GCR 100 - 17th Edition

United States: Illinois

10 January 2017

United States: Illinois

Chicago’s antitrust bar remains stocked with talented litigators, former enforcers and lawyers who specialise in handling mergers and counselling in the healthcare market – an industry crucial to the modern antitrust world.

Elite

Chicago antitrust titan KIRKLAND & ELLIS grew considerably last year after promoting four junior lawyers to partner in its antitrust group. James H Mutchnik PC continues to lead the practice, and he now boasts the firepower of 31 partners and eight dedicated associates in the Chicago office alone.

The firm remains one of the country’s preeminent merger teams, handling around 11% of all of the pre-merger notification filings nationally, and the firm again filed more than 200 deals with the antitrust agencies in 2016. Many of those are for private equity deals, which are the bread and butter of the firm’s merger practice. That doesn’t mean the deals are not complex; Mutchnik estimates that the firm has the third or fourth largest second-request practice in the country. One of those clients, Bain Capital, turned to Kirkland during its takeover of Big Tex and American Trailer Works – two trailer manufacturers that Bain plans to merge.

Elsewhere, the firm helped Trina Solar settle a lawsuit accusing it of conspiring with other Chinese solar panel makers to sell panels into the US at unreasonably low prices. Partner Daniel Laytin led the counselling of Trina in a similar lawsuit that was dismissed with prejudice, which the Sixth Circuit affirmed in August. The Kirkland team also acts as co-lead counsel to Blue Cross Blue Shield defendants fighting against market division claims in Alabama federal court. The firm’s health insurance expertise extends to its work for Highmark and Healthcare Service Corporation. The team also won dismissal of an antitrust class action targeting the heavy-duty truck transmission industry for client Navistar International, but the plaintiffs revived their case on appeal. American Gilsonite Company turned to Kirkland to fend off a monopolisation injunction request.

The Chicago antitrust group at MAYER BROWN has delved into nearly every top case in the city and further afield. Led by Andy S Marovitz – a lawyer whom nearly all of the firm’s major rivals mention by name – the five-partner, six-associate competition team also includes Lee N Abrams, a stalwart of the Chicago antitrust scene.

Marovitz and his team have packed their docket with one of the most impressive slates of cases in the city. HSBC turned to Mayer Brown to fight an antitrust lawsuit against an alleged conspiracy in interest rate swaps; the team also handled the credit default swaps case for the bank. Temple-Inland remains a major client, as the firm acts for it in the linerboard antitrust litigation.

Marovitz works outside Chicago as well, of course – teaming up with other Mayer Brown antitrust lawyers to handle work for some of the firm’s headline clients. Lear turned to the firm to defend it in the auto parts litigation after it was targeted as a conspirator in wire harnesses. ArcelorMittal was sued for allegedly restricting the supply of steel products, and it turned to the Mayer Brown team for guidance as well. Meanwhile, the firm was kept busy last year acting for the Big Ten Conference in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s student-athlete payment antitrust case, which the Supreme Court declined to hear as GCR 100 went to press.

Joel Chefitz is now firmly in charge of the Chicago antitrust practice at MCDERMOTT WILL & EMERY, after former practice leader David Marx shifted to an of counsel role last year. Chefitz leads a seven-partner team in Chicago that often collaborates with its colleagues in Washington, DC and elsewhere to advise on deals, but he says it also handles a fair amount of merger work itself. Partner Amanda Metts left the practice last year to go in-house at McDermott client Apollo Education Group. Former FTC official Stephen Wu is a top name in the practice, particularly for healthcare clients.

In court, the firm’s docket is as impressive as any in the city. Chefitz and others are taking the lead for Steel Dynamics, one of three remaining defendants in the ongoing steel antitrust litigation parked in Chicago federal court. The McDermott team took the lead for all defendants and defeated class certification for lack of common damages and impact last year; the case continues on the conspiracy issue. Chefitz also helped Dairy Farmers of America escape the multi-district cheese litigation that had been pending in the same courthouse; all claims were dismissed in 2015. The team is also on for American Gypsum in the ongoing drywall case.

