Over our first quarter century, Constantine Cannon has been involved in many high-profile and groundbreaking cases that have left their mark on the legal system and society-at-large. In founder Lloyd Constantine’s own words, these highlighted cases trace the first 25 years of Constantine Cannon.
- Liberty Cable v. Time Warner Cable
In our very first case, video distribution upstart Liberty Cable took on Time Warner Cable in a save the business antitrust case. With the jury seated and awaiting opening arguments, the case was settled for a reported “nine figure settlement”.
News Corp’s online gaming company halted the then high-flying AOL’s attempt to monopolize the emerging market for hosting games played on the internet simultaneously by thousands of players. AOL capitulated the day before trial, agreeing to all injunctive relief demands and undisclosed monetary payments to our client.
News Corp. came to Constantine Cannon to find a way to stop DirecTV from merging with the Dish Network to attain a monopoly in the direct broadcast satellite TV market. DirecTV’s owners had promised to sell it to Rupert Murdoch and then reneged. After a year of presentations to the federal Antitrust Division, forty state antitrust agencies, the FCC and key members of Congress, a veritable food fight ensued about which agency would lead the assault on the soon-after abandoned merger. News Corp. then went on to acquire DirecTV.
- News Corporation v. Time Warner and Turner Broadcasting
Constantine Cannon was once again plaintiff’s counsel for News Corp. in a case that thwarted Time Warner and Turner Broadcasting’s attempt to kill the nascent Fox News Network, a competitor to then-dominant CNN. Ted Turner had said that they would “squish Rupert like a bug” by having Time Warner Cable deny Fox News carriage in New York City and Los Angeles, but our lawsuit squished that effort.
- In re VisaCheck/MasterMoney
This antitrust case dominated the first decade of the Firm’s existence. Typical of our David v. Goliath approach to antitrust, VisaCheck pitted our handful of lawyers against four big firms. We represented Walmart and four other large merchants, the three largest merchant trade associations and a certified class of five million merchants against Visa and MasterCard for forcing merchants to purchase unwanted services, attempting to monopolize the debit card market and deceiving consumers. With a jury impaneled the defendants settled for $3.4 billion in cash and an injunction valued by the court at upwards of $87 billion. This remains the largest antitrust settlement ever.
After the settlement, the District Court stated “Constantine [Cannon] is a premiere plaintiffs’ litigation firm specializing in antitrust litigation particularly . . . Its work is uniformly excellent, and thus it is no surprise that it has led the effort that produced the largest antitrust settlement ever.”
The district court’s comments were endorsed by the Second Circuit that also noted that VisaCheck was “a clash of commercial titans . . . involving almost every U.S. bank and more than five million U.S. merchants . . . the government piggybacked off of plaintiffs’ counsel’s work . . . and the settlement produced significant and lasting benefits for America’s merchants and consumers.”
- Discover v. Visa and Mastercard
Discover alleged that Visa and Mastercard had attempted to monopolize the credit card market by preventing their member banks from offering Discover credit cards. Eventually Visa and MasterCard settled for $2.75 billion, which was (and remains) the third largest antitrust settlement ever. Global Competition Review noted that: “[n]o other… practice can claim to have won two of the three largest antitrust settlements in U.S. history.”
In another clash of “commercial titans,” we represented Johnson and Johnson’s Ortho Biotech unit suing Amgen for tying the sale of its red blood cell booster to Neulasta, its white blood cell booster. Amgen agreed to a $200 million settlement, but more importantly, an injunction forced the pharmaceutical company to untether the treatments for the benefit of chemotherapy patients that needed both types of blood cell boosters during treatment.
- News Corporation/Heritage Media
Working with News Corp yet again, we defended its acquisition of Act Media, then the largest in-store marketing service provider that News Corp wanted to combine with its own company, News America Marketing. In response to the Antitrust Division’s stated intention to block what they characterized as a “merger to monopoly” in the so-called “in-store at-shelf coupon dispensing market,” we produced a raft of empirical analyses demonstrating the economic incoherence of the purported product market. On top of these analyses, we reminded Joel Klein, the new Assistant Attorney General, that he wouldn’t want his first merger challenge to be one in such a gerrymandered and silly-sounding market–especially not while banking and energy mergers were occurring daily.
The firm won a $40 million jury verdict for an upstart diagnostic imaging provider against CareCore, a market leading diagnostic imaging provider. After that, CareCore hired us to defend its merger with a competitor, and we did so successfully.
