A Kirkland team that included appeals partners George Hicks and C. Harker Rhodes, restructuring partners Steve Serajeddini and Chris Koenig and litigation partner Alex Russell was recognized as a runner-up for 'Litigator of the Week' by The American Lawyer's Litigation Daily for the representation of Gulfport Energy.
Our first runners-up for Litigator of the Week this week are lawyers at Korein Tillery and Pearson, Simon & Warshaw who reached a proposed deal with Major League Baseball which agreed to pay $185 million to current and former minor league baseball players in one of the largest-ever wage-and-hour class action settlements. After eight-and-a-half years of litigation, including a five-year class certification fight, MLB also agreed to rescind its prohibition against compensating minor leaguers outside of the five-month regular season. The settlement is set for a preliminary approval hearing next month before Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero in San Francisco. The plaintiffs’ team includes Stephen Tillery, Garrett Broshuis, Marc Wallenstein and Diane Moore of Korein Tillery and Clifford Pearson, Daniel Warshaw, Bobby Pouya, and Benjamin Shiftan of Pearson, Simon & Warshaw.
Runners-up honors also go to appellate teams at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Jones Day and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison who represent mining giant Rio Tinto, its former CEO and former CFO respectively in a high-profile appellate showdown with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In a decision this week roundly rejecting the SEC’s approach to “scheme liability” in securities cases, the Second Circuit found that false statements and omissions alone can’t form the basis of claims of a scheme to defraud investors. The Gibson Dunn team representing the company included Tom Dupree, Mark Kirsch, Richard Grime, Jennifer Conn and Kellam Conover. Sarah Levine, James Loonam and Matt Rubenstein of Jones Day represented former Rio Tinto CEO Thomas Albanese. Kannon Shanmugam, Walter Ricciardi, Geoff Chepiga and Ted Wells of Paul Weiss represented the company’s former CFO Guy Elliott.
Runners-up honors also go to a trial team at Keker, Van Nest & Peters led by partner Khari Tillery. Senior U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff entered judgment as a matter of law last week for Keker client Veeva Systems, a cloud-computing company focused on the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries in a trial that started July 11. At trial, Veeva rival Medidata Solutions was seeking as much as $450 million claiming Veeva misappropriated trade secrets dealing with clinical trial data and operations software. Rakoff, ruling from the bench Friday, said there was “a clear lack of specificity” in Medidata’s alleged trade secrets. The Keker trial team also included partners Laurie Mims, Reid Mullen and Ben Rothstein, and associates Luke Apfeld, Taylor Reeves and Zainab Ramahi.
Shout out to an Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer team led by partner Michael Berta. A federal court in Colorado this month entered judgment for Arnold & Porter client Crocs in a long-running dispute with Double Diamond Distribution Ltd. and U.S.A. Dawgs Inc. over the sale of “Dawgs” footwear that infringed Crocs’ patents. The Arnold & Porter team working on the case originally filed in 2006 also included partners Sean Callagy, Suneeta Hazra and associates Isaac Ramsey, Neda Dadpey and Jessica Gillotte. Partners Michael Bernstein, Benjamin Mintz and counsel Charles Malloy also assisted in a bankruptcy proceeding involving one of the defendants.
Shout out to a Cooley team led by partner Kathleen Hartnett that secured a preliminary injunction in West Virginia state court on behalf of the state’s only abortion clinic barring the enforcement of the state’s 150-year-old criminal abortion ban. Circuit Court Judge Tera Salango in Charleston held this week that more recent state laws regulating abortion in the state “hopelessly conflict” with the law from the 1800s making it a felony to have or perform an abortion. The Cooley team included Marc Suskin, Patrick Hayden, Julie Veroff, Darina Shtrakhman, Angeline Chen, Alex Robledo and Michael Bannon. The firm is handling the case in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project, ACLU West Virginia and Mountain State Justice.
