Most recently, Mr. Yolkut helped secure highly favorable sound recording royalty rates for Pandora Media, Inc. for the 2016-2020 license period, impacting billions of dollars in royalty payments, following a six-week trial before the Copyright Royalty Board. Also in 2015, Mr. Yolkut’s team prevailed in a high-profile religious rights case before the Second Circuit, which held that the installation of an eruv in Westhampton Beach, New York does not violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
In 2013, Mr. Yolkut was the lead associate in a jury trial victory for ESPN in federal district court in New York in a $150 million-plus lawsuit brought by Dish Network alleging breaches of certain terms of a licensing agreement. Mr. Yolkut was also part of the trial team that prevailed for ESPN, ABC Cable Networks Group, and other Disney-related entities in a jury trial against Dish Network in 2011, and secured summary judgment on a counterclaim worth over $65 million.
Mr. Yolkut is currently representing Discovery Communications in a litigation in the District of Maryland involving rights under a licensing agreement for various Discovery channels, and also provides ongoing counseling to several of the largest television programmers and broadcasters in the country. Mr. Yolkut is the author of several articles on legal issues pertaining to the cable and satellite television industry.
In addition to his experience in complex commercial litigation and appellate advocacy, Mr. Yolkut has also been involved in defending multinational companies in global antitrust cartel investigations, and related civil class action lawsuits, in the carbon fiber and television industries.
Mr. Yolkut is a member of the American Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association, where he is a member of the Entertainment Arts & Sports Law Section, and the Committee on Television and Radio.
In 2015, Mr. Yolkut was recognized as a “Rising Star” by New York Super Lawyers.
- In the Matter of Determination of Royalty Rates and Terms for Ephemeral Recording and Webcasting Digital Performance of Sound Recordings (Web IV) (US Copyright Royalty Board 2015): Member of team representing Internet webcaster Pandora, which secured highly favorable sound recording performance royalty rates for the 2016-2020 license period following a six-week trial before the Copyright Royalty Board.
- Jewish People for the Betterment of Westhampton Beach, et al. v. The Village of Westhampton Beach, et al., 778 F.3d 390 (2d. Cir. 2015) -- Member of team that obtained decision from Second Circuit affirming a lower court’s dismissal of a complaint alleging that the installation of an eruv using lechis on public utility poles violates the First Amendment. Earlier, the Second Circuit affirmed the same appellant’s motion to intervene as a defendant in a related litigation. 556 Fed. Appx. 50 (2d Cir. 2014).
- East End Eruv Ass’n, Inc. v. The Town of Southampton et al., 2015 WL 4160461 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. June 30, 2015) – Member of team in Article 78 proceeding that obtained a judgment annulling and reversing the determination of the Town of Southampton’s Zoning Board, which had arbitrarily found that the use of lechis in connection with the installation of an eruv constituted prohibited “signs” under local sign ordinance. The court found, among other things, that the Zoning Board abused its discretion by failing to exercise greater flexibility in accommodating an application for a religious-use.
- Dish Network L.L.C. v. ESPN, Inc. and ESPN Classic, Inc. (S.D.N.Y. 2013) – Member of team that secured a significant victory at trial for ESPN on breach of contract claims involving more than $150 million in alleged damages. Following a three-week jury trial and a day of deliberation, a jury in the US District for the Southern District of New York returned a verdict rejecting all but one of the breach-of-contract claims Dish had asserted in its complaint, and found for ESPN on Dish’s largest claim for $130 million.
- New York Statewide Coalition of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, et al. v. New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, 23 N.Y.3d 681(N.Y. 2014) – Member of team in Article 78 proceeding that obtained a judgment invalidating New York City’s Sugary Drink Container Ban on behalf of The National Restaurant Association, which was upheld on appeal by the New York Court of Appeals.
- EchoStar Satellite L.L.C. (n/k/a Dish Network) v. ESPN, Inc., et al. (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2011) — Member of team that won a $56 million jury trial on behalf of Disney affiliates ESPN, ABC Cable Networks Group and International Family Entertainment. The jury rejected Plaintiff's contention that it was entitled to four of Defendants' high-definition channels at no extra charge under the terms of the parties' licensing agreements. The Appellate Division unanimously affirmed the trial court’s denial of Plaintiff’s post-trial motions. The team had previously defeated an application for a preliminary injunction and secured summary judgment on a $65 million dollar counterclaim.
- Schindler Elevator Corp. v. U.S. ex rel. Kirk, 131 S. Ct. 1885 (2011) — Member of team that prevailed at United States Supreme Court in False Claims Act case. The Supreme Court held, reversing the Second Circuit, that Freedom of Information Act responses are "reports" under the meaning of the False Claims Act's Public Disclosure Bar.
- In re 1993 WTC Bombing Litig., Steering Committee v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 17 N.Y.3d 428 (N.Y. 2011) — Member of team that won appeal in connection with the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center on behalf of the Port Authority. Reversing a jury verdict and intermediate appellate ruling, the Court of Appeals determined that the Port Authority, as a governmental agency, enjoyed immunity from tort liability in connection with the terrorist attack because it was engaged in governmental functions in making security-related decisions at the World Trade Center.
- Don King Productions, Inc. and Don King v. The Walt Disney Company, et al., 40 So.3d 40 (17th Jud. Cir., 4th DCA, Fla. 2010) — Member of team representing ESPN and Disney that won summary judgment dismissing all claims in defamation and false light lawsuit brought by boxing promoter Don King claiming more than $1.0 billion in damages. The circuit court's decision was affirmed on appeal.
- Chief Judge of the State of New York, et al. v. Governor of the State of New York, et al., 14 N.Y.3d 230 (N.Y. 2010) — Amicus curiae counsel to the Fund for Modern Courts in support of former Chief Judge Judith Kaye's successful lawsuit against the Governor, New York Senate and New York State Assembly concerning inadequate judicial salaries for New York's judges. The New York Court of Appeals affirmed the Chief Judge's victory at the trial court and appellate division, finding as a matter of law that Defendants' long-standing practice of holding judicial compensation hostage to ancillary political considerations violates the separation of powers doctrine of the New York State Constitution.
- Molecular Diagnostics Laboratories v. Hoffman-LaRoche, Inc., et al. (D.D.C. 2008) — Member of team representing Applera in patent/antitrust litigation involving sales of Taq. Case settled and dismissed against Applera for no payment by Applera weeks after Applera's motion for summary judgment.