firm of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd and its attorneys have reaped multi-billion dollar awards from companies and in turn doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to political candidates.
Earlier this month, U.S. Chief Judge Ruben Castillo found a new use for the California firm’s cash – paying sanctions to Boeing for bringing a frivolous lawsuit based on the testimony of a false witness.
The original lawsuit, filed in 2009, accused Boeing of withholding information concerning delays in its production of the 787 Dreamliner that caused its stock to dip, court records show.
The case relied on the testimony of a confidential project chief engineer, who in actuality turned out to be a contract employee hired to perform low-level engineering work on a different airplane months after the events at issue in this case, according to Castillo's Aug. 21 order.
Castillo said Robbins Geller "counsel failed to conduct a proper investigation before filing the original complaint ... blindly relied on their investigators and ... made repeated misrepresentations to the court as to the strength and truth of the confidential source’s allegations."
“This court is always reluctant to sanction a member of the bar,” Castillo wrote. “It gives the court no pleasure to issue sanctions; nevertheless, the court cannot ignore plaintiffs’ counsel’s repeated misconduct throughout this litigation.”
He ordered the firm to pay Boeing’s attorneys fees and other costs. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals had remanded the case to Castillo to determine the sanctions matter.
As pointed out in Castillo’s order, this isn’t the first time the firm has been singled out for misconduct.
In May 2012, Legal Newsline reported that U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush, of the Eastern District of Washington, warned Robbins Geller he would be sanctioning the firm, along with attorneys Joy Bull and John Grant.
The two attorneys had led a class action against the student-travel company Ambassadors Group.
Finding that the law firm had purposely padded its hours and expense sheets in the case, Quackenbush asked Bull and Grant to show why class members should pay for expenses that included a $402 dinner, consisting of two $72 bottles of wine and a $60 tip for the waiter, expensive hotel rooms and two round-trip plane ticket that cost almost $4,000.
Robbins Geller has earned a reputation for securing massive awards from companies on behalf of shareholders.
For example, in the Enron Corp. securities litigation, the firm's website states "Robbins Geller attorneys and lead plaintiff the Regents of the University of California aggressively pursued numerous defendants, including many of Wall Street’s biggest banks, and successfully obtained settlements more than $7.3 billion for the benefit of investors."
Records show the firm and its attorneys also have a history of making campaign contributions to liberal candidates.
Over the past 10 years, attorneys at Robbins Geller have spent nearly $1 million in state elections alone, according to followthemoney.org.
On the federal level, Robbins Geller attorneys have pumped tens of thousands of dollars into the coffers of candidates so far in this year’s election cycle.
One of the primary beneficiaries of those donations is U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, who has received $15,600 in contributions from the firm's attorneys.
Braley, the former head of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association, is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Tom Harkin.
Earlier this year, the congressman made national media headline for his remarks at a January fundraiser in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he asked a group of trial lawyers to help keep a “farmer” (GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley) from becoming the next chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Eclipsing Braley as top recipient of Robbins Geller donations is U.S. Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., netting $26,700 from its attorneys in his 2014 re-election bid.
Since 2011, Robbins Geller has been Peters’ top contributor, supplying the former San Diego city councilman with more than $60,000 in donations, according to opensecrets.org.
Records show other candidates benefiting financially from Robbins Geller attorneys include Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, ($14,100); comedian and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., ($10,950); and Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., ($5,200).
This story was first published on LegalNewsline.com.