Alison Frankel

3rd Circuit dings trial judge for unjustified cut of class counsel fees

July 8, 2016

(Reuters) – Based on the opinion he wrote a year ago, U.S. District Judge Richard Andrews of Wilmington, Delaware, was not bowled over by the work performed by plaintiffs lawyers who reached a shareholder derivative settlement in 2013 with board members of AmerisourceBergen Corporation, or ABC. The settlement agreement — in which ABC agreed to cancel the grant of more than 272,000 stock options, worth about $5 million, to its CEO — said ABC would not oppose a few award of $1 million to Levi & Korsinsky and Farnan. Judge Andrews awarded only $550,000 — and said he would have granted only $250,000 had it not been for ABC’s acquiescence to the higher fee.

Global banks try, try again to ditch Libor antitrust claims

July 7, 2016

(Reuters) – Giant global banks know how to take a hint.

In May, when the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived antitrust claims by investors in bonds and other financial instruments pegged to the benchmark London Interbank Offered Rate, the appellate judges raised an intriguing possibility. The 2nd Circuit found that the trial judge presiding over consolidated Libor litigation, U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of Manhattan, mistakenly concluded that because the Libor rate-setting process was collaborative, not competitive, investors could not show an antitrust injury. Collusive rate-rigging is on its face a violation of federal antitrust law, according to the 2nd Circuit. Customers who overpaid because of rate manipulation have suffered an antitrust injury.

Federal officials can’t hide documents on private servers: D.C. Circuit

July 6, 2016

(Reuters) – Will we ever know exactly why Hillary Clinton used a private email system while she was Secretary of State?

5th Circuit: You have no constitutional right to own a machine gun

July 5, 2016

(Reuters) – The U.S. Constitution does not give private citizens the right to own a weapon that automatically sprays multiple rounds of bullets for as long as the trigger is pressed, according to an opinion issued Friday by a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court upheld a 1986 federal law banning possession of machine guns, holding that the Second Amendment, as interpreted by U.S. Supreme Court precedent, doesn’t cover all “ordinary military equipment.”

Obscure N.J. law spurs wave of big-money consumer class actions vs. online sellers

July 1, 2016

In 1980, New Jersey enacted a law to prohibit businesses from deceiving consumers about their legal rights. The awkwardly named Truth in Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act provided statutory damages of $100 to “aggrieved consumers” who, for instance, bought a ticket or signed a contract that falsely claimed customers couldn’t sue over personal injuries. The point of the law was to protect unsophisticated buyers who might be dissuaded by these deceptive notices from enforcing their legal rights.

‘Glaring’ conflict doomed $7.25 billion Visa/MasterCard settlement

June 30, 2016

The biggest money-damages antitrust settlement in U.S. history died Thursday at the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals. Not because of last year’s scandal surrounding leaks to a onetime MasterCard lawyer since charged with fraud, but because the agreement between credit card giants MasterCard, Visa and the merchants suing them for inflating certain fees was fundamentally unfair to some of the retailers.

As states regulate cash advances to plaintiffs, litigation funders cheer

June 29, 2016

(Reuters) – On Friday, Vermont and Indiana will begin regulating the business of advancing cash to plaintiffs in personal injury litigation, joining six other states that since 2008 have enacted laws intended to shield consumers from predatory litigation funders.

Why VW was smart to fold in emissions cheating case

June 28, 2016

(Reuters) – A few years back, the German automaker Porsche hired Robert Giuffra of Sullivan & Cromwell to defend the company against fraud suits by hedge funds that alleged they lost more than $3 billion shorting Volkswagen shares. The hedge funds accused Porsche of lying about its 2008 accumulation of VW shares and options, squeezing short-sellers when Porsche revealed that it controlled virtually all of VW’s publicly sold stock. Porsche denied the claims and litigated the cases aggressively in both state and federal court – a strategy that looked very smart after appellate judges in both jurisdictions tossed the hedge funds’ suits.

Chancery’s message to shareholders: Race to the courthouse is back on

June 15, 2016

(Reuters) – When plaintiffs’ lawyers contemplate the filing of a shareholder derivative complaint, they have to make a fundamental choice: They can rush to the courthouse with easily obtained information from news stories and public filings or they can conduct an investigation before they sue, using corporate books and records that shareholders are entitled to see in order to inform their allegations.

Notorious porn copyright troll committed ‘fraud on courts’ – 9th Circuit

June 14, 2016

(Reuters) – The shadowy Chicago firm known as Prenda Law existed for only a couple of years. Its practice was ostensibly copyright enforcement, though the firm never litigated an infringement claim all the way to a judgment on the merits. Prenda’s principals – John Steele, Paul Hansmeier and Paul Duffy – were often evasive about their relationship to the firm and to Prenda’s nominal clients, shell companies that owned copyrights on porn movies. But before its dissolution in 2013, Prenda was undeniably profitable. All told, according to an opinion issued Friday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the firm’s principals made millions of dollars from the business model they pioneered.