Courts Litigation

High Stakes, Significant Victories

The lawyers in our 2016 special report all have something in common — they score big wins in court. But how do these battle-tested litigators make their clients happy?

Pay Equity: Employers Must Be Vigilant

By Lauri Damrell and Jessica Perry |

It's now more critical than ever that companies take a close look at their pay practices.

The Joint-Employment Challenge

By Jeff Rosin |

With careful attention, franchisors and franchisees can address the joint-employment inquiry.

Does 'Sex' in Title IX Include Gender Identity?

By Elise Bloom and Andrew Smith |

The U.S. Supreme Court tackles this issue in 2017 and its approach could have broad implications.

Labor & Employment: Pay Equity, Franchises, and Discrimination

Worried about whether your pay practices meet federal pay-equity standards? You should be. Plus more in this week's special section.

U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. October 9, 2016.

Justices Will Decide Religious Health Systems' Pension Dispute

By Marcia Coyle |

After a lull in adding new cases to the term, the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear arguments in seven challenges, including a trio of cases from religious-affiliated, nonprofit health care systems that are seeking exemptions from federal law for their pension plans.

Mug Shots Are Not Secret Records, Detroit Paper Tells Supreme Court

By Marcia Coyle |

The Detroit Free Press is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a court decision that restricts public access to the mug shots of federal criminal defendants. Booking photos provide an "important window" into the government's exercise of its police powers, the media outlet said in its petition in Detroit Free Press v. U.S. Department of Justice.

Johnson & Johnson Headquarters in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Johnson & Johnson Hit With $1 Billion Verdict in Hip Implant Case

By Amanda Bronstad |

The award for six plaintiffs included $1 billion in punitive damages and $40 million in compensatory damages. J&J's Skadden Arps defense team pledged to appeal.

Federal Trade Commission

Engineer's Suit Over FTC's 'Robocall' Contest Is Blocked in Appeals Court

By Marcia Coyle |

When the Federal Trade Commission in 2012 announced a competition for "innovative solutions" to block automated sales calls, David Frankel thought he had a winning submission. He didn't. Blocking so-called "robocalls" can be tough and frustrating for the average person. Blocking a lawsuit over an agency's competition seemed a relatively easy task for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Thursday.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau building in Washington, D.C.

This Other Big CFPB Case Tests the Scope of Agency's Investigative Power

By C. Ryan Barber |

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau isn't exactly riding high right now. A federal appeals court struck down the constitutionality of the agency's single-director structure. Republicans in Congress want to fundamentally revamp the agency. And the incoming Trump administration isn't expected to openly greet Richard Cordray, the CFPB director. Here's one more headache: a Washington appeals court will in the coming months decide just how far the agency’s investigative power reaches.

Johnson & Johnson's baby powder.

Court Urged to Weigh Financiers' Roles When Picking Lead Counsel in Talc MDL

By Amanda Bronstad |

Johnson & Johnson has asked a federal judge to order plaintiffs' attorneys applying for lead roles in the multidistrict litigation over its talcum powder products to disclose whether they are backed by third-party financiers.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts)

Democratic Lawmakers Urge DC Circuit to Keep CFPB's Single-Director Structure

By C. Ryan Barber |

A group of 21 current and former Democratic lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the House and Senate minority leaders, are backing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as it fights a court ruling that said the agency's single-director structure is unconstitutional.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts)

21 Democratic Lawmakers Urge DC Circuit to Keep CFPB's Single-Director Structure

By C. Ryan Barber |

A group of 21 current and former Democratic lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the House and Senate minority leaders, are backing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as it fights a court ruling that said the agency's single-director structure is unconstitutional.

Michael Jacobs, Morrison Foerster partner.

Nervy Suit Slams Boston Scientific for 'Blatant Disregard' of Competitor's Patent

By Scott Graham |

A small medical device company in Redwood City is taking on Boston Scientific Corp. for allegedly infringing its patents on electrical stimulation of the spinal cord to treat chronic pain.

Uber Taps Cuatrecasas for Landmark EU Regulatory Case

By Rebekah Mintzer |

Uber Technologies Inc. said Monday that Cuatrecasas attorney Cani Fernandez will represent the company before the European Court of Justice in a landmark case determining how the ride-hailing service will be regulated in the EU.

