Wake Up Call: Lawyer’s “Champagne” Comment Could Doom $289M Monsanto Award

Monsanto Co. Roundup

• The trial attorney who in August convinced a jury that Monsanto Co.’s Roundup weed killer caused his client’s cancer could now see the $289 million verdict bubble away. Yesterday, Monsanto parent Bayer AG won a tentative ruling slashing the lion’s share of the verdict, and the San Francisco judge is considering a new trial. Turns out she was miffed by closing arguments by Brent Wisner, of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei, Goldman, especially the part when he claimed Monsanto’s lawyers had champagne waiting on ice to celebrate a win. Monsanto’s lawyer is George Lombardi of Winston & Strawn. (Bloomberg)

• Burford Capital, the largest litigation finance firm, is setting up a $50 million pool of capital earmarked for women-led litigation matters. (Bloomberg Law via BLB)

• Women lawyers today account for about 20 percent of their firms’ equity partnership overall, and at their current “sluggish” progress rate, would need almost a century to get that up to 50 percent, says the president of the National Association of Women Lawyers. The association yesterday released a new report on retention and promotion of women in law firms. (American Lawyer)

• Litigator Susan Estrich, who has scored some firsts for women in politics and the law, will soon leave Quinn Emanuel to join Boies Schiller Flexner, where she’ll be a partner and help lead the firm’s California practice. “It’s the right time,” for the move, Estrich said. (Bloomberg Law via BLB)

• The White House announced 13 new judicial nominees, all men, including Milbank’s L.A. managing partner, Mark Scarsi, partners at Munger Tolles, Jenner & Block, and Kutak Rock, and a former Dechert partner, among others. (National Law Journal)

• Amazon dropped a secret automated recruiting tool after discovering a problem: the “new recruiting engine did not like women.” (CNBC)

• CVS Health Corp. and Aetna Inc. received conditional approval for their proposed $68 billion merger, which is among the biggest recent deals likely to transform the U.S. health-care business. (Bloomberg)

• DoNotPay, the chatbot legal services app started by a Stanford student, released a free app aimed at helping people file small claims suits. (ABAJournal)

 

Lawyers, Law Firms, Deals

 • Morrison & Foerster is advising Walmart’s eCommerce division in its acquisition of Eloquii, Inc., a retailer of “plus-size” women’s apparel designed for size 14 and up. (Bloomberg) (MoFo.com)

• The Senate this week is set to vote on President Trump’s controversial pick to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division–Eric Dreiband, an employer-side attorney and partner at Jones Day in Washington and former general counsel to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (Bloomberg Law via BLB)

• White & Case hired veteran U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission attorney Era Anagnosti as a partner in Washington. (American Lawyer)

 • The American College of Real Estate Lawyers is holding its 40th anniversary celebration in New Orleans starting Oct. 18. (Acrel.com)

 

 Laterals, Moves

 • King & Spalding said Department of Justice cyber-security investigations counsel Scott Ferber returned to the firm as a partner on its data, privacy & security team in Washington. Ferber, most recently in the DOJ’s National Security Division, spent three and half years at the firm as an associate before leaving for the DOJ in 2008. (KSLaw.com)

• DLA Piper hired another former DOJ attorney: Matthew Hiller served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Kansas City, Missouri, and in Chicago, in the National Security and Cybercrimes Section. He’s joining the firm’s litigation practice as a partner in Chicago. (DLAPiper)

• Holland & Knight said Haynes and Boone finance attorney Keith Sambur joined the firm in Denver as a partner in its financial services practice group. Making the move with him is associate Andrew Gillespie. (HKlaw.com)

 

Technology

• Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp messenger service said it patched a bug that allowed hackers to hijack users’ applications when they answered an incoming video call. (Reuters)

• In a 2014 Florida case, a post on Facebook about the outcome of a lawsuit got the confidential settlement tossed. That’s one example of new risks that social media pose for litigation. (LexBlog)

• Microsoft failed to convince a federal magistrate judge that the EU’s new privacy regime limits potential discovery data it must keep for a trial.  Fish & Richardson PC represented Microsoft. Robins Kaplan LLP represented plaintiff Corel. (Bloomberg Law via BLB)

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Tom Taylor.