In this week’s roundup, we have four new lawsuits, a challenge to a high-profile patent that endangers a multibillion-dollar verdict, an SEC settlement worth hundreds-of-millions with a Texas-based financial services giant, a trial date for a high-profile case, a motion to dismiss and the hiring of new defense counsel for one of Texas’ most famous large corporations.
Some of the litigation is connected to high-profile people in the National Football League or unhappy investors, while other matters look at the implications of a wrongful arrest and social media’s goal of spiking users’ dopamine production.
It may be summer, but no vacation exists when shit hits the fan.
$2.175B VLSI-Intel Verdict Possibly in Danger
On June 6, The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial Appeal Board granted Intel’s request to join an LLC called Patent Quality Assurance in its challenge of one of VLSI Technology LLC’s patents involving semiconductor technology. The patent is one of two owned by VLSI that a Waco federal jury found last year that Intel had infringed and ruled Intel owed VLSI $2.175 billion as a result.
WilmerHale, which represented Intel at trial, is also representing the IT giant at the PTAB. VLSI is also using the same firm it used at trial in the PTAB proceedings, Irell & Manella. The decision was issued by administrative patent judges Thomas Giannetti, Brian McNamara and Jason Melvin. The cause number before the PTAB is IPR2022-00479. The inter partes review challenges VLSI’s patent 7,523,373 B2.
New Securities Fraud Suit Surfaces
An investor of Austin-based Digital Turbine filed a proposed class action securities fraud lawsuit June 6 in Austin federal court. The lawsuit alleges Digital Turbine, a software company that assists third parties in monetization through mobile advertising, caused losses for investors when it failed to make certain disclosures to investors during acquisitions of AdColony and Fyber and that it overstated net revenue. The lawsuit also names Chief Executive Officer Bill Stone and Chief Financial Officer Barrett Garrison as individual defendants.
Ahmad, Zavitsanos & Mensing’s Sammy Ford IV represents the plaintiff. Counsel information for the defendants was not immediately available. The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman. The cause number is 1:22-cv-00550-RP.
Trial Set for Banks in Stanford Financial Ponzi Scheme
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt has scheduled the multibillion-dollar lawsuit against five banks involved in the R. Allen Stanford Ponzi scheme to go to trial early next year.
After more than a decade of motions to dismiss, appeals and discovery disputes, the case brought by the court-appointed receiver representing thousands of victims in the Stanford Financial scandal is now scheduled to start trial with jury selection Feb. 27.
Baker Botts partner Kevin Sadler, who is leading the litigation for the receiver, Ralph Janvey, accused the banks of “aiding, abetting and participating in the fraudulent scheme” and seeks $4 billion in damages.
Lawyers from a plethora of firms are involved in the litigation, including Jackson Walker, Gibbs & Bruns, Skadden Arps, Locke Lord, Norton Rose Fulbright and Morgan Lewis.
Addicted Teen Social Media User Sues Meta
19-year-old Nadia Camancho of Houston has sued Meta Platforms and a number of affiliate entities on claims that Meta designed Facebook and Instagram to be addictive to underage users through its engineering of “attractive nuisances” that target dopamine production in users. Camancho claims in her lawsuit she developed suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, insomnia and depression from her frequent use of the platforms.
Camancho’s lawsuit is the latest suit of multiple that are cropping up around the country on similar claims and follow last year’s testimony of Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen before Congress.
Camancho’s lawyers include Houston lawyer James Ferrell and Alabama lawyers Andy Birchfield and Clinton Richardson of Beasley Allen Crow Mehtvin Portis & Miles. Counsel information for Meta was not immediately available.
PACER lists the sought damages at $10 billion. The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge George Hanks. The cause number is 4:22-cv-01815.
Who’s Your Daddy?
Lawyers for Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a recent filing that the paternity lawsuit brought by 25-year-old Alexandra Davis should be dismissed because she breached a settlement agreement that banned her from saying publicly he is her father, The Dallas Morning News reported Friday.
Family Judge Sandra Jackson of Dallas County’s 302nd district court has set a hearing for July 13 on the matter. Davis’ lawyers include Andrew Bergman and Jay Gray of Dallas firm Bergman Gray. State Sen. Royce West represents Jones. The cause number is DF-22-06306.
Wrongfully Arrested Airline Passenger Sues American
Arizona man Michael Lowe last Wednesday sued American Airlines alleging the Fort Worth airline falsely identified him to law enforcement as a burglary suspect. Lowe was detained for 17 days as a result and claims he suffers from ongoing mental anguish and emotional distress.
The robbery occurred in May 2020 at a shop in the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the same day Lowe had a layover at DFW. Lowe was detained a year later in Tucumcari, New Mexico after being arrested at a party he attended while visiting friends. Someone had called the police for an incident unrelated to Lowe, and police arrested him after noticing two arrest warrants from Tarrant County on his record the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
Dallas lawyer Scott Palmer represents Lowe in the lawsuit. An American spokesperson said “there is no update at this time” when The Texas Lawbook inquired about counsel information. But it did provide a statement: “American cooperates and responds to court orders for information related to possible criminal activity, and that’s what we did in this instance when we were presented with a search warrant.”
The cause number is 352-333908-22.
More Legal Trouble for Deshaun Watson
The 24th civil assault lawsuit against Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was filed June 6 by massage therapist Katy Williams, who said Watson sexually assaulted her during the second of two massage sessions when he allegedly exposed himself and then masturbated in front of her. Tony Buzbee represents the 24 plaintiffs, while Rusty Hardin is defending Watson in the lawsuits.
The cause number is 2022-33407 in Harris County’s 125th District Court.
SEC ADMINISTRATIVE LAW PROCEEDING
Schwab’s Counsel Reaches $187M Settlement with SEC
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced Monday that financial services giant Charles Schwab will pay $187 million to settle allegations that the brokerage firm did not fully inform clients about critical investment information that clients would have wanted to know.
The SEC claimed that Schwab advisors were investing client money in ways that the company’s own data showed was less profitable.
SEC officials said that its enforcement lawyers in San Francisco led the case against Schwab, while Kenneth Herzinger, a partner in Paul Hasting’s San Francisco office, was lead lawyer for Schwab. Dallas-based Schwab Chief Counsel Shamoil Shipchandler, a former SEC regional director, also played a key role in the matter.
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
AT&T Turns to Mayer Brown in Defending Pension Class Action Petition
Lawyers claiming to represent nearly 300,000 AT&T employees have asked a federal judge in California to certify as a class action their lawsuit claiming the Dallas-based communications giant miscalculated their pension benefits.
The original complaint, filed in the Northern District of California in October 2020, accuses AT&T of shortchanging the retirement benefits of workers who selected a plan that provides benefits to spouses after the AT&T employee dies. Hundreds of millions of dollars in damages are at stake. One of the named plaintiffs is Helen Maldonado-Valtierra, a resident of Irving who worked for AT&T or one of its predecessor companies from 1993 to 2015. Maldonado-Valtierra retired in 2015 at age 63 and claims she is receiving less than the actuarial equivalent of the single life annuity option available to her when she retired.
U.S. District Judge James Donato rejected AT&T’s request to transfer the case to Texas.
AT&T has hired Mayer Brown. The plaintiffs’ law firms are Stris & Maher, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, Feinberg Jackson Worthman & Wasow and Shaun Martin.
The case is Scott v. AT&T in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The cause number is 3:20-cv-07094.
Editor’s Note: Mark Curriden contributed to this report.