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Wake Up Call: Cigna Must Face Drug-Pricing Class Action in Connecticut

March 14, 2018, 11:43 AM

• Morgan Lewis client Cigna Corp. suffered a big setback in Connecticut in a proposed class action accusing the insurer of overcharging for prescription drugs. The Connecticut federal judge in the case refused to dismiss most of a 10-count complaint against Cigna. ( Bloomberg Law )

• And more bad news for Morgan Lewis in San Francisco, where workers at a Sheraton hotel won class action status for their claim that the hotel owner created a culture that encouraged staff to work through breaks without pay. Federal Judge William Alsup told the hotel company’s Morgan Lewis lawyers they could be disqualified from the case for violating conflict-of-interest rules against representing parties with adverse interests. He didn’t go that far, but he did bar Morgan Lewis from cross-examining three employees who testified for the hotel, if they’re called. ( Bloomberg Law via BLB )

• The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit became the first federal appeals chamber to uphold the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule, with law firms Carlton Fields and Walters Bender Strohbehn & Vaughan PC arguing on the losing side for Market Synergy Group. Multiple industry groups and companies have filed lawsuits challenging the Obama-era rule, which regulates financial advice given to retirement savers. ( Bloomberg Law )

• Microsoft Corp.’s investigators concluded that fewer than 1 percent of gender-discrimination complaints made internally were “founded,” according to data unsealed in a class-action lawsuit. ( Bloomberg )

• AT&T Inc. won the right to attack the U.S. lawsuit against its planned takeover of Time Warner Inc. by presenting evidence that it won’t pull channels off the air in contract disputes with rival pay-TV distributors. ( Bloomberg )

• The American Bar Association’s new guidance for law firm leaders to address sex harassment comes out as firms are more aware of the problem but as reporting a harassment claim can still be a career killer for a female lawyer, attorneys said. ( BLB )

Lawyers and Law Firms

• Jenner & Block LLP partner Matthew Price is representing energy company Exelon Corp. in New York and Illinois cases where competitors are challenging state subsidy programs that benefit Exelon’s nuclear power plants. Former U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, now at Munger Tolles, is arguing for three competing companies that operate natural gas and coal power plants. ( Bloomberg Environment )

• Liquidated law firm Dickstein Shapiro is suing cosmetic giant Estee Lauder Inc. and Reed Smith for $1.42 million in legal fees. ( American Lawyer )

• New York firm Milbank is said to be shepherding a group of powerful hedge funds collaborating on an effort to repair the credit-default swaps market. ( Bloomberg ) The SEC is scrutinizing hedge funds as part of its crackdown on cryptocurrencies. ( Bloomberg )

• Security clearance denials can derail careers for those who need access to confidential information. Lawyers who specialize in this niche field can help applicants who encounter glitches. ( Bloomberg Law via BLB )

• Texas’ anti-sanctuary city law survived a federal appeals court fight, but an ACLU lawyer vowed to fight on, possibly with an eventual appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. ( Bloomberg )

Laterals, Moves, Law Firm Work

• The Washington, D.C.-based lawyer for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Barry Pollack, has exited Miller & Chevalier to join a boutique firm. Pollack said he is advising a client targeted by special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. ( National Law Journal )

• McKool Smith announced that veteran bankruptcy and restructuring lawyer H. Jeffrey Schwartz joined the firm as a principal in its New York office. Schwartz was previously a partner and bankruptcy co-chair at Robins Kaplan. ( )

• Orrick added a Silicon Valley technologies partner, Ellen Ehrenpreis, getting her from Palo Alto-based Edgewood Law Partners, which she co-founded. In New York, Orrick hired Arent Fox partners Paul Fakler and Eric Roman for its IP group, with Fakler joining as partner and Roman as counsel. ( The Recorder )

Legal Actions

• Lawyers for former National Football League cornerback Charles Dimry convinced a California federal judge that the league’s retirement plan was wrong when it denied Dimry total and permanent disability benefits. ( Bloomberg Law via BLB )

• Fashion-accessory retailer Claire’s Stores Inc. sells talc-based cosmetic products that contain asbestos, a public interest research body said. The company denied the allegation. ( Bloomberg Environment )

• A Florida optometry practice agreed to pay $180,000 to settle a class action challenging its decision to over-invest 401(k) assets in alleged “patent troll” VirnetX. ( Bloomberg Law )

Sexual Harassment/Gender Discrimination

• A group formed to investigate workplace misconduct in the judicial branch will likely issue a report on its findings in May. ( Bloomberg Law via BLB )

• A former T-Mobile customer service representative can go to trial with her allegations that her “coach” at the company sexually harassed her and the telecommunications giant didn’t do enough to stop it, a federal judge ruled. ( Bloomberg Law )

• Delaware’s governor is implementing a plan to boost protections for state employees against workplace sexual harassment. ( Bloomberg Law )

Regulators and Enforcement

• Browning-Ferris Industries, the company in the middle of a dispute that could decide when a business is considered an employer of workers supplied by contractors and other businesses, asked a federal appeals court to stay out of the case. ( Bloomberg Law )

• The Federal Trade Commission has been operating at half-strength for more than a year and it’s unclear whether the Trump administration will bring the FTC back to full strength. ( Bloomberg Law )


• A current White House official, Connecticut lawyer Justin Clark, is said to be Trump’s pick to lead the Office of Public Liaison. ( Bloomberg )

• Trump’s efforts to reform the H-1B visa program for highly skilled “guestworkers” have been insufficient to ease displacement of U.S. workers, immigration attorneys said. ( Bloomberg Law )

• Porno star Stormy Daniels’ lawyer said Trump’s attorneys missed a deadline to accept the return of a $130,000 settlement payment that Daniels said she accepted to keep silent about her alleged affair with Trump before the 2016 election. ( Bloomberg )

Happening in SCOTUS and Other Courts

• A Nigerian, former Continental Airlines pilot’s refusal to complete a fitness-for-duty exam gave the airline a “legitimate, non-discriminatory reason” to fire him, a federal judge ruled, throwing out his bias suit. Littler Mendelson represented Continental and United Airlines in the case. ( Bloomberg Law )

• A jury convicted a former top aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on federal bribery and fraud charges. ( Associated Press via Bloomberg )

• A California federal judge is hearing scientific arguments ahead of a lawsuit over whether Monsanto Co.’s Roundup caused cancer in Iowa farmers, one of over 300 related lawsuits before him. ( Bloomberg )


• Coinbase Inc., one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, said it obtained an e-money license in the U.K. as it expands services in Europe. ( Bloomberg )

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Tom Taylor/Casey Sullivan.