Hueston Hennigan Delivers Report on Interference with State Audit

From the Los Angeles Times:

University of California regents meeting on Thursday admonished UC President Janet Napolitano for agreeing to a plan that led to interference in a state audit on the operation of her office.

Her approval of a plan in which top aides would preview campus administrators’ confidential survey responses “reflected poor judgment and set in motion a course of conduct that the Board of Regents finds unacceptable,” board chairman George Kieffer said in a statement after the regents met behind closed doors for nearly five hours.

But the regents quickly and unanimously agreed to support Napolitano’s continued leadership, Kieffer said after the meeting.

The regents asked Napolitano to acknowledge responsibility and apologize, which she did in her own statement right after Kieffer read his. Later, she reiterated that she “exhibited poor judgment in approving an ill-advised approach” to the state auditor’s survey and “deeply regret this mistake.”

The regents, meeting in San Francisco, were responding to an independent investigation that found Napolitano’s top aides had sought to suppress campus criticism of the central office in confidential surveys from State Auditor Elaine Howle.

Napolitano approved a plan to review the surveys about her office’s operations and services before they were sent back to the auditor.

After Howle publicly alleged that Napolitano’s office improperly interfered, the regents commissioned the investigation by former state Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno and the Hueston Hennigan law firm. The investigation found that Napolitano’s chief of staff, Seth Grossman, and deputy chief of staff, Bernie Jones, had pre-screened campus responses “with the specific purpose of shaping the responses to be less critical of” the UC Office of the President.

In a conference call with campus administrators, the aides said the surveys were “not the time and place to air dirty laundry,” and they also tried to hide their interference from the auditor, the investigation determined.

 

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Alec Baldwin Reaches Major Settlement in Art Fraud Case

Alec Baldwin has dismissed his fraud suit against art gallery owner Mary Boone, after reaching a seven-figure settlement, an amount that represents a full trial victory.  Hueston Hennigan represents Alec Baldwin in the suit.

Baldwin sued Boone in September 2016 in the New York Supreme Court, after discovering that she had delivered a freshly-painted facsimile of a painting to him instead of the original, authentic work he agreed to purchase. Baldwin had paid Boone $190,000 for a painting by noted contemporary artist Ross Bleckner, but became suspicious after the piece he received appeared brighter and smelled of fresh paint. Instead of revealing that the painting was a copy by Mr. Bleckner, Boone attempted to deceive him, alleging she had had the painting cleaned as a courtesy.

The settlement, which also includes additional works of art by Bleckner, was reached after Hueston Hennigan undertook aggressive pre-trial discovery and prepared for trial, which was set for 2018.

Representing Alec Baldwin were John Hueston, Moez Kaba and Steven Feldman.

News Coverage:

Law360

New York Times

Daily Journal

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Federal Judge Tosses Trademark Suit against Kmart on Summary Judgment

A California federal court entered judgment in favor of Hueston Hennigan clients Kmart Corporation, Sears Holdings Management Corporation, and Risewear, LLC in a trademark action filed by Rise Basketball Skill Development, LLC, seeking to disgorge profits and enjoin sales of the popular “Risewear” line of athleisurewear.

Acting on a motion for summary judgment filed by Hueston Hennigan, U.S. District Court Judge William H. Orrick held that although courts “sparingly grant summary judgment in trademark cases because they are so fact-intensive,” the evidence here tilted so heavily in favor of the defendants as to make summary judgment appropriate.

“There is no evidence that consumers are likely to believe that Risewear was either the source or sponsor of Rise Basketball’s goods, and no plausible reason to think that such evidence exists,” the judge wrote.

Kmart, Sears, and Risewear were represented by Robert N. Klieger and Tristan Favro.

Click here for news coverage in Law360.

 

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Judge Tosses Class Action Claims in Dietary Supplements Case

In a decisive win for Umeken USA Inc., Hueston Hennigan prevailed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Tuesday when Judge Cormac Carney granted its motion to dismiss expansive fraud, labeling and RICO claims against the leading manufacturer of dietary supplements. In June of this year, Judge Carney dismissed plaintiff’s original complaint, largely with prejudice, but granted leave to amend on certain claims.

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Robert Klieger Elected to CBS Board of Directors

Partner Robert N. Klieger has been elected to the Board of Directors of CBS Corporation, a Fortune 500 mass media company whose operations include CBS Television Network, The CW (a joint venture between CBS Corporation and Warner Bros. Entertainment), CBS Films, Showtime Networks, and Simon & Schuster. Mr. Klieger joins a distinguished group of Directors including Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves, Chairman Emeritus Sumner M. Redstone, and Vice Chair Shari Redstone.

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