Notable Representations, Key Contacts
2021 and 2023 “Appellate Hot List” Honoree
The National Law Journal
At every juncture, we provide crisp, compelling, and engaging written and oral analysis and advocacy with unparalleled responsiveness. From our seasoned and heralded leaders to our well-credentialed counsel and associates, members of the Appeals and Strategic Counseling practice bring precision, creativity, and judgment to bear on our clients’ hardest issues and most critical problems.
Where We Excel
Our team has experience in all areas of commercial litigation, both substantive and procedural, with particular expertise in bankruptcy, intellectual property, antitrust, securities, and constitutional law.
What We Do
We are often called upon to litigate questions of first impression and develop or refute novel legal theories, interpret complex statutes and regulations, and cut through scientific, technological, and economic issues in a clear and accessible way.
Working seamlessly with other Weil litigators, we also provide overarching strategic advice throughout the lifespan of our clients’ controversies, helping to achieve litigation and business objectives while mitigating risk.
Members of our practice regularly participate in lawsuits—often class actions or other complex commercial litigation—before, during, and after trial. We also help assess whether litigation is advisable, provide strategic counseling regarding threatened and ongoing litigation, and prepare white papers and similar analyses outside the litigation context.
Weil has represented legacy Willis (pre-dating its 2016 “merger of equals” with Towers Watson) in connection with approximately 15 securities class and individual actions arising out of the heavily publicized, $8 billion Ponzi scheme orchestrated by R. Allen Stanford and his Houston-based Stanford Financial Group. The complaints in these actions, originally filed in various state and federal courts across the country and centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas by the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation, generally allege that Willis and other defendants aided Stanford’s fraud.
In August 2017, following motion practice, limited discovery, and appellate proceedings before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, a Texas federal judge approved a settlement by Willis that favorably resolved the litigation. In 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the settlement.
Weil achieved a decisive appellate win for Sanofi, its subsidiary Genzyme Corp., and certain executives in one of the most impactful securities cases in recent memory. In March 2016, the Second Circuit affirmed in its entirety the dismissal by the S.D.N.Y. of a securities fraud class action and a related case for securities fraud arising out of statements regarding the results of Phase 3 clinical trials for a multiple sclerosis drug and its prospects for FDA approval. Notably, the opinion is the first by the Second Circuit to address the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent, seminal Omnicare decision, which articulated the standard for securities fraud liability for allegedly misleading statements of opinion. John Neuwirth, co-head of Weil’s Securities Litigation practice, was named “Litigator of the Week” by The Am Law Litigation Daily, which noted that “investors still face a high bar in federal court in New York—home of one of the busiest securities dockets in the country.”
Weil secured a unanimous decision from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirming a lower court’s summary judgment ruling for various Marvel entities and their parent The Walt Disney Company (collectively, Marvel) in a widely-followed copyright ownership dispute between Marvel and the heirs of Jack Kirby. Kirby was a noted comic book artist who worked for Marvel for decades, including during the late 1950s and early 1960s, when Marvel created many of its iconic comic book superheroes such as The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, and The X-Men. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Weil’s clients in 2011. On appeal, the Second Circuit issued a precedential decision unanimously upholding the summary judgment ruling, and rejected all of the Kirby heirs’ arguments concerning copyright ownership, finding that the undisputed evidence established that the works at issue were created for Marvel as works made for hire as a matter of law.
Weil obtained a significant, precedent-setting victory for Marsh before the Second Circuit that provides for the first time a solid framework supporting the right of a company to terminate an employee who fails to cooperate in an internal investigation of alleged wrongdoing. In this action, two former Marsh executives sought to obtain severance benefits and the value of stock options forfeited when they were terminated in the aftermath of a New York state investigation into the practice of “contingent commissions” and alleged bid-rigging. In June 2012, the S.D.N.Y. dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims for malicious prosecution and abuse of process on the pleadings, and in January 2015 the court granted Marsh’s summary judgment motion, dismissing Plaintiffs’ remaining claims for severance benefits under ERISA and for the value of their forfeited equity awards under state law. Then, in June 2016, following oral argument, the Second Circuit affirmed.
Weil secured a Federal Circuit affirmation of a Patent Office decision on behalf of Illumina in one of the first appeals of an inter partes review decision. In 2012 Columbia University sued Illumina in the D. Del. for infringement of patents that allegedly cover next-generation DNA sequencing technology. Columbia accused Illumina’s entire product line of infringement, including Illumina’s $740,000 high throughput HiSeq sequencers, and requested injunctive relief and unspecified damages. In response, Illumina submitted petitions with the Patent Office to have Columbia’s patents placed under inter partes review. After Illumina prevailed in the Patent Office, Illumina brought on Weil for Columbia’s appeal. Being one of the first appeals of an inter partes review decision, there were substantial open issues as to how the Federal Circuit would review such decisions, including whether patent owners would be given leeway to amend claims to target accused infringers, which Columbia had attempted to do. In addition, the appeal raised new challenges regarding the presentation of a technical Patent Office record to an appellate court panel. After briefing was submitted, during oral argument in April 2015 Weil focused the case down to a single technical issue, and blunted Columbia’s evidence of willful infringement and copying with evidence of independent invention. In July 2015, the Federal Circuit affirmed the Patent Office’s decisions on every point, and ruled that Columbia would not be permitted to amend its claims.
Weil won a high-profile appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court for Schindler Elevator Corp. in Schindler Elevator Corporation, Petitioner v. United States, ex rel. Daniel Kirk, a case interpreting the public-disclosure bar of the False Claims Act. This case had been closely watched by the business community and was of considerable importance to federal contractors doing business with the federal government.
Weil “has seen its appellate profile rocket over the past two years.”
Legal 500 2023
Clients note, “They're uniformly excellent. It's a firm with a lot of depth: the bench strength and capabilities are second to none."
Chambers USA 2023