Wake Up Call: EU Hits Amazon With $294M Back-Tax Bill

• Amazon.com was hit with a $294 million back-tax bill to Luxembourg, as the world’s biggest online retailer becomes the latest U.S. giant to fall afoul of the EU’s state-aid rules. The European Commission also said it’s suing Ireland for foot-dragging on collecting the record 13 billion-euro bill the EU executive body last year ordered it to get from Apple Inc. And McDonald’s Corp. could be hit with a tax ruling in the next couple of weeks. (Bloomberg) Europe is getting tougher on tech companies it believes don’t pay their fair of taxes. (New York Times DealBook)

• In his recent Senate hearing, former Equifax Inc. CEO Richard Smith said the company hired King & Spalding and the law firm’s data security team 48 hours after he was notified of the massive data breach that hit the company, but it waited over a month to notify the public. (Daily Report) Equifax couldn’t protect user data but it managed to keep its data breach secret for at least 39 days. (Bloomberg)

• Smith suggested getting rid of Social Security numbers while lawmakers suggested big corporate fines to improve data security. (Bloomberg)

• New data show that, while the first three quarters of 2017 have seen a record 76 law-firm combinations, mega firms are increasingly finding small boutiques to join their fold. For example, this week the roughly 60-lawyer Los Angeles boutique Liner completed its merger into DLA Piper, a firm with about 4,000 lawyers across offices worldwide. (BLB)

• Alternative legal services provider Axiom said it hired its first chief technology officer, hiring Doug Hebenthal, a founding member of the Microsoft team that developed the Xbox and who later went to Amazon.com. Hebenthal, who will be based in Seattle, said he looks forward to helping companies benefit from a “digital conversion” in legal services. (BLB)

• Litigation funding firm Burford Capital launched its latest Asian office, getting Quentin Pak, an Australia bank executive and former Allen & Overy lawyer, to head its new operation in Singapore. (Asian Lawyer via Law.com)

• Yahoo, the internet company acquired by Verizon Communications Inc. this year, now believes a 2013 security breach exposed all 3 billion of its users at the time. (Bloomberg)

• In an unusual letter to the U.S. Supreme Court, the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel said he gave a series of inaccurate answers during a high-profile argument Monday on the rights of workers to file class-action lawsuits. (Bloomberg)

• An Irish court sent Facebook’s Inc.’s long-running feud with an Austrian privacy activist back to the European Union’s highest court. (Bloomberg) The ruling created new uncertainty for a legal tool used by thousands of U.S. companies to transfer data from their EU operations. (The Recorder)

• Among the 59 people killed during a Las Vegas country music concert, Jennifer Topaz Irvine was a San Diego-based solo practitioner, a former lawyer at law firm Lerach Coughlin, and a graduate of California Western School of Law. (The Recorder)

 

 

Legal Market

• Uber Technologies CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said he had a constructive meeting with London transport authorities, who have threatened to ban the ride-hailing company from the city. (Bloomberg) Meanwhile, Uber’s board voted to go forward with a massive investment deal with SoftBank Group Corp. and potential limits on ex-CEO Travis Kalanick’s power. (Bloomberg)

• Uber hired an engineer to lead its driverless car program last year even after its own research revealed red flags about how much proprietary information he took from his former employer, Waymo. (Bloomberg) The judge in the trial in which Waymo accuses Uber of stealing trade secrets agreed to postpone the trial until December, after telling lawyers from both companies that he doesn’t trust them. (L.A. Times)

 

• Colorado suburban homeowners are turning into “lawyered-up resisters” against fracking companies that covet the oil under their land. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

 

 

Russia Probes

• U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller tasked Michael Dreeben, his top legal counsel, to prepare for the possibility that Trump will try to pardon people in his circle even before prosecutors charge anyone with a crime. (Bloomberg via BLB)

• Mueller’s team includes Scott Meisler an appeals lawyer in the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal division. (Reuters)

 

 

Legal Actions

• India’s Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., the information technology outsourcing giant, and Infosys Ltd., an Indian rival, are fighting lawsuits accusing them of discriminating against white IT workers. (Bloomberg)

• The United Auto Workers union alleges in a complaint to the NLRB that Nissan Motor Co. carried out illegal surveillance of employees in Mississippi for years. (Bloomberg)

• Two proposed class-action lawsuits accuse two Florida law firms of failing to pay administrative workers overtime wages as required by federal law. (Above the Law)

 

 

 

The Trump Administration

• The administration last week withdrew without comment its nominations of David Ehrhart for Air Force general counsel and of Ryan Dean Newman for Army general counsel. Ehrhart is a lawyer for Lockheed Martin. Newman, an Army veteran, is acting assistant attorney general for legal policy in the Justice Department. (Federal News Radio, White House Gov)

 

 

Happening in SCOTUS and Other Courts

• Opponents of partisan gerrymandering got a mixed reception as they urged the U.S. Supreme Court to rule for the first time that voting maps can be so one-sided they violate the Constitution. (Bloomberg)

• The Supreme Court Oct. 2 denied Ikea U.S. West Inc.’s request to review whether a plaintiff alleging a state privacy statute violation who didn’t suffer any concrete injury can sidestep federal court jurisdiction. (Bloomberg BNA)

• A pair of Iranian romances are at the center of the first lawsuit targeting Trump’s latest travel ban. (Bloomberg)

• Hundreds of commenters panned a proposal by North Dakota judges to end legal provisions that allow out-of-state lawyers to represent Dakota Access pipeline protesters. (Associated Press via U.S. News & World Report)

 

 

Laterals, Moves, Law Firm Work

• Calithera Biosciences, Inc., a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company, announced Sumita Ray as its new senior vice president, general counsel and chief compliance officer. Ray, who previously held legal posts at drug companies including Pharmacyclics, Elan Pharmaceuticalsa and AstraZeneca started her career as a litigator at Montgomery, McCracken, Walker and Rhoads LLP. (Globe Newswire)

• Parsons, a California-based engineering and infrastructure services contractor, said it promoted Michael Kolloway to replace retirement-bound Clyde Ellis as its senior vice president, GC and secretary. Kolloway was previously VP and deputy GC for the Americas at the company. (GovCon Wire)

•  Outcome Health, a health intelligence and information tech provider, announced it hired Seth Darmstadter as its general counsel. Darmstadter most recently was a commercial-litigation partner at boutique law firm Michelman & Robinson LLP, for which he co-founded the Chicago office, and was previously at K&L Gates. (Markets Insider)

 

 

Technology

• As Congress investigates Russia’s use of digital platforms to sway the U.S. presidential election, Google recently removed Russia Today from a package of premium YouTube video inventory that the company sells to advertisers. (Bloomberg)

• Lawyers in a personal injury case used electronic time-stamps and other metadata on accident-scene photographs to back up their argument that won more than $1 million for their client who tripped over a garden hose. They could also get $1.5 million in fees. (Daily Business Review)

 

 

Legal Education

• Three Columbia Law School students are coordinating with law firms and other groups in an effort help Puerto Ricans recover from Hurricane Maria. (Columbia)

 

 

Miscellaneous

• Women are underrepresented in U.S. Congress, amidst a stall for women’s progress in general in the country, according to a new Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development report on gender equality. (OECD)

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Casey Sullivan.

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