Keker firm representing Intel in N.Y. AG's antitrust case

John O'Brien Apr. 22, 2011, 12:52pm

Van Nest

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will have to deal with the firm of one of the country's most prominent trial lawyers in the State's case against Intel Corp.

Three attorneys from San Francisco's Keker & Van Nest were entered as counsel for Intel this week to help the company fight an antitrust lawsuit that alleges Intel threatened and punished companies it viewed as working too closely with its competitors.

Intel cut off payments made under the guise of "rebates" it was making to computer makers, former New York Attorney General and current Gov. Andrew Cuomo said when he filed the suit. Intel also funded those makers' competitors and ended joint development ventures, he claimed.

Robert Van Nest was admitted as counsel for Intel on Tuesday, along with three others from the firm. His law partner John Keker is also currently handling a case in New York federal court.

Keker is representing attorney Stephen Donziger in a racketeering case brought by Chevron. The lawsuit surrounds a class action brought against the company in Ecuador that resulted in a multibillion-dollar judgment.

Chevron sought and received separate trials on its request for a declaratory judgment that would keep the company from having to pay the Ecuador award and on its racketeering claims against Donziger and others. The Amazon Defense Coalition issued a press release Thursday that says Chevron is "petrified" of a jury trial against Keker.

The company argued against having Keker be admitted pro hac vice, which an attorney applies for when he or she is not admitted to practice in a jurisdiction, but U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan granted it.

Keker was the attorney for prominent Mississippi attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs during two judicial bribery cases. Scruggs pleaded guilty to both and received 7 1/2 years in prison.

Federal prosecutors charged Scruggs with offering $50,000 to Lafayette County Circuit Judge Henry Lackey in exchange for a ruling compelling arbitration in a dispute over attorneys fees earned in Hurricane Katrina cases.

They also charged Scruggs, whose brother-in-law is former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, with offering consideration for a federal judgeship to former Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Bobby DeLaughter. DeLaughter allegedly took the deal and entered a favorable ruling in a dispute over fees between Scruggs and his former business partners in asbestos litigation.

In the Intel case, the company allegely cut off payments made under the guise of "rebates" it was making to computer makers. Intel also funded those makers' competitors and ended joint development ventures, Cuomo claimed.

The allegations included paying $2 billion to Dell in 2006, threatening HP with the derailment of a server technology and paying IBM $130 million not to launch an AMD-based server product. It also threatened to stop funding for an IBM/Intel joint project if IBM marketed AMD-based server products, he alleged.

Cuomo wanted to expand his original complaint to include "small and medium businesses in the group those New York seeks to protect from Intel's anticompetitive conduct." No decision has been made on that issue yet.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at

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