A federal judge today stripped Litton Industries Inc. and its attorneys of an estimated $10 million in attorneys' fees and court costs related to Litton's victory in an antitrust suit against American Telephone & Telegraph Co.
U.S. District Court Judge William Conner had pledged earlier in the proceedings to discipline Litton's lawyers, the Washington firm of Howrey and Simon, for misconduct and negligence in connection with discovery proceedings in the trial. A U.S. magistrate had found that Litton's lawyers had been guilty of "intentional misrepresentation" in responding to requests by opposing attorneys and court orders for production of interviews by Litton's house counsel with Litton employes.
Conner ruled June 4 that the law firm had concealed evidence and made false statements to the court and to AT&T's attorneys. In a detailed, 24-page decision, Conner said he would defer sanctions until the jury's verdict was given.
On June 29, after a five-month trial, a jury found AT&T guilty of anticompetitive conduct against Litton's efforts to maintain an office-telephone equipment business. AT&T was cleared of related conspiracy charges. Litton was awarded $277 million in damages.
Conner noted in his ruling today that "Litton would ordinarily be entitled by statute to an award of its reasonable costs and attorneys' fees, which presumably would run well into the eight-figure range."
Conner concluded that "after full consideration . . . depriving Litton of all costs and attorneys' fees to which it would otherwise be entitled is a sufficient punishment to deter such conduct in the future."
Conner noted that he had not complied with AT&T's urging that the lawsuit be dismissed. To do so would have represented "punishment of Litton far beyond any extent justified in light of the circumstances," he said.