Judge Amos Mazzant

Blocking OT Rules, Obama Appointee Mazzant Showed He's Not in Lockstep With White House

By Miriam Rozen |

Even a labor lawyer who typically represents employers expressed surprise about the pre-Thanksgiving ruling issued by U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant.

Ahilan Arulanantham, 2016 MacArthur Fellow, ACLU Southern California Offices

MacArthur 'Genius' Set to Argue Immigration Case Before Supreme Court

By Tony Mauro |

ACLU attorney Ahilan Arulanantham will step to the lectern this week in a case that tests the due process rights of immigrants in detention.

U.S. Department of Labor building in Washington, D.C.

Kansas Judge Refuses to Block DOL's Fiduciary Rule

By Melanie Waddell |

A Kansas federal judge on Monday rejected the insurer Market Synergy Group Inc.'s request for a preliminary injunction to block the U.S. Labor Department's fiduciary rule—the second legal victory for regulations aimed at mitigating conflicts of interest in the retirement advice market.

U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant of the Eastern District of Texas

Texas Federal Judge Halts Obama Administration's New Overtime Rules

By Miriam Rozen |

A Texas federal judge issued a preliminary injunction halting the Obama administration's proposed regulatory revisions that would have doubled for most employees the salary threshold for overtime pay.

Colby-Sue-Weathers

Landmark Settlement Reached in Mo. Case Over Negligent Entrustment of Gun

By Andrew Denney |

A Missouri gun dealer has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a wrongful-death suit brought by the mother of a mentally ill woman who purchased a gun from the dealer and who was tried for using it to kill her father. The settlement is the largest since the 2005 enactment of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a federal law that shields manufacturers and dealers from liability when their products were used in crimes, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

SEC Chair Mary Jo White

Outgoing SEC Chief Warns that Weakening Securities Rules Would be 'Serious Mistake'

By Rebekah Mintzer |

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White, who announced this week she will resign at the end of President Barack Obama's second term, warned in a speech Friday the agency must not retreat from tougher regulation and enforcement.

Tamika Montgomery-Reeves.

Chancery Court Approves Dissolution of Deadlocked LLC

By Tom McParland |

The Delaware Court of Chancery has approved the judicial dissolution of a Delaware limited liability company that had become deadlocked in the midst of out-of-state litigation over a venture with a private equity firm.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission building in Washington, D.C.

Could Donald Trump's SEC Soften Enforcement of Severance Agreements?

By C. Ryan Barber |

Critics of the SEC's whistleblower program said recent settlements against companies over their severance agreements marked an agency that had stretched too far in its interpretation of Dodd-Frank's protections for tipsters. Now, as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office and shape the SEC, lawyers in the whistleblower field are watching to see whether the commission continues to take a stand against restrictive severance agreements or turns down the heat.

Williams & Connolly attorney David Kendall, left, sits behind former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a House hearing of the Select Committee on Benghazi, on Thursday, October 22, 2015.

Hillary Clinton's Legal Woes Press On Post-Election

By Zoe Tillman |

Clinton may have lost the presidential race but lawsuits and investigations still cast a shadow.

U.S. Supreme Court

FAA Tells Justices to Pass on Flight-Sharing Startup's Case

By Marcia Coyle |

The U.S. Supreme Court should decline to take up a pioneering flight-sharing startup's battle with federal regulators, the Obama administration told the justices on Monday.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission building in Washington, D.C.

SEC Chief Says Fintech May Need New Regulation

By Melanie Waddell |

New regulations may be needed to keep up with the "speed and impact" of financial technology developments, SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White said Monday.

SEC Commissioner Paul S. Atkins.

In Trump's Search for Market Cops, Paul Atkins' Network Plays Prominent

By C. Ryan Barber |

A week after defeating Hillary Clinton, President-elect Donald Trump is just beginning to fill top posts in his administration. As lawyers buzz over potential picks for financial regulatory agencies, the agency best-suited to fulfill his call to "dismantle" financial regulations, some names potentially in the mix revolve in the orbit of his transition team's top adviser on financial regulation—Paul Atkins.

