White & Case, Baker Botts, Gibson Dunn: Business of LawElizabeth Amon
White & Case LLP opened an office in Madrid with the addition of partner Juan Manuel De Remedios, the former chairman of Latham & Watkins LLP’s corporate department in Spain. De Remedios, who will be joined by a local partner and a team of associates, will be the Madrid office executive partner.
“The launch of our office in Madrid, led by Juan Manuel, will support the needs of our clients investing in Spain as well as Spanish clients expanding globally,” White & Case chairman Hugh Verrier said in a statement.
De Remedios’s practice will focus on mergers and acquisitions and capital markets. He will be joined by local partner Yoko Takagi, whose practice also focuses on mergers and acquisitions and capital markets.
The Madrid office will advise clients on Spanish, U.S. and cross-border legal issues of mergers and acquisitions, debt and equity capital markets, finance and restructuring. The firm has more than 60 Spanish-speaking lawyers who work on Spain-related matters from other offices, White & Case said.
White & Case has lawyers in 39 offices across 27 countries.
Baker Botts Appoints New Litigation Department Chairman
Baker Botts LLP partner David Sterling, who heads the firm’s securities litigation practice, will replace Robb Voyles as chairman of the litigation department, the firm announced yesterday.
Voyles, who has been department chair since March 2005, will remain a member of the firm’s executive committee and will continue with his commercial litigation practice.
“David’s wealth of experience representing clients in critical situations in a wide array of federal and state proceedings prepares him to take on the challenge of maintaining the world-class level our litigation practice has reached during Robb’s tenure,” Baker Botts managing partner Andrew Baker said in a statement.
During Voyles’ leadership, Baker Botts expanded the antitrust practice with the recruitment of nearly 40 former Howrey LLP lawyers in March 2011. Voyles was also key in orchestrating the opening of the firm’s Brussels office last fall to continue growing the firm’s antitrust and competition law practice, according to the firm statement.
Litigation partner Jennifer Smith remains deputy department chair.
Baker Botts has about 725 lawyers at 14 offices in the U.S., Europe, China and the Middle East.
Gibson Dunn Hires Skadden Partner to Head Energy Group
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP announced that former Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP partner William Scherman has joined the firm as a partner in the Washington, office, where he will be chairman of the energy, regulation and litigation group.
Scherman was general counsel of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from 1990 to 1993 and was the chief of staff from 1987 to 1993.
“With his background as FERC’s general counsel and chief of staff, Bill has unparalleled knowledge and experience in energy enforcement and litigation,” Andrew Tulumello, co-partner in charge of Gibson Dunn’s Washington office said in a statement. “His experience in federal government investigations and enforcement perfectly complements the firm’s strengths in these areas.”
Scherman advises companies on litigation, commercial, regulatory and legislative matters relating to the U.S. and international energy markets. He litigates matters and represents firms before the FERC and in the federal courts and he is active in legislative matters, the firm said.
Gibson Dunn has more than 1,100 lawyers at 17 offices in the Americas, Europe and Asia.
Baker Botts, Kirkland Among Firms on Liberty Stake in Charter
Baker Botts LLP advised John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp. on its agreement to buy about 27 percent of Charter Communications Inc. for about $2.62 billion, betting that the formerly bankrupt cable company can thrive in an era of digital services. Kirkland & Ellis LLP represents Charter Communications.
Liberty will pay $95.50 apiece for about 26.9 million shares and 1.1 million warrants for Charter’s private-equity investors Apollo Global Management, Oaktree Capital Management and Crestview Partners, according to a statement yesterday. The transaction is expected to close by mid-May.
Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP advised Oaktree. Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz also advised the sellers.
Baker Botts partners on behalf of Liberty included Fredrick H. McGrath, Renee Wilm and John Winter, corporate; Tamar Stanley, tax; and Alison Boren and Robert Murray, finance.
The Kirkland team representing Charter includes corporate partners Thomas Christopher and David Feirstein, and capital markets partner Christian Nagler, all in New York.
