Bloomberg News

Kelley Drye, SNR Denton, Shearman, Kirkland: Business of Law

April 11, 2012

Kelley Drye & Warren LLP (1223L:US), the New York law firm, settled an age-discrimination suit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The law firm entered into a consent decree on April 3 with the EEOC to resolve the agency’s 2010 lawsuit, according to a judgment filed yesterday in federal court in Manhattan. The EEOC enforces U.S. anti-bias laws.

The agency claimed that the firm, which has 350 lawyers and other professionals in offices in the U.S., discriminates against attorneys who continue to work there after they turn 70. The agency also said the firm retaliated against a lawyer, Eugene D’Ablemont, who complained to the EEOC.

Kelley Drye, while denying allegations of bias, agreed not to terminate any employee or to maintain “any formal or informal policy or practice requiring involuntary retirement of a partner” because of age, according to the consent decree. The firm agreed to pay D’Ablemont more than $570,000, according to court records.

James Kirk, managing partner of Kelley Drye, said in a statement that the firm changed its retirement policies “long ago” and that it settled because “continuing the case would have far exceeded the cost of settlement.”

“We were surprised that this case was continued by the EEOC for the benefit of a single partner,” Kirk said in the statement. “The firm has not discriminated or done anything wrong.”

Jeffrey Burstein, an EEOC attorney, said in an interview that the agency is “very happy” with the accord. “They changed their policy a while ago, after the litigation started, but it wasn’t until recently that we reached a settlement,” he said.

D’Ablemont didn’t immediately return a message left at his office after business hours. U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Dolinger in Manhattan yesterday signed the accord.

The case is EEOC v. Kelley Drye, 10-cv-655, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Deal Lawyers

Shearman & Sterling, Ropes & Gray on Corning-Becton Deal

Corning Inc. (GLW:US), a maker of glass for flat-panel televisions, agreed to buy the majority of Becton, Dickinson & Co. (BDX:US)’s Discovery Labware unit for $730 million to expand its life sciences business. Shearman & Sterling (1441L:US) represented Corning and Ropes & Gray (1183L:US) represented Becton, Dickinson.

The Shearman & Sterling team included New York partners Clare O’Brien, David Connolly, Laurence Bambino, Samuel Waxman, John Cannon and Jessica Delbaum and London partner Iain Scoon; counsel Ethan Harris in Washington and Simon Letherman and Sam Whitaker in London.

The Shearman associates on the deal include, in New York, Vittorio Cottafavi, Tammara Fort, Meghan Moore, Cody Wright and Tim Franklin.

On the Ropes & Gray team were Boston partners Mark Bellomy, Eric Elfman, Renata Jasiul Ferrari, David McIntosh and Marko Zatylny, along with Washington partner Michael McFalls.

Deidre Johnson, counsel in Ropes & Gray’s Boston office, worked on the deal as did Boston associates Caitlin Barrett, Richard Conklin, J. Joshua Gallitano, James Howard, Daniel Levin, Christopher Powell, Jennifer Rikoski and Aaron Schohn. Michael Laufert, an associate in the firm’s Washington office, also worked on the deal.

With the purchase, Corning will add products such as tubes, pipettes and flasks used in laboratories, according to a statement from the Corning, New York-based company yesterday. The company plans to complete the deal this year.

Winston & Strawn, Kirkland & Ellis on Danaher-X-Rite Deal

Danaher Corp. (DHR:US), the maker of products from Craftsman tools to bar-code equipment, agreed to buy X-Rite Inc. for $625 million to add color-measurement technology for customers in graphic arts and retail.

Kirkland & Ellis (2L:US) represented Danaher. The lawyers on the deal were partners Daniel Wolf and Joshua Zachariah, both in the New York office.

Lawyers from Winston & Strawn (1129L:US) in Chicago represented X- Rite. They include partners Bruce Toth, Brian Schafer and Erik Lundgren, along with associates Sarah Hesse, Christina Trotta, and Courtney Tygesson.

Danaher will pay $5.55 a share for X-Rite, a premium of about 24 percent to the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based company’s average closing price over 20 trading days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The deal’s total valuation includes net debt, according to a statement announcing the purchase.


Dewey Loses Two More Partners in London to DLA Piper, Reed Smith

Two more Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP (1151L:US) partners in London left the embattled law firm for Reed Smith LLP (1157L:US) and DLA Piper LLP (1191L:US), Dewey confirmed yesterday.

