United States: California
Jason Murray leads the California antitrust practice at CROWELL & MORING, which features 11 partners – including Dan Sasse, a member of the firm’s management board – five counsel and 22 associates. Deborah Arbabi won a promotion to partner in the firm’s Orange County office, and the practice continues to move associates through the ranks to counsel at a good clip. These newly minted counsel replace a handful of antitrust lawyers who left the firm for various reasons last year.
The Crowell group is currently defending client KOA against a pending class action alleging the company conspired to fix the price of resistors. In July, it reached a settlement for client Hewlett-Packard and two major electronics distributors to end its exposure in the long-running optical disk-drives litigation. That settlement came six months or so after the firm cut a deal for ViewSonic to exit the cathode ray tube private action. The firm helps DuPont defend against California state antitrust law claims brought by Home Depot alleging the chemical company conspired to fix titanium dioxide prices.
United States: New York
CROWELL & MORING’s antitrust practice provides merger, investigations and civil litigation services, and in July 2017 added Juan Arteaga, former deputy assistant attorney general at the DOJ’s antitrust division, to the New York office, which partner Olivier Antoine leads. The firm was involved in some of the major antitrust matters of the past year, particularly long-time client AT&T’s US$85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner. The work for the telecommunications giant did not stop there, as Crowell also counselled the company in a DOJ civil antitrust investigation stemming from subsidiary DIRECTV’s negotiations regarding the rights to carry the Spectrum SportsNet LA “Dodgers Channel.” After a year-long investigation, the DOJ filed a cased focused on alleged information-sharing between competitors, which AT&T subsequently settled.
In other top-dollar deals, Crowell counselled another long-time client, TransCanada, in its US$13 billion purchase of the Columbia Pipeline Group – its largest acquisition ever. The firm engaged the FTC staff as soon as the deal was announced and explained the pro-competitive business reasons for it and the benefits it offered to consumers, ultimately securing clearance without a second request. In behavioural matters, Crowell is defending KOA and KOA Speer Electronics in the face of a DOJ grand jury investigation and class actions, and has represented a senior executive of Bumble Bee Foods since 2015 in connection with a high-profile criminal antitrust investigation of cartel activity in the canned seafood market.
United States: Washington, DC
Crowell & Moring has “a number of good people”, the co-chair of a top DC practice says, while another rival admires the firm’s client list. It has expanded and diversified while retaining long-standing customers such as AT&T, which partners Wm Randolph Smith, Jeane Thomas and Shawn Johnson are guiding in the US$85 billion acquisition of media company Time Warner. Kent Gardiner, Shari Ross Lahlou, David Schnorrenberg and Joseph Miller acted for Humana in its proposed US$37 billion sale to rival health insurer Aetna, but the companies opted to drop their deal after a Washington, DC federal court enjoined it. Confidential clients have the firm representing them as third parties in tie-ups such as Smiths/Morpho Detection, and the firm publicly acted for Clean Harbors in the DOJ’s challenge to the attempted EnergySolutions/Waste Control Specialists deal. Gardiner, Schnorrenberg and Astor Heaven defended United Airlines’ acquisition of slots at Newark Airport from a DOJ lawsuit to block the deal, which became unnecessary when a regulatory change removed slot constraints at the airport.
United Airlines also uses Crowell for non-merger litigation, such as passengers’ claim – following a DOJ investigation – that the airline colluded with its competitors to limit seat capacity. This, the Rail Freight Fuel Surcharge litigation against CSX Transportation, and the Blue Cross Blue Shield lawsuit brought by physicians and subscribers remain ongoing, but the firm won two motions for summary judgment in 2016. Upheld by the Tenth Circuit in March 2017, a court threw out Suture Express’s tying and exclusive dealing claims against Owens & Minor, represented by Lahlou and John Gibson. A Third Circuit appeal remains pending in Lahlou’s victory for DuPont over a claim of fixing the price of titanium dioxide. In a further boost to the firm’s capabilities, former Antitrust Division deputy for civil enforcement Juan Arteaga joined as a partner in July 2017.