Notable Representations, Key Contacts
Consequently, we have a long record of successfully resolving these proceedings on behalf of clients across industries, including retail and consumer products, energy, chemicals, media and entertainment, healthcare and life sciences, heavy manufacturing, insurance, technology, and financial services. Likewise, our experience covers a broad range of substantive areas of law, including fraud, bankruptcy, media and entertainment, trade secrets and restrictive covenants, unfair and deceptive trade practices, RICO, insurance and reinsurance, breach of contract, consumer protection, product liability, and antitrust, among many others.
The practice's comprehensive offerings are supported by a number of foundational capabilities:
Trial Ready Approach
Class Action and Multi-District Litigation Experience
Weil has an excellent track record in defending complex, multi-plaintiff actions, including proceedings before the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation (MDL) and under various state multi-district litigation statutes, as well as class and collective actions in state and federal courts around the United States. From multi-hundred-plaintiff MDLs regarding healthcare reimbursement rates to significant class actions challenging immunity under the Communications Decency Act, Weil’s Complex Commercial Litigators have extensive experience litigating high-value claims, cases of first impression and other significant issues in these contexts for clients across the industry spectrum. Read more
Over the past two years, more than a dozen Weil litigators have tried a case to verdict.
In 2015 and 2016, Weil obtained significant victories for CBS and its affiliates that will redefine the contours of publicity and privacy law in the United States involving the use of student-athlete names, images, and likenesses in the media.
In June 2015, Weil persuaded a Tennessee federal court to dismiss with prejudice a putative nationwide class action (Marshall) brought by NCAA Division I student-athletes alleging that CBS, other networks, college athletic conferences, and licensors, profited from the broadcast and use of student-athletes’ names, images, and likenesses without permission, violating Tennessee’s right of publicity statute and federal antitrust laws. In a landmark decision and judgment on the defendants’ motions to dismiss, the court dismissed Plaintiffs’ complaint in its entirety. Among other things, the court ruled that there was no right of publicity for participants in sporting events, and with respect to Plaintiffs’ antitrust claims, the court rejected Plaintiffs’ claim that the broadcast contracts that purportedly transfer student-athletes’ names, images, and likenesses are an unreasonable restraint of trade, and rejected Plaintiffs’ allegations of antitrust injury or reduced competition. The Sixth Circuit affirmed in August 2016.
In August 2015, a California federal court granted Weil’s motion for summary judgment on behalf of CBS Interactive Inc. (CBSI) in another landmark right of publicity case (Lightbourne) that dismissed all of plaintiff’s claims. The plaintiff in this action alleged that CBSI had used student-athletes’ names, images, and likenesses, without their consent, in connection with its provision of services to NCAA member institutions’ sale of photographs of student-athletes through the schools’ official athletic websites. The plaintiff had asked for a nationwide class of potentially over a million current and former student-athletes and was seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in minimum statutory damages under California’s right of publicity statute. The summary judgment ruling followed the court’s July 30, 2015 denial of the plaintiff’s motion for class certification, in which the court, among other things, rejected Plaintiff’s attempt to apply California law to a nationwide class in this case, concluding that there were material differences in states’ right of publicity laws, and that other states’ interests in applying their own right of publicity laws outweighed California’s.
Weil also successfully obtained the early dismissal of CBS from a multi-district antitrust class action consolidated in California federal court relating to the use of CBS’s NFL broadcasts in the “Sunday Ticket” subscription package.
Weil serves as counsel for Credit Suisse AG and certain of its affiliates in a series of real estate loan disputes in courts around the country, with billions of dollars at stake. Weil is leading all of these cases, including trial proceedings in one of them, and has obtained a number of impressive outcomes, securing the dismissal of all remaining claims, after defeating plaintiffs’ efforts to certify a class, in a $24 billion class action in Idaho federal court regarding loans made to developers of luxury resorts.
Weil secured a complete victory for Discovery Communications and Animal Planet following a multi-week bench trial in the District of Maryland that took place in November 2015. Plaintiff Sky Angel U.S. LLC – a former satellite distributor – had alleged that Discovery breached the parties’ Affiliation Agreement when it terminated the Agreement in 2010 after becoming aware that Sky Angel was utilizing the public Internet to distribute Discovery’s programming. Sky Angel sought tens of millions in damages, and had initially sought specific performance of the Agreement as well. Weil took over the case from another major law firm after an adverse ruling on a motion to dismiss. Weil quickly developed and pressed several arguments as to why, in light of Sky Angel’s improper distribution methodology (i.e., its use of the public Internet), Discovery’s termination was authorized under the Agreement, objectively and subjectively reasonable under governing Maryland law, and thus entirely lawful. In August 2016, in a decision that is currently under seal, the court fully weighed the evidence, made credibility determinations regarding the parties’ witnesses, and found for Discovery on all counts, completely vindicating its contract position. Weil is currently representing Discovery in Sky Angel’s appeal.
Weil also represents Discovery Communications in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Los Angeles asserting breach of contract, copyright, and trademark infringement where the plaintiff seeks compensatory and consequential damages of at least $7 million.