Nicholas Rock, co-head of Dewey’s environmental litigation practice group, handed in his notice last week to join Reed Smith. Partner Prakash Paran left for DLA Piper, bringing the total partner departures from the firm’s London office to four this year, Dewey spokesman Duncan Miller said in a phone interview.

Since January, 49 partners have left New York-based Dewey amid complaints about compensation and a continuing restructuring process. The largest departure was a group of 12 insurance and regulatory lawyers who left for Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP (1179L:US) last month.

Some departures have been at the firm’s insistence and others are the result of partners “who didn’t feel they fit in with the new structure,” Dewey said in a statement last week. The firm, which reorganized its chairman’s office to include the heads of its most-profitable practice groups, said in the statement that it expects additional departures.

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Former Commerce Department Official Joins SNR Denton

John R. Fernandez, the former head of the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration, has joined SNR Denton (1159L:US) in the firm’s Washington office. He is a partner and has been named the firm’s innovation strategy director, a new position.

He joined the firm in March and, according to a statement by the firm, Fernandez had worked in the Commerce Department since his appointment by President Barack Obama in 2009. He had also previously been mayor of Bloomington, Indiana.

Fernandez will direct innovation initiatives to broaden services offered to clients.

He said in a phone interview yesterday that “the firm has tremendous assets, lawyers and business acumen.” In his new position, he hopes to “improve how we deliver services and help our clients innovate as well. That’s why it was so attractive an opportunity.”

Because of government ethics laws, he is precluded from working with the current administration or the Commerce Department, typically for two years, Fernandez said. The policy shouldn’t limit his work, he said in an e-mail, because his “primary role is to help develop and drive SNR Denton’s innovation strategies” He added in the e-mail that because of his new focus, “these ethical restrictions will not be as relevant to my primary role.”

Garland Stephens Returns to Houston office of Weil Gotshal

Garland T. Stephens has rejoined Weil, Gotshal & Manges (1127L:US) LLP as a partner in the firms patent litigation practice in Houston.

According to the firm’s announcement, Stephens represents clients across the electronics and computer industries.

He was most recently a partner at Fish & Richardson, where he was managing principal in the Houston office. Prior to his term at Fish & Richardson, Mr. Stephens was a partner at Weil from 2002 to 2008.

In the statement, Stephens said that he looks “forward to working with my colleagues to build on the firm’s substantial patent litigation capabilities.”

Former Federal Prosecutor Joins McGuireWoods’ Chicago office

Christina Egan, former deputy chief assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago, has joined McGuireWoods (1148L:US) as a partner in its Government, Regulatory and Criminal Investigations Department. According to the firm’s announcement, Egan will focus her practice on representing companies and individuals in matters dealing with criminal and civil investigations.

Egan for the past 10 years was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. For the past four years, Egan was a deputy chief assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago, supervising a team of attorneys on numerous cases, including racketeering, major cartel gang investigations and prosecutions, according to the firm’s statement.


Nike Suit Ends With Reebok Ordered to Recall Tebow Jerseys

Adidas AG (ADS)’s Reebok International (RBK:US) must recall New York Jets jerseys and T-shirts with quarterback Tim Tebow’s name on them, a judge said.

U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan on Monday signed an order closing a suit filed by Nike Inc. and ordering that Reebok offer to buy back jerseys in retail stores and recall any jerseys under its control.

Paul Sarkozi and Alan Tenebaum, partners with Tannenbaum Helpern Syracuse & Hirschtritt in New York represent Nike. Nathaniel Kolodny, a partner with Stillman & Friedman in New York, represents Reebok. Sarkozi declined to comment and Kolodny didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Reebok’s licensing agreement with the National Football League ended March 31, and Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike this month became the official supplier of licensed NFL apparel. Nike sued March 27 to block Reebok from selling the jerseys, which were sold after Tebow’s trade to the Jets.

Castel’s order was issued with the agreement of both sides. Court papers referred to a settlement agreement that wasn’t immediately available. Castel had issued orders blocking Reebok from selling the jerseys as the case progressed.

Nike spokeswoman Mary Remuzzi and Reebok spokesman Daniel Sarro, both said by e-mail that they were pleased to have reached “a mutually agreeable resolution.”

The case is Nike Inc. (NKE:US) v. Reebok International Ltd., 12- cv-2275, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen Rosen in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this report: Michael Hytha at

The Good Business Issue

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