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Wake Up Call: Bayer Hires Skadden ‘Fighter’ to Face Huge Roundup Verdicts

June 27, 2019, 11:27 AM
  • Bayer AG hired Skadden Arps partner John Beisner and set up a special committee to advise its executives on how to deal with allegations that Roundup weed killer causes cancer. This comes after more than $2.2 billion in damages verdicts in the first three trials over the glyphosate-based product. (BN via BLAW)

  • Beisner, who is head of Skadden’s mass torts, insurance and consumer litigation group, is known as a fighter, not a peacemaker. He has represented companies including Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co. in their fights against multi-billion dollar product liability suits. Plaintiffs lawyer Mark Lanier, whose firm has filed about 500 Roundup cases, said Beisner “is known for fighting as long as possible before capitulating” and then calling in settlement negotiators. (BN)

  • Bayer is under pressure from investors as it faces more than 13,000 glyphosate-related cases and potentially billions of dollars in additional verdicts. The German chemicals and pharmaceuticals group has insisted that Roundup is safe and rejected talk of settlements, but yesterday’s move signals a possible shift in its legal strategy. (Financial Times)

  • O’Melveny & Myers repeated as the top ranked firm to work for in Vault’s latest survey of law firm associates. Latham & Watkins jumped eight places to No. 2, and Clifford Chance stayed at No. 3, with Orrick and Fried Frank rounding out the top 5. (Vault.com)

  • O’Melveny is launching an L.A.-based group that will serve tech and media clients looking to profit off increasing collaboration between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. (BLAW via BLB)

  • Transatlantic firm Eversheds Sutherland yesterday became the latest Big Law firm to launch a global alternative legal service provider. The new unit, called “Konexo,” will offer advisory, interim resourcing, and managed service offerings, using the firm’s existing teams in Europe and Asia and integrating its existing flexible lawyering service. (American Lawyer)

  • The Environmental Protection Agency’s deregulatory agenda is up in the air with the departure of assistant administrator William Wehrum amidst ethics allegations. As a former Hunton Andrews Kurth partner, Wehrum represented companies and industry groups challenging Obama-era climate and environmental regulations. (Bloomberg Environment)

  • Madison Square Gardens, advised by Morgan Lewis, will pay about $1.3 million to settle a class action accusing it of illegally rejecting black and Latino job applicants under its criminal background check policy. Outten & Golden, Youth Represent, and New York Legal Assistance Group represent the proposed class. (BLAW) Outten & Golden, with others, is also representing plaintiffs suing Macy’s Inc. over the retailer’s criminal background checks for job applicants. (BLAW)

Lawyers, Law Firms, Deals

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission’s chief of staff, veteran in-house lawyer Lucas Moskowitz, is leaving the job Aug. 1, and the agency is promoting two other in-house counsel. (Corporate Counsel)

  • A Delaware federal appeals court rejected Wall Street law firm Carter Ledyard & Milburn’s motion to halt the flow of settlement money from a body armor company’s bankruptcy to allow the firm to set up a $15 million reserve for attorney fees. (New Jersey Law Journal)

  • E-discovery company Relativity named former LinkedIn executive Mike Gamson as its next CEO. (BLAW via BLB)

  • Morrison & Foerster is advising Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. in its $550 million asset acquisition of the Canadair Regional Jet program from Bombardier Inc. (BN)

  • McGlinchey Stafford said litigator Brian McGrath, who leads the firm’s diversity committee-LGBTQ employee resource group, was appointed to the New York City Bar Association’s LGBTQ Rights Committee for a three-year term. (McGlinchey.com)

  • Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler’s data privacy practice chief, Craig Newman, died from cancer, age 61. (New York Law Journal)

  • Last year insolvency petitions filings declined sharply in offshore jurisdictions and 2019 appears to be continuing this trend, according to new data from offshore firm Appleby. (ApplebyGlobal.com)

Laterals, Moves, Promotions

  • Former Ashurst managing partner James Collis is joining Squire Patton Boggs in London as a partner in its financial services practice. Collis was most recently a partner in Ashurt’s banking practice. (LegalBusiness.co.uk)

  • Vannin Capital said managing director Ania Farren was appointed the new chair of the International Chamber of Commerce’s U.K. arbitration program. (Vannin.com)

  • Barnes & Thornburg added asset management attorney Charles W. Backs as a partner in the firm’s corporate department in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was previously at Beers Mallers Backs & Salin. (BTLaw.com)

Legal Actions, Bankruptcies, Decisions

  • Google Inc. got hit by another French class action over its data privacy policies, filed by a consumer advocacy group. (BN via BLAW)

  • Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit agreed to pay $36.5 million to settle U.S. officials’ claims that its commodities division manipulated the price of precious metals futures over a six-year period. (BN via BLAW)

Technology

  • Accountancy giant PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP has added cryptocurrency auditing to its list of services. (BLAW)

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at rMitchell@correspondent.bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Molly Ward at mward@bloomberglaw.com

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