While states continue to lift their COVID related states of emergency, new price gouging claims are being made and ongoing price gouging litigation continues to wind through the courts. The federal government also now appears more poised than ever to intervene in price gouging issues.
The Sound of “Silent Attorneys”: Judge Orders Google to Re-Review Emails Withheld for Privilege to which Counsel Never Responded
Back in May, we wrote about a pending motion before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in which the U.S. Department of Justice and several state attorneys general (“DOJ Plaintiffs”) sought to sanction Defendant Google and compel disclosure of all emails withheld for privilege that legal counsel received but never responded to (affectionately referred to as “silent attorney” emails). The DOJ Plaintiffs claimed the silent attorney emails constituted artificial requests for legal advice intended to conceal sensitive business communications from discovery. After the parties briefed the issues, the judge ordered that the parties identify cases in support of their positions on whether the judge had the power to issue sanctions for pre-litigation conduct, and further ordered Google to produce a random sample of 210 of the 21,000 “silent attorney” emails for the court’s in camera review.
Two Copyright Claim Wrongs Don’t Make a Copyright Claim Right: Analyzing Melendez v. Sirius XM Radio, Inc.
On October 4, 2022, a Second Circuit panel affirmed the lower court’s decision that defendant Sirius XM Radio Inc.’s ads showcasing The Howard Stern Show do not violate plaintiff John Edward Melendez’s publicity rights. The ruling affirmed the Southern District of New York’s grant of defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claims under California common and statutory law, agreeing that plaintiff Melendez’s claims were preempted by the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 301.
Three Notable Antitrust & Tech Updates That May Have Flown Under Your Radar
Antitrust and tech is in the legal news almost daily, and often multiple times a day. Here are a few recent developments with notable implications that may have flown under the radar: 1) renewed focus on gig economy issues; 2) potential enforcement efforts regarding director overlaps; and 3) challenges to MFN pricing.
SORT IT OUT! The English Courts Take a Step Towards Mandatory Mediation
Mediation is globally recognized as an effective dispute resolution mechanism. A trained mediator can assist apparently diametrically opposed parties in finding a resolution that avoids the time and costs of court proceedings, especially fully contested and lengthy final hearings. Over 50 countries have signed the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation (the Singapore Convention) under which settlement agreements resulting from a mediation process can be recognized and enforced internationally without the need to bring a court claim for breach of the settlement agreement.
“Unconscionable” Standard Need Not be Clean Cut: NY Appellate Court Reverses Lysol Price Gouging Case
One of the bellwether price gouging cases from the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic was recently reversed and remanded by New York’s First Judicial Department of the Appellate Division.
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced in May 2020 that her office had filed a lawsuit against a wholesale grocery distributor – Quality King Distributors – and its CEO for price gouging. The lawsuit alleged that between January 2020 and April 2020, Quality King raised the price of Lysol when its costs had not increased, “dramatically boost[ing] its gross profit margins for Lysol Spray, almost quintupling them over its pre-crisis margins.” Quality King sold 46,104 cans of Lysol during the time in question, and “each time one of these  cans of Lysol was sold at retail for an inflated price – and each time a person bought any other Lysol product whose price Quality King had inflated – Quality King’s price-gouging caused injury to a consumer,” the lawsuit stated. The Attorney General seeks, among other relief, disgorgement of all profits from the illegal practice and a civil penalty of $25,000.
Cryptic Guidance? Despite Regulatory Ambiguity, New SEC Enforcement Could Drive Increase in Cryptocurrency-Related Shareholder Class Actions
In late-July, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought insider trading charges against a former manager at Coinbase—the largest crypto asset trading platform in the United States. The charges are the latest move in the agency’s efforts to regulate cryptocurrency, and could spur an increase in cryptocurrency-related securities litigation.
In SEC v. Wahi, et. al, the SEC alleged that the former manager, Ishan Wahi, improperly provided, or “tipped,” material nonpublic information about the timing and content of Coinbase’s “listing announcements” to his brother and a close friend. These individuals then allegedly used the information to trade ahead of multiple listing announcements and earn at least $1.1 million.
Read the full post on our Corporate Defense and Disputes blog.