Pot-Smoking Quadriplegic’s Firing Shows Haze Over Rules
The marijuana that Brandon Coats smokes under a doctor’s supervision helps calm muscle spasms stemming from a car accident that left him a quadriplegic. It also cost him his job.
Coats, 34, was fired as a customer service representative at satellite TV provider Dish Network Corp. after failing a random drug test, even though Coats lives in Colorado where marijuana is legal for medical use. A state appeals court in April upheld the company’s right to fire him based on the federal prohibition on pot.
Ex-Antitrust Official Joins Gibson Dunn: Business of Law
Scott Hammond, the former head of criminal enforcement in the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust division, will join Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP as a partner in Washington focusing on criminal antitrust and international cartel matters.
Hammond was hired by the antitrust division after graduating from University of North Carolina School of Law in 1988. In 2000, he was promoted to director of criminal enforcement and named deputy assistant attorney General in 2005.
Silk Road Pirate Trained as Eagle Scout Before Charges
The man accused by the FBI of running a billion-dollar online market for illegal drugs, who allegedly also paid hit men to murder people threatening his business, was no trigger-happy junkie.
He was an Eagle Scout who earned an advanced degree in physics from Penn State University before abandoning academia to pursue a career in finance.
Skadden, Torys on Endo Deal for Paladin: Business of Law
Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP and Torys LLP advised Endo Health Solutions Inc. (ENDP) on its agreement to buy Canadian drugmaker Paladin Labs Inc. (PLB) for about $1.6 billion to expand in that country and emerging markets.
Paladin was advised by Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP.
Patent Reform, Apple, Barnes: Intellectual Property
U.S. lawmakers, influenced by companies including Cisco Systems Inc., Eli Lilly & Co. and Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM), are considering the second set of patent-law changes in three years as the courts try to race ahead of Congress.
The goal is to rein in entities that buy patents and demand royalties from as many companies as possible. Often derided as “trolls,” such firms filed 19 percent of all patent lawsuits from 2007 to 2011, the Government Accountability Office found.
Ohio Plan to Grow Jobs Using Liquor Profit Goes to Court
JobsOhio, Governor John Kasich’s initiative to spur private economic development by selling bonds backed by state liquor sales profits, has twice eluded a legal challenge by a nonprofit citizens’ group that claims the program is unconstitutional.
Today, ProgressOhio.org, which says it has 350,000 members, is set to ask the state’s highest court to revive the case. Two lower Ohio courts have ruled the group hasn’t shown it suffered any injury that would entitle it to redress under Kasich’s plan to use public money to spur private development.
MF Global Trustee Can Distribute 100% of Customer Funds
MF Global Inc.’s trustee will get court approval to complete distributions to former customers of the failed brokerage, allowing all missing funds to be returned by the end of the year.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Martin Glenn said today he’s prepared to approve a plan to make the final determination of what 26,000 former customers are owed and distribute the money to them. The motion will ensure customers are paid by Dec. 31, satisfying all claims more than two years after the brokerage failed.
Gibson Dunn, Cravath on Tri Pointe Deal: Business of Law
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP counseled Tri Pointe Homes Inc. (TPH), a developer backed by investor Barry Sternlicht, in its deal to buy Weyerhaeuser Co. (WY)’s residential real estate unit in a transaction valued at about $2.7 billion.
Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP was counsel to Weyerhaeuser.
Nokia, Twitter, Victoria’s Secret: Intellectual Property
Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) said Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), the world’s largest mobile-phone maker, agreed to license its patents for five more years, a boon for the Finnish company as it seeks to rebuild revenue after selling its handset unit.
Samsung agreed to pay Nokia additional compensation starting Jan. 1, according to a statement from Espoo, Finland-based Nokia yesterday. The amount will be settled in a binding arbitration expected to be concluded in 2015. The previous agreement was set to close at the end of this year.
SAC Agrees to Plead Guilty to End Insider-Trading Case
Billionaire Steven A. Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors LP, the hedge fund accused of fostering a culture of rampant insider trading, has agreed to plead guilty to securities fraud and wire fraud, pay a record $1.8 billion and shutter its investment advisory business.
The company, indicted this year, was accused of operating a conspiracy stretching back to 1999, reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in illicit profit. Cohen, 57, wasn’t charged in the indictment of the Stamford, Connecticut-based firm. He still faces an administrative action filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for his alleged failure to supervise the hedge fund’s activities.