U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

Federal Claims Court Rejects Insurer's $75M ACA 'Risk Corridor' Suit

By Allison Bell |

Federal regulators may not owe a failed Chicago-based health insurer more than $75 million in damages under an Affordable Care Act program set up to help minimize the financial risk of participation in the new public exchanges.

International Trade Commission headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Rare ITC Hearing Will Shape Clean Energy Industry

By Scott Graham |

The International Trade Commission will consider whether to block imports of a material used in lithium-ion batteries for violating a domestic company's patent.

Pelvic mesh

Pelvic Mesh Maker Denied Access to Records of Litigation Funding Intermediary

By Max Mitchell |

A federal judge has rejected efforts by a major defendant in the nationwide transvaginal mesh litigation aimed at preserving electronic records of a company that had acted as a "middleman" between potential patients and third-party litigation funders.

Gonzalo Curiel.

Campaign Statements Tentatively Allowed Into Trump University Fraud Case

By Amanda Bronstad |

A federal judge has tentatively denied President-elect Donald Trump's motion to bar plaintiffs lawyers from using statements he made during his presidential campaign at a trial later this month in a fraud case brought by former Trump University students.

Former SEC Commissioner Paul S. Atkins.

Ex-SEC Commissioner Paul Atkins, No Fan of Dodd-Frank, Leads Trump's Financial-Agency Review

By C. Ryan Barber |

After promising during the campaign to "get rid of Dodd-Frank," President-elect Donald Trump has named Paul Atkins, a fellow critic of the post-financial crisis law, to lead his transition's review of independent financial agencies. His past statements and votes provide some picture of his approach to financial regulation and how he might seek to shape the SEC.

Device Maker Gains Defense Verdict in Hip Implant Case

By Max Mitchell |

After several high-profile plaintiff's victories in hip implant cases, a Missouri jury has cleared a hip device manufacturer of allegations that its metal-on-metal device was defective.

U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. October 9, 2016.

Election Day Finds Supreme Court Divided Over Banking Case

By Tony Mauro |

The justices appeared split 4-4 in a case that illustrates how the election's outcome could affect the future direction of the court.

Trump International Hotel Las Vegas

Trump International Hotel Las Vegas Takes Union Dispute to DC Circuit

By C. Ryan Barber |

Lawyers for Trump International Hotel Las Vegas are asking a federal appeals court in Washington to reverse a finding that the company violated labor laws by refusing to bargain with a union that represents 500 employees.

U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. October 9, 2016.

Religious Health Care Systems Push Back Against Pension Suits in Supreme Court

By Marcia Coyle |

Three religious-affiliated, nonprofit health care systems are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to step into a multimillion-dollar battle with two plaintiffs firms that claim the pension plans of the medical networks are not exempt from federal law.

Stephen Breyer.

Five Supreme Court Takeaways on Cheerleader Uniforms, Laches for Patents

By Scott Graham |

The justices at times seemed disinterested in this week's hearings on intellectual property.

Judger S. Jay Plager, U.S. Court of Appeals for the U.S. Federal Circuit

Federal Circuit Softens Stance on Patent Eligibility

By Scott Graham |

For the fourth time this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has rescued software patents that a district found ineligible for patenting.

Kathleen Sullivan of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan (October 1, 2012)

Justices Urged to Take Hard Line on Whistleblowers' Leaks

By Marcia Coyle |

A major insurer of damage from Hurricane Katrina urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to dismiss lawsuits by whistleblowers who violate a nondisclosure requirement in the federal law that targets fraud against the government.

U.S. Federal Trade Commission Building.

Federal Guidance Warns Against 'No Poaching' and 'Wage Fixing' Pacts

By Rebekah Mintzer |

The Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Justice have issued guidance signaling their interest in further cracking down on companies that make agreements with others that keep employees' wages down or limit their mobility.

Patricia K. Gillette.

Professional Services Firms Increasingly a Target of Pay Equity Suits

By Amanda Bronstad |

Lawyers, accountants and software engineers—they might have jobs that pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, but for many women that’s not enough.

