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An report on says that the Los Angeles law firm Reyes and Barsoum LLP launched a California state suit accusing Knox Ricksen LLP, its opposing counsel in a workers’ compensation dispute, of hacking into a computer network and illegally downloading confidential client information so it could gain an edge in the underlying case. The complaint alleges Knox Ricksen partner Eric Danowitz and associate Daniel Sharp violated California’s Computer Crime Law and business and professions code by executing a scheme in which they wrongfully obtained 2,000 case materials containing Reyes and Barsoum’s privileged documents. The attorneys allegedly gave the materials to two other Knox Ricksen attorneys, Russell Ching and Stella Mendoza, who were trying to win a discovery motion to compel deposition answers and production of documents in a workers’ compensation case pending in Marina del Rey, California.

A Workers’ Compensation Judge later found the documents to be protected as privileged, noted ethical concerns and ordered the immediate return of the materials, according to allegations of the suit. “Plaintiff asked how they obtained possession of their attorney privileged documents and confidential communications. Defendants…..attempted to perpetuate and conceal a falsehood on the court,” the suit alleges. “Under further questioning, for example whether someone gave them to you, the defendants said they didn’t know. Later, the defendants stated they were found on the Internet. When asked how they were found on the Internet, the defendants [sic] attorneys, Ching and Mendoza, spontaneously returned to their statement of lack of any knowledge.”

In February 2013, defendants allegedly hacked into a password-protected computer network owned and operated by HQ Sign-Up Services Inc., which stored privileged and confidential documents for Reyes and Barsoum.

After a judge in the workers’ compensation case allegedly ordered the return of the documents, the defendants in the civil suite allegedly filed a petition for the judge’s removal, according to the complaint. A workers’ compensation appeals board denied the request, however, and a similar writ to the court of appeals was also dismissed.

The complaint alleges that, “on November 24, 2015,” the defendants were admonished by another judge who ordered them not to use plaintiff’s intake forms, because they were privileged documents, as ruled by the judge in the workers’ compensation case. The suit further claims the defendants still haven’t turned over the materials at issue. Furthermore, they allegedly admitted to Reyes and Barsoum that they have obtained more than 30,000 attorney files, documents and property of the plaintiff and other lawyers from the HQSU website.

“Proud of the fruits of their scheme and business practices defendant, Danowitz even showed plaintiff’s [sic] a video of how easy it was to steal, hack and illegally download paintiff’s [sic] attorney privileged documents and confidential communications and property, conceding that their conduct was an intentional, unethetical [sic], unauthorized accessing, taking, use, disclosure and dissemination of plaintiff’s attorney privileged [materials]……..Subsequently, the plaintiff’s [sic] have discoved [sic] that defendants have shared its files and property with other law firms.”

The suit seeks unspecified damages, an order restraining defendants from accessing plaintiff’s privileged electronic communications, an order that defendants return all documents they allegedly illegally downloaded and other relief.

The case is Reyes and Barsoum LLP v. Knox Ricksen LLP et al., case number BC572975, in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles. The lawsuit and this report are allegations of one party in litigation and cannot be assumed to be true until proven in a court of law.