DLA Piper LLP again defended its representation of a pharmaceutical company suing former DLA client Horizon Healthcare Services Inc. after a federal magistrate judge disqualified the firm from the case.

The firm objects to a decision by Magistrate Judge Barry S. Seltzer of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida disqualifying it from representing BioMatrix Specialty Pharmacy LLC in its lawsuit against Horizon over hemophilia drug coverage. Seltzer said DLA represented a BioMatrix affiliate on matters “directly adverse” to Horizon while it still counted Horizon as a client.

“DLA feels strongly that its limited actions as an intermediary, undertaken as a professional courtesy to a client, where wholly ethical and do not merit the drastic sanction of disqualification,” the firm said in a Jan. 10 court filing.

The dispute began when a DLA attorney representing BioMatrix affiliate BiologicTx on other matters asked the firm’s “relationship partner” with Horizon to speak to the insurer about a billing dispute.

DLA argued these communications didn’t rise to the level of legal representation. Seltzer disagreed, saying DLA leveraged its relationship with Horizon for the benefit of BiologicTx.

DLA challenged Seltzer’s decision as out-of-line with other courts and asked the federal judge hearing the case, Federico A. Moreno, to reverse Seltzer’s ruling.

“It has never been held by any court that such a benign communication with a client constitutes an ‘adverse’ representation or is otherwise unethical, much less the basis for the drastic sanction of disqualification,” DLA said.

GrayRobinson PA represents Horizon.

The case is BioMatrix Specialty Pharmacy, LLC v. Horizon Healthcare Servs., Inc., S.D. Fla., No. 0:18-cv-61680-FAM, objections to disqualification order 1/10/19.