Alison Frankel

4th Circuit judges debate boycott conspiracies in new antitrust decision

September 15, 2015

(Reuters) – In August 2000, a company called SawStop began showing table saw manufacturers a prototype of its technology to stop the saws when they come in contact with a hand or finger. A few companies were interested enough to open talks with SawStop, which wanted a royalty fee of as much as 8 percent of the wholesale price. Others worried about the cost and reliability of the safety feature, or wondered about the product liability implications if some but not all manufacturers included SawStop technology.

SEC not entitled to deference in State Street fraud appeal – law prof

September 14, 2015

(Reuters) – When it comes to Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement litigation, the constitutionality of in-house proceedings is dominating journalists’ coverage (including mine). Former SEC officials, though, are dedicating a lot of attention of late to a less sexy – but perhaps more lastingly significant – question: Can the SEC redefine the parameters of securities fraud through a final determination in an enforcement action?

Time bar for class action opt-outs continues to divide trial courts

September 11, 2015

(Reuters) – It has been just about a year since the U.S. Supreme Court abruptly tossed In re IndyMac, a case in which the justices were poised to resolve a split between the 2nd and 10th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal on time limits for securities fraud plaintiffs. The 10th Circuit had said in Joseph v. Wiles in 2000 that under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1974 holding in American Pipe v. Utah, the filing of a class action stops the clock on both the statute of limitations and the statute of repose for plaintiffs who later decide to sue on their own. The 2nd Circuit disagreed in its 2013 IndyMac ruling, which concluded that because the statute of repose gives defendants a substantive right to be free from prospective liability after the specified time period, it cannot be tolled.

For shareholder lawyers, Treasury auction antitrust case is next big thing

September 10, 2015

(Reuters) – U.S. securities and antitrust class action lawyers smell big money from the reported Justice Department investigation of bid-rigging in the $12.5 trillion market for U.S. government debt. But before they can begin serious litigation against the two dozen banks and brokerages designated as primary dealers in Treasury securities, they may have to fight one another to lead the case.

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.