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BLB GC Column: Top Fox News Lawyer Goes on Leave

Oct. 16, 2017, 6:19 PM

Every week, Big Law Business chronicles top developments in the general counsel community. Below are the most recent highlights.

Fox News Lawyer Takes Voluntary Leave of Absence

Fox News announced that its general counsel Dianne Brandi will take an unspecified leave of absence from the company, according to The Washington Post .

Fox didn’t explain why she left, but Brandi was named in four lawsuits filed by former Fox employees or contributors alleging harassment.

Plaintiffs allege that Brandi failed to investigate harassment accusations or didn’t act in response to hostile work environment complaints, according to the Post.

The Post also reported that federal investigators are looking into payments made to employees who accused Roger Ailes and other executives of harassment.

SEC Files Suit Against Insurance Company Lawyer

• Last week, the SEC filed a complaint against Marc A. Celello , a partner and general counsel of Credit Nation, a Georgia based auto loans and life insurance company.

Federal regulators claim he was engaged in a scheme to sell promissory notes they couldn’t back, which helped them raise tens of millions of dollars from investors, “many of whom were elderly and/or retired.”

Celello is a former enforcement attorney for the Georgia Secretary of State in the securities and business regulation division, according to Credit Nation’s archived website.

We reached out to Celello to comment on the SEC’s allegations. We’ll updated this post if we hear back.

• Last week, BLB reported that Chicago based health tech start-up Outcome Health hired a new general counsel, Seth Darmstadter. Less than a month into his new job, he could be in for rough goings.

The Wall Street Journal published accusations about the company, particularly that they were inflating data points for profit with one of their main products: video screens they install in doctors offices that run pharmaceutical industry ads.

Outcome hired Lanny Davis, a lawyer and crisis manager, as a spokesman after the Journal began digging into the company’s actions and hired the law firm of former U.S. attorney Dan Webb to conduct a review of certain employees’ conduct. Davis told the Journal that Outcome put three employees on paid leave, including Ashik Desai, chief growth officer of the company.

On the Move

• Earlier this month, Honeywell International Inc. lost its general counsel Katherine Adams to Apple. Honeywell announced that it tapped Anne Madden, to take over the general counsel role Adams left vacant.

Madden was previously vice president of corporate development and global head of mergers and acquisitions since 2002. She has made 100 acquisitions representing $15 billion in sales and 70 divestitures worth $8.5 billion in sales, the company said.

Madden is a graduate of New York University’s Stern School of Business and Fordham University School of Law. Before joining Honeywell in 1996, she was an associate at Shearman & Sterling with the firm’s corporate finance and M&A unit, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Jason Hillman , an in-house lawyer for the Cleveland Cavaliers since 2005, has been promoted to basketball chief of staff and team counsel.

Hillman was formerly on the business side of the organization and will now transition over to daily basketball operations at the Cleveland clinic courts. He’ll be overseeing salary caps, drafting, player and staff contracts and complying with NBA rules among other roles, according to the Cleveland Jewish News. He’s been with the Cavaliers since 2005, according to his Linkedin profile.

•Enterprise Recovery LLC, a commercial debt collections and accounts receivable management company announced it hired William D’Annunzio as in-house counsel for corporate debt collections.

D’Annunzio has previously served as executive vice president at International Defense Systems and partner at Philadelphia law firm, German, Gallagher & Murtagh. He will provide advice to Enterprise and its parent company BYL Risk Management, and will manage all pending litigation and settlements. He will also be involved in data security, audits and privacy among other tasks.

Burton Hong has joined CoolSys, a refrigeration and HVAC company as executive vice president, general counsel and secretary. He will oversee its legal operations and will serve as a member of the leadership team.

Hong comes to the company from Park Energy Group, where he was executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. Before then, he worked as an associate in the Washington, D.C. office of LeClair Ryan and as a litigation associate in the Washington, D.C. office at Jones Day, according to a CoolSys release.

• Cognosante,a health technology and services company that serves federal and state public health agencies promoted Spiro Fotopoulos to general counsel. Fotopoulos joined Cognosante in 2015 as vice president and associate general counsel.

Before joining Cognosante he served as vice president and deputy general counsel at CACI International, an information solutions company for defense, federal government and intelligence clients. He was there for more than seven years, according to a Cognosante release and Fotopoulos’ Linkedin.

Contact the reporter responsible for this column: Max Siegelbaum at

Contact the editors responsible for this column: Casey Sullivan at and Tom Taylor at