Troutman Sanders Names Managing Partner for Orange County

Larry Cerutti has been named managing partner of Troutman Sanders LLP’s Orange County office, succeeding Robert Pozin.

Cerutti, a corporate and securities lawyer, joined the firm in June 2012 from Rutan & Tucker LLP, where he was head of the corporate section. He represents middle market companies in public and private securities offerings, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions and securities matters.

Pozin was managing partner in Orange County for 20 years. He opened the office for what was then Ross, Dixon & Bell and continued to serve as managing partner after the firm merged with Troutman Sanders in 2009.

“This is an exciting time of growth for the firm,” Cerutti said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to expand our practice here in Orange County to meet the diverse needs of our clients on the West Coast.”

Troutman Sanders has more than 600 lawyers at 15 offices in North America and Asia.

Quarles & Brady Names Bankruptcy and Trusts and Estates Heads

Quarles & Brady LLP announced that Phoenix lawyer Brian Sirower has been named national commercial bankruptcy, restructuring and creditors’ rights practice group chairman.

The firm also announced that Chicago member Patrick J. Bitterman will take over as national estate, trust and wealth preservation practice group chairman.

Sirower succeeds Milwaukee partner John A. Harris, who has led the group since 2008. Bitterman succeeds Milwaukee partner James F. Daly, who has led the group since 2011.

“Quarles is elated that Brian and Pat will be chairing two of the firm’s largest practice groups,” firm chairwoman Kimberly Leach Johnson said in a statement. “We are confident that they will continue to lead the groups successfully and build on the great leadership that both John and James provided.”

Sirower concentrates his practice on workouts, bankruptcy and commercial litigation, with a focus on creditor representations. He has experience in distressed leasing matters, preference and fraudulent conveyance defense, committee representations, and commercial debtor representations, the firm said.

Bitterman concentrates his practice on estate planning, taxation and tax-exempt organizations. He has experience in the administration of estates and the creation and administration of revocable and irrevocable trusts, including estate, gift, generation-skipping transfer, income and not-for-profit taxation. He also handles tax and business succession planning including family limited partnerships and installment sales.

Quarles & Brady has more than 460 attorneys at its U.S. offices.


Epstein Becker Adds Financial Services Litigator in Newark

Epstein Becker Green PC added Anthony J. Laura, a financial services litigator, as a member of the firm in the litigation and labor and employment practices in Newark, New Jersey. Laura was previously a partner with Patton Boggs LLP.

Laura represents financial services industry clients with an emphasis on consumer class-action litigation and the defense of claims for predatory lending, deceptive practices and statutory consumer-lending violations. He also counsels and litigates for financial services clients in employee relations matters, including enforcement of noncompetition and nonsolicitation agreements and defense of wrongful-discharge claims in state and federal courts, the firm said.

“As lawmakers, regulators, and government investigators continue to shine the spotlight on the financial services industry after the recent crisis and fallout, we continue to foresee a significant rise in litigation work in this sector in 2014 and beyond,” Kenneth J. Kelly, co-chairman of Epstein Becker’s litigation steering committee, said in a statement.

“Having an attorney of Anthony’s caliber on our team will further strengthen our ability to offer these clients innovative strategies designed to produce legally and fiscally sound results.”

Epstein Becker has about 275 lawyers at 10 offices, in the U.S.


BP Bid to Stop Gulf Oil Spill Payments to Get Fast Court Review

BP Plc’s bid to block economic-loss payments tied to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill unless the claims can be directly linked to the disaster won fast-track consideration by an appeals court.

The London-based company said last week that U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans has ignored the appellate court’s earlier decision requiring him to review causation in determining which claims should be paid. The company asked an appeals panel for immediate review while lawyers for spill victims sought a delay.

BP’s request for expedited consideration was granted in an order issued by U.S. Circuit Judge Edith Brown Clement in New Orleans. She directed spill victims to respond to BP’s motion by Jan. 8 and both sides to file letters that day on the causation issue.

The blowout of BP’s deep-water Macondo well off the Louisiana coast in 2010 killed 11 people and sent millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The accident sparked thousands of lawsuits against BP, as well as Transocean Ltd., owner of the rig that burned and sank, and Halliburton Co., which provided cement services for the well.

BP reached a settlement with most private plaintiffs in March 2012, just before a trial on liability for the incident was to begin. BP initially valued the economic-loss settlement at $7.8 billion. It put the cost at $9.2 billion in an Oct. 29 regulatory filing.

Geoff Morrell, a BP spokesman, declined to comment on Clement’s order. David Falkenstein, a spokesman for lawyers leading the spill litigation, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

BP has been battling since the beginning of last year with Barbier, lawyers for spill victims and the administrator of the settlement, Patrick Juneau, over an interpretation of the agreement that the company says improperly allows payments to claimants who can’t link losses to the spill.

The company claims Juneau has approved millions of dollars in payments to businesses for “fictitious” economic losses that weren’t related to the worst offshore spill in U.S. history. It appealed Barbier’s decision upholding Juneau’s interpretation and won review by the New Orleans-based appeals court in a divided opinion in October.

Spill victims’ lawyers have repeatedly said BP is trying to rewrite a deal that is proving more costly than envisioned. is difficult to imagine a more prejudicial scenario.’’

The settlement is part of In Re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, 10-md-02179, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

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Weil Advises Providence Equity in Cox Enterprise Stake Purchase

Cox Enterprises Inc., the Atlanta-based media holding company, agreed to buy back a 25 percent stake in AutoTrader Group from Providence Equity Partners, restoring its full ownership of the e-commerce business. Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP represented Providence Equity Partners with a team that included Boston private-equity partner Kevin Sullivan.

Cox and Providence didn’t disclose the financial terms of the transaction in a statement. A person with knowledge of the deal said the stake was worth about $1.8 billion. That would put AutoTrader’s total value at about $7 billion. Cox will now own 98 percent of the business, with the rest held by current and former employees.

Cox Enterprises owns the cable company Cox Communications Inc., as well as Cox Media Group Inc., which operates the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and TV and radio stations.

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Christie Pulls N.J. Supreme Court Pick in Row With Democrats

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie pulled one of his picks for the state Supreme Court amid a yearlong stalemate with Democrats, and instead nominated him for a lower judgeship.

In an e-mail to the secretary of the state Senate yesterday, Christie said he intends to nominate Robert Hanna to a Superior Court position. Hanna, 55, a registered independent, was one of two people nominated by Christie in December 2012 who have yet to receive a confirmation hearing in the Senate.

Christie, a 51-year-old Republican, won a second term in November. During his first term, Democrats who control the legislature blocked Christie’s efforts to reshape the high court. The governor has accused justices of “legislating from the bench” on issues affecting state spending, including decisions on school funding and affordable housing.

Democrats criticized Christie, a former U.S. attorney, after he denied reappointment in 2010 to John Wallace, the court’s only black justice. That sparked a standoff that lasted a year and delayed hearings on Christie nominee Anne Murray Patterson, a Republican. Christie and Senate President Stephen Sweeney later agreed to let Patterson replace Justice Roberto Rivera Soto, who retired in September 2011.

The governor in December 2012 also nominated David Bauman, a Republican who would be the first Asian-American justice on the seven-member court. The Senate hasn’t scheduled hearings to consider his nomination. Lawmakers earlier in 2012 rejected two other Christie nominees to the bench.

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