In an opinion Tuesday, Judge Carter issued an injunction against New York’s newly-enacted online hate speech law (see our prior coverage here).

The law would require social media platforms to develop policies for addressing, and responding to user complaints about, “hateful conduct.”  Judge Carter found that, in doing so, the law impermissibly compelled the challengers — Rumble and other “pro-free speech” online platforms — to engage in speech with which they disagreed:

Continue Reading Judge Carter Enjoins New York’s New Online Hate Speech Law on First Amendment Grounds

A jury returned a verdict yesterday of approximately $130,000 against Mason Rothschild, the creator of a series of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, associated with digital images of Hermés’s “Birkin” handbags covered in fake fur (see our prior coverage here).

Rothschild argued that the NFTs were protected artistic expression under the First Amendment.  Judge Rakoff denied both sides summary judgment as to that and other issues, and ultimately instructed the jury that the First Amendment question turned on whether Rothchild was intentionally trying to confuse customers and thereby capitalize on Hermés famous brand, or instead created the project for artistic reasons:

Continue Reading Jury: “MetaBirkins” NFTs Violate Trademark Rights of Handbag Maker Hermés

Judge McMahon issued a written Order on Friday, answering the parties’ questions ahead of a bench trial in an ERISA case, and, in doing so, offered helpful guidance as to her practices in bench trials.

First, she was clear she does not want opening statements, and perhaps not even closing statements:

Continue Reading Judge McMahon Ahead of Bench Trial: “Last Thing I Need Is Opening Statements”

Today, Judge Engelmayer dismissed with prejudice a putative securities class action filed against DraftKings, Inc., and denied Plaintiffs’ leave to replead. Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint alleged that a company that DraftKings had acquired in the course of going public, SBTech (Global) Limited (“SBTech”), had secretly operated in “black-market” jurisdictions, thereby exposing DraftKings to regulatory and criminal risks. It further alleged that DraftKings made materially false and misleading statements about, and failed to disclose, SBTech’s violations of foreign law and their potential consequences.

Plaintiffs argued that DraftKings’s shares traded at artificially inflated prices until June 15, 2021, when a short seller, Hindenburg Research published a report that revealed SBTech’s ostensible operations in black market jurisdictions and the risks to which the merger with SBTech allegedly exposed DraftKings. That day, DraftKings’s shares fell 4.17%.

In dismissing the Second Amended Complaint, the Court focused on Plaintiffs’ reliance on the Hindenburg report without having verified the information contained in the report:

Continue Reading Judge Engelmayer Dismisses Putative Securities Class Action Because Allegations Were Based On Unconfirmed Allegations in Short Seller’s Report

Earlier this month, Judge Cote entered a default judgment against Dmitry Starovikov and Alexander Filippov in Google’s action seeking a permanent injunction against them as the operators of a blockchain enabled “botnet.” Judge Cote had entered a Temporary Restraining Order against the Defendants on December 7, 2021, covered here.

Google first sought entry of a default judgment in February after the named Defendants failed to respond to the Complaint, despite service by the methods authorized in the TRO. The default was entered by the Clerk of Court on February 8, but vacated by Judge Cote on Defendants’ motion, which argued “that they had not been served, that the Court lacked jurisdiction over them, and that they had meritorious defenses, including that Google had failed to state a claim against them.”

Continue Reading Judge Cote Grants Google Permanent Injunction Against “Botnet” Operators, Following Failure to Cooperate with Discovery

Judge Carter will hold a preliminary injunction hearing next week in a case challenging, on First Amendment grounds, a new New York law (N.Y. Gen. Bus. L. § 394-ccc) that requires social media platforms to develop policies for addressing, and for responding to user complaints about, “hateful conduct.”

The challengers are operators of online platforms who argue that they should not be forced to police what the state vaguely defines as “hateful” conduct. Merely having to separately define what is “hateful” conduct, and provide special treatment to users who complain about conduct meeting that definition, amounts to an endorsement of the State’s views, according to the challengers:

Continue Reading Judge Carter to Hold Hearing Next Week on Whether to Enjoin New York’s New Online Hate Speech Law

In an opinion yesterday, Judge Liman granted — albeit with clear reluctance — the government’s motion to dismiss a case brought by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen against various government offices who allegedly retaliated against him for planning to publish a book critical of former President Trump.

Cohen was placed on furlough during his prison sentence, but then suddenly, while negotiating the terms of a transition to home confinement with probation officials, was remanded to prison.

In July 2020, Judge Hellerstein granted Cohen release via an Order stating:

The Court finds that Respondents’ purpose in transferring Cohen from release on furlough and home confinement back to custody was retaliatory in response to Cohen desiring to exercise his First Amendment rights to publish a book critical of the President and to discuss the book on social media.

In the case before Judge Liman, Cohen was suing for damages, primarily by asserting so-called Bivens claims against the federal government. Judge Liman found that the Supreme Court’s more recent interpretations of Bivens — essentially that no Bivens claim can proceed if by statute there is any other remedy, no matter how small — barred Cohen’s lawsuit.

But Judge Liman noted that the result worked a form of “violence” to Cohen’s constitutional rights:

Continue Reading Judge Liman Laments Supreme Court Precedent Barring Damages Remedy For DOJ’s Retaliation Against Michael Cohen for Planned Book About Trump

In an opinion Friday, Judge Abrams approved an SEC settlement, but wrote that she would “not do so silently,” because she found highly “troubling” the SEC’s standard, non-negotiable provision requiring that the defendant not make “any public statement denying, directly or indirectly, any allegation in the complaint or creating the impression that the complaint is without factual basis”: Continue Reading Judge Abrams Harshly Criticizes SEC’s “Lifetime Gag” Settlement Requirement

On Wednesday, Judge Carter granted Major League Baseball’s Motion to Dismiss the Complaint of four Minor League Baseball teams alleging that MLB violated the Sherman Act by orchestrating an agreement among its clubs to eliminate 40 minor league teams from affiliation with major league clubs. As discussed in a previous post, Plaintiffs argued the Supreme Court had signaled its willingness to reconsider MLB’s exemption from antitrust scrutiny in NCAA v. Alston, 141 S. Ct. 2141 (2021). Continue Reading Judge Carter: MLB’s Antitrust Exemption “Shields” MLB from Minor League Baseball Teams’ Sherman Act Suit