The awards recognize California litigation practices that delivered exceptional results on their clients' most critical and challenging matters. Recorder editors sifted through 148 nominations looking for decisive victories at trial or on appeal. They considered the degree of difficulty, dollar value and importance of each matter to the client; the depth and breadth of the practice; and the use of strategic approaches that proved successful. The Recorder also recognized the in-house lawyers who played key roles in securing crucial litigation outcomes for their companies.
2016 Litigation Department of the Year Finalist: Keker & Van Nest
A trial win at the ITC for Qualcomm, a $253 million verdict in a water rights trial, plus a quick classification win for Instacart.
Cobarruviaz, et al. v. Instacart: We defeated a putative class action filed against a leading on-demand technology company, Instacart, which connects customers with personal shoppers for grocery shopping and home delivery. The class action addressed an issue critical to the new “sharing economy”: whether personal shoppers who use Instacart’s technology platform were properly considered independent contractors rather than employees. The court issued its order dismissing the class action claims on November 3, 2015.
San Diego County Water Authority v. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California: We won the year's largest plaintiff's award in California for the San Diego County Water Authority in its long-running fight with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). MWD is the regional water wholesaler for most of Southern California. San Diego sued MWD for charging San Diego inflated and illegal water transportation rates, and breaching a contract between the parties. After a three-week bench trial that played out over the course of fifteen months, the court found that MWD’s rates violate numerous California statutory and constitutional provisions, and awarded our client $188 million in contract damages, plus $43 million in prejudgment interest, and other declaratory relief. The victory was the year's largest plaintiff's award in California.
NVIDIA Corporation v. Qualcomm Inc.: We represent Qualcomm in an ITC investigation in which Nvidia asserted infringement of seven patents that purportedly cover graphics processing units (GPUs). Nvidia asked the ITC to block the importation of Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets that contain Qualcomm’s Adreno technology, as well as those containing chips from ARM Holdings and Imagination Technologies. Nvidia abandoned its claims of infringement as to three of the patents prior to the hearing before the ALJ, and dropped its claims as to a fourth patent during the course of the hearing. Following the hearing, the ALJ determined that no violation of section 337 had been established, because of the patents remaining in the investigation, two had not been infringed, and the third had been infringed but was invalid. In December 2015, the full International Trade Commission declined to review the ALJ’s initial determination of no violation of section 337, resulting in a complete victory for our client Qualcomm in the ITC. Nvidia has indicated it will appeal the result to the Federal Circuit.