David Yolkut

Biography

David Yolkut
David Yolkut is counsel in Weil’s Complex Commercial Litigation and Appeals and Strategic Counseling practices. He focuses on a wide variety of complex disputes, including high-stakes matters involving the First Amendment, contract, fraud, intellectual property rate-setting, copyright and trademark infringement, defamation, antitrust, unfair competition, trade secret misappropriation and employee mobility disputes, and insurance coverage matters. David has particular expertise in matters of critical importance to the media and entertainment industry, and he regularly counsels several of the largest television programmers in the country.

David has played a central role in many high-profile victories in courts nationwide – including the U.S. Supreme Court and the New York Court of Appeals – and he has deep experience in every stage of the litigation and appellate process. David has been repeatedly recognized for his work as a “Rising Star” by New York Super Lawyers.

His notable representative experience in these and other areas includes:

Media and Entertainment

David has represented and counseled media conglomerates, broadcast and cable television networks, concert promoters, and satellite and digital music services in significant, high-dollar value litigations.  David’s significant trial and litigation achievements and engagements in the media and entertainment space include:

  • Winning a motion to dismiss a class action complaint brought against Scripps Networks, LLC alleging violations of the Video Privacy Protection Act in connection with the website HGTV.com.  David and his team were recognized for this victory in AmLaw’s “Litigators of the Week” column.
  • Representing A&E Television Networks in a copyright and trademark infringement case against a competitor network and a television producer involving the series “Live PD.
  • Successfully representing A&E Television Networks in a dispute with The Weinstein Company involving the rights to “Project Runway” and over 100 Weinstein-produced movies.
  • Representing The North American Concert Promoters Association in a copyright rate-setting federal bench trial against Broadcast Music, Inc.
  • Prevailing for Discovery Communications (n/k/a Warner Bros. Discovery) and Animal Planet in a multi-million dollar breach of contract suit – including securing a favorable bench ruling in Maryland federal court following a multi-week trial, and upholding that victory on appeal before the Fourth Circuit – in a case brought by a former television distributor involving rights under a licensing agreement for various Discovery channels.
  • Successfully defending Discovery Communications (n/k/a Warner Bros. Discovery) in a breach of contract, copyright, and trademark infringement suit in California federal court arising out of Discovery’s termination of its relationship with a television production company.
  • Securing highly favorable sound recording royalty rates for Pandora Media for the 2016-2020 license period, impacting billions of dollars in royalty payments, following a six-week trial before the Copyright Royalty Board.
  • Successfully representing Univision Communications (n/k/a TelevisaUnivision) in a high-profile programming dispute with cable operators concerning the implications of significant cable operator acquisitions and mergers, which was resolved on favorable terms by settlement.
  • Successfully representing Univision Communications (n/k/a TelevisaUnivision) in a programming dispute brought by DISH Network alleging breach of contract in connection with Univision’s offering of a select number of Liga MX soccer matches via a new English-language service on Facebook.
  • Prevailing for ESPN as lead associate in a 2013 jury trial 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.
  • Prevailing for ESPN, ABC Cable Networks Group, and other Disney-related entities as lead associate in a 2011 jury trial in New York state court against DISH Network in 2011, and also securing summary judgment on a counterclaim worth over $65 million.

Antitrust

David also has extensive experience defending Panasonic Corporation, Panasonic Corporation of North America, Toray Industries, JVC Kenwood, and other multinational companies in global antitrust cartel investigations, and related civil class action lawsuits. In 2020, for example, David prevailed for Bridgestone in an appeal before the Sixth Circuit that challenged a district court order allowing a group of ordinary consumers to bring a nationwide antitrust class action against Bridgestone involving the purchase of anti-vibrational rubber parts, despite Bridgestone having previously settled a nationwide class action by indirect purchasers raising the same claims.

Employment

David has successfully prosecuted and defended restrictive covenant and trade secrets litigation on behalf of employers. In 2019, David and his team obtained a temporary restraining order in a high-profile breach of contract dispute in New York federal court involving employee and customer solicitation in the insurance industry, leading to a highly favorable settlement. 

Constitutional Law and Appellate Practice

David has been a key part of multiple high-profile appellate victories, including on matters of first impression:

  • Successfully representing the National Restaurant Association in a constitutional challenge, upheld on appeal by the New York Court of Appeals, to New York City’s “soda ban,” which prohibited certain establishments from selling sugar-sweetened drinks in containers that hold more than 16 ounces.
  • Successfully appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Schindler Elevator Corporation, helping to secure an important victory for the company in a case that interpreted the “public disclosure” bar of the False Claims Act.
  • Successfully representing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in a high-profile appeal to the New York Court of Appeals 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.
  • Winning summary judgment for ESPN and Disney (later affirmed on appeal) dismissing all claims in a defamation and false light lawsuit brought by boxing promoter Don King claiming more than $1.0 billion in damages.
  • Amicus curiae counsel to the Fund for Modern Courts in support of former Chief Judge Judith Kaye's successful lawsuit – affirmed by the New York Court of Appeals – against the Governor, New York Senate and New York State Assembly concerning inadequate judicial salaries for New York's judges.

Pro Bono Practice

David also has an active pro bono practice, where he focuses extensively on religious freedom cases that have garnered national and international headlines, including the following:

  • Successfully represented the East End Eruv Association and the Bergen Rockland Eruv Associations in a series of high-profile federal civil and constitutional rights cases against three municipalities in Long Island, NY and three municipalities in Bergen County, NJ – all regarding the establishment of an eruv.
  • In 2015, David’s team prevailed 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, and also obtained an Article 78 judgment annulling and reversing the determination of the Town of Southampton’s Zoning Board, which had arbitrarily found that the use of plastic “lechis” in connection with the installation of an eruv constituted prohibited “signs” under local sign ordinance.
  • In 2018, after David’s team filed similar lawsuits in the District of New Jersey, the Townships of Mahwah, Upper Saddle River, and the Borough of Montvale each agreed to cease their efforts to halt the expansion of an eruv.
  • In 2019, his team secured for the Congregation Shomrei Torah of Clifton, NJ one of the largest-ever recoveries under the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act in connection with years-long delays and disparate treatment by the Clifton Planning and Zoning Boards that prevented the Congregation from building a house of worship. Under the terms of the settlement, which was mediated by a former New Jersey State Attorney General, Clifton paid the Congregation $2.5 million and construct a sidewalk adjacent to the property where the house of worship is being built.
  • In 2021, David’s team secured a victory on behalf of observant Jewish residents of The Colony in Fort Lee, N.J. under which The Colony agreed to restore its “Sabbath elevator” program.  Elevators running in “Sabbath mode” run continuously for a set period of time and stop on certain designated floors to eliminate the need for pressing elevator buttons.  A settlement allowed David’s clients – many of whom were elderly, physically disabled, and unable to use the stairs – to observe their faith with dignity during the Sabbath and Jewish holidays by attending religious services and engaging with their community.

Among other pro bono matters, David has also been appellate counsel to Alianza Dominicana, Inc., a non-profit community development organization that partners with youth, families, and public and private institutions to revitalize economically distressed neighborhoods. For these efforts, David has been recognized as a “Pro Bono Super Legend” (Weil’s highest recognition of pro bono service) for performing more than 50 hours of pro bono service for the past 14 consecutive years.

David 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. He has authored several articles and CLEs on legal issues pertaining to the cable and satellite television industry, including MFN clauses, cord-cutting, channel bundling, a la carte rights, and emerging technologies.

David received his B.A. from Yeshiva University, summa cum laude. He received his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

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