- In re Payment Card Antitrust Litigation
Once again, we are facing off with Visa and MasterCard. Now at least, they are two separate companies with far less overlap in ownership and a healthy amount of rivalry (all of which resulted from VisaCheck and the IPOs demanded by their joint owner banks in its aftermath). In this case, the primary focus is anticompetitive conduct in the credit card markets.
In the aftermath of VisaCheck, more than 150 lawyer-driven class actions were filed after the record-setting injunctive relief went into effect. Wary of the card world and preferring clients that hired us rather than recruits, we stayed out of those suits until they settled. The settlement included an injunction providing little or no value to merchants and an unprecedented forward-looking release permitting the card networks to do whatever they wanted, free of law suit, into the distant future. We represented some of the nation’s largest merchants, including Amazon, Starbucks, Lowe’s, AMC and 7-Eleven objecting to the class action settlement and led the effort that resulted in the Second Circuit decertifying the settlement class and rejecting the settlement. Our firm is leading the charge representing our 64 clients seeking monetary damages and real and permanent structural relief.
Lynntoya Washington v. Education Management Corp
- We represented the whistleblowers who revealed that Education Management Corp paid incentive payments to recruiters for enrolling unqualified students at EMC’s for-profit schools. Many of the victimized students dropped out, failed and/or defaulted on student loans. The U.S. Department of Education recovered $80 million in the suit, its largest False Claims Act recovery.
United States v. Takata
- The firm represented two whistleblowers who, as former employees, were key to the U.S. government’s criminal prosecution of Takata for selling deadly, defective airbags and fraud relating to defective airbag inflators. Takata and three executives pleaded guilty and paid a $1 billion fine, and nearly 100 million faulty airbags were recalled. Our clients recovered the first ever award under the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act.
Poehling v. UnitedHealth
- The firm is currently representing the whistleblower alongside the Department of Justice in the largest Medicare Advantage fraud case. The client, Benjamin Poehling, a former executive at the nation’s largest health insurer UnitedHealth Group, revealed that Unitedhealth and other major insurers had been fraudulently and systematically inflating risk-adjustment payments for Medicare Advantage by making patients appear sicker than they were.
United States v. Hanjin Transportation, SK Energy and G.S. Caltex
- Our recent victory for a whistleblower involving fuel suppliers to US military based in South Korea is a demonstration of the fact that the antitrust and whistleblower practices are not merely complementary, but give the firm and its clients a competitive advantage. Our whistleblower client charged that major South Korean fuel suppliers had fixed prices and rigged bids on military base contracts for more than a decade. To date, the defendants have agreed to pay the government $363 million dollars in what is both the largest-ever False Claims Act antitrust recovery and the largest False Claims Act settlement involving bid-rigging.
Art and Cultural Property Law
- In the widely reported “Persepolis Relief” case, the practice successfully resisted efforts by the Manhattan District Attorney to forcibly return the relief to Iran. The client, an art dealer, eventually voluntarily returned the relief.
- We provided specialist advice in relation to Espiris LLP’s acquisition of Bonhams, one of the top four international auction houses in the world. Our firm’s unrivalled expertise on auction practices were used to assist Epiris in carrying out its due diligence and identifying potential risks related to Bonham’s internal practices.
- C|C currently represents the French government relative to construction of a museum in the Middle East.
- C|C recently represented a consortium of ancient art dealers, academics and collectors during the debate and passage of the U.K.’s imminent ban on ivory. C|C’s advocacy resulted in a licensing system, a database and various exemptions.
- C|C is representing the Sainsbury Center for Visual Arts Museum, which loaned works by Francis Bacon to the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg for its 250th Anniversary Show “Francis Bacon and The Masters.”
- C|C frequently represents collectors in the purchase or sale of major works. It did so with regard to Kandinsky’s Ridge et Courbé and Paccaco’s Dora Mar with a Cat, the second-most expensive work ever sold at auction.
Constantine Cannon’s Commitment to Public Interest Work
Reflecting the legal services background, public interest jobs and assignments in the careers of many Constantine Cannon lawyers, our firm is committed to pro bono and public interest work.
- Recently our firm represented the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Fair Food Standards Council (Recipient of the 2015 Presidential Medal) in two cases. We successfully defeated Del Monte’s attempt to halt the CIW/FFSC Campaign to end modern farm slavery in Florida’s tomato fields. We also obtained a First Amendment-based injunction, enjoining Palm Beach Florida from barring CIW’s march for fair compensation. The march was held, with Ethel Kennedy in the vanguard.
- Several of our partners and associates are representing immigrant refugees and asylum seekers as part of the Immigration Justice Campaign. Associate Hamsa Mahendranathan is currently featured in a public service video designed to recruit other firms to assist the campaign.