Nov 9 (Reuters) - Nixon Peabody and two of its attorneys
have been sued by an Illinois technology firm claiming that the
lawyers were part of a scheme to paint company executives as
part of a international spy ring.
Filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., on Monday,
Lemko Corp and two of its executives allege that Nixon Peabody
lawyers Mark Halligan, a partner, and Deanna Swits, an
associate, falsely accused them of conspiring with a third
person to smuggle secrets about Motorola Solutions technology
The two Lemko executives are Nicholas Labun and Shaowei
Pan, former Motorola employees who founded their own cellular
technology company in 2002. The third person, Hanjuan Jin, is
an ex-Motorola software engineer who is currently on trial in
Chicago on criminal charges of stealing Motorola trade secrets
and taking them to China. The executives are not parties to the
Motorola filed its own lawsuit against Lemko and Jin in
2008 alleging that they conspired to misappropriate trade
secrets. Nixon Peabody represents Motorola in the ongoing case,
which is in Chicago federal court.
The Nov. 7 suit claims that Nixon Peabody helped the media
publish false statements that implicated Lemko in the alleged
document-stealing scheme and that tied company executives to
Jin's conduct. "Thus began the Chinese spy ring myth," the
complaint reads. The lawsuit also names Motorola and its senior
corporate counsel Jeffrey Johnson as defendants.
'ATTEMPT TO REHASH' OLD ARGUMENTS
Motorola described Lemko's lawsuit as frivolous. "Lemko's
recent action is simply an attempt to rehash some of its same
arguments in a different forum," said a spokesman for the
Nixon Peabody declined to comment on the case.
Representing Lemko Corp, Labun and Pan is Raymond Niro,
with Niro, Haller & Niro in Chicago. Niro said Wednesday that
Nixon Peabody arranged for the Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago
newspaper, to publish statements that the attorneys knew were
false about his clients. He said the damages, which include
lost business for Lemko, total about $1 billion. The paper was
not named as a defendant.
Jin was arrested in 2007 at O'Hare International Airport
and charged with attempting to steal Motorola secrets and take
them to China. If convicted, she faces up to 15 years in
prison. A naturalized U.S. citizen, she has waived her right to
a jury trial.
The case is Lemko Corp. v. Motorola Solutions, No.
2011LO11566, Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.
For the plaintiffs: Raymond Niro, Niro, Haller & Niro,
For the defendants: Not immediately available.
(Reporting by Leigh Jones)
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