Kellogg Hansen’s Fb work spurs choose’s battle inquiry

  • The law firm is defending Facebook in FTC antitrust proceedings in Washington, DC
  • Kellogg Hansen is representing Daily Mail as a plaintiff in MDL, in which Facebook and Google are defendants
  • “I am not accusing anyone of having acted with bad faith,” says Richter

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(Reuters) – A federal judge on Friday asked an ethical question about whether Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick are representing a plaintiff in a cross-district antitrust proceeding against Alphabets Google Inc and Facebook Inc while defending the social media giant in a lawsuit can from the Federal Trade Commission.

US District Judge P. Kevin Castel of Manhattan Federal Court spontaneously brought up the investigation as part of a broader discussion of scheduling in the MDL which alleged that Google and Facebook are stifling competition in the online advertising market a hearing on the language.

More than a dozen lawsuits from U.S. states, small businesses, publishers, and advertisers were transferred to the Southern District of New York and assigned to Castel in August. In the MDL, Kellogg Hansen partner John Thorne represents the British media company Associated Newspapers Ltd, which operates the Daily Mail news agency, in proceedings against Google. Mark Hansen of Kellogg Hansen leads Facebook’s defense in FTC antitrust proceedings in Washington, DC

Castel said any joint plaintiff meetings to discuss strategy in the MDL could expose Kellogg Hansen to an ethical conflict. Castel directed the law firm to reply to him in about a week about why the law firm is not facing a conflict.

“It’s very unwieldy in cases where Google and Facebook are both defendants. To have you in the room as Facebook’s attorney, I don’t know how that would work. But I’ll give you the opportunity to explain that.” “Said Castel at the hearing.

A Facebook attorney in the MDL who attended the hearing, Kevin Orsini, co-head of litigation at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, did not respond to a message asking for comments on Friday.

Thorne also did not respond to messages asking for comments after the hearing. Thorne’s colleague Mark Hansen, a senior Facebook attorney in the FTC lawsuit, declined to comment.

At the Castel hearing on Friday, Thorne said the Daily Mail had decided to file a lawsuit against Google, “and that’s what we’re tracking”.

Thorne said Kellogg Hansen was a “deeply invested” supporter of the Daily Mail. He described the “enormous legal fees” required to investigate and develop the Daily Mail’s lawsuit, which was filed in Manhattan federal court in April before the inter-district referral order was issued.

“We really can’t sit still or stay on the sidelines. The Daily Mail wants the deal it has,” Thorne said. “It has no claim against Facebook.”

Thorne said he plans to pull out of plaintiffs’ strategy meetings, which were concerned with efforts to hold Facebook liable for alleged antitrust violations.

Castel said he “did not accuse anyone of acting badly here”. He called Kellogg Hansen’s situation “tough” and a “strange constellation”.

“I have neither the solution nor the answer, how to be sealed off in meetings,” said Castel.

The case is: Google Digital Advertising Antitrust Litigation, US District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1: 21-cv-03446.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys include W. Mark Lanier of Lanier Law Firm; David Boies from Boies Schiller Flexner

For Google: Eric Mahr from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

For Facebook: Kevin Orsini from Cravath, Swaine & Moore

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