Heavyweight litigator Paul Clement maintains ties with clients at his former law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, even after he came out publicly on the firm’s stance against gun rights cases.
Clement’s new company, Clement & Murphy, filed an appearance last week on behalf of Tyson Foods Inc. He previously represented the global food processor while a partner at Kirkland, which Clement left this year when the company decided to no longer represent gun rights advocates.
The former solicitor general, known for taking on high-profile appeal and Supreme Court cases, is defending Tyson in a lawsuit brought by the estates of workers who contracted Covid and died. This is at least the second time that Clément continues to work on a case related to his former firm.
Clement & Murphy also continues to represent 3M in appeals related to a massive product liability class action suit involving earplugs that the manufacturer’s subsidiary sold to the US military. Kirkland represents 3M as it attempts to resolve these cases in bankruptcy proceedings rather than Florida-based multi-district litigation. Clement appeared last month in a new appeal related to this case.
Taken together, the portrayals indicate Clement has ties to Kirkland or his clients, even after his high-profile exit from the company in June. Clement and Erin Murphy – who also left Kirkland to launch the new firm – criticized Kirkland’s decision to drop the gun business in a June Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “The law firm that tired of winning.”
The couple said at the time that their decision to leave Kirkland was to uphold their belief that lawyers should not let unpopular clients go.
“We could not abandon our clients simply because their positions are unpopular in certain circles,” Clement and Murphy wrote. “Some may find this notion strange or quaint. Many companies drop customers or switch suppliers as it suits them. .
Kirkland Chairman Jon Ballis said at the time that the company would work with Clement and his colleagues on “matters not involving the Second Amendment.”
Clement did not respond to requests for comment. A Kirkland spokesperson declined to comment.
Tyson and 3M
Tyson Foods has faced a slew of wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits related to its factory operations throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Clement has led the company’s appeals against various court rulings, generally arguing that food processing plants have remained open due to an executive order from the Trump administration.
Clement lost appeals based on this argument in the Fifth Circuit and Eighth Circuit Courts of Appeals.
Last week he signed an appeal in a similar lawsuit filed in June last year by the estates of two former Tyson workers. The appeal, like others he has argued, is about whether the case should be heard in Iowa state court or federal court.
Meanwhile, Clement continues to represent 3M in appeals related to allegedly defective military earplugs. The lawsuit became the largest mass tort case in US history, with more than 300,000 claims filed alleging the earplugs caused hearing loss.
He has represented 3M in appeals related to these claims for at least the past year. Last month, Clement appealed an order from the Florida federal judge overseeing the multidistrict litigation, which a plaintiff in a Minnesota state case said barred the company from “religating” certain matters.
This summer, Clement’s firm also signed a gun rights appeal in New York, trying to overturn a judge’s decision to challenge a New York law passed last year that allows for lawsuits. against manufacturers and sellers of firearms.
Clement & Murphy lists 11 lawyers on its website, almost all of whom were from Kirkland, including partners Bartow Farr, Andrew Lawrence and Matthew Rowen.