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THELEN LOSES PARTNER TO DAVIS WRIGHT Seattle’s Davis Wright Tremaine added a new partner to its San Francisco ranks, luring Allison Davis over from Thelen Reid & Priest. Davis started work at the firm in mid-March, becoming the 19th partner in the firm’s 30-lawyer office, said Mary Enemark, a firm spokeswoman. Davis, who was of counsel at Thelen, will continue to focus on energy companies and commercial litigation. She is the second partner in as many months that Davis has added to its San Francisco outpost. The firm in February hired Robert Gex as a partner from the now-defunct San Jose intellectual property boutique Skjerven Morrill. Martin Fineman, managing partner of the office, said the satellite is strong in health care law, regulatory issues in the energy and telecommunications industries and litigation. “We have plans to keep right on growing,” Fineman said, adding his goal is to add another 20 lawyers to the office in the next 18 to 24 months. — Renee Deger DEPUTY CITY ATTORNEY LANDS AT S.F. FIRM Former Oakland Deputy City Attorney Ines Vargas Fraenkel has joined the San Francisco office of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore. “Ines’ senior-level expertise in representing city agencies in employee relations is a perfect fit for our existing representation, consultation and training services that we offer throughout California,” said Melanie Poturica, firmwide managing partner. Fraenkel previously served as a supervising trial attorney and deputy city attorney in the Oakland city attorney’s office for 16 years. She specializes in all areas of labor and employment law and has provided training to public agencies on such issues as harassment and discrimination. Fraenkel earned her law degree in 1982 from Hastings College of the Law. In addition to Fraenkel, the firm has also recently added Elaine Leeming from the San Francisco city attorney’s office and Laura Schulkind from San Francisco’s Ruiz & Sperow. Liebert Cassidy Whitmore has 41 attorneys in San Francisco and Los Angeles. — Jason Dearen EXXONMOBIL WINS $416.8M VERDICT NEW YORK — After four hours of deliberations, a jury found for Exxon�Mobil Corp. on every count in its breach of contract suit against Saudi Basic Industries Corp. The jury awarded the oil giant $416.8 million in damages, the largest verdict in the United States so far this year. The verdict was handed down on March 21, following a two-week trial in Delaware Superior Court. The judge applied Saudi law in the case because the two contracts between Sabic and ExxonMobil specified that Saudi law governed these agreements. Sabic will challenge the verdict through post-trial motions and, if necessary, an appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court, company spokesman Mohammad Al-Motawa said. Sabic, which is 70 percent owned by the Saudi government, is the biggest petrochemical producer in the Middle East. ExxonMobil, based in Irving, Texas, is the world’s largest publicly traded oil company. The suit concerned the technology used in two ExxonMobil-Sabic joint ventures that make petrochemical products used in antifreeze, textile fibers and plastics. Sabic had purchased this technology from Union Carbide and licensed it to the joint ventures. ExxonMobil alleged that Sabic padded its license fees for this technology. This overcharging had gone on for approximately 20 years, according to ExxonMobil’s co-lead attorney in the suit, James Quinn, who chairs New York-based Weil, Gotshal & Manges’ litigation practice. The jury found Sabic had overcharged the joint ventures by $184 million. Since ExxonMobil owned only half of the joint ventures, it was entitled to only half of these damages, $92 million, under a breach of contract claim. The remainder of the award, $324.8 million, was based on a claim of usurpation (or wrongful taking). Under Saudi law, Sabic was required to pay this amount under a disgorgement theory — “based on their getting our money and investing it into their business,” said Quinn. — The National Law Journal RACE ISSUE EMERGES IN GUN INDUSTRY TRIAL NEW YORK — Lawyers pressing a closely watched lawsuit against the gun industry Monday framed their opening statements in racial terms, claiming that blacks are disproportionately harmed by guns that end up in the hands of criminals. But lawyers for the industry returned fire, claiming an absence of proof that gun manufacturers or distributors had done anything improper in marketing their product. They insisted that guns end up in the wrong hands because of the extensive efforts of criminals to “circumvent the law,” and that investigations of how this happens should be left to law enforcement authorities. The case is the second in four years seeking to impose reforms on the gun industry to go to trial before Eastern District of New York Judge Jack Weinstein. Although at least 32 other cases have been brought against the gun industry, the two assigned to Weinstein are the only ones to date to go to trial. Both cases have been brought by Elisa Barnes, who has a two-lawyer practice, with the most recent case being assigned to Judge Weinstein as a related case. Barnes, in a case brought by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to seek reforms in the way guns are marketed, stressed the disproportionate harm from gun violence that befalls blacks and members of the civil rights group. James Dorr, who was the first of four lawyers scheduled to speak for the gun industry, told the jury that when they examine the evidence, there would be no proof of a causal link between any acts of the 69 manufacturers and distributors sued in the case and handgun deaths. — New York Law Journal

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