Weil again represented ESPN successfully in a second and different matter obtaining a near-complete defense jury verdict following trial of more than $150 million in claims brought by DISH Network challenging certain provisions of distribution agreements ESPN had negotiated with DISH and several of DISH’s competitors.
Weil represents ExxonMobil in a number of disputes in state and federal courts relating to the use of MTBE as an additive in gasoline. The actions have been brought by various states, including Vermont and New Jersey, seeking to recover damages for alleged groundwater contamination at sites throughout those states. Weil successfully obtained the dismissal of certain claims brought in the Vermont state court action, and upheld that victory on appeal before the Vermont Supreme Court in May 2016. The federal action, involving claims by the State of New Jersey, is part of the MDL currently pending in the Southern District of New York and is expected to go to trial in 2017. Other actions are pending in state court and in the MDL.
Weil represents Farmers Insurance and various affiliates in In re Auto Body Shop Antitrust Litigation, a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Florida federal court comprising dozens of cases across the country brought by auto repair shops, alleging that Farmers and dozens of other insurers artificially suppress reimbursement rates for auto body repairs, in violation of antitrust, RICO, and other statutes. In September 2015, Weil won the dismissal with prejudice of all claims in the lead case of the MDL. The Court’s decision marks the third consecutive time that Farmers and the other defendants have prevailed on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim in the lead case, and suggests that the remaining cases in the MDL may suffer a similar fate. Then, in November 2015, Weil won a significant victory for Farmers Insurance and its affiliates in another component of the MDL, when a Florida federal court granted the dismissal of all claims in a nationwide putative RICO class action relating to reimbursement for auto collision repairs. Subsequently, as of June 2016, Weil has secured the dismissal of more than a dozen related cases in the MDL, and is currently defending a consolidated appeal of a number of the individual cases before the Eleventh Circuit.
Weil also serves as lead counsel for 21st Century Casualty Company and Farmers Insurance affiliates in appeals to the Second Circuit of two False Claims Act suits relating to Medicare coverage, in which we won the dismissal in the Western District of New York in early 2016.
Weil successfully represented Forbes Media in a $9 million international arbitration with Ukraine-based United Media Holding concerning trademark licensing rights to the Forbes trademark in Ukraine, in which the Ukraine-based Claimants – who were placed on the U.S. sanctions list during the course of the dispute – disputed the termination of the license agreement and sought significant damages. Weil secured a complete victory after a full hearing was conducted in February and March 2016. Forbes was not required to pay damages in any amount, and the final award declared the license terminated as of March 2014, thereby saving Forbes significant reputational harm from doing business with a sanctioned party. Weil is now working on behalf of Forbes to have the award enforced in Ukraine in order to prevent the Claimants from continuing to use the Forbes’ trademark.
Weil recently secured two major victories for Nuance Communications.
In March 2016, Weil won a $6.5 million arbitration victory for Nuance arising out of SunGard Availability Services LP’s breach of its agreement to pay minimum annual revenue commitments for Nuance’s Profiles notification service. SunGard counterclaimed, alleging that its breach was justified due to Nuance’s poor performance, delays in product development and resulting loss of SunGard customers. Weil thwarted SunGard’s counterclaim, demonstrating to the Arbitrator that Nuance had no obligation to upgrade its service, that SunGard had no support for its poor performance allegations, and that SunGard had no basis for claiming that its alleged lost customers left for any reason related to Nuance. After five hearing days and post-hearing briefing, Weil obtained a complete victory as the Arbitrator held that SunGard breached its contract with Nuance and ordered SunGard to pay the remaining balances on their minimum annual revenue commitments.
Weil also represented Nuance in a dispute arising out of its acquisition of a start-up medical communications company, Vocada Inc. As part of the sale, Nuance agreed to pay Vocada’s shareholders an earnout based on the performance of Vocada’s products over a three-year time frame. After earnout thresholds were not met, Vocada’s former shareholders filed an arbitration demand, which ultimately ended in the panel finding that the shareholders were not entitled to any damages. Subsequently, Vocada filed another complaint making the same underlying claims in Texas state court, this time under the Texas Security Act. Weil removed the case to federal court and won its motion to dismiss the case on grounds of res judicata. Vocada appealed this decision to the Fifth Circuit, which, following oral arguments, ruled in favor of Nuance in August 2015.
For almost a decade, Weil has represented Panasonic in connection with numerous governmental investigations and a related multi-district litigation comprising dozens of class and individual actions pertaining to alleged industry-wide price fixing in the market for cathode-ray tubes (CRTs) and finished products containing CRTs (e.g., CRT televisions and computer monitors) between 1995 and 2007. Of late, Weil has secured a number of very favorable outcomes for Panasonic, including a favorable settlement with the direct purchaser class, and then a settlement with certain classes of indirect purchasers by which Panasonic will pay far less than other defendants in the case.
Weil continues to defend Panasonic, in both the federal multidistrict litigation and several state actions, against remaining claims by indirect purchasers, several large independent-action plaintiffs (e.g., Best Buy, Costco and Target), and several state attorneys general.
