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Wake Up Call: Facebook Risks Multi-Billion Dollar Fine in FTC Probe Talks

Feb. 15, 2019, 12:36 PM
  • Facebook Inc. is talking with the Federal Trade Commission about a possible multi-billion dollar fine to settle the agency’s probe into the social media giant’s alleged privacy violations and other gaffs, according to reports. The fine, which is not a done deal, would dwarf the agency’s previous highest for a technology company. If the talks fail, the matter could be headed for a nasty court fight. (Washington Post) Facebook said it is cooperating with the agency and declined further comment. (Bloomberg)

  • Winston & Strawn has to face pay, bias, and retaliation claims filed by a former intellectual property attorney at the firm, Constance Ramos, after the California Supreme Court ruled she can litigate and can’t be forced to arbitrate the claims. Orrick represents Winston in the case, in which Big Law firms Jones Day, Akin Gump, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, and Perkins Coie had written to the California Supreme Court urging it to review because, they said, the appeals court went too far in extending protections afforded employees to law firm partners. (BLAW)

  • Morrison & Foerster faces a former client’s Texas federal lawsuit accusing it of “egregious overbilling.” (Texas Lawyer)

  • New Attorney General William Barr, who becomes the fifth former Kirkland & Ellis attorney in the Justice Department leadership, now has control of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. (BN via BLAW)

  • A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling is spawning lawsuits that challenge states’ mandatory bar dues. (National Law Journal)

  • U.S. News & World Report said it plans to expand its system for ranking U.S. law schools by adding an evaluation of the “scholarly impact” of schools. (USNews.com)

  • Google must overhaul its privacy policies and practices, among other things, by ceasing to collect and share its users’ personal data without getting prior consent, the Paris First Instance Court said in an appealable ruling. French consumer association UFC-Que Choisir said the Feb. 12 ruling stems from a suit it filed in 2014 alleging that Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s privacy policies violate France’s data protection law. Herbert Smith Freehills is representing Google, according to the French-language ruling text. (QueChoisir.org)

  • Intel Corp., represented by WilmerHale, told a federal appeals court that a $140 million patent infringement verdict won by Sprint Communications Co. against Time Warner Cable Inc. should be reversed because the damages calculation was incorrect. (BLAW)

Lawyers, Law Firms, Deals

  • Cooley said via email that it’s advising San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co. on the denim jeans maker’s filing for a $100 million IPO. (Bloomberg)

  • Kirkland & Ellis is set to get Proskauer Rose private equity rainmaker Mike Woronoff and a team of four partners for its L.A. office, reports say. (The Recorder)

  • Milbank said it represented Bank of America Merrill Lynch, HSBC, and CLSA in connection with a $1 billion note program and $410 million note issuance, in what the law firm described as the first U.S.-backed climate bonds issuance in Southeast Asia listed on Singapore’s stock exchange. (Milbank.com)

  • European private equity firm Astorg, advised by Latham & Watkins, will make a “significant” investment in Anaqua, a provider of intellectual property management solutions that is advised by Willkie Farr & Gallagher, according to a report. No financial terms were disclosed. (PE Hub)

Laterals, Moves, Promotions

  • Troutman Sanders said U.S. Supreme Court litigator Misha Tseytlin, who founded Wisconsin’s solicitor general office in 2015, joined the firm in Chicago as a partner and head of its appellate and Supreme Court practice. Tseytlin, who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, has also been general counsel in West Virginia’s attorney general office, and was a Gibson Dunn associate. (Troutman.com) (Linkedin)

  • Withers expanded its four-year-old L.A. office with a team of corporate, income tax, and estate planning attorneys. Partners Charles Kolstad and S. Eva Wolf and associate Kim Jackson join from Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp. (Withersworldwide.com)

  • Sheppard Mullin announced 2019 partner promotions, including 15 attorneys (five women) firmwide. (SheppardMullin.com)

Legal Actions, Bankruptcies, Decisions

  • The Wendy’s Co., represented by Alston & Bird, agreed to pay $50 million to financial institutions to settle claims that the fast-food restaurant chain had weak data security systems that let hackers access customers’ credit card information. (BLAW)

  • U.S. Bank N.A., advised by Womble Bond Dickinson and others, will pay $2.67 million to settle a consumer class action over robocalls under a deal that won preliminary approval. (BLAW)

  • The ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Center for Gender & Refugee Studies filed a California federal lawsuit against the Trump administration over its policy forcing asylum seekers to return to Mexico and wait there for their cases to be considered. (SPLC.org)

Regulators and Enforcement

  • Twenty-two state attorneys general asked the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to drop proposals to spur financial services innovation that could exempt companies from a powerful enforcement tool protecting customers from abusive practices. (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