In Apple’s depiction of its intensifying fight with the U.S. Justice Department over accessing data from the iPhone of accused San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, the company is heroically battling in courts across the country for the principle of protecting the privacy of cellphone users, even if that principle requires Apple to oppose government requests to help investigators crack security on suspected criminals’ phones.
The consolidated federal-court litigation over GM’s defective ignition switch has turned into a symposium on how plaintiffs’ lawyers should manage a case in which their strategic decisions can affect thousands of people at a time.
(Reuters) – If I were an investor in Volkswagen common stock, I’d be very confused about the best way to try to hold the company accountable for the billions of dollars of market capitalization that disappeared when VW admitted its clean diesel cars were rigged to cheat emissions tests. As I told you in a post in December, all kinds of U.S. and European law firms and litigation funders are trying to convince VW shareholders to sign up with them to pursue litigation in Germany or a settlement in Holland. This week, the field got even more crowded when the New York shareholders’ firm Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann announced that it has formed a Dutch “settlement foundation,” or stichting, for VW investors to join.
(Reuters) – A Michigan psychiatrist named Rosalind Griffin was not at all happy when plaintiffs’ lawyer Steven Gursten of Gursten Koltonow Gursten & Raitt published a blog post questioning the doctor’s sworn testimony in one of his cases. Griffin had been hired by defense counsel for a trucking company to conduct a supposedly independent evaluation of Gursten’s client. Gursten’s November 2014 post, which referred to Griffin as “rather notorious” for siding with defendants, suggested that the doctor reached medically unjustified conclusions about his client and then misrepresented facts about her examination of the client at her deposition.
Last October, prosecutors from the Justice Department asked a federal magistrate judge in Brooklyn to issue an order directing Apple to help the Drug Enforcement Administration bust security on an iPhone 5 seized from the home of Jun Feng, a suspected meth dealer.
(Reuters) – Cravath Swaine & Moore made quite a splashy debut last week as new counsel to Argentina in its 15-year fight with hedge funds holding billions of dollars in defaulted Argentine debt. At the same time that Cravath lawyers entered appearances on behalf of the recently elected Argentine government, the firm obtained an order from U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa directing NML Capital, Aurelius Capital and other hedge funds that have refused to settle with the new government to show why he shouldn’t lift the 2012 “equal footing” injunction that forced Argentina to negotiate with the holdouts.
(Reuters) – Renegade plaintiffs’ lawyer Lance Cooper – who helped expose GM’s ignition switch defect, was named to the executive committee leading consolidated litigation against the company and then, in lacerating filings over the last couple of weeks, asked the judge overseeing the case to bounce rival lawyers – lost his quest Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman of Manhattan issued an order refusing to remove Robert Hilliard of Hilliard Munoz Gonzales as lead counsel in the GM multidistrict litigation and refusing to overturn Hilliard’s months-old settlement with GM of about 1,400 of his personal injury cases against the company.
(Reuters) – The irony is running thick in a debate at the U.S. Supreme Court between the Justice Department and 26 European governments suing the tobacco company RJR Nabisco under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The issue is international comity and the reach of U.S. courts – but the two sides haven’t taken the positions you might expect.
(Reuters) – Nothing has come easy in Bank of America’s groundbreaking $8.5 billion deal to resolve put-back claims by investors in 530 Countrywide mortgage-backed trusts. So maybe it’s fitting that just days before BofA is scheduled to deposit the $8.5 billion with the Countrywide MBS trustee so the money can finally be distributed to investors, the deal has run into yet another obstacle. The trustee, Bank of New York Mellon, went to New York State Supreme Court to ask for a delay in payouts. BNY Mellon wants instruction from the court on precisely how to distribute the money to investors.
(Reuters) – The world learned a couple of very interesting facts last week about Google’s Android operating system. Since its release, Android has generated about $31 billion in revenue and $22 billion in profit. Google meanwhile pays Apple big money – $1 billion in 2014 – to keep its search bar on the iPhone. Those previously unknown details of Google’s finances, as my Reuters colleague Dan Levine has reported, became public via Oracle’s epic litigation accusing Google of infringing its copyrights on Java application programming interfaces.