Most recently, following a multi-day evidentiary hearing in Osaka, Japan, an arbitration panel issued a decision granting Panasonic a significant victory in a major component of these matters.
Weil represented the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in a high-profile appeal to the Court of Appeals of the State of New York that led to the reversal of an intermediate appellate court’s decision finding the Port Authority liable for damages caused by the 1993 terrorist attack at New York’s World Trade Center.
Weil recently secured another major victory for the Port Authority in its six year, multi-forum litigation battle with Maher Terminals, in which Maher, the Port's largest marine terminal operator, has alleged hundreds of millions of dollars in damages caused by its lease, which it claims is unfair and discriminatory. In July 2014, the District of New Jersey federal court dismissed in its entirety Maher's complaint, which had alleged that the fees and charges Maher pays pursuant to its lease violate the Tonnage Clause of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act of 1884 and the Water Resources Development Act.
Weil successfully represented Procter & Gamble (P&G) as lead counsel in a high-profile MDL in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in which plaintiffs alleged that they were injured through their use of the popular denture cream, Fixodent. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that zinc contained in the denture creams manufactured by P&G and others caused neurological problems. Plaintiffs filed numerous Florida state law claims, including strict product liability, negligence, intentional misrepresentation, breach of express warranty, implied warranty, and violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. In 2014, Weil won a significant victory before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit that affirmed the trial court’s Daubert and summary judgment orders in the lead case, which excluded plaintiffs’ expert testimony and resultantly found that plaintiffs could not sustain their burden of proof. While the Chapman case was on appeal, the remaining plaintiffs in MDL 2051 were granted an opportunity to proffer new experts and any new science in support of their causation theory. P&G again challenged plaintiffs’ new experts and purported new science through the submission of additional Daubert motions seeking to exclude those general causation experts. In January 2015, the trial court granted P&G’s motion to exclude all of the plaintiffs’ general causation experts, a decision that led to the dismissal with prejudice of 62 plaintiffs in April 2015; in June 2016, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed.
Weil serves as national counsel for Sanofi in a putative consumer class action relating to the company’s global recall of its epinephrine injection product, Auvi-Q. Plaintiff alleges violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act and unjust enrichment with respect to the recall. In July 2016, an Illinois federal judge granted, without prejudice, Weil’s motion to dismiss all claims.
Weil successfully represented Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI) in multi-district class action litigation consolidated in the C.D. Cal. relating to the 2015 Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather boxing match, which was billed as the “Fight of the Century.” In February 2016, Weil secured a strategic early dismissal on behalf of SNI during the MDL consolidation process, avoiding costly additional phases of litigation. Plaintiffs in these cases, including 13 class actions involving SNI, alleged that SNI, along with other media networks, the boxers, and their respective promotion companies, deceptively and fraudulently promoted the match as one between two healthy fighters, while allegedly knowing that one of the fighters was injured prior to the start of the fight. Weil obtained the early resolution of all 13 cases by negotiating with plaintiffs a stipulated dismissal of all claims against SNI without prejudice, based in part upon factual representations by SNI regarding its knowledge of the fighter’s injury. The cases remain pending against other defendants.
Univision and Showtime Networks: Disputes with Charter Communications
Following the announcement of Charter Communication’s $65 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable, a number of media networks retained Weil to analyze their carriage agreements with Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable governing the rates paid to the networks. Following our analysis, and subsequent to discussions between our clients and Charter, we have filed suits on behalf of Hispanic television company Univision and CBS affiliate Showtime Networks against Charter in New York Supreme Court. These are some of the highest profile disputes pending in the media sector today.
Weil represents Walgreens Boots Alliance in connection with several proposed consumer class actions filed against it and Theranos, Inc. relating to high-profile issues affecting one of Theranos’s primary blood testing products.
Weil was ranked as one of the Top 10 firms in New York for General Commercial Litigation by Chambers USA in 2016.
Weil is currently ranked as one of 12 top-ranked firms nationwide for General Commercial Disputes by Legal 500.
Clients note “There’s nothing they cannot do…They give you expertise from creative angles and create strong arguments.”
Weil is currently ranked as a “Tier 1” Firm for Commercial Litigation nationally, as well as in Dallas, DC, Miami, New Jersey, and New York
U.S. News / Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms”
Weil was ranked in the top 10 out of 26 firms in The American Lawyer’s 2016 Litigation Power Rankings for repeatedly rating among the top litigation firms in the U.S."
The American Lawyer
Clients note Weil’s “excellent work product,” calling our lawyers “very responsive, very professional and great partners - they work with us to help us achieve our business objectives,” and calling our Complex Commercial Litigation practice the “go-to for bet-the-company cases.”
Sources call Weil an “awesome litigation firm” that has “tremendous reach nationally and tremendous experience.”
Legal 500 US
Weil’s Litigation department has “a very deep bench in which all lawyers are meticulous, smart, careful, practical, energetic and tenacious.”
Legal 500 US
Clients note that “they’re experts who are tremendously engaged and know how to work with an internal team to bring out the best outcome.”