Miles & Stockbridge, Baker Donelson: Business of Law

Seven intellectual property lawyers will join Miles & Stockbridge PC on Aug. 26. The group previously worked in the Washington office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC.

Susan McBee, Chester Moore, and David Woodward are joining as principals, Richard Henderson as of counsel, Bryan Jones and David Vanik as counsel, and Shazi Jiang as an associate. William Brett Stauffer, a registered patent agent, will also join the firm.

John Frisch, the chairman and chief executive officer of Miles & Stockbridge said in a telephone interview yesterday that the group “brings to the firm expertise in the life-sciences, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and chemical areas. This was the one substantive area of patent law that we didn’t have covered.”

Miles & Stockbridge has more than doubled the number of IP lawyers this year. In April, Michael R. Fleming, the former chief administrative patent judge of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, joined the firm. Five other patent attorneys have also joined recently.

The new lawyers primarily will be based in the firm’s office in Tysons Corner, Virginia.

Scott Campbell, the managing director of Baker Donelson’s Washington office, said in a telephone interview today “that Miles & Stockbridge has been very professional and we wish them the best of luck.” He added that “This is by no means taking us out of the IP business--we still have 30 practitioners in this area and we’re committed to building our IP practice.”

In the News

Diamond Foods to Pay $11 Million to Settle Investor Lawsuit

Diamond Foods Inc. agreed to pay $11 million in cash to settle a class-action lawsuit over accounting errors that led to earnings restatements and ended its bid for the Pringles potato-chip brand.

Diamond also will issue 4.45 million common shares to a settlement fund to resolve claims on behalf of investors who bought stock from Oct. 5, 2010, to Feb. 8, 2012, the San Francisco-based company said yesterday in a statement. Diamond denied all claims of wrongdoing or liability in the suit, which targeted the snack-and-nut company and two former officers.

“We believe this proposed settlement eliminates the burden of further time, expense and risk related to the class action,” Chief Executive Officer Brian J. Driscoll said in the statement. The accord is valued at $96.1 million based on Diamond’s closing share price Aug. 20, according to court documents filed yesterday.

In February, a Delaware judge threw out an investor suit against the company brought by a retirement fund for Hialeah, Florida, employees, saying their claims should be decided by a court overseeing a similar case in California. The retirement fund had blamed directors for Diamond’s inability to file its financial statements and derailing its planned $2.4 billion acquisition of Procter & Gamble Co.’s Pringles division.

A portion of the $11 million settlement will be funded by Diamond’s insurers, the company said. The accord is subject to court approval.

Shares rose 19 percent yesterday to $22.79.

The case is In Re Diamond Foods Inc. Securities Litigation, 11-cv-05386, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

In the Courts

Fed Tells Judge Swipe-Fee Rule Rejection Will Be Appealed

The U.S. Federal Reserve is appealing a judge’s decision that its rules on debit-card transaction fees were illegal, a lawyer for the central bank said yesterday.

Visa Inc., the world’s biggest payments network, climbed 3 percent to $178.39 in New York yesterday, the most in almost a month, as a successful appeal could help the company maintain its market-share lead. Smaller rival MasterCard Inc. slid 0.5 percent to $619.31.

The Fed’s general counsel, Scott Alvarez, asked U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington to keep the rules in effect as long as the appeal is pending.

Leon had placed a stay on his July 31 ruling which held that merchants were overcharged billions of dollars under the Fed’s swipe fee set limits.

Unless Leon’s ruling is overturned on appeal, regulators will need to revisit these rules.

In his ruling, Leon said the Fed considered data it wasn’t allowed to use under the Dodd-Frank law in setting the cap on debit-card transaction fees, known as swipe fees, at 21 cents, and neglected to bolster competition in card networks.

The case is NACS v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 11-cv-02075, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

Peabody Owes Health Benefits to Retirees, Appeals Court Says

Peabody Energy Corp.’s health-care obligations to certain retirees remain in effect despite the actions of its former subsidiary Patriot Coal Corp. in bankruptcy, an appeals court ruled.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kathy Surratt-States in St. Louis in May ruled in Peabody’s favor, denying Patriot’s request to hold Peabody to its retiree obligations even as it scaled back its own in bankruptcy. Peabody’s duty could change because of Patriot’s actions in bankruptcy, the judge said.

Three judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals’ bankruptcy appellate panel in St. Louis yesterday reversed. Their decision covers benefits for about 3,100 retirees of Heritage Coal Co., which with Patriot was once part of Peabody Holding Co.

When Peabody spun the companies off in 2007, it said it would be primarily responsible for the retiree benefits.

“Akin to a once amicable divorce gone awry, the parties here disagree about the nature of their dissolution agreement after one of them has experienced a change in circumstances,” the judges wrote.

Patriot said it was pleased with the decision.

“Peabody should not be permitted to use Patriot’s bankruptcy to escape its health-care obligations to thousands of retirees,” Patriot Chief Executive Officer Bennett K. Hatfield said in a statement.

Peabody said in a statement that the appellate judges didn’t rule on how much it must pay under the new labor agreement.

“Any future funding levels are yet to be determined,” Peabody said.

The case In re Patriot Coal Corp., 12-bk-51502, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis).

Law Firm Moves

Jones Day Adds New M&A Partner to Office in Atlanta

Ken Boehner joined the Atlanta office of Jones Day in the firm’s mergers and acquisitions practice. He previously was a partner at Bristows in London.

Boehner’s corporate practice focuses on the life sciences and technology, media, and telecommunications sectors, according to a statement from the firm. He has broad experience advising domestic and international clients on a variety of cross border corporate transactions including mergers and acquisitions, financings, joint ventures, private equity and venture capital, and also works on development of strategies from intellectual property assets.

“We’re delighted that Ken is joining us,” Robert Profusek, leader of Jones Day’s M&A practice said in the statement. Boehner has a “wealth of experience,” particularly in the telecommunications sector in both Europe and the U.S., he said.

K&L Gates Adds Construction Partner to Office in Doha

Matthew Walker is joining the Doha, Qatar, office of K&L Gates LLP. Walker, who previously practiced at Dentons LLP, will join the energy, infrastructure and resources practice.

With a focus on construction law and dispute resolution, Walker has significant experience in ICC arbitrations and alternative dispute resolution in Qatar as well as in the wider Middle East region and other countries. He also provides construction advice and has worked on a range of projects in the Middle East and the U.K.

“Matthew’s skills and experience are well known to K&L Gates lawyers who have already worked closely with him on rail and other projects in Qatar,” Michael Johns, administrative partner of K&L Gates’ Middle East offices, said in a statement.

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