Minding Your Business

Proskauer’s perspective on developments and trends in commercial litigation.

Venezuela Mines for a Reversal in Federal Appeals Court

mining2Venezuela is taking its fight over a $1.4 billion arbitral award to the District of Columbia’s federal court of appeals.

The award capped a bitter dispute between Venezuela and Crystallex International Corporation, a Canadian mining company. The fight began in 2002, when Crystallex acquired the rights to develop the Las Cristinas gold deposits in Venezuela. Despite the mining company’s years-long efforts to obtain the necessary permit, Venezuela denied Crystallex the permit in 2008. Later that year, the country announced that it would operate and exploit Las Cristinas itself.   Continue Reading

Standing in the Shoes of a Suspended Corporation under California Law

A California Court of Appeal recently provided a reminder that under Code of Civil Procedure § 368, assignment of a right to recover money or other personal property (“a thing in action”) is subject to any defense existing at or before notice of the assignment, including defenses regarding the assignor’s corporate status. Thus, an assignee of rights held by a corporation suspended pursuant to California Revenue and Taxation Code § 22301 may face difficulty enforcing those rights while the assigning corporation remains suspended. Continue Reading

First Department Finds Work-Product Protection Not Waived by Storage of Documents on Company Laptop

On June 6, 2017, the First Department had an opportunity to apply—and reaffirm—last month’s decision in Peerenboom v. Marvel Entm’t, LLC, where the Court held that use of a company email system for personal purposes “does not, standing alone, constitute a waiver of attorney work product protections” even if the user lacked reasonable assurance of confidentiality necessary to bring the documents within the attorney-client or marital privileges. In Miller v. Zara USA, Inc., plaintiff, the former general counsel of Zara USA, Inc., sought a protective order precluding the company from accessing personal documents on a company-owned laptop, claiming the documents to be protected by the attorney-client and work-product privileges. The Supreme Court issued the protective order and Zara appealed.  Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Confirms that Documents Listed on a Privilege Log Are Not Per-Se Privileged

If one party in a lawsuit merely identifies documents on a privilege log without detail, does the other party bear the burden of showing that the withheld materials were not privileged, in order get access to those documents? The Fifth Circuit unanimously says no. In EEOC v. BDO USA, LLP, the Fifth Circuit held that records and communications with legal counsel are not automatically protected from disclosure just by virtue of their being identified in a privilege log.  Continue Reading

Encrypting Emails: ABA Issues New Guidance Addressing Security Concerns over Attorney-Client Communications

In May, the American Bar Association (“ABA”) released a Formal Opinion 477, providing guidance on attorney use of emails in communication with clients. In doing so, the ABA has promulgated a new standard when considering the level of protections necessary while using technology to converse about a legal representation. According to the ABA, a lawyer generally may transmit information relating to the representation of a client over the Internet when the lawyer has undertaken “reasonable efforts” to prevent inadvertent or unauthorized access to information relating to the representation. Under this reasonable-efforts standard, however, the ABA explicitly warns that a lawyer may be required to take special security precautions, like the use of encrypted emails, when the information warrants a higher degree of security. Continue Reading

The Inadvertent Settlement Agreement (and How to Avoid it)

The recent case of Jarvis v. BMW of North America, LLC is an important reminder to attorneys to avoid inadvertently reaching a settlement agreement that is unacceptable to the client, or equally problematic, one that is missing critical (but not legally “essential”) terms and conditions. In Jarvis, the District Court for the Middle District of Florida granted the defendant’s motion to enforce a settlement agreement that had been negotiated by the parties through their respective counsel – even though the plaintiffs refused to sign the agreement. Continue Reading

Can Purchasing Efficiencies Save Mega-Mergers? The D.C. Circuit Says “No”

The D.C. Circuit recently blocked a proposed merger between two of the nation’s three largest health care insurers – Anthem and Cigna, raising doubts about the viability of the efficiencies defense in merger cases despite such a defense having been explicitly recognized in the 2010 FTC and DOJ Horizontal Merger Guidelines.

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