Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Coke's Quinn Emanuel Lawyers Try to Block Screening of Anti-Coke Documentary
By Alison Frankel
January 19, 2010

Just a few months after Dole's lawyers at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher sued documentary filmmakers who accused the company of human rights abuses, a similar scenario is playing out for Coca-Cola.

Last week, Coke counsel Faith Gay of Quinn Emanuel Urquhard Oliver & Hedges sent letters to the National Film Board of Canada, the Paris-based film exhibitor Alliance, and Montreal's Cinema Politica (the letters are here, here, and here), advising them not to proceed with planned showings of a new documentary called The Coca-Cola Case.

Unlike Gibson in the Dole flap, Quinn has not filed suit against the filmmakers, who trailed plaintiffs lawyers Terry Collingsworth and Daniel Kovilik as they battled Coke over its alleged role in the fatal clampdown on union organizing efforts at two Coke bottling plants in South America. Instead, Quinn's letter to the three exhibitors warns that the film is defamatory, and alleges that the plaintiffs lawyers violated a confidentiality order in talking to filmmakers about their mediation with Coke, which, Quinn claims, "is wrongfully and inaccurately described in the film."

As we've previously reported, Coke has gotten the suits filed by Collingsworth and his colleagues thrown out in both Florida and New York. Most recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld the dismissal of three Alien Tort Statute cases against Coke and its bottlers. "All of these lawsuits were thrown out in toto, and their dismissals were affirmed by the Second and Eleventh Circuits," Quinn partner Gay told the Litigation Daily in an e-mail statement. "There was no evidence of participation or even knowledge by the The Coca Cola Company [of] the alleged anti-union activities."We left messages for plaintiffs lawyer Collingsworth but didn't hear back.

Pat Dillon-More, a spokesperson for the film's producers, declined to comment on the Quinn Emanuel letters. But one of the exhibitors who received a letter, Cinema Politica, said it will continue with plans to show the documentary at college campuses in Canada.Dole ultimately dropped the litigation against the makers of the movie Bananas, which makes allegations similar to those thrown out by a Los Angeles state court judge last year after she found the plaintiffs lawyers had committed fraud.