The Last Litigator of the Week Runners-Up and Shout Outs of 2021
Partners Jay Lefkowitz and Matt Rowen are recognized as runners-up for The American Lawyer Litigation Daily's "Litigators of the Week" contest for their work on behalf of the Association for Affordable Medicines.
Our first runners-up this week are Bart Williams, Manuel Cachán, Lee Popkin and Shawn Ledingham who led a Proskauer Rose trial team that scored a defense verdict in California state court for Monsanto in a five-month trial where the plaintiff claimed the company’s herbicide Roundup caused her non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Although the company had won one prior defense verdict based on a separate Roundup plaintiff’s limited exposure to the product, last week’s verdict from a San Bernardino County Superior Court jury was the first to side with Monsanto on the question of general causation.
Cooley partner Michael Tu and senior associate Peter Brody get a runner-up nod this week for winning an injunction in the Delaware Court of Chancery for Hologram Inc., a cellular platform for internet-of-things developers. Greg Caplan, an early advisor to the company, claimed he was entitled to a 10% equity stake in Hologram based on a 2013 email exchange with company founder Ben Forgan. But Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick this week sided with the reading of the exchange put forward by Forgan and company and barred Caplan from moving forward with a private arbitration filed against the company in Illinois. Michael Barlow of Abrams & Bayliss served as Delaware local counsel for Hologram.
Runners-up honors also go to a Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher team led by Allyson Ho and Andrew LeGrand for getting an important reversal at the Court of Appeals for Second Appellate District of Texas in Fort Worth for client Visa Inc. A Texas trial court previously found that Visa’s program for securing its network and cardholder data was unlawful and unenforceable in a suit brought by Sally Beauty. The retailer, whose credit card network had been hacked two times in just more than a year’s time, went to court to challenge a $14 million liquidated damages assessment passed from Visa to the bank that issued its cards to the company. The Texas appellate court last week found “recovery for damages paid to a third party is common” and all parties within Visa’s network were on notice that damages could be recouped after significant breaches. The court of appeals also revived Visa’s counterclaim for fraud. The Gibson Dunn team for Visa also included Elizabeth Kiernan, Joseph Barakat and Emily Jorgens.
Jay Lefkowitz and Matt Rowen of Kirkland & Ellis land a runners-up spot representing generic drug makers in a case where they persuaded a federal judge in Sacramento to strike down a California law aimed at curbing “pay for delay” patent settlements. Working on behalf of the Association for Affordable Medicines, the Kirkland duo last week got a ruling from U.S. District Judge Troy Nunley finding the trade association has standing to challenge AB 824, and that the law puts an unconstitutional burden on commerce “wholly outside California.”
Also securing a runner-up spot this week are Steven Molo, Justin Ellis, Allison Gorsuch and Caleb Hayes-Deats of MoloLamken. The team got a decision last week from New York’s Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department upholding their $31.7 million dollar win from last year in a contract and trade-secrets dispute for client Indeck Energy Services Inc., which develops, owns and operates electric power plants. The win is all the more impressive since New York Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Schecter awarded Indeck $30 million in lost profits even though the defendants, a Minnesota private equity firm and its affiliates that were ostensibly working on a deal with Indeck to build a power plant in Texas, made no money from conspiring with a disloyal group Indeck executives to steal trade secrets. Schecter last year called the defendants’ moves “a brazen example of a party flouting a confidentiality agreement and stealing a lucrative investment opportunity.”
One last runner-up spot goes to Garrard Beeney, Marc De Leeuw and Dustin Guzior of Sullivan & Cromwell. They represented Ocado Group in a patent infringement case at the U.S. International Trade Commission where Norwegian rival AutoStore asserted 20 patent claims across four patents for robot storage and retrieval technology. After a remote bench trial in August, Chief Administrative Law Judge Charles Bullock this week ruled three of AutoStore’s patents are invalid and that Ocado did not infringe the fourth, sending Ocado’s stock price up by 10% and Autostore’s down by an even bigger percentage.
Shout out to a Latham & Watkins team led by partners Jamie Wine, Kevin McDonough and Stephen Barry, with associates Clayton LaForge, Wes Horton, Jaclyn Newman and Brent Murphy. On the heels of an appellate win earlier this month for information technology services company DXC, the Latham team this week won dismissal of a Section 11 securities class action with prejudice from U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman in San Jose, California.
Shout out to Yvette Ostolaza, Yolanda Cornejo Garcia and Virginia Seitz of Sidley Austin. The trio has been leading the defense for Aspen Insurance in COVID-19 business interruption litigation. The Seventh Circuit last week handed down a series of four opinions upholding district court decisions dismissing policyholder suits, a major win for Aspen and other similarly situated insurers. The Sidley team also included Mark Blocker, Robin Wechkin, Mitchell Alleluia-Feinberg, Mason Parham and Chandler Rognes.