The Davis Polk deal team includes mergers and acquisitions partner Paul Kingsley.
The Paul Weiss team included corporate partners Neil Goldman, Kenneth Schneider and Lawrence Wee and tax partner Richard Bronstein.
Charter, the fourth-largest U.S. cable operator, has been taking advantage of improving cash flow to refinance debt and add customers through the acquisition of Cablevision Systems Corp.’s Optimum West. Its shares have almost tripled since the end of 2009, when it emerged from bankruptcy protection with the deal that gave the private-equity firms their stakes.
As part of the agreement, Liberty will name four directors to Charter’s board. Liberty also agreed not to attempt to take control of Charter. Under the terms of the deal, it won’t increase its ownership above 35 percent until January 2016 and 40 percent thereafter. Liberty also said it won’t start a proxy fight for more board seats, so long as its directors maintain their positions.
While Malone’s Liberty Global has 19.6 million pay-TV, Internet and phone customers, mostly in Europe, and the billionaire directly holds a 4.8 percent stake in satellite-TV company DirecTV, his U.S. cable investments have been limited since he sold Tele-Communications Inc. to AT&T Inc. in 1999. Liberty Media holds an undisclosed stake in Time Warner Cable Inc., the second-biggest U.S. cable company, according to the annual report of Malone’s company.
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‘Gray Market’ Backed by Supreme Court in Win for Orrick Lawyers
The U.S. Supreme Court bolstered the multibillion-dollar “gray market” for discounted goods, ruling that publishers and manufacturers can’t block copyrighted items made and sold abroad from being imported into the U.S.
The justices, voting 6-3, yesterday ruled in favor of a graduate student who imported John Wiley & Sons Inc.’s textbooks from his native Thailand and sold them in the U.S. for a profit. A jury awarded Wiley $600,000 in its suit against the student.
“This is an important win for the American consumer,” Joshua Rosenkranz, a partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP who represented the student, said in a statement. “For 400 years the law has been ‘if you bought it, you own it.’ Somehow, manufacturers managed to persuade a few courts that this sensible rule does not apply to foreign-made goods that have copyright protection -- threatening a U.S. market with an estimated value of $60 billion annually.”
The case was one of the top business and consumer cases in the court’s nine-month term, with the potential to affect sales through EBay Inc. and at stores owned by Costco Wholesale Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
The gray market is the annual trade in tens of billions of dollars in genuine products outside their official distribution channels to exploit lower overseas prices. Supporters of the gray market -- retailers, distributors and consumer advocates -- were battling publishers and manufacturers, which say their U.S. sales are being illegally undercut.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP partner Theodore Olson argued the case for Wiley.
Writing for the court, Justice Stephen Breyer said a ruling in favor of Wiley would have subjected retailers to “the disruptive impact of the threat of infringement suits.” Breyer also said the publishers’ and manufacturers’ position would “threaten ordinary, scholarly, artistic, commercial and consumer activities,” rendering libraries unable to circulate many books printed overseas.
Orrick lawyers who also worked on the case included San Francisco intellectual property partner Annette Hurst, New York intellectual property partner Lisa Simpson and New York Supreme Court and appellate managing associate Brian Ginsberg.
The case is Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, 11-697, U.S. Supreme Court (Washington).
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Class-Action Suits Curbed as High Court Backs Travelers Unit
The U.S. Supreme Court put new constraints on class-action lawsuits, siding with a Travelers Cos. unit and undercutting what companies say is a favorite tactic used by trial lawyers to steer cases to friendly courts.
Under the disputed approach, lawyers agree not to seek more than $5 million -- the threshold that sends class-action suits to federal court under a 2005 U.S. law.
The high court unanimously said that type of “stipulation” isn’t grounds for forcing a case into state court, where plaintiffs often fare better. Writing for the court, Justice Stephen Breyer said those stipulations have limited impact because they aren’t binding on other potential plaintiffs.
