Magnum Hunting

Hunting for fees, that is, in securities litigation against alleged fraudster Magnum Hunter Resources, wherein hyper-contested lead counsel motions were filed earlier this week.  Unfortunately, those motions are hyper-contested only by virtue of their number rather than their substance.  No fewer than eight (8; VIII; שםונח) counsel groups filed motions in each of two districts–all eight in the S.D.N.Y., three of whom filed in the S.D. Tex. as well.

Pomerantz Haudek was the busiest of the eight, filing a complaint by itself in Texas, which Saxena White followed with another complaint–filed by the same local counsel.  Pomerantz subsequently dismissed its Texas case, which evidently got Magnum’s attention.  Seeking to litigate on its own turf, and perhaps fearful that Saxena White might follow Pomerantz out of town, Magnum filed a 1404 motion in New York, seeking to consolidate cases pending there with the one remaining in Texas.

The dockets were then relatively quiet until this past Monday, when all heck* broke loose.  Pomerantz–armed with new clients and now aligned with Chimicles & Tikellis–filed lead counsel motions for those clients in both Houston and New York.  A Robbins Geller/Labaton tag team did the same, as did Morgan & Morgan.  The other contestants–Cohen Milstein, Kessler Topaz, Squitieri & Fearon, Finkelstein & Krinsk and Bernstein Liebhard–limited themselves to the blue state court.  And all parties limited themselves to submissions that are so bland that to call them “boilerplate” would be insulting to boilerplates.

So who’s likely to emerge from this with all the spoils?  As is often the case, Robbins Geller and Labaton claim the greatest losses–somewhere in the high six figures.  Cohen Milstein and Morgan are both in the low six figures.  The others all claim five-figure losses, which is a shame–not for those firms, but for imPaneled, as we would like to see nothing more than knockdown, smash-mouth, eight-way verbal sparring.  That is likely not forthcoming.  But there will hopefully be drama sufficient to justify a future post.  Stay tuned.

* – imPaneled is a family blog.

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Davids v. Goliaths

No, that does not reference litigation involving underfunded little guys represented by small firms going up against corporate behemoths represented by white-shoe counsel.  That would be trite.  In MDL 2406, In re Blue Cross Blue Shield Antitrust Litigation, it references the battle between small plaintiffs’ firms and big plaintiffs’ firms for control of the case.  And defendants’ counsel are surely watching (and running the meter) with great amusement as it develops.

Let’s recap.  imPaneled reported last month that class action titans Boies Schiller and Cohen Milstein were contesting leadership in seven antitrust actions against Blue Cross entities consolidated in the N.D. Ala.  Later that week, plaintiffs represented by Montgomery firm Davis & Taliaferro (“D & T”) petitioned the Panel to centralize two arguably similar cases from other districts in that court–one that Boies Schiller had filed in the W.D.N.C., and one that Ball & Scott had filed in the W.D. Tenn.

Evidently unbeknownst to D & T, Ball & Scott also had a case pending against the Blues in the M.D. La.  Sensing an opportunity to grab a seat at a larger table, Ball & Scott’s local counsel told the Panel that centralization is appropriate, but pressed the E.D. La., where, by virtue of an astonishing coincidence, another firm had filed a complaint that very day.

Boies Schiller and Cohen Milstein predictably opposed the disruption of their carefully laid plans (though BSF threw in a plug for the W.D.N.C., so that it might maintain control of the proceedings even if the Panel acts).  As for the Blues?  Well, most Panel observers know that, all things being equal, when centralization is in doubt (as it is here), most defendants oppose it–obviously for reasons of justice and efficiency, but perhaps also because it enables underfunded plaintiffs and their firms to pool their resources for the common benefit.

But all is not equal in this case.  Defendants are faced with two possibilities as to the N.D. Ala. actions: (1) plaintiffs led by united counsel, with high-powered firms in the lead; or (2) bickering among plaintiffs’ counsel over leadership, followed by some degree of additional bickering over the course of the proceeding if firms from more than one group are given co-lead positions.  Option (2), of course, falls into each of the two broad categories that form the pillars of defense strategy: Obstruction and Delay (cue singing angels).

That’s a long way of saying the Blues favor centralization.  The ones represented by Kirkland & Ellis were the most verbose about it.  There will likely be little further excitement before the Dallas Panelpalooza in late November.  But imPaneled will be all over it if there is.

 

The answer is “yes” . . .

. . . to the question imPaneled posed to its readers yesterday, i.e., “is imPaneled a blog of its word?”  The “word” was that there would be a post today.  Now there’s a post today.

As imPaneled is staffed entirely by attorneys, it crossed our minds that we might add nothing more and still celebrate having posted.  But implicit in yesterday’s promise was something of a representation that today’s post would actually include substance.  And the complex litigation community bounced back from a lackluster week to give us real substance yesterday.  To wit:

  • Boies Schiller and Cohen Milstein are contesting leadership in the Blue Cross antitrust action in the N.D. Ala.  Boies Schiller shrewdly added two local firms to its proposal, and further offered a generous helping of lodestar from their friends at Hausfeld.
  • Four firms–Abraham Fruchter, Bernstein Liebhard, Robbins Geller and the Rosen Law Firm–gave notice of their intention to seek lead status in the Lone Pine Resources case pending in the S.D.N.Y.
  • Fannie Mae previewed what is likely to be a bruising battle over whether the Panel should transfer and consolidate the many cases comprising MDL 2388, the Mortgage Lender Force-Placed Insurance Litigation.

More to come tomorrow, and to all the complex litigators out there–keep up both the production and the conflict.

  • About the blogmaster

    Bart Cohen is the principal of the Law Office of Bart D. Cohen, where he represents his clients in class actions and other complex litigation, and Winning Briefs, where he polishes, edits and drafts written work product for overextended lawyers.

    His unnatural appetites for rules and research of all kinds have made him an expert on proceedings before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. He feeds those appetites and chronicles the battles to land lead counsel appointments that are fought in part before the Panel on imPaneled.

    You can contact Bart here or connect with him here.

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