United States: Pennsylvania
George G Gordon, partner and co-leader of Dechert’s antitrust/competition practice, says he works primarily in the courtroom. He estimates that, for the entire antitrust group, 50 per cent of its work in the past year has been in antitrust litigation and counselling, 40 per cent was deal related, while the rest focused on criminal matters, in which the firm mostly represents individuals. It currently has five grand jury investigations. “The bread and butter of the litigation work is the civil class actions,” he says. “We do a lot in the pharmaceutical industry, a lot in specialty chemicals and commodities, and in travel.”
The latter includes the small matter of the US Airways/American Airlines merger, which GCR recognised as “Matter of the Year”. Dechert also represented Travelport against American Airlines last year to settle allegations that the travel services company had conspired to monopolise a market for the distribution of flight tickets through travel agents. The Philadelphia office has recently represented Endo pharmaceuticals in a pay-for-delay case; Microsoft against allegations of attempted monopolisation of internet telephoning; and breast pump manufacturer Medela in the long-running but now-settled Baby Products litigation. Partners Joseph A Tate and Christine C Levin are defending an egg cooperative’s Capper-Volstead immunity from antitrust lawsuits. Dechert’s Pennsylvania antitrust practice deals with cutting-edge issues – such as Actelion’s refusal to sell a pharmaceutical product to generic rivals – and traditional cartel claims against companies such as Commercial Metals for allegedly price-fixing steel products. Partner Carolyn Hazard is part of the team defending Dean Foods against accusations of conspiracy to distort the price of milk products, and currently petitioning the Supreme Court for review. She is also working for Dow in the urethane litigation as the company seeks to overturn $1 billion of liability. In a truly home-grown dispute, partner Robert C Heim successfully convinced a federal judge to throw out antitrust claims made against his client Lundy Law by another personal injury law firm.
United States: Washington, DC
The Dechert team that made its mark on Wholefoods/Wild Oats and Express Scripts/Medco remains one of the foremost firms in the district for merger work. The antitrust practice played a starring role in two of GCR’s matters of the year for 2013: the merger of US Airways with American Airlines and the takeover of Office Depot by close rival OfficeMax. Household names like GE, Kellogg and Microsoft rely on Who’s Who Legal nominee Paul Denis and his team for antitrust counsel.
The pace of work has not slowed this year. Supermarket chain Albertsons and its private-equity owner tapped Denis and former FTC man James A Fishkin to advise on its $9.4 billion takeover of Safeway and the rigorous FTC investigation it triggered. Denis and New York partner Michael Weiner advised CineMedia on the DoJ’s review of its $375 million acquisition of Screenvision, while new partner Gorav Jindal helped American Airlines divest $425 million worth of airport slots to rivals, as agreed in the US/AA settlement.
Private litigation also continued to be a major source of work for this trial-ready team. Partner and Who’s Who Legal nominee Paul H Friedman is handling an appeal before the Supreme Court for Dean Foods as part of the long-runningSoutheastern Milk antitrust litigation. Members of the Dechert team also worked on multiple aspects of the DoJ’s auto parts investigation in 2014.