Our first runner-up this week is a team at Debevoise & Plimpton led by the firm’s international dispute resolution group co-chair Mark Friedman and partner Ina Popova. Last week they secured a $412 million recovery for oil and gas company Perenco Ecuador in its long-running dispute with the Republic of Ecuador. An ICSID tribunal on Friday finalized its holding that Ecuador violated its bilateral treaty with France after passing a controversial 2006 law allowing it to seize virtually all of the revenues of foreign oil companies, including two oil fields that Perenco purchased under long-term contracts with the state. Friedman and Popova have led the oral advocacy at the eight hearings on the matter for Parenco over the last decade. Debevoise associates Laura Sinisterra and Sarah Lee, who have both worked on the case since their first days at the firm, had stand-up roles at the most recent hearing. The team was supported by associates Moeun Cha and Janine Godbehere.
Also landing runners-up honors this week is Theane Evangelis of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher who won a Ninth Circuit ruling reversing a record-setting $102 million class action and private attorneys’ general act verdict against Wal-Mart. Walmart’s victory resulted in the reversal of the largest-ever statutory penalties awarded under California Labor Code section 226 and largest court-awarded PAGA penalty—$48 million and $53 million—respectively. The ruling also set important precedent for defendants in PAGA actions by finding that a named plaintiff must suffer from a particular alleged Labor Code violation to have standing to bring claims in federal court. Gibson partners Julian Poon and Brad Hamburger joined Evangelis on the briefs for Wal-Mart.