Uber sticker on a parked car on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Uber Loses Drive to Block NLRB's National Subpoenas

By Rebekah Mintzer |

A federal magistrate judge in California on Wednesday granted the National Labor Relations Board permission to issue nationwide subpoenas to investigate whether Uber drivers who brought complaints against the ride-hailing company are statutory employees with the ability to sue under the National Labor Relations Act.

Jane Norberg, chief of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of the Whistleblower, during a panel discussion at the Securities Enforcement Forum 2016 held at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.  October 13, 2016.

SEC Says Companies Should Take the Hint and Not Impede Whistleblowers

By C. Ryan Barber |

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is cracking down on severance agreements that impede whistleblowers. Are companies taking the clue? "I'm hoping that companies are getting the message about this, and I think by taking some of these actions in quick succession, we are getting the message out there," Jane Norberg, head of the SEC's whistleblower office, said.

Airbnb Defends Arbitration in Push to Dismiss Discrimination Suit

By C. Ryan Barber |

Lawyers for Airbnb Inc. defended the home-sharing platform’s terms of service Wednesday in Washington federal district court, arguing that a user who brought a discrimination case against the company should be forced into arbitration to resolve the dispute.

U.S. Department of Labor

Thrivent Financial Fires Latest Salvo at Fiduciary Rule

By Melanie Waddell |

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans became the sixth plaintiff to sue the U.S. Labor Department over its fiduciary rule in a complaint that challenges the class action waiver requirement under the rule's best interest contract exemption.

U.S. Supreme Court building.

Justices Renew Interest in False Claims Act

By Marcia Coyle |

The U.S. Supreme Court, showing a healthy appetite for challenges to the federal law targeting fraud against the government, asked the Obama administration on Monday for its views on whether the justices should hear a False Claims Act case involving U.S. Bank and a federally-backed mortgage insurance program.

U.S. Department of Justice

Feds Accuse Aetna, Humana of Trying to 'Derail' Antitrust Challenge

By C. Ryan Barber |

U.S. Justice Department lawyers, repudiating the misconduct allegations that Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc. raised in the government's blockbuster antitrust suit, accused attorneys for the health insurers of a "transparent" push to unravel the case before it’s ever presented to a judge.

Proponents of affirmative action stand outside the U.S. Supreme Court on the day of arguments in the case <i>Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin</i>, on December 9, 2015.

Harvard, Citing Justices' Affirmative-Action Ruling, Defends Admissions Policy

By Marcia Coyle |

Harvard's legal team, relying on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June for affirmative action, is urging a federal judge to dismiss two of six charges in a suit that accuses the university of discriminating against Asian-American student applicants.

kwik-fix super glue

Glue Maker Settles with FTC in Bind Over 'Made in USA' Claims

By C. Ryan Barber |

Chemence Inc., the maker of KwikFix glue, reached a proposed $220,000 settlement with regulators Thursday in which the company agreed to only advertise its product as "Made in the USA" if the final assembly and all significant processing of its products "occurs in the United States."

U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. March 4, 2015. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.

Race Docket at High Court Runs Deep in New Term

By Marcia Coyle |

Race, never far from the U.S. Supreme Court docket, moved to the fore in the term's first week in two arguments that challenge its presence in the criminal justice system. The justices this term will grapple with race in criminal justice, electoral maps and lending discrimination.

Judge Vince Chhabria, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

Pesticide Cases Directed to Northern District of Calif.

By Amanda Bronstad |

A federal judicial panel has ordered 40 lawsuits against Monsanto Co. over its RoundUp herbicide to be sent to U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria of the Northern District of California.

U.S. Supreme Court building.

Kim Kardashian Robbery Makes Hypothetical in Opening SCOTUS Arguments

By Marcia Coyle |

The U.S. Supreme Court's opening session Tuesday featured two hours of argument over the intent of jurors who gave inconsistent verdicts and what elements prosecutors must prove for bank fraud. The answers were as clear as the skies over the Caribbean as Hurricane Matthew spins up the coast. Not even hypotheticals involving such real-life characters as Kim Kardashian and Jesse James could clear the clouds in the courtroom.

