Weil Wins Supreme Court Victory In Schindler; Adds Partners In New York And DC

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 01:00

Weil, Gotshal and Manges won an important victory in the United States Supreme Court today for its client, Schindler Elevator Corp., in a case interpreting the public-disclosure bar of the False Claims Act (FCA). The case was closely watched by the business community and was of considerable importance to companies that do business with and receive payments from the federal government.

A former employee brought a qui tam action against Schindler - a suit brought by a private plaintiff on behalf of the federal government - claiming that Schindler had failed to report to the government the number of veterans that it employs, as is required of federal contractors. The claim was based on information the employee received from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests submitted to the Labor Department, asking for Schindler's filings. Schindler moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the suit was based on publicly disclosed information and therefore precluded by the FCA's public-disclosure bar. The district court agreed and dismissed the suit, but the Second Circuit reversed, holding that responses to FOIA requests do not trigger the public-disclosure bar. The Supreme Court accepted Schindler's petition for certiorari, which pointed to inconsistent decisions by the Circuit Courts, and today reversed the Second Circuit, holding that the public-disclosure bar may apply to qui tam actions based on FOIA responses.

This Supreme Court decision contains a significant interpretation of the public-disclosure bar, which is an important and frequently litigated shield against meritless FCA actions.

The Weil team included litigation partner Steve Reiss, who argued the case; counsel Greg Silbert and Lisa Eskow; and Litigation associates David Yolkut, Adam Banks, and Kami Lizarraga.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP was again ranked among the top ten corporate law firms in America, according to a survey of U.S. corporate directors and general counsel released today by Corporate Board Member magazine and FTI Consulting, Inc. Weil has been ranked in the top 10 firms in 10 of the past 11 years.

Weil has announced that Harvey M. Eisenberg and Douglas A. Ryder will join the New York office as partners in its Private Equity practice group. Mr. Eisenberg and Mr. Ryder come to Weil from O'Melveny & Myers LLP.

Mr. Eisenberg has held a number of leadership positions at his former firm, including head of its Global Transactions department, and most recently, he served as the co-chair of its Strategy Committee. Mr. Eisenberg's private equity experience includes leveraged buy-outs, going private transactions, distressed investments, growth investments, PIPES, mezzanine capital, and coinvestments.

Mr. Eisenberg has been involved in many strategic transactions; similarly, Mr. Ryder has worked with funds and companies on numerous acquisitions and strategic investments.

Christian R. Bartholomew, a former senior prosecutor with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and one of the country's leading securities enforcement and litigation defense practitioners, has joined Weil, Gotshal & Manges as a partner in the Washington, DC office.

Mr. Bartholomew will lead the firm's SEC enforcement and litigation efforts in Washington. He will also maintain his long-time presence in Florida, taking an office in Weil's Miami location.

Since leaving the SEC in 2000, Mr. Bartholomew has focused exclusively on representing financial institutions and public company clients in securities enforcement investigations conducted by the SEC, state regulators and attorneys general, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and in related securities class actions.