This Weeks News

Elite Law Firms Increasingly Suing Clients to Collect Fees

By Christine Simmons |

In an era when demand for legal services is softening, the country's largest firms are increasingly going to courts and arbitration against their former clients to collect fees in what consultants say is the "new normal."

Manhattan State Supreme Court

Courts Stress Productivity in Weighing Bids for Extra Judicial Terms

By Joel Stashenko |

State court officials have approved the applications of 39 of the 43 judges who sought to remain on the bench for at least two more years past the mandatory judicial retirement age of 70. Among those receiving extended terms is Eugene Pigott Jr., the 10-year veteran of the Court of Appeals who will be assigned to a state Supreme Court part in Buffalo.

Charles Scott Harding

Music Producer Paralyzed in Accident Wins $23M Verdict

By Jason Grant |

Charles Scott Harding was paralyzed from the chest down after a livery cab he was in was struck by a car that ran a stop sign.

Wing Chau exits the Jacob K. Javits Federal Office Building in 2014.

'Big Short' Investment Advisor Can't Bypass SEC Trial

By Mark Hamblett |

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Friday rejected Wing Chau's claims that his case should be decided by a federal court.

Schneiderman Announces More Astroturfing Settlements

By Mark Hamblett |

New York's attorney general reached deals with two companies that paid or offered discounts for positive web reviews.

NY Health Officials Will Allow Chronic Pain Sufferers to Obtain Medical Marijuana

By Joel Stashenko |

The state's health commissioner said he will add chronic pain to the list of health conditions that are eligible for prescribed medical marijuana under New York's law that took effect in January 2016.

George Washington Bridge

Request Denied for Special Prosecutor in Christie Case

A judge found a former firefighter lacked standing to request a special prosecutor be appointed in a criminal misconduct complaint against Gov. Chris Christie in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal.

The Rikers Island complex consists of ten jails.

Trial Opens in 'Savage' Death of Inmate Held at Rikers

A guard at Rikers Island kicked an ailing inmate to death four years ago before persuading fellow guards to lie about what happened, a prosecutor told a jury Friday.

Brooklyn Law School's administrative building at One Boerum Place, Brooklyn

Brooklyn Law School Sells Office Building for $76.5M

By Karen Sloan |

Brooklyn Law School has sold a downtown Brooklyn office building to a group of investors for $76.5 million. The move is the latest in the school's multi-year plan to sell off its extensive real estate holdings amid the borough's hot market in order to bolster its finances.

Asian American Bar to Host 'Know Your Rights' Training

The Asian American Bar Association of New York and the Visiting Nurse Service of New York are co-hosting public seminars to educate Chinatown community members about their legal rights.

The Mall at Short Hills

Judge Allows Insurer for Manager, Security Company to Settle Claims in Mall Carjacking Where Lawyer Died

By Michael Booth |

The insurance carrier representing the general manager and security company of The Mall at Short Hills can satisfy its obligations under their policies for $2 million, a Superior Court judge has ruled, in wrongful death lawsuit for the murder of lawyer Dustin Friedland in 2013.

John Aerni, left, and Adam Kaiser

Alston & Bird Picks Up Two Winston & Strawn Partners

By Christine Simmons |

Adam Kaiser and John Aerni, two Winston & Strawn litigation partners in New York, moved to Alston & Bird on Thursday, and most of their business from two large insurer clients, CNO Financial Group and AIG, is coming with them, they said.

Correction

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.

Top, from left: Eric Corngold, Judith Gische, Caitlin Halligan, Erin Peradotto. Bottom, from left: Benjamin Rosenberg, Robert Spolzino, Rowan Wilson

Commission Names Nominees for State Court of Appeals

By Christine Simmons |

Four practitioners, two appellate judges and the general counsel to the Manhattan district attorney are candidates for an associate judge's seat on the New York Court of Appeals.

Judicial Budget Proposal Calls for 200 Hires, Security Gear

By Joel Stashenko |

State court officials are asking for $2.18 billion in a 2017-18 spending plan they said continues to ease the strict austerity measures imposed in the early 2010s.