The Chicago lawyers are particularly adept at healthcare matters, and their matters reflect that. Marx and Wu were part of the McDermott team that unsuccessfully defended ProMedica from an FTC lawsuit challenging its purchase of rival hospital group St Luke’s, but since then has helped the hospital settle a civil DOJ lawsuit alleging illegal market division in Michigan. The team also defended against an FTC investigation of a deal between client Hackensack University Medical Center and local rival Meridian Health System. Wu helped Banner Health buy Urgent Care Extra; both competed to provide health services in Arizona.

Heavyweight SIDLEY AUSTIN continues to specialise in both pillars of Chicago-area antitrust work: healthcare and litigation. John Treece leads a team of 14 partners and 18 other lawyers who act for some of the largest names in the pharmaceutical world, as well as for companies in a bevy of other industries accustomed to the antitrust spotlight.

Treece and the Chicago-based Sidley antitrust group went to court last year for Astellas Pharma against purchasers of Prograf, eventually settling the class actions for a combined US$111 million. They also secured victory for AstraZeneca in a Federal Circuit patent infringement case that included antitrust claims. Treece was on for AT&T Mobility as the text messaging antitrust litigation’s six-year run in federal court ended when the Supreme Court refused to hear the plaintiffs’ appeal.

Meanwhile, Chicago partner David Graham is partnering with his Sidley colleagues in New York to defend Citigroup in an appeal filed by credit card customers alleging that banks and card providers conspired to use individual customer arbitration to resolve disputes; Sidley has taken on a lead role for defendants at the Second Circuit after winning a bench trial earlier this year. The firm is advising the bank in the interchange fee case as well, the settlement of which remains on appeal and with several opt-out cases ongoing. The list of other Sidley clients is a lengthy one: CatamaranRx, SSAB Swedish Steel, Microsoft, Quest Diagnostics and Simon Property Group all turn to the firm for antitrust advice.

Almost everyone on the Chicago antitrust scene mentions Nathan P Eimer when reeling off lists of the city’s top antitrust practitioners. The eponymous founder of EIMER STAHL has been plugging away since 2000, and has built the firm into one of the most active and respected antitrust litigation shops in the city. Alongside Eimer are six other partners with focus on antitrust litigation, including Michael McCluggage and Brent Austin, who joined the firm in 2013 from Edwards Wildman.

Eimer and fellow partners Vanessa Jacobsen and Arin Aragona recently defended LG Chem in the lithium-ion battery antitrust litigation. The firm represents companies in several other multi-syllabic matters related to the electronics industry, including optical disk drives, cathode ray tubes, liquid-crystal displays and, most recently, allegations of anti-poaching agreements. The firm advises Land O’Lakes in price-fixing cases in the dairy and egg markets, currently working their way through federal courts. The firm is also involved in the containerboard class action, where Eimer and partner Sue Razzano are lead trial counsel for International Paper. The antitrust team also counsels Gerdau Ameristeel, Dow Chemical and State Farm.

The Chicago team of international competition pacesetter JONES DAY continues to act on some of the firm’s most crucial cases and investigations. Michael Sennett leads the office’s antitrust group and appears on a number of major cases. But Chicago partner Paula Render is also a major force in the firm-wide group, as she acts on a number of blockbuster cases run out of Washington, DC, and Brussels.

As one might expect, Jones Day has a solid position in the competitive Chicago healthcare antitrust market. Sennett and partner Pamela Taylor worked with the firm’s EU team to help biopharma company Baxalta clear its US$32 billion deal with Shire. Taylor worked alongside partners in Europe, China, Mexico and elsewhere to close major client Cardinal Health’s purchase of Cordis from Johnson & Johnson, and defended the company in two lawsuits alleging that its discounting practices violated antitrust law. One case was dismissed in Kansas federal district court, remains at the Tenth Circuit. Otherwise, the Chicago team assists on the firm’s many high-profile cases, including the litigation defence of the now-abandoned Electrolux/ General Electric deal.

Chicago antitrust star Amy B Manning continues to lead a four-partner group at McGUIREWOODS. Sarah Zielinski was promoted in January; longtime partner Richard Rappaport officially retired in June; and two associates departed in 2016 as well.

