Dentists Alleging Defamation Over Mercury Claims

LAW
by Amanda Bronstad

The American Dental Association has sued a Los Angeles attorney, alleging it was defamed by his claims that the association failed to publicize the harmful effects of mercury amalgam fillings.

Shawn Khorrami has filed at least 20 lawsuits against the ADA in four states during the past year alleging that the fillings cause autism in children and that the ADA had failed to report those findings to consumers.

"It relates to his promoting himself to get new clients. He has been recklessly indifferent to the facts or, alternatively, has used falsehoods regarding his contention that dental amalgams cause health effects," said Peter Sfikas, chief counsel of Chicago-based ADA.

Khorrami is negotiating a settlement with the California Dental Association to have California dentists post a standardized warning sign in their offices notifying consumers about the potential effects of mercury amalgam fillings. Khorrami had sued the CDA for violating the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, known as Proposition 65, informing consumers of health risks caused by certain chemicals.

Khorrami said the ADA's lawsuit only proves the point in his suits against the ADA. "There is no open debate because the ADA will attack anyone who stands against them," he said.

Chance Encounters

Dan Tyukody, head of Brobeck Phleger & Harrison LLP's securities litigation practice in L.A., and Gerard Walsh, head of its local real estate practice, will leave within the month to open the first L.A. office of London-based Clifford Chance LLP.

The moves are the first to hit the L.A. office of San Francisco-based Brobeck, which has had 16 partners defect to Clifford Chance.

Clifford Chance announced on May 30 that the 16, led by former Brobeck Chairman Tower Snow, would join the firm in opening West Coast offices in San Francisco and Palo Alto, with satellite offices in L.A. and San Diego.

"For me, it's all about the future growth opportunities that Clifford Chance hopefully will afford me," Tyukody said.

Richard Odom, the Los Angeles partner who replaced Snow as Brobeck's chairman late last year, downplayed the significance of the local departures, saying they are "not a significant event for the Los Angeles office."

Brobeck now has 64 attorneys in L.A., and he said other partners should be able to take on the administrative duties of the two who are leaving.

"This has been a distraction," Odom said. "I don't see any basis for thinking that this particular set of departures would change the status quo."

He couldn't confirm if other partners or associates would leave the L.A. office, but said, "we expect it's a normal part of the process when partners leave that some associates will end up leaving."

Jolie Goldstein, director of business development for Clifford Chance in the U.S., could not say where or how large the new Clifford Chance L.A. office would be, but said it would house a "small group of partners."



Staff reporter Amanda Bronstad can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 225, or at abronstad@labusinessjournal.com.

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