Margaret Ryan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

A Day in Court With Judge Margaret Ryan, Possible SCOTUS Nominee

By Tony Mauro |

Margaret Ryan is one of the 20 judges President-elect Donald Trump has named as possible nominees to the high court.

Sally Yates

Yates 'Optimistic' Trump Won't Trash Namesake Enforcement Memo

By C. Ryan Barber |

Sally Yates, the second-in-command at the U.S. Justice Department, is getting a lot of questions these days as the Obama administration draws to a close. Tops among them—and not easily answerable—is this: What's next? Speaking at an FCPA conference, Yates said she is "optimistic" Donald Trump's DOJ will continue many of the priorities set earlier, including the pursuit of individual accountability for corporate misconduct.

Donald Trump

As Trump Tests Legal Boundaries, Small DOJ Unit Poised for Big Role

By Zoe Tillman |

Washington lawyers have their eyes on an appointment that could set the tone on issues ranging from how completely the incoming president separates himself from his business interests to how his administration acts on campaign promises to spike trade agreements and revive harsh interrogation policies.

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.

Circuit Upholds Police's Warrantless GPS Access

By Mark Hamblett |

Exigent circumstances justified the police getting warrantless access to the GPS coordinates on a cellphone belonging to a man accused of pimping out a 16-year-old girl, the Second Circuit held Thursday.

A pitbull

2nd Brother Pleads Guilty in Dog Attack of Child

By Mark Hamblett |

Anthony Villalta and his brother Cesar Cuellar were not present when their pit bull, named Rocky, attacked a 9-year-old boy in Westbury on Jan. 27, causing the child to lose a significant amount of blood.

Age Bias Claim Revived for Ex-Employee of Wall St. Regulator

By Andrew Denney |

An appeals court has reinstated an age discrimination claim against a nongovernmental Wall Street regulator by a former employee who claimed he was fired for revealing that broker-dealers were skirting an SEC rule intended to prevent overleveraging.

Akosua Garcia Yeboah

Judicial Conduct Panel Is Now at Full Strength

By Joel Stashenko |

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has appointed Akosua Garcia Yeboah, a senior information technology project manager for the city of Albany, to fill the last vacancy on the state Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Groups Challenge Cuomo Energy Pricing Plan in Court

By Joel Stashenko |

Two groups have sued over the state's plan to require electric ratepayers in New York to support nuclear power plant operations in the short term to allow the state to improve power supplies from renewable energy sources in the long term.

On the Move

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett; Weil, Gotshal & Manges; Shearman & Sterling; and White & Case announce promotions, while three other firms announce new hires.

Southern District U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara at Trump Tower Wednesday

Trump to Keep Bharara as Southern District U.S. Attorney

By Mark Hamblett |

Preet Bharara emerged from a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump Wednesday saying he was asked to remain at his post and he agreed, a move that was welcomed by the white-collar bar in New York.

cybersecurity, digital

Financial Industry Groups Slam State's Proposed Cybersecurity Rules

By Joel Stashenko |

Major banking and insurance industry groups are attacking New York's proposed regulation requiring member companies to adopt stringent protections against cyberattacks that compromise consumers' confidential information.

Justice Richter

Insurer Gets Second Chance at Bank Accused of Dumping 'Toxic' Mortgage Securities

By Jason Grant |

The securities in question are among those linked to causing the housing crash behind the 2008 recession.

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.

Gary Friedman of the Friedman Law Group

Lawyer Tied to Ex-Willkie Partner's Fraud Case Speaks Out

By Christine Simmons |

After court documents pointed to New York attorney Gary B. Friedman as a "possible co-conspirator" with Keila Ravelo, a former Big Law partner charged in a fraud scheme, Friedman is speaking out, stating he is not a suspect in any crime and he expects to testify at Ravelo's upcoming criminal trial.

