Barry Cappello, the long-time Santa Barbara lawyer and formidable litigator who since late 2006 has represented Ampersand Publishing, the parent company of the Santa Barbara News-Press, has been replaced as Ampersand's attorney.
Yesterday, a notice was filed with the California Court of Appeal's office in Ventura, stating that the old-line Los Angeles law firm of O'Melveny & Meyers was now representing Ampersand and replacing Cappello in Ampersand's litigation with former News-Press editor Jerry Roberts.
Earlier this year Roberts won over $900,000 in attorneys' fees and costs from Ampersand. Ampersand has appealed that ruling and Framroze M. Virjee of the O'Melveny firm will now be handling the appeal on behalf of Ampersand. According to the law firm's website, Virjee specializes in labor and employment law.
Virgee, has represented Ampersand before. He was co-counsel along with Cappello when they successfully opposed the NLRB's petition for an injunction that would have required the News-Press to immediately reinstate eight fired reporters.
Considering how philolitigious Ampersand owner Wendy McCaw is and Cappello's "take-no-prisoners" approach to litigation, you would have thought that McCaw/Cappello would have been the perfect attorney/client match. Evidently patience or money ran out on someone's part.
Somehow, I tend to doubt it was the money that ran out.
A call I made to Cappello mid-afternoon on Friday was unreturned as of my self-imposed deadline for posting this story.
Whether Cappello will continue to represent McCaw and Ampersand in other pending litigation remains to be seen, but don't be surprised if this is merely the first domino in the stack to fall.
© 2010 by Craig Smith and www.craigsmithsblog.com