Alison Frankel

Pension, patent rights at stake in SCOTUS Spokeo case: new briefs

September 9, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Spokeo v. Robins on Nov. 2. And if you still had any doubts (despite my frequent reminders) about the potentially enormous consequences of this case, the 14 newly filed amicus briefs backing Thomas Robins – the lead plaintiff in a Fair Credit Reporting Act class action against the data broker Spokeo – should dispel them.

In hurry-up ruling, SEC declares in-house judges are constitutional

September 8, 2015

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s 3-2 split decision last week in its administrative proceeding against the former syndicated radio host Raymond Lucia shows the far-reaching risk the agency faces if its administrative law judges are eventually determined to be subject to the Appointments Clause of the U.S. constitution.

Ex-MasterCard lawyer now helping opponents of $5.7 billion antitrust deal

September 2, 2015

(Reuters) – Keila Ravelo, the notorious onetime partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher and Hunton & Williams, spent nearly a decade advising her mainstay client MasterCard in a gigantic antitrust class action by retailers accusing MasterCard and Visa of conspiring to fix swipe fees for card users. She brought the case with her from Hunton to Willkie when she changed firms, and though she was not MasterCard’s lead lawyer in the case, she worked closely with MasterCard on managing the massive document production and management the litigation demanded. She also attended the mediation and negotiating sessions that culminated in final approval of a $5.7 billion class action settlement in December 2013. In many ways, that settlement was the capstone of Keila Ravelo’s legal career.

Class actions and the separation of powers: a Spokeo debate

September 1, 2015

Today is one of those days when I am really glad not to be a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. They only get the tough cases.

Even terror-funding banks are entitled to fair treatment – D.C. judge

August 31, 2015

(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.

How Dole’s ex-general counsel cost his boss (and himself) $148 million

August 28, 2015

(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.

New SCOTUS briefs: 2nd Circuit didn’t change insider trading law in Newman case

August 27, 2015

(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.

Ex-Willkie partner’s lawyer: Blame husband for false billing scheme

August 26, 2015

(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.

Should Ashley Madison worry about U.S. class actions?

August 25, 2015

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.

Thanks to 3rd Circuit, companies are accountable for lax cybersecurity

August 24, 2015

(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.