ReNika-Moore

Schneiderman Promotes Moore as AG Labor Chief

By Joel Stashenko |

ReNika Moore has been appointed new chief of the Labor Bureau in the state Attorney General's Office, AG Eric Schneiderman announced Wednesday.

Man Who Forged Judge's Signature to Take House Is Sentenced

By Andrew Denney |

A man who stole a Brooklyn brownstone by forging a judge's signature on a court order then sold the property for $500,000 was sentenced on Wednesday to 7 1/2 to 15 years in prison.

Highway Agency Shows Little Love for NY Signs

Officials with the Federal Highway Administration and the New York state Department of Transportation will meet this month to discuss the removal of more than 500 "I Love NY" signs that FHA officials say contain so much information that drivers can become distracted.

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

Annuities Group, Fearing 'Chaos,' Urges DC Circuit to Freeze Fiduciary Rule

By Mike Scarcella |

A financial industry trade association that lost its challenge to Obama administration regulations that confront conflicts of interest in the retirement-advice market is renewing its push to stop the rules from taking effect next April.

The Appellate Division, First Department, at 27 Madison Ave.

Character and Fitness Panel to Interview Applicants

Approximately 98 applicants for the bar will be interviewed on Tuesday, December 6 by the Character and Fitness Committee of the Appellate Division, First Department.

Governor Cuomo

New Law Allows Centralized Arraignments Outside New York City

By Joel Stashenko |

Gov. Cuomo signed a bill into law Nov. 29 allowing the state to designate sites in each county outside NYC for centralized, off-hours arraignments of criminal defendants. The city has long had such sites in each borough.

A. Gail Prudenti

Prudenti Is Set to Become Interim Law Dean at Hofstra

By Karen Sloan |

A. Gail Prudenti is set to become the interim dean at Hofstra University Maurice A. Deane School of Law when Eric Lane steps down on Jan. 1 after four years at the helm. Lane will remain on the law faculty.

Columbia University's Low Memorial Library

Judge: University Must Follow Protocol in Firing Silver-Connected Doctor

By Mark Hamblett |

Columbia University has been ordered to leave Dr. Robert Taub alone while it pursues his termination for his role in the political corruption case of former New York state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Ex-Brooklyn ADA Charged With Illegal Surveillance

By Andrew Denney |

A high-ranking Brooklyn assistant district attorney was arrested Monday and charged by her own office with eavesdropping and forging court orders to authorize surveillance of a New York City police detective and a fellow ADA.

John Bunn, third from right, poses with family members and attorneys Glenn Garber and Rebecca Freedman of the Exoneration Initiative at Brooklyn Supreme Court on Nov. 29 following a judge's decision to vacate Bunn's 24-year-old murder conviction.

Judge Tosses '91 Conviction Linked to Retired Detective

By Andrew Denney |

A Brooklyn judge has thrown out a murder conviction for a man accused of taking part in the 1991 shooting of two corrections officers, citing the "false and misleading practices" of retired New York City police detective Louis Scarcella, who is tied to numerous vacated convictions.

Former Justice Accused of Cutting Fine for Sex

By Joel Stashenko |

A former village court justice from northern New York has been indicted for allegedly reducing a traffic fine for a defendant in exchange for sex, the state attorney general's office said Tuesday.

Cravath Announces Associate Bonus Scale

By Nell Gluckman |

Once again, Cravath, Swaine & Moore kicked off associate bonus season. The firm will pay associates on the same scale as last year and the year before, with the most recent law school graduates receiving $15,000 and senior associates earning as much as $100,000 on Dec. 16.

2016 N.J. State of the State Address by Gov. Chris Christie.

Christie Denies Trump Appointment Rumors; Announces Statehouse Renovations

By Michael Booth |

Speaking before a large crowd of reporters and executive employees, the Republican governor denied persistent rumors of a Trump appointment and instead announced a $300 million renovation to the Statehouse.

