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Law360's Weekly Verdict: Legal Lions & Lambs

Kirkland & Ellis earned a spot among this week's legal lions for its work representing Facebook in a now-dismissed suit over free speech, while Latham & Watkins ended up among the legal lambs after a court cut it as counsel in a defense contractor's $33 billion lawsuit.

Legal Lions

Four law firms landed at the top of this week's legal lions list: Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC, Williams & Connolly LLP and Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP. The D.C. Circuit on Wednesday affirmed the dismissal of a conservative group's $1.5 billion lawsuit accusing the firms' clients, Twitter, Facebook, Apple and Google, of violating the First Amendment and antitrust statutes by censoring conservative content. Facebook is represented by Craig S. Primis and K. Winn Allen of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Twitter is represented by Jonathan M. Jacobson and Brian M. Willen of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC. Google is represented by John E. Schmidtlein and Thomas G. Hentoff of Williams & Connolly LLP. Apple is represented by William A. Isaacson, Joshua Riley and Jacquelyn Ryberg of Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP.

Next up on the lions list this week is Baker Botts LLP. The Fifth Circuit affirmed a win for the firm's client, Phillips 66, in a proposed class action alleging the oil and gas company allowed employees to invest their retirement savings too heavily in Phillips' former parent company despite knowing the stock was a risky investment. Phillips 66 is represented by Travis J. Sales, Aaron Michael Streett and Tina Q. Nguyen of Baker Botts LLP.

A judge in London ruled on Friday that Nigeria's $1 billion lawsuit against Royal Dutch Shell and Italian oil giant Eni over alleged bribery in a massive 2011 deal cannot go ahead in England because the courts don't have jurisdiction to hear the claim, landing the energy companies' attorneys at Essex Court Chambers, Richard Handyside QC, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, Fountain Court Chambers and Allen & Overy LLP on the lions list. Shell is represented by James Willan of Essex Court Chambers, instructed by Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. Eni is represented by Richard Handyside QC and Alex Barden of Fountain Court Chambers, instructed by Allen & Overy LLP.

Attorneys at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP scored a win Friday for MSNBC and Rachel Maddow, defeating a defamation claim brought by the owner of One America News Network, as a California judge ruled the host's on-air statement that OAN "literally is paid Russian propaganda" is protected free speech. The defendants are represented by Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., Theane Evangelis, Nathaniel L. Bach, Marissa B. Moshell and Scott A. Edelman of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

A California appeals court sent to trial a landlord's suit over insurance coverage of a fire resulting from a tenant's illegal modification of the electrical system to grow marijuana, saying Tuesday that a jury needs to decide whether the landlord knew or could have found out about the tenant's actions. In a published opinion, the panel majority reversed a summary judgment in favor of Pacific Specialty Insurance Co. against homeowner James Mosley, represented by the Law Office of Michael W. Garnett. Mosley is represented by Michael W. Garnett of the Law Office of Michael W. Garnett.

Legal Lambs

Latham & Watkins LLP ended up on the legal lambs list after it was booted from a $33 billion lawsuit because it had "unfettered access" to information crucial to a defense contractor's claims that the government favored a competitor with a spotty record for a defense deal, according to an opinion that was unsealed Tuesday. Quantico Tactical Inc. was represented by David R. Hazelton, Dean W. Baxtresser, Lucas Novaes and Jason Despain of Latham & Watkins LLP.

A federal judge denied a bid by business owners and political candidates to temporarily suspend Pennsylvania's COVID-19 shutdown order, saying his court "will not micromanage public policy in the midst of a pandemic," sending the plaintiffs' attorneys at Scaringi Law onto the legal lambs list. The challengers are represented by Marc A. Scaringi and Brian C. Caffrey of Scaringi Law.

Goldberg Segalla LLP ended up on the lambs list Tuesday when a split Fourth Circuit panel ruled that client StarStone Specialty Insurance Co. must cover a North Carolina nursing home operator's costs to successfully defend against a $60 million False Claims Act lawsuit alleging it engaged in billing fraud, reversing a North Carolina federal judge's order. StarStone is represented by David L. Brown and Martha P. Brown of Goldberg Segalla LLP.

Next up on the list is Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP. A New York judge ruled Tuesday that the firm's client, Brite Advisors, must pay over $281,000 in attorney fees to cover the cost of its former CEO's defense in a regulatory action accusing him of defrauding clients by lying about lucrative commissions while at the company. Brite Advisors is represented by Peter T. Shapiro of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP.

Foley & Lardner LLP is this week's final legal lamb. The D.C. Circuit on Tuesday sided with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in a long-running dispute with the firm's hospital clients over reduced reimbursements for inpatient admissions, finding the hospitals weren't entitled to more relief than they'd already gotten. The hospitals are represented by Lori A. Rubin and Donald H. Romano of Foley & Lardner LLP.