HP Says Autonomy CFO Can’t Attack Accord: Business of Law

Hewlett-Packard Co. said former Autonomy Corp. finance chief Sushovan Hussain shouldn’t be allowed to challenge its deal with investors to sue him over an $8.8 billion loss tied to HP’s purchase of Autonomy.

HP said in a filing yesterday in San Francisco federal court that Hussain “was one of the chief architects of the massive fraud on HP that precipitated this litigation.” Last month, Hussain sought court permission to intervene in the accord between HP and shareholders, saying it illegally shields HP executives from blame for the botched deal.

HP and Autonomy executives have been trading barbs about the causes of HP’s Autonomy-related writedown, with the computer maker alleging it was the victim of fraud and Autonomy’s ex-managers saying HP botched the acquisition.

The accord, which settles three shareholder suits against HP, “seeks to forever bury from disclosure the real reason for its 2012 writedown of Autonomy: HP’s own destruction of Autonomy’s success,” Hussain said in court papers. A judge must approve the deal.

HP said last year that the U.S. Justice Department and the U.K. Serious Fraud Office have opened investigations relating to Autonomy after HP accused the company of misrepresenting its performance.

Lillian ArauzHaase, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag in San Francisco, said she couldn't confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

Jina Roe, a spokeswoman for the SFO, said in an e-mail that the Autonomy probe is ongoing, and declined further comment.

Hussain hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing.

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Roche Wins Reversal of $2 Million Verdict in Accutane Trial

Roche Holding AG won reversal of a $2.1 million verdict by a New Jersey jury in favor of a California woman who blamed the company’s Accutane acne drug for her inflammatory bowel disease.

A judge erred in the 2011 trial because she wrongly ruled that the question of whether Accutane caused IBD was “tied to” the decision by the plaintiff to take the drug, not to her doctor’s decision to prescribe it, an appellate panel ruled yesterday. Plaintiff Gillian Gaghan said Roche failed to warn her of the risks.

“A prescription drug manufacturer fulfills its duty to warn if it provides adequate warnings to the prescribing physician, and it has no duty to ensure that the warning reaches the patient,” according to the 54-page opinion.

Roche, based in Basel, Switzerland, at one point faced almost 8,000 suits blaming Accutane for IBD. Gaghan’s case was tried with those of two other patients who lost before the jury, including actor James Marshall. The appeals panel upheld those decisions, Roche’s first trial wins after five losses starting in 2007. Roche has won other reversals in Accutane cases.

“From the beginning of this litigation, Roche has pressed the common-sense principle that a plaintiff can’t prevail if his or her doctor understood the risk from our warnings and would still prescribe Accutane,” Tara Iannuccillo, a U.S.-based spokeswoman for Roche, said in an e-mailed statement.

Neither Mike Hook nor David Buchanan, Gaghan’s lawyers, replied to calls or e-mails seeking comment on the appellate court’s ruling.

The case is Greenblatt v. Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., ATL-l-1246-06, New Jersey Superior Court, Atlantic County (Atlantic City).

Law Firms News

Sam Maruca, the former Director of Transfer Pricing Operations for the Large Business and International Division at the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, has returned to Covington & Burling LLP as a partner. Maruca will be resident in the firm’s Washington office and will advise clients on all facets of federal income tax controversy and risk assessment, including transfer pricing matters.

A group of four attorneys specializing in commercial bankruptcy and litigation, restructuring and creditors’ rights has joined the New York office of Troutman Sanders LLP. Hugh McDonald, Jonathan Forstot, Patrick Fitzmaurice and Louis Curcio are joining the firm as partners from Dentons US LLP.

Two environmental litigation attorneys, Nadira Clarke and Lily N. Chinn, have joined Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP as partners. Clarke, a former assistant U.S. attorney and trial attorney in the environmental crimes section at the Department of Justice, will be based in the firm’s Washington office. Chinn was a trial attorney in the environment division of the Justice Department and was also a prosecutor in the agency’s computer crimes section. She will be based in the firm’s Oakland, California, office.

Anna M. Budde, a patent attorney, has joined Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP as a partner in its intellectual property department based in the firm’s Ann Arbor, Michigan, office. She joins Honigman from the Quinn Law Group PLLC in Novi, Michigan.

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