L-R Mark Wasserman and Bryan Hughes

Sutherland and Eversheds Are in Talks to Combine

By Meredith Hobbs |

Atlanta-based Sutherland Asbill & Brennan is in talks to combine with Eversheds, one of the U.K.'s largest firms, the two firms announced Tuesday.

NYLJ Seeking News of Verdicts and Settlements

The New York Law Journal would like to provide more coverage of outcomes in civil cases. If you secure a verdict or settlement of $2 million or greater, let us know right away. It may be the basis of a news story or a question-and-answer feature about how you achieved the victory.

Cuban spy Juan Pablo Roque at his home in Cuba in 2012

Wife Alleging Harm by Spy Husband Denied Cuban Funds

By Joel Stashenko |

A federal judge in Albany ruled Nov. 21 that a woman who unknowingly married a Cuban spy cannot collect a Florida default judgment of $7.17 million against the Cuban government and the former spouse from accounts held as abandoned property by New York state using the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

Appellate Division, Third Department, courthouse in Albany

Justices Say Murder Defendant Received Ineffective Counsel

By Joel Stashenko |

The Appellate Division, Third Department, ruled that a murder defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel because his defense attorney failed to challenge admissibility of statements made during a 26-hour interrogation.

Investor in Energy Venture Can't Be Haled Into N.Y. Court

By Andrew Denney |

New York lacks long-arm jurisdiction over an Illinois resident who invested in a New York-based oil and gas drilling venture and later failed to pay a promissory note, an appeals court ruled.

Colby-Sue-Weathers

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

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.

Consumer Agency's Magnet Rule Doesn't Stick in U.S. Appeals Court

A divided federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down product-safety standards that effectively banned the sale of small, high-powered magnets sold widely in toys and puzzles, handing a victory to a company that had long fought the regulations.

Richard Cordray.

Donald Trump's Richard Cordray Problem

By C. Ryan Barber |

President-elect Donald Trump has a Richard Cordray problem. Four weeks before Election Day, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's structure as unconstitutional, ruling that the president should be able to fire the agency's director at will rather than only for cause. Trump's victory rocked the CFPB, putting Cordray's job and the agency's future in jeopardy.

Governor Cuomo

Cuomo Urged to Approve Bill for Defense of Indigent

By Joel Stashenko |

New York state's Roman Catholic church leaders and a coalition of civil rights and legal groups are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to approve state takeover of local government costs of legal representation for indigent criminal defendants.

Accountant Admits to Theft of $3.1M From Employer

A corporate accountant admitted Monday to stealing at least $3.1 million from agribusiness giant Cargill, Inc., and causing $25 million in losses to the privately held company's grain shipping operations at the Port of Albany.

Wantickets Claims Executives' 'Disloyal Acts' Encouraged by Rival

By Jason Grant |

The ticket seller claims Eventbright encouraged and participated in the alleged acts involving two senior executives while it considered acquiring Wantickets.

On the Move

Ten firms announce promotions, while Herbert Smith Freehills, Troutman Sanders and King & Spalding have new additions.

Jones Receives Emory Buckner Medal

Federal Bar Council president Vilia Hayes presented the Emory Buckner Medal, which recognizes outstanding public service, to Barbara S. Jones during the Bar Council's annual Thanksgiving luncheon Wednesday.

Lawyers Hear Message of Hate: 'Go Back to Your Country'

Civil libertarians have sounded alarms over Donald Trump's calls for mass deportations of undocumented immigrants and restrictions on Muslims entering the country. But as some Big Law partners have found, a vocal segment of America is willing to go further.

Cuba-Focused Lawyers Weigh Implications of Castro's Death

By Monika Gonzalez Mesa |

For lawyers assessing how Fidel Castro's death might affect economic and other relations with Cuba, the answer is a seeming paradox: It means both very little and a lot.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

Healey Fights Order to Appear for Deposition by Exxon Lawyers

By Miriam Rozen |

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has asked U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade of the Northern District of Texas to vacate his order requiring her to appear in a Dallas courtroom to submit to deposition questions posted by Exxon Mobil Corp. lawyers.