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Wake Up Call: Washington Federal Appeals Panel Grills FCC’s Top Lawyer on Net Neutrality

Feb. 4, 2019, 12:39 PM
  • The Federal Communications Commission’s general counsel, Thomas Johnson, last week got tough questioning from a Washington federal appeals panel over the agency’s gutting of Obama-era net neutrality rules. ( Advocates arguing for restoration of the old rules, which barred broadband providers from interfering with web traffic, told the court the FCC lacked the authority to make the decision rescinding the rules. Johnson disagreed with that view. (BLAW via BLB)

  • Cole Schotz advised American Media, LLC and its affiliates on their acquisition of 14 adventure and sports magazine brands from TEN: Publishing, which was advised by Latham & Watkins. American Media said the deal significantly expands its digital network, adding Adventure Sports Network titles including Bike, Canoe & Kayak, Powder, Surfer and Snowboarder, among others. (Forbes) (PR Newswire)

  • Top lawyers from 30 major U.S. companies including Google, Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc. are backing a rule change that would require the full disclosure of third-party funding agreements in civil actions. (The Recorder)

  • The White House backed off appointing Deputy General Counsel Philip Rosenfelt as the new acting inspector general for the Education Department after lawmakers raised concerns about whether he could be an effective watchdog. (BGOV)

  • The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is developing artificial intelligence tools to help examiners analyze patent and trademark applications, as part of a push to ensure patents and trademarks stand up to legal scrutiny. (BLAW via BLB)

  • AMC Networks Inc. has to face a comic book author’s federal copyright suit alleging that its TV zombie series “Fear the Walking Dead” rips off his comic “Dead Ahead.” Davis Wright Tremaine and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher represent AMC. (BLAW via BLB)

  • Bank of America, advised by Goodwin Procter, will pay $22 million to resolve a class action by customers alleging it improperly charged overdraft fees on debit card transactions made with Uber Technologies Inc. (BLAW)

  • Michigan State University fired its general counsel, Bob Young, but it will still pay Young, a former Michigan Supreme Court Justice, more than $1 million. The university is still dealing with fallout linked to its former sports doctor, Larry Nassar, who’s in jail for abusing hundreds of female gymnasts. (Lansing State Journal)

  • Plaintiffs’ lead attorneys in federal pelvic mesh multidistrict litigation stand to rake in an estimated $550 million for their work in recent lawsuits against device manufacturers, including Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson, with total settlements ranging into billions of dollars. Some of the women who were plaintiffs in the suits are questioning their lawyers’ fees and how their cases were handled, and some are considering suing, the Times reports. (NYT)

Lawyers, Law Firms, Laterals

  • A group of former Kirkland & Ellis lawyers now at the White House have received clearances to work on matters that involve their former firm, a report says. (National Law Journal)

  • Coca-Cola Co. lawyer Dara Redler took a job as Toronto-based general counsel at Canadian cannabis company Tilray Inc. (Corporate Counsel)

  • Morgan Lewis added structured transactions lawyer Paul St. Lawrence, as a partner Washington. St. Lawrence arrives from Cleary Gottlieb and will be joined by three associates. (

  • Female judges and lawyers in Michigan, Texas, and Florida recently tweeted their frustration about often being mistaken for assistants. (

Legal Actions, Bankruptcies, Decisions

  • Facebook users are trying get an Illinois federal court to reconsider its decision allowing the social networking firm to immediately appeal class certification in a biometric privacy suit that could potentially expose the company to billions of dollars in liability. Mayer Brown is advising Facebook in the case, while Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd; Edelson PC, and others represent the plaintiffs. (BLAW via BLB)

  • Greenberg Traurig is representing a visual artist who is suing pop singer Ariana Grande over allegations her “God is a Woman” music video infringed his copyrighted work. (BLAW via BLB)

  • Eight banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. must face a lawsuit in Illinois seeking $1 billion in damages for allegedly fixing prices on variable-rate municipal bonds and charging states and local governments for services they didn’t receive. (BN via BLAW)

  • Wells Fargo, advised by K&L Gates, has to face a suit from customers alleging the bank assigned their mortgages to a title insurance firm in exchange for illicit kickbacks, a federal judge ruled. (BLAW)

  • Holland & Knight client Walgreen Co. doesn’t have to defend claims it overcharged a customer for retrieving and copying her pharmacy records. (BLAW)


  • Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX owes its customers $190 million but it says it cannot access most of the funds because its founder died. (Coindesk)

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at; Molly Ward at

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