Donziger Hires Lawyer for Chevron Appeal: Business of Law

Steven Donziger, a New York attorney accused of leading a racketeering scheme in an environmental lawsuit against Chevron Corp., hired appellate attorney Deepak Gupta of Washington’s Gupta Beck PLLC to represent him in an anticipated appeal, the firm said on its website.

The trial before U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan ended in November. There is no opinion yet.

Gupta specializes in Supreme Court and other appellate litigation on behalf of plaintiffs, with an emphasis on consumers’ and workers’ rights, class actions and constitutional law, according to his firm biography. He argued for the plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case over arbitration, AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion. An adjunct law professor at Georgetown and American universities, he worked at Public Citizen Litigation Group before founding his firm in 2012.

Donziger and a team of other lawyers won a $19 billion judgment in 2011 on behalf of Ecuadorean rainforest villagers who claimed Texaco, later bought by Chevron, dumped billions of gallons of drilling-generated toxic waste from the 1960s through the early 1990s.

Chevron, based in San Ramon, California, has refused to pay any of the judgment and is seeking an order from Kaplan barring Donziger from trying to enforce it.

Donziger will also be represented by University of Denver Law School professors Justin Marceau and John Campbell, whose students will work with Gupta’s legal team.

New Jersey Law Firm Has Role in Hoboken Mayor Threat Claim

When Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer said Jan. 18 that New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie’s administration threatened to withhold Hurricane Sandy aid unless she approved a new office tower, the disclosure involved a politically connected state law firm.

The developer of the tower, New York-based Rockefeller Group, was represented by Wolff & Samson. The New Jersey law firm was founded by David Samson, Christie’s top appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Wolff & Samson said in a statement Jan. 23 that its “conduct in the representation of our client was appropriate in all respects” and denied Zimmer’s statements.

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Firm News

Steptoe Hires King & Spalding Trio to Open Office in Palo Alto

Steptoe & Johnson LLP is opening a Palo Alto, California, office with the hiring of patent litigator William F. Abrams, formerly of King & Spalding LLP, who will be managing partner.

He is joined by Sanjeet Dutta, who will also be a partner. Boyd Cloern, a third King & Spalding lawyer, will be a partner in Steptoe’s Washington office.

“While Steptoe has long had clients in Silicon Valley, putting down roots there has been an important priority of the firm,” Phil West, Steptoe’s chairman, said in a statement.


Judge Picks Lead Law Firms in Yahoo Privacy Lawsuit

Lead law firms for a group privacy lawsuit over Yahoo! Inc.’s mail service will be Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP and Girard Gibbs LLP, according to a case management order filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, California.

Judge Lucy H. Koh set Feb. 12 as the deadline for a consolidated complaint, after refusing Yahoo’s request to delay discovery, according to the Jan. 22 order.

Law firms mounting suits against Yahoo lined up to be heard by Koh in October and November after she ruled against Google Inc. in a case mirroring their clients’ accusations that Yahoo intercepted e-mails for its own gain without getting consent.

Partner Moves

King & Spalding, Ropes & Gray: Lateral Partner Job Changes

King & Spalding LLP added to its SEC enforcement and white-collar criminal practices with the hire of Dixie L. Johnson in Washington and William F. Johnson in New York. The two join from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, where they co-headed the SEC enforcement and white-collar criminal defense groups.

Commercial and securities litigator Richard Gallagher joined Ropes & Gray LLP’s litigation practice group in San Francisco. He was previously at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.

In Toronto, Alex Pankratz, formerly of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, joined Baker & McKenzie LLP’s global tax practice.

DLA Piper LLP announced that Christina Houston joined the firm’s corporate and finance practice as a partner in the Wilmington office. She was at K&L Gates LLP. 

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