A U.S. arbitrator has awarded Kraft Foods Inc. $2.76 billion in its breach-of-contract dispute with Starbucks Corp. over packaged coffee. In 1998, Kraft struck a deal with Starbucks to become its exclusive distributor of packaged coffee sold in grocery stores. Starbucks alleged that Kraft was doing “lasting damage to Starbucks’ brand” and offered to buy out Kraft’s interest for $750 million. Kraft refused the offer, arguing that the amount was much less than the fair market value of the business.
AIRLINE MERGER OK’D
Less than two weeks before trial, the Justice Department announced a proposed settlement on Nov. 12 with American Airlines and US Airways, allowing their $11 billion merger to go forward in exchange for major divestitures. The airlines will give up gate slots at seven major airports, including Washington Reagan National, where the combined airlines would have controlled 69 percent of the flights. Those slots would be sold to low-cost carriers such as JetBlue and Southwest.
LIFE X 2 FOR BULGER
A Boston federal judge on Nov. 14 handed down two consecutive life sentences plus five years for convicted mobster James “Whitey” Bulger and ordered him to pay $19.5 million in restitution. “The scope, the callousness, the depravity of your crimes are almost unfathomable,” U.S. District Judge Denise Casper said. Bulger’s lawyers hinted that the government’s deals with Bulger’s former associates concealed government corruption. Casper conceded that Bulger “certainly had some well-placed law enforcement on your payroll and in your pocket,” plus participation by associates. Still, the sentence reflected the severity of his actions, she said.
LEGAL INDUSTRY WEAK
Financial results from the first nine months of the year did little to buoy what had already started off as a weak 2013 for the legal industry, with revenue rising slightly and demand lagging, according to an analysis conducted by Wells Fargo Private Bank’s Legal Specialty Group. The bank said gross revenue was up by 2.5 percent on average for the first nine months of the year compared with the same period in 2012. At the same time, demand, measured by hours billed, was down by 0.75 percent. “While we’d like to deliver good news, unfortunately we’re not seeing things turn,” legal specialty group senior director of banking Jeff Grossman said.
SILICON VALLEY HO!
Philadephia-based Pepper Hamilton is opening a Redwood City, Calif., office with three intellectual property litigation partners taken from Goodwin Procter. Opening an office in Silicon Valley has been on Pepper Hamilton’s agenda for about 18 months, part of a strategic plan to capitalize on its strengths in IP and white-collar litigation and investigations, firm chief executive officer Scott Green said. With “a number of really important clients” in the San Francisco Bay Area, the 500-lawyer firm needed “boots on the ground,” he said.
TESLA DRAWS LAWSUIT
Plaintiffs lawyers have filed a 40-page securities class action against Tesla Motors Inc. The suit, on behalf of named plaintiff Robert Rahimi, seeks to recoup losses sustained over the stock’s precipitous fall — down nearly 30 percent in six weeks, a loss of more than $6.5 billion in market capitalization. The complaint blames design flaws for causing three Tesla vehicles to burst into flames. The case was brought by Glancy Binkow & Goldberg of Los Angeles and Bronstein, Gewirtz & Grossman of New York.
FIRM SNUBS RUSSIA
Goodwin Procter has announced that it will neither cosponsor nor host a forum aimed at ­promoting investment in Russia that was to be held in the firm’s New York office on Nov. 18 after learning that American Bar Association president James Silkenat had withdrawn as keynote speaker. Gay rights activists had urged Silkenat and Goodwin to cut their ties to the Russia Forum New York event in light of antigay legislation enacted by Russia that has sparked protests there and abroad.