In the News The Am Law Litigation Daily

An Absolutely Stacked Week of Litigator of the Week Runners-up and Shout Outs

A Kirkland team that included partners Jim Hurst, Erin Johnston and Olivia Adendorff and associates Mariel Brookins, Abby Hollenstein and Rachel Clarke was highlighted in this roundup of runners-up for The Am Law Litigation Daily's 'Litigators of the Week' title.

Our first runner-up this week is a team that brought home a rare defense win for Monsanto in a trial bringing claims that its Roundup herbicide causes cancer. A Los Angeles jury this week found Roundup was not a “substantial factor” in causing 10-year-old Ezra Clark to suffer from an aggressive form of cancer called Burkitt’s lymphoma. Brian Stekloff, co-founder of Wilkinson Stekloff, served as lead trial counsel alongside Covington & Burling partner Jennifer Saulino and Wilkinson Stekloff associate Cali Cope-Kasten. Covington partner Michael Imbroscio, Wilkinson Stekloff partner Kieran Gostin and Winston & Strawn partner Michael Swartz all advised on trial strategy and motions practice

Our next runners-up are the plaintiffs lawyers who landed an $8.2 million compensatory damages verdict in the fourth bellwether trial in the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Products Liability on behalf of plaintiff Brandon Adkins. Adkins’ trial counsel included Jennifer Hoekstra of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz; Adam Wolfson and Matthew Hosen of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan; Michael Sacchet of Ciresi Conlin, and Robert Cowan of Bailey Cowan Heckaman. They were up against members of the Kirkland & Ellis trial team that took home Litigator of the Week honors for winning a defense verdict in the second bellwether trial of the MDL.

Also landing a runner-up spot this week is Jason Mendro of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher who this week won a defense ruling in the first case where the Delaware Court of Chancery addressed shareholder derivative claims arising from a cyberattack. Vice Chancellor Lori Will issued a 50-plus page opinion this week knocking out the derivative suit filed in the wake of the massive data breach Marriott International Inc. announced in November 2018. The Gibson Dunn team on the case was also led by partners Adam Offenhartz and Laura O’Boyle and included associates Jeffrey Rosenberg, Andrei Malikov and Erica Sollazzo Payne.    

Our next runner-up is David Pressman of Jenner & Block who this week got a major ruling in a case he’s handling on behalf of the family of Quinn Schansman, the only American killed when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July 2014, killing 298 people. Last week U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter in Manhattan allowed the family’s Antiterrorism Act claims against Western Union, MoneyGram and two Russian banks to move forward based on allegations that the defendants provided material support to the terrorist group that shot down the plane. The Jenner team also included partner Andrew Lichtman and associates Jacob Alderdice and Ali Alsarraf. 

Also landing runners-up honors this week is a joint team of lawyers from Kirkland & Ellis and Munger, Tolles & Olson who got a ruling knocking out antitrust claims brought against pharma client AbbVie by generic drugmaker Perrigo. U.S. District Judge Brian Martinotti in New Jersey dismissed Perrigo’s claim that AbbVie brought sham patent claims to keep a generic version of its AndroGel 1% testosterone replacement therapy product off the market. The judge found that Perrigo had released the claims in a decade-old settlement agreement the two companies reached in the underlying litigation. The Kirkland team included partners Jim Hurst, Erin Johnston and Olivia Adendorff and associates Mariel Brookins, Abby Hollenstein and Rachel Clarke. The Munger team included Stuart Senator, Rohit Singla and Adam Lawton.

Another runner-up spot goes to a team at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius led by partners Troy Brown and Michelle Pector. U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken last week handed a complete defense verdict to their clients Spark Energy and National Gas & Electric in a suit brought by the selling shareholders of Major Energy, a retail energy acquired by NGE. The judge found the defendants hadn’t breached the purchase agreement or related earnout agreements. The case was tried in a nine-day bench trial that wrapped last year just as the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. 

Shout out to Brian Bieluch, Alex Chinoy and Jessica Hill of Covington & Burling. This week they secured a ruling from the U.S. International Trade Commission on behalf of client Knowles Corporation finding that rival Bellsing and its founder Liang (Ryan) Li misappropriated trade secrets related to balanced armature devices, the tiny speakers used in high-end earbuds and other listening devices. The ITC issued a 26-year general exclusion order against Bellsing and Li.
Shout out to a team at Cravath, Swaine & Moore led by Daniel Slifkin, Michael Paskin, Damaris Hernández and Lauren Rosenberg. Last week Second Circuit Judge Richard Sullivan, sitting by designation in the Southern District of New York, granted a motion to dismiss filed on behalf of Cravath client Morgan Stanley, a group of bank codefendants and EquiLend, a provider of electronic stock lending services, in an antitrust suit brought by the parent company of electronic stock-loan trading platform SL-x IP S.á.r.l. 

Shout out to Patrick Gibbs, Jessica Valenzuela Santamaria, Claire McCormack, Zaneta Kim and Rebecca Ferrari of Cooley. Last week U.S. District Judge James Donato in San Francisco dismissed with prejudice a securities class action against their client Stitch Fix.

Shout out to a Davis Polk & Wardwell team led by Ted Polubinski and Lara Samet Buchwald. Last week U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in Brooklyn granted their motion to dismiss a securities class action against client Synergy Pharmaceuticals Inc. and a number of its former officers and directors related to alleged misstatements about the side-effect profile of Synergy’s flagship drug, Trulance.

Shout out to Meredith Kotler and Mary Eaton of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Last week the pair got a ruling from U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel in St. Paul, Minnesota, knocking out securities litigation against client 3M. The lawsuit claimed the company failed to establish adequate reserves and disclose potential billions in liabilities related to PFAS, commonly referred to as “forever chemicals.” The ruling comes after the Freshfields team secured a mandamus ruling from the Third Circuit last year transferring the case from New Jersey to Minnesota.

Shout out to a team at Latham & Watkins led by partner Phil Perry. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit last week sided with Latham client Catalyst in its dispute with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over the exclusivity of its drug to treat a rare autoimmune disease. Perry argued the case before the 11th Circuit. The Latham team included partners Andrew Prins and John Manthei, and associates Ryan Baasch, Cherish Drain, Brent Murphy and Monica Groat.

Shout out to a Quinn Emanuel team headed by partner Marc Greenwald that included associates Robert Longtin and Shira Steinberg. U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady in Alexandria, Virginia granted their motion to dismiss knocking out a $200 million lawsuit filed by Blenheim Capital Holdings against client Airbus.

One last shout out to a trial team at Sheppard Mullin led by partner Brad Graveline and associate Jesse Salen, with help from Rebecca Mackin, Tom Carr and Ann Castro. After a fully remote three week trial in January, U.S. District Judge Leonard Stark in Delaware found their client Alembic Pharmaceuticals does not infringe any of the patents Takeda and Lundbeck hold covering the branded antidepressant drug Trintellix, possibly clearing the way for the launch of Alembic’s generic version before the patents expire.