Alison Frankel

The long-shot argument to hold up VW emissions settlement

August 8, 2016

(Reuters) – Virginia lawyer James Feinman believes he has found a big loophole in Volkswagen’s $14.7 billion settlement with owners of nearly 500,000 clean diesel cars. On behalf of Virginia car owners with claims in state court, he is relying on an unusual interpretation of nuisance law – and bucking his own state attorney general – to stand in the way of VW’s proposed deal, which received preliminary approval from U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco on July 26.

Will judges outside Delaware follow Chancery’s lead in M&A shareholder cases?

August 4, 2016

(Reuters) – There were two big takeaways from a new Cornerstone Research study of shareholder suits challenging big M&A announcements. First, Cornerstone confirmed what other analysts have previously reported: Plaintiffs’ lawyers are filing fewer cases in the wake of a 2015 crackdown on disclosure-only settlements by Delaware’s Chancery Court. The drop-off is dramatic (assuming that, like me, you accept the premise that the filing rate of shareholder M&A suits is the stuff of drama). At the 2013 peak of shareholder M&A litigation, plaintiffs’ lawyers sued to challenge 94 percent of announced deals valued at more than $100 million. In the first half of 2016, the rate was down to 64 percent – lower than we’ve seen since 2009.

In Remington trigger defect class action, claims rate is flashpoint

August 2, 2016

U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith of Kansas City is still not ready to grant final approval to a proposed class action settlement that would provide replacement trigger mechanisms to the owners of more than 7.5 million supposedly defective Remington bolt-action rifles. After a hearing Tuesday morning on a revised proposal from Remington and plaintiffs’ lawyers, the judge directed the two sides to file another proposed order, keeping alive a controversy the case has kicked up.

Judge Rakoff’s soapbox: On Uber, arbitration and fair play

August 1, 2016

(Reuters) – Uber’s decision not to move immediately to compel arbitration in a long-shot antitrust class action against CEO Travis Kalanick continues to reverberate disastrously for the ride-sharing company.

Plaintiffs lawyers’ fee fight is lesson in dismissal standards

July 29, 2016

(Reuters) – There’s not much dispute on the basic facts in a $1 million fee fight between the plaintiffs’ firms Grant & Eisenhofer and Bernstein Liebhard.

The SEC’s twisty argument to toss pay-to-play muni bond rule challenge

July 28, 2016

(Reuters) – Last December, Congress wanted to make sure that the Securities and Exchange Commission would keep its nose out of campaign finance reform. As you know, there’s been considerable debate in recent years about whether the SEC should require corporations to disclose their political spending. The agency hasn’t shown much eagerness to do so, but in the Appropriations Act of 2016 (which was actually passed in December 2015), the House and Senate seemed to take the issue out of the SEC’s control. The law barred the commission from using SEC funds to “finalize, issue or implement any rule, regulation or order regarding the disclosure of political contributions.”

Around the world, pro bono is catching on – new report

July 28, 2016

Nicholas Glicher, legal director of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was trained as an English solicitor and worked as a Mayer Brown attorney in London and Chicago. He winces at lawyer jokes and pop-culture portrayals of lawyers as villains. So for him, the results of the foundation’s third annual survey of law firm pro bono activities around the world was an antidote. Pro bono is thriving, from China – where lawyers reported working an average 37 hours a year on pro bono – to South Africa, where nearly half of the lawyers at reporting firms logged at least 10 hours of pro bono work in 2015.

Distressed debt diva Lynn Tilton on ‘unfair’ SEC trial: ‘You don’t believe it could happen’

July 27, 2016

(Reuters) – Lynn Tilton, the flamboyant financier sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission last March for allegedly defrauding investors in three distressed debt funds, accused the commission in an interview Tuesday of depriving her of due process rights.

Litigation funders hit with sanctions in $180 million case v. Cigna

July 26, 2016

(Reuters) – Litigation funding is an opaque industry. Sure, extremely large funds like Burford Capital, Bentham IMF and Gerchen Keller put out occasional press releases to announce new capital or quarterly results. Once in a while, as in the burgeoning European litigation over Volkswagen’s clean-diesel cars, a big litigation fund publicly teams up with a plaintiffs’ firm. But mostly, funders prefer not to reveal what cases they have invested in. Disclosures are generally not required in U.S. courts and, in an extremely competitive industry, funders don’t want to give away their secrets.

Ongoing shareholder suit could be snag for Yahoo sale

July 25, 2016

Yahoo announced plans Monday to sell its Internet communications business to Verizon for $4.83 billion while retaining its $40 billion stakes in Yahoo Japan and Alibaba, the Chinese online retailer. After the Verizon deal closes, Yahoo intends to rename itself and register with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as an investment company.