Seven Partners Named to 2019 Benchmark Litigation

For the third consecutive year, John Hueston is once again among the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers.” Partner Brian Hennigan has also been named to this prestigious list. Citing their announcement, “Benchmark Litigation has identified the most prominent 100 individuals, nominated on the strength of historical and unwavering peer and client review, as well as proven achievements,” said the announcement.

Marshall Camp, Moez Kaba, and Robert Klieger were also included as “Litigation Stars,” while partners Doug Dixon and Steve Feldman were included as “Future Stars.”

Judge Dismisses Whistleblower Retaliation and Related Claims Against Seven Partners of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

Plaintiff Mauro Botta, a former employee, sued PwC and its partners for allegedly taking retaliatory and otherwise improper actions in response to complaints made about PwC’s auditing practices. He brought three whistleblower retaliation claims under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and California law, a defamation claim, a breach of contract claim, and a claim for wrongful termination.

In a comprehensive order granting the defendants’ motions to dismiss, Judge Seeborg dismissed all claims against all seven PwC partners with prejudice.  This ruling represents a complete victory for the individual defendants.

As noted in the Daily Journal, Seeborg’s ruling preserves claims against PwC “for retaliation, defamation, breach of contract, and wrongful termination.” John Hueston said, “we are optimistic that Jude Seeborg will agree these claims lack all merit later in the proceedings.”

The Hueston Hennigan team included partner John Hueston, and associates Joe Reiter and Yegor Fursevich.

The Daily Journal covered the full story on Wednesday, October 10, 2018.

Judge Affirms School District’s Anti-Bullying Efforts

“[The order] is a helpful guidepost for others who are trying to take meaningful productive steps to protect students in their schools, whether they’re targeted for race, gender, sexual orientation or something else,” said partner Moez Kaba in an article for the Daily Journal.

Hueston Hennigan attorneys Moez Kaba and Adam Olin represented the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on a pro bono basis and filed an amicus brief, arguing in favor of the anti-Islamophobia initiative in an effort to reduce the bullying of Muslim students.

As explained in the Daily Journal, the court’s “ruling relied heavily on an amicus brief filed by Hueston Hennigan LLP attorneys representing CAIR, including its explanation of the First Amendment Establishment Clause and its discussion of the benefits of anti-bullying efforts.”

The school district worked with CAIR to develop and support the initiative. A group sued San Diego, arguing that the initiative and in particular the partnership with CAIR violated the First Amendment and various other laws. The plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction against the school district. 

The Daily Journal covered both the filing and the order. “Judge confirms constitutionality of San Diego anti-bullying program,” (September 27, 2018). “In suit, parents claim school’s Islamophobia program unconstitutional,” (July 23, 2018).

Hueston and Kaba Named to Daily Journal Top 100

Repeatedly named to the list and highlighted for his extraordinary trial record, Mr. Hueston pledges “to take on the toughest cases.” While Mr. Hueston has faced just about everything, a first for him will be facing the justices at the U.S. Supreme Court in oral argument later this year on behalf of nutritional supplement maker Nutraceutical Corp. The firm’s client is facing a class action over false advertising claims regarding its product. Mr. Hueston said. “Very few trial lawyers get to do it. It’s a good example of how one has to reinvent oneself in practice. We did it when we started this firm, and now I feel like a young kid in the law again.”

For the second consecutive year, Mr. Kaba has been recognized for his outstanding trial work and courtroom advocacy. The Daily Journal touted, in particular, Mr. Kaba’s work for the Navajo Nation after the 2015 wastewater spill from the Gold King Mine and representation of the Navajo Nation against Wells Fargo as examples of the firm’s commitment to “high stakes impact litigation.” Asked about his and the firm’s impressive record, Mr. Kaba said “the cherry on top for me is to see the direct impact of the elite services we provide.”

Click here to read the full profile of Mr. Hueston.

Click here to read the full profile of Mr. Kaba.

Hueston Hennigan Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit for Bike Maker Peloton

Peloton, the technology company that revolutionized the fitness industry with its category-creating indoor cycling bike and recently raised $550 million at a more than $4 billion valuation, filed a lawsuit against Flywheel Sports, Inc, claiming that rather than innovating and investing, as Peloton had, Flywheel infringed the Peloton Patents by creating a copycat of the Peloton Bike called the “FLY Anywhere,” that, among other things, detects, synchronizes and compares the ride metrics of remote users on a graphical user interface.