Justices Hunt for Intent in Bank Fraud Law

By Marcia Coyle |

The harrowing robbery of Kim Kardashian in Paris, Jesse James' historical bank heists and even notorious bank robber Willie Sutton played into U.S. Supreme Court arguments on Tuesday as the justices wrestled with the level of intent needed to prove federal bank fraud.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission building in Washington, D.C. September 4, 2014. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.

SEC Fines Casino-Gaming Company $500,000 in Second Whistleblower Retaliation Case

By C. Ryan Barber |

In its first stand-alone retalition case, SEC did not allege any misconduct by IGT except for firing the employee who brought claim alleging accounting model.

Chattanooga, United States - August 12, 2011: EpiPen is an Epinephrine auto-injector type syringe that is used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions or anaphylaxis.

U.S. Senator Prods Mylan on EpiPen 'Pay for Delay' Concerns

By Ben Seal |

Sen. Patty Murray wants answers to questions about a settlement with Teva Pharmaceuticals, which applied to the FDA for a generic equivalent for the EpiPen.

Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Climate Change Policy in Spotlight as Appeals Court Opens Review of Clean Power Plan

By Marcia Coyle |

Mammoth litigation over a pillar of the Obama administration’s climate-change policy goes before the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today. And depending on your point of view, the so-called Clean Power Plan is either a “blunderbuss” and “power grab,” or a classic “exercise in cooperative federalism.”

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Warner Calls For SEC Probe Into Yahoo Breach

By C. Ryan Barber |

Senator Mark Warner is asking the SEC to investigate the Yahoo data breach, when executives learned of it and when they disclosed it to the public as required by securities laws.

U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission building in Washington, D.C.

Worried About Auditors Getting Too Close to Clients? SEC Accountant Says Use "Common Sense"

By C. Ryan Barber |

A Securities and Exchange Commission accountant said Thursday that he does not expect regulators to issue guidance specifying when a relationship crosses the line and compromises the review of a company’s books.

Objectors Fault $324 M in Potential Fees in VW Emissions Accord

By Amanda Bronstad |

More than a dozen objectors have urged a federal judge to reject Volkswagen’s $14.7 billion emissions settlement next month—most of them criticizing a potential $324 million in fees lead plaintiffs attorneys said they might pursue.

State Farm corporate headquarters campus in Bloomington, Ill.

State Farm Must Face $7B RICO Class Action, Judge Rules

By Ben Hancock |

A federal judge in Illinois has certified a class of nearly 5 million policyholders in a case alleging that the insurance giant used campaign contributions to influence the state's Supreme Court.

SEC, in Morgan Stanley Case, Presses Broad Whistleblower Protections

By C. Ryan Barber |

Tipsters who only disclose corporate misconduct internally or to a federal agency other than the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are still entitled to broad anti-retaliation protections, a commission lawyer told a federal appeals court Wednesday.

Judge Patricia Millett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. (2014)

DC Circuit Judge Assails NLRB for 'Cavalier' Approach to Strikers' Abusive Conduct

By Marcia Coyle |

Judge Patricia Millett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit criticizes the National Labor Relations Board for its "too-often cavalier and enabling approach" to racially and sexually demeaning misconduct by employees on strike. "It is 2016, and 'boys will be boys' should be just as forbidden on the picket line as it is on the assembly line," Millett writes.

U.S. Supreme Court.

Backpage.com is Challenged on Two Fronts in Supreme Court

By Marcia Coyle |

The two cases that involve the online classifieds company Backpage.com feature very different legal questions. But they both carry potentially significant implications for internet content providers in particular and, more largely, for the digital economy.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission building.

Ex-SEC Whistleblower Chief Lands at Phillips & Cohen

By Melanie Waddell |

Sean McKessy, the former head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's Office of the Whistleblower, has joined the whistleblower law firm Phillips & Cohen as a partner in its Washington office.

U.S. Supreme Court building.

Backpage.com Asks Supreme Court to Block U.S. Senate Subpoena

By Marcia Coyle |

Backpage.com, the nation's second-largest online classified ad website, on Tuesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a congressional subpoena that demands business information about how the company polices third-party content. Lawyers for Backpage, represented by Davis Wright Tremaine and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, contend the U.S. Senate subpoena, if enforced, chills First Amendment rights.