In the News The AmLaw Litigation Daily

A Fresh Batch of Litigator of the Week Runners Up

A Kirkland team that included litigation partners Jim Hurst, Erin Johnston, Olivia Adendorff and Kasdin Mitchell, and appeals associate Mariel Brookins was recognized as a runner-up for The American Lawyer's Litigation Daily for the representation of AbbVie. 

Our first runners-up honors go to Sean Gallagher and his team at Bartlit Beck—Andrew MacNally, Daniel McElroy and Alex Groden—and their cocounsel Barbara Bolton Litten and Gregor Schwinghammer Jr. of Gunster. After a three-week trial, a federal jury in West Palm Beach, Florida, sided with their client Pratt & Whitney finding the jet engine company was not liable for a cancer cluster in children in The Acreage neighborhood in western part Palm Beach County. Although jurors found the company failed to exercise reasonable care in disposing of radioactive materials, they found that failure didn’t lead to material ending up in the neighborhood.

Runners-up honors also go to Covington & Burling global white collar co-chair Steve Fagell and partner Doug Sprague. Last week they secured a non-prosecution agreement for Uber after a multi-year criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in San Francisco into allegations that the company’s former Chief Security Officer concealed a 2016 data breach and obstructed an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. Federal prosecutors acknowledged in the agreement that Uber’s new leadership team voluntarily disclosed the breach in 2017 and “established a strong tone from the top” that “strengthened the company’s culture of compliance and transparency.”

A Dechert team led by Marty Black and Kassie Helm get a runners-up nod after representing Conagen and Blue California in a multifaceted dispute with Givaudan, a Swiss maker of flavors, fragrances and cosmetics. After a bench trial in June, U.S. District Judge John Koeltl in Manhattan found earlier this month that a $10 million payment Gibaudan made to Conagen was for a 5% equity stake in Conagen. That finding turned back Givaudan’s contention that the $10 million was an advance payment for Conagen’s intellectual property. The Dechert trial team included associates Luke Reilly and Charles Hsu, senior paralegal Sarah Rattle, and legal assistants Diana Melegrito and Morgan Wilde.

Theane Evangelis and Blaine Evanson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher also get a runner-up spot for getting a reversal this week from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court routing claims brought by delivery drivers who formerly used the Grubhub app to arbitration. In an unusual move, the Massachusetts high court plucked the case from the trial court in January, skipping intermediate appellate review. This week’s decision held that couriers who used Grubhub’s app don’t fit into an exemption from arbitration under Section 1 of the Federal Arbitration Act for workers who “engaged in foreign and interstate commerce.”

Shout out to a Cooley team led by partners Michael Rhodes and Brendan Hughes and special counsel Rebecca Givner-Forbes. The Cooley team fended off a preliminary injunction bid from clothing and lifestyle brand Rhode-NYC seeking to bar Hailey Rhode Bieber and her companies, Rhodedeodato and HRBeauty, from launching a skincare line under the “Rhode” mark. U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield in Manhattan ruled from the bench last week that Rhode is a personal name and, under Second Circuit law, merely descriptive—meaning it’s not entitled to protection unless it has acquired some secondary meaning. The Cooley team advising Bieber and her companies also includes partners Joseph Drayton and Bobby Ghajar and associates Judd Lauter, Ari Lipsitz and Kayla Blaker.

Shout out to a Hogan Lovells team led by partner Daniel González, that included partner David Dunn and counsel Jessica Black Livingston. The Eleventh Circuit this week upheld a $40 million arbitration award client SSK Ingeniería y Construcción SAC won in a construction dispute against Técnicas Reunidas de Talara SAC, a Peruvian subsidiary of the Spanish construction group Técnicas Reunidas. TRT had asked to vacate the award after two members of its counsel team joined Cuatrecasas, a law firm on the opposing side of the dispute, while the arbitration was pending. The appellate court upheld a prior trial court win for the Hogan Lovells team finding TRT waived its right to object to the potential conflict and failed to demonstrate it was prejudiced by the attorney movement. The Hogan Lovells team also included associate Cory Szczepanik and summer associate William Winter.

