Alison Frankel

Next fight for Pacquiao? Fending off class actions by angry viewers.

May 6, 2015
Pacquiao of the Philippines takes a punch from Mayweather, Jr. of the U.S. in the second round during their welterweight title fight in Las Vegas

Manny Pacquiao takes a punch from Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in Las Vegas, Nevada, May 2, 2015. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

Behind DaVita $450 million false claims deal, a defense gone awry

May 5, 2015

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.

For Mylan lawyers at Cravath, suit vs. Kirkland has familiar ring

May 4, 2015

(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.

SCOTUS chief justice is worried about eroding public faith in judges

May 1, 2015

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.

Judge on Target/MasterCard deal: ‘I just can’t see where that’s fair’

April 29, 2015

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.

SCOTUS to decide if ‘unharmed’ plaintiffs have right to sue

April 27, 2015

(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.

Ammo dealers want Aurora massacre victim’s parents to pay their legal fees

April 24, 2015

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?

BofA ‘Hustle’ appeal tests Justice’s novel use of old S&L statute

April 23, 2015

(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.

Men face high bar to claim discrimination by campus sex assault tribunals

April 22, 2015

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman of Manhattan dismissed an anonymous male student’s gender discrimination case against Columbia University and its board of trustees. The student, who was suspended for three semesters after a campus tribunal determined he had engaged in non-consensual sex with an anonymous female student, had contended that Columbia’s investigation and prosecution of the incident violated Title IX, which prohibits universities from gender discrimination. The John Doe student, who said his accuser consented to their encounter in her dorm room bathroom and even provided the condom they used, alleged he was treated unfairly because of Columbia’s atmosphere of heightened sensitivity to women complaining of sexual assault by men.

Robbins Geller files new challenge to minimum-stake-to-sue bylaw

April 21, 2015

Remember Imperial Holdings, the Florida life insurance settlement company that last fall adopted a bylaw requiring shareholders to amass written consent from a minimum percentage of their fellow investors in order to sue the board? Imperial was apparently the first public corporation to impose a minimum-stake-to-sue restriction on shareholders’ right to sue, but as the company’s chairman, activist investor Phillip Goldstein, predicted at the time, other companies he controls have since adopted similar provisions. Goldstein has told me many times that the bylaws are not intended to block all shareholder suits but to weed out frivolous cases by investors (and plaintiffs’ lawyers) acting in their own interests rather than the interests of the company.