(Reuters) – On Tuesday, the U.S. attorney in New Jersey announced a plea deal with Melvin Feliz, an accused drug trafficker and financial schemer from Englewood Cliffs. Feliz is the estranged husband of Keila Ravelo, a onetime antitrust partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher and Hunton & Williams who was arrested alongside Feliz last December. He pleaded guilty to tax evasion and to conspiring with Ravelo to defraud her former law firms by submitting phony invoices for litigation support services. In all, according to the statement, the two skimmed at least $7.8 million from the firms between 2008 and 2014.
The adultery-encouraging website Ashley Madison is now facing at least five U.S. class actions by users who claim the site failed to protect their confidential information from hackers who have since dumped their names, addresses and sexual predilections onto the Internet.
(Reuters) – Our civil justice system features two ways to assure that corporations treat the rest of us fairly. Consumers (or investors, in the case of securities violations) can bring a suit to recover damages. And government regulators can bring an enforcement action. These public and private cases are supposed to work together to hold deceptive corporations accountable for their misdeeds and to deter other businesses from engaging in similar misbehavior.
As the Obama administration pushes for Congressional approval of its nuclear deal with Iran, the Justice Department this week urged the U.S. Supreme Court not to grant review in a case that presents the question of whether lawmakers encroached on the executive and judicial branches to deliver nearly $2 billion in Iranian assets to terror victims.
I’ve been predicting this since June: Class actions face a fundamental threat in the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court term. We already had evidence from the 17 amicus briefs class action foes filed last month in Spokeo v. Robins, urging the justices to do away with class actions based on federal laws granting consumers a private right of action to enforce statutory violations. Now business groups are piling on in Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo.
(Reuters) – The British grocery giant Tesco moved Monday night to dismiss a securities class action in Manhattan federal district court that alleges the company’s coverup of an accounting scheme eventually resulted in a 15 percent plummet in the price of Tesco’s American Depository Receipts. Tesco’s lawyers at Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz argue that because Tesco ADRs do not trade on a U.S. stock exchange – they are only sold over the counter – investors cannot sue in federal court under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Morrison v. National Australia Bank.
(Reuters) – On Friday, Labaton Sucharow filed a class action on behalf of about 21.5 million (!) federal employees, contractors and job applicants whose personal information was exposed in an epic breach of security at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which screens applicants for federal government jobs and conducts security clearance on employees and contractors. Labaton’s complaint is at least the seventh class action against OPM and its private contractor, KeyPoint Government Solutions, including two suits by government employee unions and one with a federal administrative law judge as the lead plaintiff.
(Reuters) – The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals really, really doesn’t like to hear cases en banc, so shareholders’ lawyers at Robbins Arroyo knew the odds were against them when they asked the entire court to take up the dismissal of a derivative suit accusing JPMorgan Chase directors of botching the company’s investigation of the London Whale trading debacle.
(Reuters) – The intrepid reporter Nate Raymond, who covers New York City federal courts for Reuters, recently decided that, as a pet project, he would use the Freedom of Information Act to try to obtain booking photos of criminal defendants in his bailiwick. It has been a Kafkaesque journey.
(Reuters) – The French media company Vivendi proved Tuesday that it is possible to rebut the infamous presumption in securities class actions that investors relied on market-distorting corporate misrepresentations. U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin of Manhattan granted Vivendi’s motion for summary judgment against claims by the institutional investor Southeastern Asset Management, or SAM, concluding that the evidence – including a five-hour deposition of the analyst who oversaw SAM’s Vivendi stake – showed SAM did not make investment decisions based on Vivendi’s supposedly fraudulent statements.