Shout out to a Fox Rothschild team led by partners Richard Scharlat and Ellie Barragry that fended off a preliminary injunction bid by Route, a package tracking company that provides post-purchase services and products, like shipping insurance, to e-commerce merchants. Senior U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart in Salt Lake City this week denied Route’s bid to bar the firm’s client, e-commerce consultant Marc Heuberger, from offering a rival technology for online merchants looking for shipping protection. The team also included associate Michael Burke and local counsel Walt Romney of Clyde Snow & Sessions.

Shout out to a joint team from Kirkland & Ellis and Munger, Tolles & Olson that got an appellate ruling upholding an earlier win knocking out antitrust claims brought against pharma client AbbVie by generic drugmaker Perrigo. The Third Circuit last week upheld dismissal of Perrigo’s claim that AbbVie brought sham patent claims to block release of a generic version of its AndroGel 1% testosterone replacement therapy finding Perrigo released its claims in a decade-old settlement agreement in the underlying patent litigation. The Kirkland appellate team included partners Jim Hurst, Erin Johnston, Olivia Adendorff and Kasdin Mitchell, and associate Mariel Brookins. The Munger Tolles team included Stuart Senator, Rohit Singla and Adam Lawton.

Shout out to a team at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel led by Michael Dell. A state court trial judge in Manhattan granted an interim preliminary injunction Monday for assigned counsel in New York City to be paid $158 per hour, the same rate assigned counsel are paid in federal court there. The ruling, which is retroactive to Feb. 2, marked the first pay raise for so-called 18-B counsel in decades.

Shout out to Clem Roberts, Alyssa Caridis and Bas de Blank of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. Senior U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco granted summary judgment last week to their client Sonos on one of the key patent claims the wireless speaker company is asserting against Google over technology for controlling speakers in multiple rooms.

Shout out to a team at Latham & Watkins that won a major ruling working pro bono for the Humane Society at the D.C. Circuit. The court held last week that U.S. Department of Agriculture was obligated under the Administrative Procedure Act to undertake notice and comment before repealing a rule regarding enforcement of the Horse Protection Act that was withdrawn on the eve of publication in the Federal Register during the 2017 presidential transition. The Latham appellate team included associate Caroline Flynn, who argued the appeal, and partners Roman Martinez and Julie Hatcher and associates L. Allison Herzog and Joseph Begun.

Shout out to Scott Musoff, Julie Cohen, and Marc Szczepaniak of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom who revived a lawsuit brought by client Crown Castle NG East. New York’s Appellate Division, Second Department last week reversed a trial court decision tossing the company’s challenge of the City of Rye’s denial of its proposal to install certain wireless telecommunications equipment under an existing agreement with the city. The decision also revives the company’s challenge to the city’s attempt to subject the proposal to review under State Environmental Quality Review Act despite exemptions to SEQRA review in the underlying contract. Skadden’s Cohen argued the appeal for Crown.

Shout out to a cross-border securities litigation team at Skadden that knocked out a proposed securities fraud class action against client 360 DigiTech, one of China’s leading FinTech companies. Plaintiffs accused Digitich of misleading investors about its compliance with Chinese regulations concerning the collection of user data. Senior U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan this week found the complaint itself showed that Chinese law and regulations in the space were evolving around the time of the class period. “Digitech adequately disclosed this regulatory landscape and the attendant risks such that a reasonable investor could not have been misled,” he wrote. The Skadden team included partners Musoff and Robert Fumerton and associates Michael Griffin, Argirios Nickas and Maisie Wilson in New York; partner Steve Kwok and registered foreign lawyer Beatriz Paterno in Hong Kong; and associate Mengyuan Elaine Tang in Beijing.