18 April 2011
Our annual Appellate Hot List recognizes firms that made exemplary contributions to appellate practice during the past year. We asked our readers to nominate firms with at least one significant appellate victory since January 2010 and that had demonstrated an impressive track record overall. We supplemented this material with our own extensive research to arrive upon the 17 firms listed here. We understand that appellate victories frequently are collaborations, and regret that we lack space to fully recognize all the firms that contributed to the cases listed. We highlighted cases that affected the course of industries, vindicated important constitutional rights, and in which an awful lot of money was at stake. We gave extra weight to cases in which the firms pulled off come-from-behind wins.
The firms we honored this year are: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; Baker Botts; Covington & Burling; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Hogan Lovells; Jenner & Block; Jones Day; Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel; King & Spalding; Latham & Watkins; Mayer Brown; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Proskauer Rose; Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan; Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber; Sidley Austin; and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.
Mayer Brown's 55-member appellate group has served as counsel of record in multiple key precedents, including landmark rulings limiting the liability of third parties in securities class actions and limiting punitive damages. By the firm's count, it argued 40 appeals during 2010 and another 15 so far this year.
- In re Medtronic Inc., Sprint Fidelis Leads Products Liability Litigation. Lead counsel Kenneth Geller (argued), David Gossett, C.J. Summers, Daniel Ring, Herbert Zarov, Stephen Kane. The first circuit ruling to apply the U.S. Supreme Court's Riegel v. Medtronic pre-emption ruling involved thousands of federal lawsuits over recalled defibrillator leads. The outcome was, in the words of NLJ affiliate The American Lawyer, "a home run." In advance of the ruling, Medtronic settled the claims for a relatively modest $269 million.
- Arkema Inc. v. Environmental Protection Agency. Lead counsel Dan Himmelfarb (argued), John Hahn, Roger Patrick. The Environmental Protection Agency had long supervised a cap-and-trade system for hydrochlorofluorocarbons emissions, but tried to undo some permanent deals already in place. The D.C. Circuit said that would be retroactive rulemaking. The client stands to receive $250 million in additional allowances.
- In re WestPoint Stevens Inc. Lead counsel Philip Lacovara (argued), Andrew Schapiro, Hannah Chanoine. The fine print decided a multimillion-dollar battle between financiers Carl Icahn and Wilbur Ross for control of a bankrupt textile company. The bankruptcy court declared Icahn the winner based on his bid of more than $700 million. A district court reversed but the 2d Circuit ruled that the lower court lacked jurisdiction because Ross' side neglected to negotiate a stay of the sale pending appeal.