Because of the firm’s successes in the circuit courts during the past year, veteran U.S. Supreme Court litigator Patricia Millett, co-head of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s national appellate practice, is in the unusual position of trying hard not to have a Supreme Court practice next year.
Millett is gearing up to file briefs opposing review in a path-breaking patent victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, among other cases, while awaiting the outcome of her own Supreme Court argument against the constitutionality of Arizona’s law requiring potential voters to prove they are U.S. citizens before registering and casting their ballots.
The appellate group’s record of success in the past 12 months includes:
• The Federal Circuit, reversing a district court preliminary injunction that had prevented firm client Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc. from entering the $1 billion yearly market for its generic drug, enoxaparin, adopted the firm’s argument that Amphastar’s use of a test patented by Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc. fell within Hatch-Waxman Act’s safe harbor from infringement suits.
• In a major human rights ruling concerning "head of state" immunity, the Fourth Circuit affirmed a $21 million judgment obtained by a team of nearly two dozen Akin Gump attorneys on behalf of four Somali plaintiffs against the second most powerful man in the despotic Siad Barre regime, General Mohamed Ali Samantar, after he admitted liability for extrajudicial killing, torture, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by troops under his command.
• After a seven-year battle over unfair labor practice charges, Starbucks Corp. won a Second Circuit decision that it could enforce a one-union-button dress code. The court, in a related holding favoring Starbucks, rejected the lower court’s balancing test for determining whether the use of obscenities in front of customers loses protection under the National Labor Relations Act.
• National Football League players and their union brought approximately 1,000 cases seeking workers’ compensation awards in California, despite choice-of-law and -forum provisions in their contracts calling for application of the law of the state where a club is located. The Ninth Circuit agreed with the NFL that playing a few games in California does not bring a player within the scope of the California workers’ compensation regime.
The firm also represents the founder and managing general partner of The Galleon Group, Raj Rajaratnam, in his pending Second Circuit appeals of his 2011 criminal conviction and sentence, and of the final judgment entered against him in the government’s civil case.