Finance Team to Join Pillsbury From DLA: Business of Law

DLA Piper UK partners Debra Erni and Graham Tyler, who headed the asset finance practice, will join Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s transportation finance team in London at the beginning of May with three associates.

“Our client list is global, and aviation capital knows few boundaries,” Mark Lessard, co-leader of the Pillsbury team, said in a statement. “Our clients have been asking us to put a team into London for some time.”

Tyler has more than 20 years of experience in structured asset financing and leasing on behalf of banks, export credit agencies, lessors and others.

Erni specializes in international asset finance and leasing with a focus on helping clients in the aviation industry. She has knowledge of Japanese corporate structures and Japanese law, the firm said.

Last April, the firm added Thomas Zimmer as co-leader of the transportation finance team in San Francisco.

Partner Moves

Crowell & Moring Adds California Energy Lawyers Saracino, Lindh

Crowell & Moring LLP announced the addition of two energy partners based in San Francisco.

Nancy Saracino, former vice president, general counsel and chief administrative officer for the California Independent System Operator Corp. since 2007, will head Crowell & Moring’s Western energy practice. She oversaw all of CAISO’s legal, compliance, governance and control functions.

Frank Lindh, former general counsel of the California Public Utilities Commission, also joins the firm. He oversaw the PUC’s legal division for the past six years.

“Having served as the chief legal officers of the two entities in California most responsible for implementing the state’s energy regime, Nancy and Frank will be able to provide our clients unparalleled service capabilities in the energy and other regulated utility markets,” Larry F. Eisenstat, chairman of Crowell & Moring’s energy group, said in a statement.


Chevron Wins U.S. Ruling Calling Ecuador Judgment Fraudulent

Chevron Corp. won a U.S. judge’s ruling that a multibillion-dollar pollution judgment issued in Ecuador was procured by fraud, making it less likely that plaintiffs will collect the $9.5 billion award.

In its racketeering case before U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, Chevron alleged that a U.S. lawyer leading the Ecuadoreans, Steven Donziger, and members of his team engaged in “repeated acts of fraud, bribery, money laundering” and obstruction of justice in pursuit of a multibillion-dollar payout.

Chevron, based in San Ramon, California, was ordered to pay $19 billion to a group of farmers and fishermen by the Ecuadorean court. The award was reduced to $9.5 billion on Nov. 12 by the Ecuadorean National Court of Justice, the nation’s highest tribunal.

Kaplan said yesterday in Manhattan that the second-largest U.S. oil company provided enough evidence that plaintiffs secured the 2011 judgment on behalf of rainforest dwellers in the country’s Lago Agrio area by bribing a judge and ghostwriting court documents. Kaplan oversaw a seven-week nonjury trial over Chevron’s allegations.

The Ecuadorean villagers and activists working on their behalf argued that the oil producer should be held responsible for pollution by Texaco Inc. from the 1960s through the early 1990s. Chevron, which bought Texaco in 2001, claims the company already paid $40 million to clean up its share of the drilling contamination.

Donziger argued that he did nothing wrong in Ecuador and that any aggressive tactics he may have used were no worse than Chevron’s actions.

Chevron was represented in the courtroom by 10 lawyers, including seven partners, from Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP. Donziger’s team included a group of volunteers and trial lawyers Zoe Littlepage and Richard Friedman, who told Kaplan they were working for discounted fees.

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Firm News

Fennemore Craig Expands Its Health-Care Practice in Denver

Fennemore Craig PC, a western U.S. regional law firm, added 13 trial attorneys who handle medical negligence and health-care matters to the firm’s Denver office. The lawyers, who were previously with Kennedy Childs PC, double Fennemore’s Denver office.

The new hires include five directors: David Gelman, Chad Gillam, Barbara Glogiewicz, Catherine O’Brien Crum and Laura Wassmuth.

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