Wake Up Call: Ex-Justice Department Lawyer Gets 30 Mos. for Stealing Whistle-Blower Cases

• A San Francisco federal judge sentenced former Akin Gump partner Jeffrey Wertkin to 30 months in prison for allegedly stealing 40 sealed whistle-blower lawsuits when he left the Justice Department and peddling some of them to companies named in the suits. (Bloomberg)

• A New York federal court ruled that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has authority to regulate Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as commodities, clearing the way for the agency’s fraud case against a company doing business as Coin Drop Markets and its CEO. (Bloomberg Law via BLB)

• Wells Fargo has to convince an arbitrator rather than a judge that multiple former financial advisers should pursue their overtime claims individually rather than collectively as a class, a New York federal judge ruled. (Bloomberg Law)

• The Senate labor committee rescheduled for today its vote on President Donald Trump’s third pick for the National Labor Relations Board, Morgan Lewis partner John Ring. (Bloomberg LawMorgan Lewis’s representation of Amazon, Microsoft, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Pfizer, and other big finance and tech corporations means Ring will likely have to sit out board cases involving them. (Bloomberg Law)

• Discrimination against a worker based on gender identity or because the person is transitioning between genders is sex discrimination that violates existing federal law, a federal appeals court held in a landmark ruling. (Bloomberg Law)

 

Lawyers and Law Firms

Odds of getting motions to dismiss granted or denied in employment law cases are about 50-50 before Pennsylvania federal Judge Mark Raymond Hornak. Read the latest Know Your Judge column. (Bloomberg Law)

• A day after two elite U.K. law firms and accounting giant EY caught flak for understating their gender pay gaps by excluding high-earning partners, Deloitte’s U.K. division reported its female staff get 43.2 percent less on average than male employees, including data for high-paid partners. (Bloomberg)

• One Big Law firm reportedly passed its sexual harassment problem to another in the recent case of capital markets lawyer James R. Tanenbaum. Fired as a partner from Morrison & Foerster’s New York office last December after its investigation of harassment allegations against him, according to sources, Tanenbaum quickly resurfaced at Mayer Brown, where he has now had to resign. (Above The Law)

• Carothers DiSante & Freudenberger partner Dave Carothers knew as a nine-year-old that he wanted to be a lawyer, after watching “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Today, Carothers is a seasoned trial lawyer who’s handled about 100 jury trials. (Bloomberg Law via BLB)

• Tokyo attorney and bankruptcy trustee Nobuaki Kobayashi recently disclosed that he sold about $400 million of Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash since late September and has another $1.9 billion to unload. (Bloomberg)

 

Legal Market

• Texas firm Haynes and Boone posted record gross revenue of about $400 million in 2017, up 6 percent from 2016, and profits per partner up 3.1 percent, to $957,000. (Texas Lawyer)

 

 Laterals, Moves, Law Firm Work

• Crowell & Moring said it hired the former acting chief of the Drug Enforcement Agency, Chuck Rosenberg, as senior counsel in Washington, D.C. Rosenberg was chief of staff to ousted FBI chief James Comey. (National Law Journal)

Seyfarth Shaw LLP said partner Michael D. Rechtin, Jr. joined its real estate department in Chicago, where he will chair the firm’s data center practice group. He was previously a partner at Baker & McKenzie. (Seyfarth Shaw)

 

 Legal Actions

• BlackBerry’s lawsuit against Facebook is its latest effort to find ways to stem revenue declines by asking other companies to pay up for using technology BlackBerry claims it invented and patented years ago. (Bloomberg) Blackberry is represented by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan in the case. (The Recorder)

• A push to resolve more than 350 lawsuits against makers and distributors of opioid painkillers has hit a snag, so a federal judge cleared the way for lawyers to start collecting evidence for trials. (Bloomberg

• A recent uptick in securities class actions against pharmaceutical and life sciences companies isn’t expected to drop off anytime soon. (Bloomberg Law)

• Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc agreed to pay $500 million to settle New York’s probe into its marketing of toxic mortgage-backed securities that triggered the financial crisis. (Bloomberg)

 Bankers Trust Co. of South Dakota faces another proposed class action by workers who say the company caused them to overpay for the stock of their employer, in a $75.5 million transaction. (Bloomberg Law)

 

 

 Labor Law

• House Democrats yesterday introduced a bill that would be the first legislative attempt to fix to a controversial Labor Department rule on tip sharing. (Bloomberg Law)

• Senate Democrats asked the NLRB to resume hearing a high-stakes case alleging that McDonald’s shares responsibility when its franchisee restaurant owners violate labor laws. (Bloomberg Law)

 • The Labor Department quietly updated its website in recent days to reflect revised policies on how investigators police workplaces for minimum wage and overtime violations, signifying a further retreat from the Obama administration’s approach. (Bloomberg Law)

 

Regulators and Enforcement

• The SEC lacks the funds to provide some cybersecurity enhancements that could help the commission better safeguard its data, agency Commissioner Michael Piwowar said. (Bloomberg Law via BLB)

• The EPA and chemical manufacturers are shrouding chemicals and their potential health risks in secrecy, the Environmental Defense Fund claims in a court brief. (Bloomberg Environment)

 

Russia Probes

 • Longtime Trump associate Sam Nunberg said he loved the attention he received from a round of media interviews this week defying special counsel Robert Mueller but now plans to comply with the prosecutor’s subpoena as quickly as possible. (Bloomberg)

• A Russian-backed company involved in a decade-long drama that touched the highest levels of the U.S. and Russian governments agreed with the U.S. on how to pay a multimillion dollar settlement of a U.S. lawsuit. (Bloomberg)

 

The Trump Administration

• Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen got a temporary restraining order last week to keep porn star Stormy Daniels from talking about her alleged affair with Donald Trump. (New York Times)

 

 

 Happening in SCOTUS and Other Courts

• A group of 21 youths who accuse the U.S. government of failing for decades to properly address climate change defeated the Trump administration’s attempt to keep the dispute out of court. (Bloomberg)

• The Florida shooting suspect was indicted on 17 counts of murder. (Associated Press via Bloomberg)

 

 

Technology

• The U.S. Commerce Department is looking into possibly reversing its 2016 handover of technical internet oversight to the nonprofit manager of the domain name system–the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. (Bloomberg Law)

• Human-resources startup BetterWorks Systems Inc. hired a new CEO as it seeks to come back from a sexual harassment scandal. (Bloomberg)

 

Legal Education

• A campus speech protest at Lewis and Clark law school drew calls to discipline law students. (Bloomberg Law via BLB)

 Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Tom Taylor/Casey Sullivan.