Shout out to a Cravath, Swaine & Moore team led by partner Wes Earnhardt. The Ninth Circuit this week sided with Cravath client Starz, and split with the Second Circuit, in a copyright showdown with MGM. The Ninth Circuit held that under the so-called discovery rule copyright holders can recover damages for all infringing acts that occurred before they knew or reasonably should have known of infringement, and the three-year limitations period runs from the date the claim accrued. Cravath partners Evan Chesler and Justin Clarke and Hueston Hennigan partner Robert Klieger were also on the briefs for Starz.
Shout out to Debevoise & Plimpton IP litigation chair David Bernstein and counsel Christopher Ford. They secured preliminary injunctions this week from a federal judge in Manhattan on behalf of client Diamond Hands Consulting which operates “SatoshiStreetBets” web and social media forums where cryptocurrency enthusiasts discuss the crypto market. The injunctions force rivals who launched forums using the same name and their own “SatoshiStreetBets” cryptocurrency to stop using the moniker and to hand over infringing social media accounts to DHS. The Debevoise team includes associates Kate Saba, Anna Rennich and Natalia Remis.
Shout out to a Goodwin Procter team that fended off a trademark infringement suit for cannabis client Central Coast Agriculture which does business as Raw Garden. U.S. District Judge Michael Liburdi in Phoenix this week granted summary judgment to CCA finding no reasonable jury could find a likelihood of confusion between the cannabis company’s use of the Raw Garden brand and the Raw-branded products—including cigarette rolling papers, smoking accessories and merchandise— marketed by plaintiff BBK Tobacco & Foods. The Goodwin team representing CCA included Brett Schuman, Jeremy Lateiner, PJ McCarthy, Yoona Lee, Theresa Sutton, Mike Ting, Louis Lobel, Marnishia Jernigan, Ben Gee and former associate Nick Costanza, who is now in-house at cannabis-infused beverage company Cann.
Shout out to a Kirkland & Ellis team led by partner George Hicks, with assistance from partner Harker Rhodes. The Fifth Circuit this week vacated four orders from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission purporting to bind their client Gulfport Energy to perform pursuant to gas transit contracts under FERC jurisdiction even if Gulfport ultimately rejected the contracts during bankruptcy. “FERC cannot require continued performance of a filed-rate contract that is validly rejected—whether it purports to do so before, during, or after the bankruptcy proceeding,” the court held. Kirkland restructuring partners Steve Serajeddini and Chris Koenig and litigation partner Alex Russell also represented Gulfport in the matter.
Shout out to a pro bono team at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo led by member Randy Jones. After litigation brought on behalf of Christina GriffinJones, whose cellphone was confiscated and held for months by San Diego police after she was arrested at a September 2020 demonstration inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, the city agreed to implement a new policy requiring officers to obtain a warrant to hold or search a seized phone, or to return it within a reasonable amount of time. The Mintz team worked alongside co-counsel from the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties, Community Advocates for Just and Moral Governance and Brody McBride Law.
Shout out to associate Katarina Broeksmit and a pro bono team at Paul Weiss. New York’s Appellate Division, Second Department this week reversed the conviction of client Alishia Noel, who was convicted of first-degree murder as part of an alleged murder-for-hire conspiracy resulting in the death of her estranged husband. The appellate court found that the jury should have been instructed that Noel’s then-boyfriend, who testified against her at trial, was an accomplice and subject to the statutory corroboration requirement. Broeksmit handled the appellate argument. The Paul Weiss team representing Noel also included associates Erin Morgan, Meaghan Brennan and Jacob Humerick, and was supervised by partner Daniel Kramer and former litigation counsel Adam Bernstein, with assistance from pro bono attorney Jeremy Benjamin. The Legal Aid Society served as co-counsel.
Shout out to a Vinson & Elkins team led by partner Michael Charlson and counsel Marisa Antonelli. U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer in Los Angeles this week dismissed with prejudice a securities fraud class action against their client, Beverly Hills-based children’s media company Genius Brands International, Inc., its CEO Andy Heyward and its CFO Robert Denton. The judge found that the plaintiffs’ 289-paragraph, 84-page complaint violated the requirement for a short and plain statement showing the plaintiff is entitled to relief under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.