(Reuters) – Details emerged this week in one of the most inexplicable cases of improper lawyer conduct I’ve ever seen. We now know that Gary Friedman of the Friedman Law Group, an accomplished antitrust lawyer who co-led a long-running case for merchants suing American Express over supposedly inflated credit card fees, supplied proprietary information about retailers in his case, as well as a confidential expert witness report, to MasterCard lawyer Keila Ravelo, a onetime partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher who is facing federal criminal charges for allegedly defrauding the firm and her former client MasterCard.
(Reuters) – When I saw news Wednesday that Target had reached a $19 million settlement with MasterCard to reimburse issuers of MasterCard-branded cards for costs associated with Target’s gigantic 2013 data breach, I thought there was something strange about the announcement. Target has been embroiled in multidistrict litigation over the data breach since 2014, including consolidated class actions by financial institutions that claim to have spent billions of dollars to replace compromised cards and beef up customer service operations because of the data breach. Last December, U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson of St. Paul, Minnesota, refused to dismiss the banks’ case.
Last Friday, when lawyers from three firms – Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd and Berger & Montague – asked to withdraw as counsel to the National Association of Convenience Stores in the proposed $7 billion antitrust class action settlement with Visa and MasterCard, they said that they only learned of NACS’s opposition to the deal right before the settlement was filed with U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in Brooklyn. That’s not what NACS’s new lawyers at Constantine Cannon said in a brief filed Tuesday night. If there was any doubt that there’s going to be a battle royal over this settlement, the new brief should remove it.