Good morning. Target is seeking dismissal of a shareholder lawsuit that alleged it ignored risks of offering LGBTQ-themed merchandise for Pride Month. Plus, a new study found AI helped law students finish writing tasks faster but didn’t consistently improve quality, and the 5th Circuit could revive the EEOC’s claims in a case over a worker who was berated for wearing a face mask during the COVID-19 pandemic. Coming up today, Steve Bannon’s contempt of Congress conviction goes before the D.C. Circuit. Thanks for reading.
Target asked a Florida judge to dismiss a shareholder lawsuit that alleged the retailer ignored risks of offering LGBTQ-themed merchandise for Pride Month, saying the case has no basis, Jody Godoy reports.
Target pulled some LGBTQ-themed merchandise linked to Pride Month following customer backlash in May. Investor Brian Craigsued in August, claiming the company’s board had falsely told investors it was monitoring social and political risks to the business. Target, represented by lawyers at Kirkland and Faegre Drinker, said in its motion to dismiss this week that Craig merely disagrees with Target’s business decisions and has no evidence the company misled investors about its approach to social and political risks.
America First Legal, a nonprofit headed by Stephen Miller, a former adviser to ex-President Donald Trump, represents the investor. America First is one of a small number of conservative activist groups that have targeted major U.S. corporations claiming they undertook diversity and inclusion efforts at the expense of shareholders.
The legal actions are part of a larger effort by Republican lawmakers and conservative groups seeking to push corporations away from progressive social causes.
Home broker Keller Williams said veteran appellate lawyer Paul Clement will lead its U.S. court team as it and other companies prepare to appeal a blockbuster $1.8 billion trial loss to home sellers. A class of home sellers said they had paid artificially inflated commissions to brokers representing buyers. Other defendants also have added legal muscle to their teams to prepare for post-trial litigation.
Law students who used artificial intelligence on several legal writing tasks were able to complete their assignments faster, but their work product wasn’t consistently better than that of classmates who didn’t use the technology, according to a new study conducted by law professors at the University of Minnesota and the University of Southern California. The study urges law schools to ban the use of generative artificial intelligence in core first-year courses and their exams.
A former top lawyer at the Labor Departmentfiled a lawsuitclaiming he was fired in retaliation for repeatedly complaining about widespread race discrimination against attorneys at the agency. Oscar Hampton, who is Black, was a regional solicitor in Philadelphia before he was fired in September. His lawsuit seeks reinstatement of his job and an overhaul of anti-discrimination policies at the agency, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The U.S. Senatevoted 51-48 to elevate U.S. Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes to a life-tenured position as a federal district court judge in Brooklyn, where he will be only the second Latino man seated on the trial court’s bench. Reyes’ confirmation to the seat added to President Joe Biden’s record of appointing demographically diverse judges to the bench, where white men by far have long made up the majority.
Georgia lawyer Lin Wood asked the U.S. Supreme Court to undo a Michigan federal judge’s sanction over a dismissed 2020 case challenging Donald Trump’s loss. Wood’s attorney argues that Wood should not be punished since he did not draft or sign the legal complaint that a trial judge threw out as meritless.
A Brooklyn federal judge ruled on Monday that the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s office crossed a line in its February 2023 press release announcing the indictment of the once high-flying entrepreneur Carlos Watson for defrauding investors in his now-shuttered television and entertainment company Ozy Media. As a remedy for including potentially prejudicial statements in the release, Komitee ordered the government to do … nothing. Which is exactly what prosecutors have done in response to the judge’s decision. Alison Frankel explains why Watson’s lawyer still believes prosecutors will take down the improper press release.
—Ivanka Trump, testifying at her father Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York, where she was asked about various emails concerning deals. Ivanka Trump testified she did not recall details of real-estate deals she worked on at her father’s company. The lawsuit accuses Donald Trump and his family businesses of manipulating real estate asset values. Trump has denied wrongdoing. Unlike her siblings and father, Ivanka Trump is not a defendant in the case.
U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan will take up JPMorgan Chase’s $290 million class-action settlement with Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers. The proposed settlement has drawn an objection from many U.S. states, which say the accord could limit their ability to seek compensation for sexual abuse victims. The settlement resolved claims that the largest U.S. bank turned a blind eye to Epstein’s sex trafficking because he had been a lucrative client between 1998 to 2013, when it terminated his accounts. JPMorgan did not admit wrongdoing in agreeing to settle the case.
The D.C. Circuit will weigh former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s conviction and sentencing for contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with lawmakers investigating 2021’s U.S. Capitol attack. Bannon was found guilty in July on two counts of contempt of Congress for failing to provide documents or testimony to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack. Bannon’s attorney David Schoen said Bannon relied on the advice of his lawyers not to comply with a congressional subpoena after Trump invoked executive privilege. Circuit Judges Cornelia Pillard, Justin Walker and Bradley Garcia will hear arguments. Our colleague Andrew Goudsward has more on the hearing.
Court calendars are subject to last-minute docket changes.
In the courts
A 5th Circuit panel seemed likely to revive claims that an asthmatic pharmacy clerk in Texas was forced to quit after a pharmacist called him a “stupid little kid” for insisting that he be able to wear a face mask in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The court heard arguments in the EEOC’s appealof a lower court’s 2022 ruling that said the incident was not severe enough to create a hostile work environment and dismissed the agency’s lawsuit against U.S. Drug Mart. (Reuters)
U.S. commercial fishing groups sued 13 tire manufacturers in California, saying a chemical used in their tires is poisoning West Coast watersheds and killing rare trout and salmon. The Institute for Fisheries Resources and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations alleged the companies are in violation of the Endangered Species Act. (Reuters)
L.A. Reid, the music executive known for helping develop superstars like Mariah Carey, Pink, TLC and Usher, was sued by a former music executive who accused him of sexually assaulting her more than two decades ago. Drew Dixon said Reid derailed her once promising music industry career after he became Arista Records’ chief executive because she rejected his advances. A representative for Reid did not immediately respond to requests for comment.(Reuters)
Amazon was ordered to pay $46.7 million in damages by a jury in Delaware federal court that found the tech giant’s Alexa virtual assistant violates patents related to speech recognition and natural language processing. The jury found that Amazon infringed patents belonging to VB Assets, whose predecessor VoiceBox Technologies created voice-control software. The companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment. (Reuters)
Citigroup agreed to pay $25.9 million to settle CFPB charges that it intentionally discriminated against credit card applicants who the bank identified as Armenian-American based on their last names from 2015 to 2021. Citigroup apologized, saying it had been trying to thwart an Armenian fraud ring in California but that a “small number” of employees had circumvented its fraud detection protocols. (Reuters)
Kirkland hired investment funds lawyer Matthew Howard as a partner in D.C. He previously was at Fried Frank. (Kirkland)
Dentons added New York-based partner Daniel Goldberg to its venture technology and emerging growth practice. He joins from Goodwin. (Dentons)
Blank Rome brought on Barrett Howell as a white collar defense and investigations partner in Dallas. He arrives from Katten. (Blank Rome)
Feeling the economic headwinds facing the industry, the largest cannabis companies — known as multi-state operators or “MSOs” — appear to be embracing litigation as a viable alternative strategy for federal cannabis reform, write Alex Malyshev and Sarah Ganley of Carter Ledyard & Milburn. As federal legislation continues to stall, plaintiffs are more willing to test their luck and novel legal theories in courts. Read more about the cases.