Alison Frankel

Kickback claims against Bernstein Litowitz unsealed by 2nd Circuit

February 24, 2016

(Reuters) – Did the renowned plaintiffs’ firm Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann pay a private lawyer in Mississippi $112,500 in order to secure its client relationship with the Mississippi attorney general’s office, where her husband worked?

In unsealed filing, DOJ claims Apple ‘misleading’ on decryption opposition

February 23, 2016

In Apple’s depiction of its intensifying fight with the U.S. Justice Department over accessing data from the iPhone of accused San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, the company is heroically battling in courts across the country for the principle of protecting the privacy of cellphone users, even if that principle requires Apple to oppose government requests to help investigators crack security on suspected criminals’ phones.

New controversy in GM MDL sharpens debate over litigating mass cases

February 22, 2016

The consolidated federal-court litigation over GM’s defective ignition switch has turned into a symposium on how plaintiffs’ lawyers should manage a case in which their strategic decisions can affect thousands of people at a time.

Can U.S. law firms push VW into investor settlement in Holland?

February 19, 2016

(Reuters) – If I were an investor in Volkswagen common stock, I’d be very confused about the best way to try to hold the company accountable for the billions of dollars of market capitalization that disappeared when VW admitted its clean diesel cars were rigged to cheat emissions tests. As I told you in a post in December, all kinds of U.S. and European law firms and litigation funders are trying to convince VW shareholders to sign up with them to pursue litigation in Germany or a settlement in Holland. This week, the field got even more crowded when the New York shareholders’ firm Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann announced that it has formed a Dutch “settlement foundation,” or stichting, for VW investors to join.

Michigan bar: First Amendment protects blogging lawyer in grievance case

February 18, 2016

(Reuters) – A Michigan psychiatrist named Rosalind Griffin was not at all happy when plaintiffs’ lawyer Steven Gursten of Gursten Koltonow Gursten & Raitt published a blog post questioning the doctor’s sworn testimony in one of his cases. Griffin had been hired by defense counsel for a trucking company to conduct a supposedly independent evaluation of Gursten’s client. Gursten’s November 2014 post, which referred to Griffin as “rather notorious” for siding with defendants, suggested that the doctor reached medically unjustified conclusions about his client and then misrepresented facts about her examination of the client at her deposition.

How a N.Y. judge inspired Apple’s encryption fight with Justice

February 17, 2016

Last October, prosecutors from the Justice Department asked a federal magistrate judge in Brooklyn to issue an order directing Apple to help the Drug Enforcement Administration bust security on an iPhone 5 seized from the home of Jun Feng, a suspected meth dealer.

In bond litigation endgame, Argentina’s leverage-shifting play

February 16, 2016

(Reuters) – Cravath Swaine & Moore made quite a splashy debut last week as new counsel to Argentina in its 15-year fight with hedge funds holding billions of dollars in defaulted Argentine debt. At the same time that Cravath lawyers entered appearances on behalf of the recently elected Argentine government, the firm obtained an order from U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa directing NML Capital, Aurelius Capital and other hedge funds that have refused to settle with the new government to show why he shouldn’t lift the 2012 “equal footing” injunction that forced Argentina to negotiate with the holdouts.

Lance Cooper lost big in attack on GM lead counsel – but did MDL process win?

February 11, 2016

(Reuters) – Renegade plaintiffs’ lawyer Lance Cooper – who helped expose GM’s ignition switch defect, was named to the executive committee leading consolidated litigation against the company and then, in lacerating filings over the last couple of weeks, asked the judge overseeing the case to bounce rival lawyers – lost his quest Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman of Manhattan issued an order refusing to remove Robert Hilliard of Hilliard Munoz Gonzales as lead counsel in the GM multidistrict litigation and refusing to overturn Hilliard’s months-old settlement with GM of about 1,400 of his personal injury cases against the company.

The mind-bending international comity debate in RJR RICO case at SCOTUS

February 9, 2016

(Reuters) – The irony is running thick in a debate at the U.S. Supreme Court between the Justice Department and 26 European governments suing the tobacco company RJR Nabisco under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The issue is international comity and the reach of U.S. courts – but the two sides haven’t taken the positions you might expect.

$8.5 billion payout remains elusive for BofA MBS investors

February 5, 2016

(Reuters) – Nothing has come easy in Bank of America’s groundbreaking $8.5 billion deal to resolve put-back claims by investors in 530 Countrywide mortgage-backed trusts. So maybe it’s fitting that just days before BofA is scheduled to deposit the $8.5 billion with the Countrywide MBS trustee so the money can finally be distributed to investors, the deal has run into yet another obstacle. The trustee, Bank of New York Mellon, went to New York State Supreme Court to ask for a delay in payouts. BNY Mellon wants instruction from the court on precisely how to distribute the money to investors.