Jeff Mason is a White House Correspondent for Reuters and the 2016-2017 president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. He was the lead Reuters correspondent for President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign and interviewed the president at the White House in 2015. Jeff has been based in Washington since 2008, when he covered the historic race between Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Jeff started his career in Frankfurt, Germany, where he covered the airline industry before moving to Brussels, Belgium, where he covered the European Union. He is a Colorado native, proud graduate of Northwestern University and former Fulbright scholar.
Twitter handle: @jeffmason1
Last November, a couple of weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Digital Realty Trust v. Somers, I told you about a radical idea floated by Digital Realty Trust’s lawyers at Williams & Connolly.
On Friday, the Justice Department filed a statement of interest opposing final court approval of a proposed consumer class action settlement in federal court in Camden, New Jersey. I’ll tell you below about the substance of the government’s qualms with the settlement, which resolves allegations that a website called Wines ‘Til Sold Out misrepresented the original prices of wines it sold at a purported discount. But the significance of DOJ’s filing isn’t the particular flaws it highlights in the proposed deal. It’s that the Justice Department is exercising its authority to oppose a private class action settlement – and that, based on comments from departing Justice Department official Rachel Brand, the Wines ‘Til Sold Out filing is likely to be just the first in a series from the Trump DOJ.
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest of Manhattan stunned media companies on Thursday, ruling that when publishers embed tweets containing a copyrighted image, they can be liable for infringement. For more than a decade, websites have relied on 2007 precedent from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to shield them from copyright claims based on embedded images. Judge Forrest said the 9th Circuit’s theory may have been wrong – and even if it wasn’t, the 9th Circuit decision in Perfect 10 v. Amazon (508 F.3d 1146) doesn’t provide nearly as much protection as online publications have thought.
If the allegations against Sajmir Alimehmeti prove to be true when he is tried in May, we should all give thanks to four undercover government investigators who gathered evidence of Alimehmeti’s allegiance to the Islamic State. U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer of Manhattan, who is presiding over the government’s prosecution of the 24-year-old Bronx resident, described the undercover operatives as “sophisticated professionals” who are safeguarding “important national security interests.” It is vital, Judge Engelmayer wrote in an opinion Thursday, to shield these undercover agents from exposure during Alimehmeti’s trial so they can continue to root out plots against this country.
It takes considerable fortitude to walk away from one of the most profitable law firms in the U.S., where average partners made upward of $5 million in 2017. And Philippe Selendy and Faith Gay, formerly of the New York office of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, were not average partners. Selendy is best known for representing the Federal Housing Finance Agency in its $25 billion rout against more than a dozen banks that sold toxic mortgaged-backed securities. Gay is an ace trial and appellate advocate whose client list has included Coca Cola, Home Depot and Schwab.
The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to conference Friday on the Justice Department’s request for review of a Jan. 9 preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge William Alsup of San Francisco, who ordered the Trump administration temporarily to leave in place an Obama-era program that allows young adults brought illegally to the U.S. as children to obtain two-year deferrals from the threat of deportation. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis of Brooklyn complicated the justices’ debate by issuing a second nationwide injunction barring rescission of the DACA program.
Sometime in the next few months, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether corporations can force employees not just to give up their right to sue in class actions but even to surrender their power to arbitrate alongside other employees raising similar allegations. In a trio of cases argued back in October, Epic Systems v. Lewis, Ernst & Young v. Morris, and National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil, the justices are weighing the legality of employment contracts that require workers to arbitrate their disputes individually. Given the Supreme Court’s recent history of unwavering deference to arbitration, as well as its conservative majority, it’s likely the justices will uphold the validity of these contracts.
If you thought the New York state appeals court assured the future of the M&A plaintiffs’ bar last year when it bucked Delaware precedent and said shareholder lawyers deserve to be awarded fees for forcing defendants to cough up minimally useful new disclosures, you’d better read a new opinion by New York State Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich, who rejected a disclosure-only settlement that included a $500,000 fee for plaintiffs’ lawyers.
Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will conference on the Justice Department’s petition requesting review of a preliminary injunction ruling that keeps in place the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. It’s easy to forget, amid political furor about the future of the young adults whose parents brought them to this country illegally when they were children, just how extraordinary the DOJ petition is. The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to depart from its normal protocols and grant relief the justices have eschewed for nearly 30 years.
A day after Aetna sued the claims administrator Kurtzman Carson Consultants for exposing confidential medical information about Aetna clients in a settlement notification, a KCC subsidiary brought a new suit blaming Aetna and its lawyers at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher for failing to protect the privacy of Aetna customers.