United States

Alison Frankel

Mar 24 2017

Delaware Chief Justice Strine writes cautionary tale for deal lawyers

A dissent Thursday by Chief Justice Leo Strine of the Delaware Supreme Court has no practical consequences whatsoever. In The Williams Companies v. Energy Transfer Equity, Strine’s Supreme Court colleagues affirmed a Chancery Court ruling that allowed ETE to walk away from a $20 billion agreement to acquire Williams because ETE’s tax lawyers at Latham & Watkins declined in good faith to issue a tax opinion required in the merger agreement. The majority ruling means the deal is dead. ETE wins. Latham can begin to forget the awkwardness of defending its integrity at a 2016 trial in Chancery Court.

Mar 23 2017

Feds try for toss of hedge fund founder’s misconduct case at 2nd Circuit

On Friday morning, the Justice Department will appear before Judges Reena Raggi, Denny Chin and Susan Carney of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to argue that even if an FBI agent misrepresented government evidence to obtain a search warrant in 2010 against hedge fund founder David Ganek, it doesn’t really matter.

Mar 22 2017

3rd Circuit judge joins anti-Chevron-deference brigade

Against all odds, the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court has made a mainstream issue of whether federal judges should defer to executive-branch agencies in interpreting laws and regulations the agencies enforce. As you’ve doubtless heard if you’re paying attention to Gorsuch’s Senate confirmation hearings, the judge revealed last summer, in a concurrence in a complicated immigration case, his constitutional concerns about 1984’s Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, the Supreme Court decision that directs judges to defer to agencies’ interpretation of the laws they administer.

Mar 21 2017

Litigation funder in Cigna case: ‘Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine this would happen’

When Irish real estate developer Garrett Kelleher agreed to put up about $3 million to back Cayman Islands litigation to enforce Liberian judgments against the insurer Cigna, he thought the worst possible outcome was that he’d lose his money.

Mar 17 2017

VW judge okays $175 million for car owners' lawyers, hints blow to dealers' counsel

Early Friday, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco approved a request for $175 million in fees and costs for the plaintiffs lawyers who led car owners’ $10 billion class action against Volkswagen in the emissions cheating scandal. Judge Breyer was widely expected to award that $175 million to class counsel Elizabeth Cabraser of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein and other lawyers who worked on behalf of the class. He has been consistently complimentary of the “extraordinary results” they obtained. Moreover, the fee request garnered only four objections, which Breyer brushed aside, and was not opposed by Volkswagen.

Mar 16 2017

Why future presidents will rue Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ comments

In 2001, after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President George W. Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft instituted a program called the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System. The program required men over the age of 16 who were living in the United States but were citizens of 25 foreign countries – 24 Muslim-majority countries and North Korea – to be registered with and fingerprinted by U.S. authorities.

Mar 15 2017

After key appellate wins on privilege, Halliburton stomps out FCA case

Halliburton’s long fight to preserve attorney-client privilege over its internal investigation of Iraq War-era kickback claims was vindicated Tuesday when U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth of Washington granted the company summary judgment in a False Claims Act suit accusing Halliburton of defrauding the federal government.

Mar 14 2017

Litigation funding in bankruptcy ‘should be in every trustee’s toolkit’

One the big winners last week when the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a $213 million judgment against billionaire Ira Rennert and The Renco Group was the litigation funder Gerchen Keller, now part of Burford Capital. Last summer, before oral arguments in Rennert’s appeal, Gerchen Keller agreed to pay $26.2 million to acquire a $50 million interest in the judgment from the bankruptcy trustee for Magnesium Corporation of America. Thanks to the 2nd Circuit's MagCorp affirmance, the litigation funder will end up with nearly double its money from a six-month investment.

Mar 13 2017

House Judiciary Committee targets lawyer ads, mass torts marketing

Bob Goodlatte, the Virginia Republican who chairs the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, isn’t yet done kicking plaintiffs’ lawyers in the gut.

Mar 10 2017

VW calls out plaintiffs' firm for dubious billing in emissions case

In an unusual filing in the consolidated litigation over Volkswagen’s emissions cheating software, the car company has accused the leading plaintiffs' firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro of attempting to inflate its account of hourly billings in the class action by VW dealers to justify its $28 million fee request.

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