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John Keker, Bob Van Nest and Elliot Peters Named to Daily Journal’s 2014 “Top 100”

Daily Journal

John W. Keker

Keker is continuing to battle a multibillion dollar lawsuit brought by the U.S. government against his client Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLP.

At issue are allegations that S&P contributed to the 2008 financial crisis by rating certain mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations. U.S. v. McGraw- Hill Companies Inc., et al, 13-00779 (C.D. Cal., filed Feb. 4, 2013).

A trial is scheduled for September 2015.

"The government alleges that S&P is completely at fault for losses in the CDO market in 2008, even as it is busy collecting billions for those same losses from the banks that caused them," Keker said. "The collapse of the market was the banks' fault, not S&P's."

Also on his front burner, Keker is representing Sushovan Hussain, former chief financial officer of Autonomy Corp., in connection with its acquisition by Hewlett- Packard Co. in 2011 for more than $11 billion.

In 2012, HP alleged that Autonomy made outright misrepresentations to inflate its financial results, leading HP to issue an $8.8 billion write-down of the company's value.

Plaintiffs' bar responded by filing claims, including class-action lawsuits.

Then HP and plaintiffs lawyers entered into an agreement where HP would pay nothing and are absolved from all wrongdoing, while the lawyers would get at least $18 million and as much as $48 million for assisting in suing Autonomy's former officers, Keker said.

Hussain is attempting to intervene, obtain limited discovery and challenge the settlement.

In a recently filed motion, Keker wrote that "HP has been actively engaged in a cover up of its mismanagement ... and seeks through this corrupt settlement to bury the facts and cut off all further inquiry or claims, including claims Mr. Hussain may assert in his defense once HP sues him." In Re Hewlett-Packard Co. Shareholder Derivative Litigation, C-12-6003-CRB (N.D. Cal., filed Aug. 11, 2014).

On Aug. 25, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer rejected the proposed settlement. A hearing is set on Sept. 26.

Robert A. Van Nest

Van Nest is leading a multi-firm defense team representing four technology giants in antitrust litigation brought by a class of tech workers.

The class argues that Adobe Systems Inc., Apple Inc., Google Inc. and Intel Corp. colluded to keep worker pay artificially low and deliberately avoided poaching employees from each other in a lawsuit closely tracked in Silicon Valley.

Van Nest helped spearhead a proposed $324.5 million settlement between his clients and class representatives that was submitted to the court in May. An expert for the tech employees had previously projected the companies caused $3 billion in damages to the class.

U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh in San Jose rejected the deal in August because it did not provide enough money to claimants. In Re: High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, 11-2509 (N.D. Cal., filed May 23, 2011).

"The defendants strongly disagree with Judge Koh's order but recognize that the case will move forward," Van Nest said. "This is a high-profile case with a lot of good lawyers and the lawyers are working together to overcome the plaintiffs' claims."

Van Nest is also a leading lawyer in patent and copyright litigation. He practices regularly at the state and federal court level and frequently argues before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

"I love the challenge of learning about new technology. I love the variety of being around different courts around the country," Van Nest said. "I have a great team helping me on all cases. It's all good."

Elliot R. Peters

Peters is gearing up for a hearing come September in Washington, D.C., on behalf of disgraced Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong in a battle against his former sponsor, the U.S. Postal Service.

At issue, USPS claims that Armstrong, who last year admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, damaged the agency as a result of his conduct. U.S. v. Armstrong, MC11-00565 (USDC-DC).

"They spent $35 million for promotional reasons and now they claim that, under the False Claims Act, that they should get three times that back from Lance," Peters said.

He added, "This is not a righteous lawsuit. USPS sponsored a team in that sport in order to gain media exposure. They got far more media exposure than they paid for due to the team's success. They have no real damages and the lawsuit is primarily about the DOJ grandstanding against a famous athlete."

Meanwhile, Peters is among those appearing in a new documentary, "The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz."

Peters had defended Reddit co-creator and Internet activist Swartz, who was indicted in Boston on criminal charges that he had downloaded without authorization more than four million documents from MIT and JSTOR, an archive of scientific journals and academic papers. United States v. Swartz, 11-CR-10260-NMG (D.C. Mass., filed July 11, 2011).

At the height of the lengthy and high-profile case, Swartz committed suicide early last year.

"It's a tragic and compelling story about the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and its intersection with the computer hacking culture," Peters said. "This raises issues about who should have access to a wealth of knowledge on the Internet."

Peters frequently speaks on the subject of reforming the Act.

"We would like to see statute reforms so it more effectively targets people entering computer systems with a malicious frame of mind," he said, "people either trying to steal things of value or trying to damage a computer network."