The firm remains one of the most active at the bar, with representations in federal court and before the agencies. It wrapped up private litigation for Horizon Lines in 2015 after the client was targeted in the DOJ’s freight transportation investigation. It is also advising UnityPoint Methodist Health in a civil lawsuit alleging exclusive dealing and monopolisation claims. Meanwhile, McGuireWoods was appointed co-liaison counsel in the polyurethane foam antitrust class action, where it advises Carpenter.

The antitrust practice of WINSTON & STRAWN in Chicago took a significant hit when its longtime head Mark McCareins left in 2015 to go in-house at his longstanding client Metals Service Center Institute. Partner James Herbison took over the leadership post, and alongside firm chairman and litigation partner Dan Webb, the Chicago practice at Winston has not missed a beat.

Over the past year, the team has advised NorthShore University HealthSystem in litigation against the FTC over its merger with Advocate Healthcare. The firm helped to deliver the agency a stunning defeat, one of the first FTC losses in a hospital merger challenge in several years, which is now on appeal to the Seventh Circuit. Winston & Strawn remains involved in the containerboard litigation for WestRock; the Chicago federal court’s decision to certify that class is now on appeal and fully briefed to the Seventh Circuit. Earlier this year, the firm secured settlements for solar panel maker Solyndra, the plaintiff in a dumping case against Suntech Holdings and others. Goldman Sachs remains a major antitrust client, as the treasury bills and interest rate swaps litigations roll on.

The antitrust team at DENTONS remains a stable and significant practice in the Chicago market. Partner Stephen Libowsky continues to lead the practice there and is joined by partner Alan H Silberman. In court, Libowsky is working with a multi-office team to represent Matsuo Electric against class actions pending in California that allege a conspiracy in the capacitors market. The firm is also advising Southwire in its merger with wire rival United Copper, a deal the FTC declined to challenge. Quality Care Providers, ACCO brands and Allstate stay on the active client list.

Firm

Head(S) of competition

Size

Who’s Who nominees

Clients

Elite

Kirkland & Ellis

James H Mutchnik PC

31 partners

8 associates

James H Mutchnik PC

Bain Capital, Trina Solar, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Highmark, Healthcare Services Corporation, Navistar International, American Gilsonite Company

Mayer Brown

Andrew S Marovitz

5 partners

6 associates

Andrew S Marovitz

Lee N Abrams

HSBC, Temple-Inland, Lear, Arcelor Mittal, Big Ten Conference

McDermott Will & Emery

Joel G Chefitz

7 partners

10 associates

Joel Chefitz

David Marx Jr

Steel Dynamics, Dairy Farmers of America, American Gypsum, ProMedica, Hackensack University Medical Center, Banner Health

Sidley Austin

John W Treece

14 partners

18 lawyers

David C Giardina

John W Treece

Astellas Pharma, AstraZeneca, AT&T Mobility, Citigroup, CatamaranRx, SSAB, Microsoft, Quest Diagnostics, Simon Property Group

Highly Recommended

Eimer Stahl

Nathan P Eimer

7 partners

Nathan P Eimer

LG Chem, Land O'Lakes, International Paper, Dow Chemical, State Farm, Gerdau Ameristeel

Jones Day

Michael Sennett

5 partners

6 associates

Michael Sennett

Baxter International, Boehringer Ingelheim, Electrolux, Deutsche Bank, Cardinal Health, Potash Corp of Saskatchewan

McGuireWoods

Amy Manning

4 partners

4 associates

None

Panasonic, Verizon, WestRock, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Abbott Laboratories, Solyndra, Goldman Sachs, TreeHouse Foods

Winston & Strawn

James Herbison

21 partners & counsel

21 associates

None

Panasonic, Verizon, WestRock, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Abbott Laboratories, Solyndra, Goldman Sachs, TreeHouse Foods

Recommended

Dentons

Stephen Libowsky

2 partners

1 counsel

None

ACCO Brands, Allstate, Meritage Homes, Leading Builders of America, Southwire Company, Matsuo Electric

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