County has new attorney in suit | TheUnion.com

County has new attorney in suit

In litigation filed by former Nevada County software provider AtPac Inc., Nevada County and it’s current provider – Florida-based software firm Aptitude Solutions – have parted ways with their Los Angeles-based legal representation.

In the ongoing suit filed by AtPac against the county, Clerk-Recorder Gregory Diaz and the Clerk-Recorder’s software provider, this does not signal a change in legal strategy, county counsel Michael Jamison said Wednesday.

The defendants “have decided to be represented by the firm of Pillsbury Winthrop,” Jamison wrote in a prepared statement. “As the case moved closer to a trial date later this year, the county felt that a law firm with offices in the Sacramento area would be advantageous.”

Pillsbury attorney John Poulos was out of the office and did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

Cypress LLP filed a notice that it was withdrawing as the attorneys of record for Aptitude Solutions on Monday. The notice did not list Nevada County, leading to speculation that the county would continue to be represented by Cypress.

That is not the case, Jamison said Wednesday.

The suit was first filed by Auburn-based AtPac in U.S. District Court in Sacramento in February 2010. AtPac had the county clerk-recorder’s software contract for 10 years prior to 2008, when Aptitude Solutions was awarded the contract.

AtPac has alleged that Diaz’s office gave away AtPac trade secrets when the office switched over to the Aptitude system in 2009.

“This case arose out of the need of the County Recorder to have a computer program that would allow it to efficiently record, index, retrieve and copy official records,” Jamison said. “In 2009, the county, in a competitive process, selected Aptitude Solutions. The new system has proven to be economical and efficient.

“The Recorder’s Office was then faced with the task of how to extract its data from the old program in order to put it into Aptitude’s program,” Jamison continued. “The county requested of AtPac if they would assist in the extraction; their response did not give any assurance that the process could be accomplished in the time that the transition needed to occur. The Clerk-Recorder could not allow the performance of his official duties relative to the county’s official records to be compromised. Aptitude Solutions agreed to assist in the extraction. The lawsuit followed.”

At the time Nevada County entered into its contract with Aptitude Solutions, the Florida firm already was represented in California by Cypress, Jamison said.

When the county hired Aptitude Solutions, it signed an indemnity agreement with the firm, agreeing to pay the cost of defending the software provider in the event of a lawsuit. To save money, the county also agreed that Cypress would represent it in the event of a suit, and in return, Aptitude Solutions would pick up 30 percent of any legal costs.

The litigation costs incurred with the new attorney will continue to be split between Aptitude Solutions and the county, Jamison said.

“There has been considerable and understandable concern about the cost of defending this lawsuit,” he said. “Neither the county nor Mr. Diaz chose to be sued. AtPac’s attorneys have demanded $1 million to settle this case. The county has not been shown any evidence that AtPac has been harmed financially by the data extraction and we continue to believe that defending against the suit is in our citizens’ best interest.”

In March, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors approved $100,000 to defend the county in the suit, running the total bill up to $350,000.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail lkellar@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4229.