NFL, Dr. Reddy’s, Thanksgivukkah: Intellectual Property
A $50 million settlement of a lawsuit against the National Football League over claims it made money using players’ images in marketing without sharing it with them was given final approval by a judge.
U.S. District Judge Paul A. Magnuson in St. Paul, Minnesota, approved the accord Nov. 1 over objections that it won’t put money directly into players’ hands. Critics of the deal were lured by their attorneys’ promise of lucrative payouts, the judge said.
Workers Crossing State Lines Mean More Employer Audits: Taxes
Workers who perform their tasks in different states may expose their employers to additional tax liabilities as states seek to collect levies from nonresidents by increasing enforcement actions.
Payroll systems that aren’t configured to track employee earnings for multiple work locations can expose employers to tax audits from numerous states, said Mary Hevener, a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in Washington.
U.K. Business Lawsuits Rise as Lehman-Claims Expiry Date Looms
U.K. business lawsuits increased 23 percent in the last year as lawyers try to beat a 2014 deadline to bring claims related to the financial crisis.
Cases filed at the Commercial Court, where most business disputes in the British capital are heard, reached 1,393 in the year ending Sept. 30, law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP said in a statement.
Office Depot Merger With OfficeMax Wins U.S. Approval
Office Depot Inc. (ODP)’s merger with OfficeMax Inc. won approval from U.S. antitrust regulators, clearing the way for the office-supply companies to create a single retailer to compete with Staples Inc. (SPLS)
The Federal Trade Commission voted to close its seven-month investigation into the merger, saying the combination is unlikely to substantially reduce competition, the commission said in a statement today.
Atari Wins Approval to Send Plan to Vote: Bankruptcy
Atari Inc., the bankrupt video-game maker, won court approval to seek creditors’ votes on its plan to exit bankruptcy protection as a going concern.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James M. Peck approved the company’s disclosure statement, an outline of the restructuring plan, finding that it contained adequate information for creditors to make an informed vote, according to court documents filed Oct. 29 in Manhattan. The company is scheduled to seek court approval of its reorganization plan at a Dec. 5 hearing.
Tiffany, Hasbro, MotionPoint: Intellectual Property
An arbitrator ordered Hasbro Inc. (HAS) to pay about $72.9 million in royalties to Atlanta-based Johnson Research & Development Co., one of its licensors, over the toymaker’s line of Nerf guns.
A separate case, pending in federal court in Atlanta, seeks royalties from Hasbro’s line of Super Soakers, which were invented 25 years ago by Johnson’s founder, Lonnie G. Johnson, an engineer.
NYC Police Stop-and-Frisk Ruling Delayed as Judge Removed
A federal appeals court delayed enforcement of a U.S. judge’s ruling that the New York Police Department’s use of stop-and-frisk tactics is unconstitutional and removed her from the case, saying she appeared biased.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York stayed enforcement of remedies ordered by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan, who ordered the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee changes. The appeals court took the extraordinary step of removing Scheindlin from the case.
Texas Wins Emergency Delay, Can Enforce Abortion Limits
Texas won a U.S. appeals court order temporarily blocking a federal judge’s decision to strike down a state law requiring abortion doctors to have local hospital admission privileges.
The decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans will allow Texas officials to enforce the provision while they seek reversal of the Oct. 28 ruling by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin.
Wi-Lan, AstraZeneca, FootAsylum: Intellectual Property
Wi-Lan Inc. (WIN), the patent holder that suffered a setback last week when Apple Inc. won an infringement trial, said it will explore “strategic alternatives” including a possible sale of the company.
Wi-Lan will consider changes to dividend policy or other forms of return of capital, as well as “the acquisition or disposition of assets, joint ventures, the sale of the company, alternative operating models or continuing with the current business plan,” it said yesterday in a statement.
Dentons, McKenna to Put Merger to a Vote: Business of Law
Dentons LLP, the 2,600-lawyer global law firm, and McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, a 575-lawyer firm, will put their proposed merger to a vote of partners in the next two weeks, both firms confirmed in an e-mail.
“The boards of Dentons and McKenna Long & Aldridge have recommended to their partners that the firms combine, subject to the approval by their respective partnerships,” the firms said. “The voting procedures will follow the protocols of each firm and will be completed no later than Nov. 14, 2013.”