“The court’s unanimous decision in Standard Fire enforces the clear terms of the Class Action Fairness Act to ensure that class-action plaintiffs cannot manipulate the system by slicing and dicing claims in order to defeat federal jurisdiction, and it will prevent the state-court class-action abuses that Congress intended to prohibit,” Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., co-chairman of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s appellate practice and lead appellate counsel who argued for Standard Fire, said in a statement.
The high court case came from Miller County, in Arkansas’s southwestern corner. The county is a “magnet jurisdiction,” where trial lawyers have “dragooned scores of out-of-state corporations into settling cases for vast sums bearing no meaningful relationship to their merits,” according to a court filing by five insurance companies and the Manufactured Housing Institute, an industry trade group based in Arlington, Virginia.
A group representing Arkansas plaintiffs’ lawyers called that characterization a “myth.” Since 2000, only 28 class-action cases have been filed in Miller County, the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association said.
David Frederick, a partner at Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel PLLC argued for the plaintiffs.
The case is Standard Fire v. Knowles, 11-1450, U.S. Supreme Court (Washington).
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Apple May Face Sanctions Over Documents in Privacy Lawsuit
Apple Inc. may face court-ordered penalties over how it has handled the process of turning of over documents in a privacy lawsuit after the iPhone maker was previously scolded for “unacceptable” conduct.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal, at a hearing yesterday in San Jose, California, invited plaintiffs’ lawyers in the case to pursue sanctions against Apple after saying that the company’s document production “has more than doubled since the court got involved” in policing information-sharing obligations.
Grewal yesterday questioned Apple about e-mails or documents from employees that the company turned up only after the court ordered a review of its document-production process. Grewal told Apple lawyer Ashlie Beringer, a lawyer at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, that it “doesn’t sound like you did a lick of work” to double-check whether workers properly determined which documents shouldn’t be turned over.
“We’ve gone through close to a dozen people that should’ve come up and didn’t come up” in original requests for information, Grewal said. “In light of that process, how am I to have any confidence that the procedure now is any better” than it was initially, Grewal asked.
The documents at issue “absolutely should’ve been collected and they were not,” Beringer said. “I was not asking the right questions” to cull the required evidence, she explained. “Absolutely that was a failure of management on my part, one that won’t happen again.”
Beringer said Apple has made “Herculean efforts over the last two weeks” to rectify the problem, and that after another filing late last night, the company’s document production is complete. Beringer declined to comment after the hearing.
Apple is accused in the lawsuit of improperly collecting data on the locations of customers through iPhones, even after the device’s geo-location feature was turned off, and sharing personal information with third parties.
The case is In re Apple Inc. iPhone/iPad Application Consumer Privacy Litigation, 11-md-02250, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).
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Panel Approves White to Run SEC in Bipartisan Vote
The U.S. Senate Banking Committee approved Mary Jo White’s nomination to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission on a bipartisan vote, clearing her way to become the first ex-prosecutor to lead the agency.
The committee voted 21 to 1 to send White’s nomination to the full Senate. All of the committee’s Republicans voted for White. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, was the only senator to vote against her.
White’s skeptics have been Democrats such as Brown, who wanted to know how her experience as a defense attorney for Wall Street banks would affect her regulatory philosophy. Her clients at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP included JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley, and UBS AG. She was paid $2.4 million in salary last year, according to her financial disclosure statement.
If approved by the full Senate, White would serve the remaining 14 months of a term vacated by Mary Schapiro, who stepped down as SEC chairman in December. The term runs through June 5, 2014.
The full Senate could vote on White’s appointment later this week. If not, her nomination would be delayed until at least the week of April 8, when senators return from a two-week recess.
“I am concerned about the Wall Street bias in this institution,” Brown told reporters after the vote. “She is very smart and very aggressive. I hope she proves me wrong that a person inside Wall Street can do the kind of job we need.”
White, 65, a former U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, said at a March 12 Banking Committee hearing on her nomination that that her work as a defense attorney “doesn’t mean I embrace the policy thoughts of any of my clients in particular.”
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