(Reuters) – Toward the end of a decision last week in which U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper enjoined the U.S. Treasury Department from hitting Tanzania’s FBME Bank with the most severe sanction permitted under the Patriot Act, the judge acknowledged the terrible security threat from banks that fund terror organizations and international crime syndicates. “Eliminating that financing, and extricating it from the U.S. financial system, are of paramount importance to the government and the public,” Judge Cooper wrote.
(Reuters) – The 108-page opus issued Thursday by Vice Chancellor Travis Laster of Delaware Chancery Court – awarding Dole Food shareholders $148 million in their challenge to billionaire CEO David Murdock’s $1.2 billion buyout of the company – is as much a novella as a judicial decision. There’s a lot to be learned from the Dole case, including Chancery Court’s willingness to reward shareholder lawyers who investigate truly dubious deals and take misbehaving CEOs to trial. The decision, as my Reuters colleague Jon Stempel reported Thursday, may discourage management-led buyouts. At the very least, as lead plaintiffs’ lawyer Stuart Grant of Grant & Eisenhofer told Stempel, the ruling shows that corporate officers cannot unilaterally control going-private transactions.
(Reuters) – The best argument Todd Newman and Anthony Chiasson made this week in separate briefs opposing the Justice Department’s petition for U.S. Supreme Court review of a decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that overturned their insider trading convictions is that even if the justices sided with the government, the outcome of the case wouldn’t change.
(Reuters) – On Tuesday, the U.S. attorney in New Jersey announced a plea deal with Melvin Feliz, an accused drug trafficker and financial schemer from Englewood Cliffs. Feliz is the estranged husband of Keila Ravelo, a onetime antitrust partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher and Hunton & Williams who was arrested alongside Feliz last December. He pleaded guilty to tax evasion and to conspiring with Ravelo to defraud her former law firms by submitting phony invoices for litigation support services. In all, according to the statement, the two skimmed at least $7.8 million from the firms between 2008 and 2014.
The adultery-encouraging website Ashley Madison is now facing at least five U.S. class actions by users who claim the site failed to protect their confidential information from hackers who have since dumped their names, addresses and sexual predilections onto the Internet.
(Reuters) – Our civil justice system features two ways to assure that corporations treat the rest of us fairly. Consumers (or investors, in the case of securities violations) can bring a suit to recover damages. And government regulators can bring an enforcement action. These public and private cases are supposed to work together to hold deceptive corporations accountable for their misdeeds and to deter other businesses from engaging in similar misbehavior.
As the Obama administration pushes for Congressional approval of its nuclear deal with Iran, the Justice Department this week urged the U.S. Supreme Court not to grant review in a case that presents the question of whether lawmakers encroached on the executive and judicial branches to deliver nearly $2 billion in Iranian assets to terror victims.
I’ve been predicting this since June: Class actions face a fundamental threat in the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court term. We already had evidence from the 17 amicus briefs class action foes filed last month in Spokeo v. Robins, urging the justices to do away with class actions based on federal laws granting consumers a private right of action to enforce statutory violations. Now business groups are piling on in Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo.
(Reuters) – The British grocery giant Tesco moved Monday night to dismiss a securities class action in Manhattan federal district court that alleges the company’s coverup of an accounting scheme eventually resulted in a 15 percent plummet in the price of Tesco’s American Depository Receipts. Tesco’s lawyers at Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz argue that because Tesco ADRs do not trade on a U.S. stock exchange – they are only sold over the counter – investors cannot sue in federal court under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Morrison v. National Australia Bank.
(Reuters) – On Friday, Labaton Sucharow filed a class action on behalf of about 21.5 million (!) federal employees, contractors and job applicants whose personal information was exposed in an epic breach of security at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which screens applicants for federal government jobs and conducts security clearance on employees and contractors. Labaton’s complaint is at least the seventh class action against OPM and its private contractor, KeyPoint Government Solutions, including two suits by government employee unions and one with a federal administrative law judge as the lead plaintiff.