Bloomberg News

Skadden Lawyer in Play for NBA Union Head

July 28, 2014

Michele Roberts, a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is among three finalists to become the next executive director of the National Basketball Association players’ union, two people with direct knowledge of the process said.

The other two contenders are Dallas Mavericks Chief Executive Officer Terdema Ussery and Dean Garfield, CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, a Washington-based advocacy group for technology companies, according to the two people, who requested anonymity because the process is private. Ron Klempner, the association’s acting executive director, declined to comment.

The candidates will address union members, including the organization’s nine-member executive committee, today in Las Vegas, site of the organization’s annual summer meeting.

The finalists were culled from hundreds of candidates screened by a search committee led by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA All-Star.

Roberts, who specializes in litigation and white collar criminal defense, declined to comment to Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg News. “I think silence is prudent at this juncture,” Roberts said in an e-mail.

Ussery, a former president of Nike Sports Management and commissioner of the Continental Basketball Association, didn’t return an e-mail seeking comment. Garfield didn’t return a message left at his office over the weekend.

A candidate requires 75 percent of the 30 player representatives and executive committee members, or 29 votes, according to the union, which has been without a permanent executive director since Billy Hunter was fired about 18 months ago following an independent review of business practices.

Lawsuit News

Lyft Reaches Deal with New York AG to Start in New York City

Lyft Inc.’s pink mustaches got the green light in New York City.

The ride-sharing service, which is vying with Uber Technologies Inc. for customers who hail rides with smartphone apps, announced July 25 that it had reached an agreement that allowed it to begin operating in all five boroughs of the city.

The service, known for the fuzzy pink mustaches on the front of its cars, will start on a limited basis with a full rollout in the coming weeks, the company said. Lyft said it agreed to pause operations in the New York cities of Buffalo and Rochester by Aug. 1 as it seeks to work out insurance and regulatory issues with the attorney general’s office and the state’s Department of Financial Services.

“Regulators can work constructively with companies so that new ideas can come to the market,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Superintendent of Financial Services Benjamin Lawsky said in a joint statement July 25. “Smart regulation should create an environment where innovators can compete.”

The cases are State of New York v. Lyft Inc., 451476/2014; City of New York v. Lyft Inc., 451477/2014; and Lyft Inc. v. Schneiderman, 156796/2014, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).

For more, click here.

Time Warner Cable Settles Shareholder Suits Over Comcast Sale

Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC:US) and Comcast Corp. (CMCSA:US) settled eight shareholder lawsuits that were filed over Comcast’s proposed $45.2 billion takeover of the cable company. The settlement covers five proposed class actions in New York State Supreme Court and three in Delaware. The two companies have denied any wrongdoing as part of the deal.

According to the filing, the agreement was executed before discussions on the amount of attorneys’ fees.

The acquisition, announced in February, would combine the two largest U.S. cable companies and give Comcast about 30 million subscribers.

Chiquita Wins Dismissal of U.S. Suits Over Colombia Torture

Chiquita Brands International Inc. (CQB:US), the banana label owner that in 2007 pleaded guilty to making payments to Colombian paramilitary groups, won dismissal of U.S. lawsuits filed by thousands of Colombians who claim they or their relatives were tortured or killed by the militias.

A federal appeals court in Atlanta on July 24 overturned a lower-court ruling and threw out several consolidated cases, saying in a 2-1 decision that claims against Chiquita for the violence don’t fall within U.S. court jurisdiction.

“The torture, if the allegations are taken as true, occurred outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States,” the majority wrote. “Noble goals cannot expand the jurisdiction of the court.”

The Cincinnati-based company was fined $25 million by the U.S. after pleading guilty in March 2007 to engaging in transactions with terrorists by paying Colombian militias $1.7 million from 1997 to 2004. No executives were charged under the deal, which was reached when Chiquita was represented by then-Covington & Burling LLP lawyer Eric Holder, now the U.S. attorney general.

The families said Chiquita provided money, weapons, ammunition and transportation to two armed groups to let the company operate in the region. The groups subsequently killed locals who opposed them or didn’t fall in line, they said.

Chiquita only paid the militias to protect its employees, and the lawsuits never should have been filed, Ed Loyd, a spokesman for the company, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg News last week.

“The decision reinforces what Chiquita has maintained from the beginning -- that Chiquita is not responsible for the tragic violence that has plagued Colombia,” he said.

The case is Cardona v. Chiquita, 12-14898, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit (Atlanta).

For more, click here.

Hiring Roundup

Akerman, Troutman Sanders, Foley & Lardner, Baker & McKenzie

Adam Kobos joined Troutman Sanders LLP as a tax partner in its Portland, Oregon, office. Kobos represents clients in a variety of federal and state tax matters, with a primary focus in the energy industry. He was previously at Stoel Rives LLP.

Akerman LLP added three partners in Chicago. They are litigator Christine Bautista, health-care lawyer Carolyn Metnick and bankruptcy lawyer Michael Molinaro. Bautista joins from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, where she was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Central District of California, while Metnick was a partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP and Molinaro was a partner at Reed Smith LLP.

Chris Laukenmann joined Foley & Lardner LLP. As a partner in the firm’s Los Angeles office, he will work with the finance and financial institutions, transactional and securities, and private equity and venture capital practices. Laukenmann joins from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, where he was a partner in the firm’s corporate and securities practice.

Cathryn Sawicki joined Baker & McKenzie LLP’s global immigration and mobility practice as a partner in Toronto. She was previously a partner at Fogler Rubinoff LLP.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen Rosen in New York at erosen14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net Andrew Dunn, Joe Schneider


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