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Litigator of the Week Runners-Up and Shout Outs

A Kirkland team led by attorneys Katie Coltart, Will Jensen, Nessa Khandaker, Marc Sernel and Nicola Dagg earned a shout out in The American Lawyer Litigation Daily’s "Litigator of the Week" contest after a key ruling for Advanced Bionics.

Our first runners-up this week are trial lawyers at Bracewell who were led by Sean Gorman along with Christopher Dodson. After a two-week bench trial in March, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller in Houston sided with Bracewell’s client BMC Software Inc. and awarded a whopping $1.6 billion in damages in a breach of contract suit against IBM Corp. BMC alleged that IBM fraudulently induced it to sign a 2015 licensing agreement and used its access to the company’s proprietary mainframe software to horn in on its relationship with longstanding customer AT&T. Miller concluded IBM entered the agreement “with no intention whatsoever of performing thereunder” to “exercise rights without paying for them, secure other contractual benefits, and ultimately acquire one of BMC’s core customers.” The judge concluded: “IBM’s conduct vis-à-vis BMC offends the sense of justice and propriety that the public expects from American businesses.” The award included $717 million in actual damages, $168 million in interest and $717 million in punitive damages. The Bracewell trial team also included Andrew Zeve, Jeff Oldham, Timothy Geiger, Jeremy Dunbar, Kyle Mason, Drewe Molin, Matthew Reasoner, Walter Simons and Cole Thoms.

Also nabbing a runner-up spot this week is a team at Debevoise & Plimpton led by IP litigation chair David Bernstein and counsel Jared Kagan that got a ruling allowing Grubhub to continue using a logo featuring a house with a fork and knife inside. Despite a magistrate judge’s prior recommendation to enter a preliminary injunction against Grubhub, U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle in Chicago last week found that Kroger hadn’t shown it was likely to succeed on its claims that the Grubhub logo infringed the trademark for its Home Chef brand meal kits and refrigerated meals. The Debevoise team on the matter also included partner Megan Bannigan and associates Matthew Petrozziello and Samuel Allaman with co-counsel Isaac Colunga of Ice Miller and Jordan LaVine of Flaster/Greenberg.

An Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe team led by partners Peter Bicks, Lisa Simpson and Marc Shapiro and Rudy Koch of Richards, Layton & Finger also get runners-up honors. After a two-day bench trial in April, Delaware Vice Chancellor Morgan Zurn last week sided with the client Silvio Scaglia in a legal battle with his estranged wife Julia Haart over control of model and talent agency Elite World Group. The vice chancellor this week turned back a request by Haart, the star of the Netflix show “My Unorthodox Life,” to be reinstated as CEO of Elite World Group, finding that she is not a 50% shareholder in its umbrella company Freedom Holding, Inc. The trial team also included former Orrick associate Emmanuel Fua, as well as Susan Cohen and Travis Hunter from Richards, Layton & Finger.

Also getting a runner-up spot this week is a team from Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz that delivered a big win for Amazon at the Delaware Court of Chancery. After a one-day in February, Vice Chancellor Lori Will this week turned back a stockholder request to inspect the company’s books and records to investigate alleged breaches of fiduciary duty in connection with federal and state antitrust laws, finding that the company’s previous production efforts, including board-level documents, sufficed. “The plaintiff’s request for eleven years’ worth of additional documents falling within nineteen different categories amounts to a fishing expedition and lacks the precision our law requires,” the vice chancellor wrote. The Wachtell Lipton team included William Savitt, Anitha Reddy, Adam Gogolak and Zachary David.

Shout out to a team at Kirkland & Ellis in the U.K. that got a key ruling for Advanced Bionics in its international patent showdown with Med-El Elektromedizinische over cochlear implant technology. A deputy high court judge in London this week found all of the claims asserted by Med-El are invalid on obviousness grounds, allowing AB to continue to use its HiRes Ultra 3D cochlear implant device. There are parallel proceedings ongoing between the companies at the European Patent Office, Germany, the Netherlands and the U.S. The Kirkland team on the matter in the U.K. included Katie Coltart, Will Jensen, Nessa Khandaker, Marc Sernel and Nicola Dagg.

Shout out to a team at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton. The New York Appellate Division, First Department last week issued an injunction barring Eric Eways, the former vice president of basketball partnerships for client Excel Sports Management, from taking a position at Klutch Sports Group until Oct.15, 2022, or until the appeal over whether the new position violates his non-compete agreement is decided. The Sheppard Mullin team was led by partners Jonathan Stoler and Brian Murphy, and included special counsel Kevin Smith.

This article originally appeared in the June 3, 2022 edition of The American Lawyer Litigation Daily. Further reproduction without permission is prohibited.