Welcome to Shearman & Sterling LLP’s Need-To-Know Litigation Weekly, which analyzes notable U.S. decisions, orders and developments each week in areas of Securities Litigation, M&A Litigation, Government/Regulatory Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation and IP Litigation. This weekly newsletter is intended to supplement our various publications and thought leadership concerning these important substantive areas.
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Supreme Court Concludes That Dodd-Frank’s “For Cause” CFPB Director Removal Provision Violates Separation Of Powers, But Finds Provision Severable And Thus Leaves CFPB’s Authority Intact
On June 29, 2020, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision authored by Chief Justice Roberts, held that the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), which permitted the President to remove the CFPB’s Director only for “inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office,” violated the Constitution’s separation of powers. The Court further concluded, however, that the provision was severable from the remainder of Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act (which created the CFPB), and thus the Court left the CFPB’s rulemaking, enforcement, and adjudicative powers intact. Seila Law LLC v. CFPB, —U.S.—, 2020 WL 3492641 (June 29, 2020). The background of this case was further discussed in our prior post.
Second Circuit Upholds Jury Conviction Of Two Officials In FIFA For Honest Services Fraud, Rejecting Extraterritoriality Challenge
On June 22, 2020, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the jury conviction of two former officials of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) —the international sports organization based in Zurich, Switzerland—for committing multiple counts of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud. United States v. Napout, Case No. 18-2750, (2d Cir. 2020). Defendants, two Paraguayan employees of a Paraguayan company, were convicted by a jury in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York for their involvement in an alleged scheme to sell broadcasting and marketing rights to FIFA games in exchange for kickbacks transmitted through U.S. bank accounts and wires. And on appeal, the Second Circuit held that the government permissibly applied the honest services wire fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1346, rejecting defendants’ claim that it was an impermissible extraterritorial overreach.
Global Healthcare Company To Enter DPA, Pay $345 Million To DOJ And SEC, To Resolve FCPA Claims
On June 25, 2020, Novartis AG, a global healthcare company headquartered in Switzerland, and two of its subsidiaries (one current and one former) agreed to pay a total of $345 million in disgorgement and fines to the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission to settle claims that they had violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). 15 U.S.C. §§ 78dd-1. Specifically, the DOJ entered into deferred prosecution agreements with a current Novartis subsidiary operating in Greece and a former Novartis subsidiary based in Singapore and overseeing operations in Vietnam, which agreed to collectively pay more than $233 million in criminal fines. And the parent company agreed to pay the SEC $112 million in disgorgement and pre-judgment interest.
Delaware Supreme Court Reverses Dismissal Of Merger-Related Breach Of Fiduciary Duty Claims Regarding Allegedly Undisclosed Conflict Of Interest
On June 30, 2020, in an en banc opinion authored by Justice Karen L. Valihura, the Supreme Court of Delaware reversed the Delaware Court of Chancery’s dismissal of a stockholder lawsuit arising out of the merger between Towers Watson & Co. (“Towers”) and Willis Group Holdings Public Limited Company (“Willis”). City of Fort Myers Gen. Emps.’ Pension Fund v. Haley, C.A. 2018-0132-KSJM (Del. June 30, 2020). As we discussed in our prior post, plaintiffs, who had been stockholders of Towers, alleged that the CEO of Towers breached his fiduciary duty of loyalty by negotiating the merger without adequately disclosing to the rest of the Towers board a compensation proposal he had received from Willis’s second-largest stockholder, whose co-founder and Chief Investment Officer served on the Willis board. Reversing, the Delaware Supreme Court found that plaintiffs adequately pleaded facts sufficient to rebut the business judgment rule.
Northern District Of Illinois Dismisses Antitrust Claims Relating To World’s Most Profitable Drug—Humira (Adalimumab)
On June 8, 2020, Judge Manish Shah of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Eastern Division) granted AbbVie’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s Sherman Act claims because the allegations fell “short of alleging the kind of competitive harm remedied by antitrust law.” In re Humira (Adalimumab) Antitrust Litigation, No. 1:19-cv-01873 (N.D. Il. 2020). Plaintiffs are two separate classes of indirect purchasers in a consolidated class action alleging that pharmaceutical manufacturer AbbVie, in concert with competing biosimilar manufacturers (Amgen, Samsung Bioepis, and Sandoz), violated §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act by improperly exercising monopoly power over the market for the drug Adalimumab.
Federal Circuit Vacates District Court’s Denial Of Attorney Fees Following Judgment Of Patent Invalidity Under Section 101
On July 1, 2020, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued an opinion vacating and remanding the decision of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida denying attorney fees following a judgment of patent invalidity under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Electronic Communication Techs., LLC v. ShoppersChoice.com, LLC, F.3d (Fed. Cir. July 1, 2020).