The judge overseeing litigation over Target’s epic 2013 data breach has serious qualms about Target’s $19 million deal with MasterCard, which proposes to resolve claims by banks that issue MasterCard credit and debit cards. But in a ruling Thursday night, U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson of St. Paul, Minnesota, said there’s nothing he can do to stop it.
(Reuters) – The plaintiffs’ firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, working with regular appellate counsel Samuel Issacharoff of New York University School of Law, submitted a compelling petition last week at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, asking the appellate court to reconsider a three-judge panel’s ruling in Graham v. R.J. Reynolds. In that April 8 decision, the 11th Circuit held that Florida smokers’ strict liability and negligence claims against tobacco companies are implicitly preempted because Congress has imposed federal regulation on cigarettes but has not banned them. Lieff Cabraser’s brief argues not only that the 11th Circuit opinion is at odds with a previous 11th Circuit decision based on the same basic facts and case law but that it’s also contrary to U.S. Supreme Court precedent.
The well-known libel and defamation lawyer Lin Wood left Bryan Cave four years ago because he wanted to represent two whistleblowers – a doctor and nurse – who claimed that the kidney dialysis company DaVita had rigged its drug delivery protocols to overcharge Medicare, Medicaid and other government health programs for unused medications. The False Claims Act whistleblowers had filed their case back in 2007 and already had lawyers, including Marlan Wilbanks of Wilbanks & Bridges. But in March 2011, the Justice Department made the decision not to intervene in the case, leaving the whistleblowers to litigate against DaVita without help from the government. Wood entered his appearance in July 2011.
(Reuters) – Cravath, Swaine & Moore learned the hard way about conflict of interest claims in hostile takeover fights. Back in 2010, a company called Airgas sued Cravath in Pennsylvania, claiming that the firm dropped Airgas as a corporate client when a rival company, Air Products, decided to use Cravath as its counsel in an unsolicited bid for Airgas. Alleging that Cravath was privy to confidential corporate information, Airgas tried to have the firm disqualified from advising Air Products in the M&A fight. To make a very long story short, the disqualification issue ended up before Chancellor William Chandler of Delaware Chancery Court, who found Cravath’s work for Airgas had been too limited to disadvantage the company if Cravath continued to represent Air Products.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts joined with the court’s liberal quartet Wednesday in Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar, a decision upholding disciplinary sanctions against a Florida state judicial candidate who included a request for campaign contributions in a letter introducing herself to Hillsborough County voters. The candidate, Lanell Yulee, lost the election and ended up facing state bar allegations that she had violated a prohibition against direct fundraising by people running for judge. Yulee appealed the sanction, citing her First Amendment rights.
When Target announced earlier this month that it had reached a $19 million settlement with MasterCard to resolve data-breach-related claims by banks that issued MasterCard-branded credit and debit cards, lawyers representing a class of financial institutions suing Target put up a loud protest. The MasterCard deal purports to compensate participating banks for the costs they incurred as a result of the breach of Target’s data in 2013, both for fraudulent charges on cards compromised in the breach and for the expense of sending customers replacement cards. But the banks have to agree to drop all of their potential claims in the class action.
(Reuters) – Just about a year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear a case involving a class action against a couple of Midwestern banks that didn’t post both of the required notices on its ATM machines. The banks’ petition for certiorari raised the same question that had piqued the Supreme Court’s interest in the 2011 case First American Financial v. Edwards: Can Congress confer constitutional standing on otherwise uninjured consumers by giving them a private right of action? But the justices mysteriously dismissed First American on the last day of their term in 2012 and were unwilling to revisit the tough question of Congress and consumers’ right to sue in the ATM case, prompting me to ask in a column if the Supreme Court had lost its zeal to curb consumer class actions.
In the great moral reckoning of the universe, does it make sense for the parents of an exceptional young woman cut down in a mass shooting to be on the hook to Internet ammunitions dealers for nearly a quarter of a million dollars?
(Reuters) – In successive rulings in 2013, three well-regarded federal judges in Manhattan endorsed the Justice Department’s creative adaptation of an old law from the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s to cases against banks involved in the financial crisis of the 2000s. That April, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan refused to dismiss the government’s civil suit against Bank of New York Mellon. Similar rulings followed in August from U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in the so-called “Hustle” case against Bank of America and in September from U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in a Justice Department civil suit against Wells Fargo.