Koch Prevails in Wine Fraud Case, 2nd Circuit Upholds Jury Verdict

The three-judge appellate panel rejected Eric Greenberg’s bid for judgment as a matter of law, saying the jury had seen enough evidence to find him liable for fraud and deceptive business practices in connection with the sale. The Second Circuit was also unswayed by Greenberg’s contention that the alleged fraud wasn’t directed at the public and he therefore shouldn’t have been liable for punitive damages.

“Given the evidence that the defendant intended to sell counterfeit wine, at auctions aimed at the public, no manifest injustice exists in the imposition of a punitive damages award,” the panel ruled.

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From Law360

Fooled Again and Again? False Advertising Classes Shouldn’t Get Injunctions

Defying common sense, these courts say that such a consumer can be deceived again and again by the alleged false advertising, absent an injunction. In the American Bar Association’s Summer periodical, Hueston Hennigan attorneys Steven Feldman and Ellen Kenney discuss why this position is wrong, and how to defeat injunctive relief classes.

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Hueston Hennigan Named Top California Boutique

Specializing in both commercial litigation and white collar criminal defense, Hueston Hennigan’s high-profile client list is drawn from the Fortune 500 and includes companies in several industries, including telecommunications, technology, pharmaceuticals, insurance, entertainment, financial services, international gaming, health care and consumer debt. Among the firm’s other notable clients are; Walt Disney Co., Pizza Hut, Waste Management of Hawaii Inc., and William Koch.

John Hueston and Brian Hennigan began the firm in January with a vision to create a nimble, trial law boutique for high-profile clients and high-impact cases. To accomplish those ends, they left Irell & Manella’s business trials and white collar department, with the firm’s business trials group partners, to build their own firm that includes several well-regarded attorneys, top young associates and the recent addition of entertainment attorney Robert Klieger, formerly of Kendall, Klieger & Brill LLP.

From the Daily Journal:

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Sempra Energy Wins Summary Judgment, Five-Year Case Ends

The lawsuit, filed in July 2010, was brought by a self-styled Mexican “rancher,” who alleged that Sempra had conspired with Mexican authorities to seize hundreds of acres of property plaintiff claimed to possess, and to cause him to be criminally prosecuted, in order to secure licenses for the LNG terminal.

In a complete victory for Sempra, U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo granted summary judgment on plaintiff Ramon Sanchez Ritchie’s sole remaining claim, for malicious prosecution. In a 17-page order, the Court wrote that after “five years of spirited litigation,” plaintiff had failed to present any admissible evidence supporting his malicious prosecution allegations, including that Sempra conspired with Mexican authorities to seize plaintiff’s property, or lied to or knowingly withheld relevant information from Mexican investigators and courts.

To the contrary, the Court found “no dispute” that Sempra’s Mexican affiliate, Energia Costa Azul (ECA), paid millions of dollars to acquire the property from its titled owners, and only initiated criminal proceedings against plaintiff after he entered the property without permission and threatened ECA employees at gunpoint.

Despite claiming to be a rancher of modest means, plaintiff was represented in the case by nine attorneys from three law firms, including Washington, D. C.-based Williams & Connolly. Discovery revealed that the lawsuit was financed by a wealthy Mexican businessman, Jose Susumo Azano Matsura, who is now under federal indictment in San Diego for illegally funneling money to U.S. politicians.
“The court’s order reflects an incredibly careful analysis of an extensive record, and it vindicates our position throughout this litigation that plaintiff’s allegations are baseless,” said Marshall Camp, a Hueston Hennigan partner who represented Sempra.

“This was an incredibly complex case, with fact and expert testimony in two languages and two countries, numerous complex motions, and a financial backer with a vendetta,” said John Hueston. “We are extremely grateful for the judge’s diligence, and the rigorous analysis that allowed the court to see through plaintiff’s rhetoric and grant our client a complete victory.”

Sempra Energy was represented by John Hueston, Marshall Camp, Lee Linderman and Leanne Vanecek.