Facebook expands trial team in FTC fight, bringing on Davis Polk

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Facebook's rebrand logo Meta and a 3D printed Facebook logo. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

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  • Law firm litigation head James Rouhandeh enters appearance for Meta's Facebook
  • Judge last month declined to dismiss case, setting initial hearing for Feb. 28

(Reuters) - Meta's Facebook has expanded its trial team in Washington, D.C., federal court, adding a pair of lawyers from Davis Polk & Wardwell as the social media company prepares to fight the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's antitrust claims.

Davis Polk partner James Rouhandeh in New York, who leads the firm's litigation practice, and Michael Scheinkman, also a partner, filed appearance notices late Thursday in the FTC's case in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Rouhandeh did not immediately return a message seeking comment. The Davis Polk attorneys will team up with Facebook defense lawyers at Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick, including partner Mark Hansen, who did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

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Rouhandeh has made appearances for Facebook in other cases and also represented major banks, retail companies and pharmaceuticals in securities litigation. In 2015 he successfully defended the lead underwriters of Facebook's 2012 initial public offering in a lawsuit seeking more than $100 million in disgorgement.

The Menlo Park, California-based tech company also has relied on attorneys at the law firms including Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Cooley, Mayer Brown, Kirkland & Ellis and Willkie, Farr & Gallagher for litigation.

Facebook's lawyers face more than a dozen FTC attorneys who are assigned to the antitrust lawsuit, which alleged the company bought or crushed rivals to stifle competition.

The August 2021 complaint asked U.S. District Judge James Boasberg to force the company to sell photo-sharing app Instagram and messaging app WhatsApp. Boasberg last month declined Facebook's bid to dismiss the case.

An initial hearing is scheduled for Feb. 28. Facebook has denied the FTC's claims.

A spokesperson for the FTC did not immediately comment on Friday.

Lawyers for Facebook have not entered appearances in the lawsuit the Texas attorney general's office filed on Monday in state court alleging the company's facial-recognition technology violated state privacy protections.

The case is Federal Trade Commission v. Facebook, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 1:20-cv-03590-JEB.

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