Peloton also claims that Flywheel’s infringement is willful. Just three months before Flywheel announced its development of the FLY Anywhere bike, one of its largest investors, Michael Milken—the prominent businessman previously convicted of securities law violations—attended a private investment conference for high net worth investors where he met with CEO John Foley, where he “pressed for, and obtained, information from Foley about Peloton’s technology and business strategy.”

The story was covered in The Wall Street Journal and Law360, among others.

Peloton is represented by Steven N. Feldman, Alexander C.D. Giza, Doug Dixon, Xinlin Morrow, Jenna Williams and Neil Anderson of Hueston Hennigan LLP.

Oil Heir’s Fraud Indictments Dismissed Due To Prosecutorial Misconduct

Hueston Hennigan attorneys previously obtained the dismissal of multiple fraud indictments against an heir of former oil magnate H.L. Hunt after an evidentiary hearing for prosecutorial misconduct, which also resulted in a criminal contempt citation against the district attorney of Dallas, Texas. Featured as “Hill Wins, Watkins Loses” in the Dallas Morning News.

Click here to read article in Courthouse News Service.

Dismissal Secured for Nutraceutical In Putative Class Action

“This is a significant decision for all food, beverage, and dietary supplement manufacturers,” explained attorney Steven Feldman, who represented Nutraceutical. “We are thrilled that the Court adopted our preemption arguments, which will provide a significant tool for defense counsel against these increasingly common ‘product testing’ complaints.”

 The Court’s order addressed a significant trend in class action litigation: the “surge” in cases targeting food and supplement manufacturers, where plaintiffs “are increasingly alleging independent product ‘testing’ claims of dubious scientific and legal value” in an “attempt to survive a motion to dismiss and begin discover.” See  U.S. Chamber, Trends in Food and Beverage Class Action Litigation at 1, 28 (February 2017).  The Court’s decision disallowing this non-compliant testing is a significant development because similar “product testing” claims have proven difficult to defeat at the pleading stage. See id. at 28 (“Once the testing allegation is made, it can prove difficult to overcome despite this lack of detail.”).

In the case, Plaintiff Toni Welk alleged that Nutraceutical’s product “Methyl Factors” was misleadingly labeled, claiming that “scientific testing” showed that the supplement contained less Vitamin B12 than listed on the label. Granting Nutraceutical’s motion to dismiss, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez held that Welk’s claims were preempted by federal law.

The Hueston Hennigan team included partners John Hueston and Steve Feldman, and associate Michael Todisco.

 

The news was also covered in the Daily Journal on Tuesday, August 14, 2018.

Wrongfully Convicted Grandmother Released from Prison

Brian Hennigan led the Hueston Hennigan LLP team at the two-week hearing, delivering the opening statement at the hearing and examining witnesses in the courtroom while negotiating with the L.A. District Attorney’s Office for the immediate release of his client, Maria Mendez.

Prior to her release, Ms. Mendez, 64, had served 11 years of a 25-years-to-life sentence. During a post-conviction evidentiary hearing in the Los Angeles Superior Court, Hueston Hennigan demonstrated that Ms. Mendez’s conviction relied upon false expert testimony and suppressed evidence. Emphasizing the significance of newly acquired CT-scans and autopsy photos of the baby’s brain, the Hueston Hennigan team showed that the prosecution’s theory that the child had suffered from “Abusive Head Trauma” (formerly referred to as “Shaken Baby Syndrome”) was medically and scientifically flawed. After one week of evidence, the prosecution approached the defense team with a deal that would result in Ms. Mendez’s release from prison. Ms. Mendez accepted – and on June 27, 2018, with Ms. Mendez’s family in attendance, the court ordered Ms. Mendez’s immediate release. She is now living in Mexico with her family.

Hueston Hennigan Lawyers Featured in Best Lawyers in America 2019 US Edition

Brian Hennigan and John Hueston both received “Lawyers of the Year” recognitions for Criminal Defense: White-Collar, a prestigious honor presented annually by Best Lawyers to a single outstanding lawyer in each practice and designated metropolitan area covered by the US publication, based on the highest peer ratings received.

Doug Dixon, along with Brian and John, is recognized in the category of Commercial Litigation.

To compile the list of distinguished lawyers, Best Lawyers conducts an extensive peer-review process during which tens of thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers. The latest edition includes 58,000 lawyers in 140 practice areas, covering all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and inclusion in this year’s publication is based on 7.4 million detailed evaluations of lawyers by other lawyers.