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. The study, the 11th annual America's Best Corporate Law Firms, lists the top 25 (expanded from 20) national law firms and is based on a survey sent to 8,500 directors and 2,200 general counsel serving on boards of publicly traded companies listed with the NASDAQ and NYSE Amex. Weil has been ranked in the top ten firms in ten 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. He was a member of its Investment Funds and Mergers & Acquisitions practices and has more than 25 years of experience representing alternative asset managers, particularly private equity firms and their portfolio companies. Mr. Eisenberg's private equity experience includes leveraged buy-outs, going private transactions, distressed investments, growth investments, PIPES, mezzanine capital, and coinvestments.

Mr. Ryder was a partner in the New York office and a member of the Transactions department, where he focused on M&A and private equity transactions for private equity funds and emerging and established companies in a variety of business sectors.

Mr. Eisenberg has been involved in many strategic transactions, including public offerings of sponsor firms, joint ventures, strategic acquisitions to allow clients to diversify asset classes, and corporate spinouts. 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.

Mr. Bartholomew comes to Weil with a wealth of experience in the SEC enforcement area, extensive relationships within the securities bar, and connections with some of the nation's largest corporations and financial institutions. While at the SEC, Bartholomew litigated and tried some of the SEC's highest-profile cases, including the SEC's first "earnings management" case.

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. He is currently representing several of the nation's best-known financial institutions in billion-dollar matters involving multi-regulator investigations and related securities class actions and, over the course of his career, has represented numerous Fortune 100 clients, including TD Ameritrade, SunTrust Banks, and Raymond James.