(Daily Journal) The Joseph Saveri Law Firm was selected by the Daily Journal to the “Top Boutiques in California 2016”: a Daily Journal contest that selected and profiled the top 20 boutique law firms in California:
Joseph R. Saveri left a long career at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP in 2012 to found the Joseph Saveri Law Firm Inc., which now numbers himself and eight associates. Plaintiffs antitrust law was literally in his blood, thanks to his father and uncle, antitrust mavens Richard and Guido Saveri of Saveri & Saveri Inc., and others prominent in the antitrust bar close to his family in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, including Francis O. Scarpulla and the late Joseph L. Alioto.
“I’d been preparing most of my life to open my own firm,” Saveri said. “My father and uncle were trailblazers, and it was always my aspiration to have my own cases and build a law business.”
The bridge Saveri built between his new enterprise and Lieff Cabraser is evident. At his former firm, he’d helped launch the first no-poach case against alleged anticompetitive conspiracies among Silicon Valley giants Google Inc., Intel Corp., Apple Inc., Adobe Systems Inc., and others. Saveri and his former colleagues continued to litigate the case together harmoniously after he left, he said. U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh certified the class in 2013, and the case settled for $415 million last year. In re High Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, 11-cv-2509 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 2, 2015).
In September, Saveri, this time acting independently of Lieff Cabraser, filed his own version of an anti-poach complaint against LG Electronics and its subsidiaries and several Samsung entities, again contending that the defendants conspired, in violation of antitrust law, to suppress the pay of technical, creative, and other salaried employees by agreeing not to actively recruit each other’s workers. Frost v. LG Corp., 5:16-cv-05206 (N.D. Cal., filed Sept. 9, 2016).
“These issues aren’t going away,” Saveri said. “It’s only common sense to suspect that competing companies have these understandings, but it takes some effort to ferret them out. The Department of Justice has shown no interest in the issue, so private firms like mine have to do it on our own.”
Saveri continues to press a case he’s been with since 2000 involving agreements among manufacturers in the pharmaceutical industry that have had the anticompetitive effect of maintaining high prices for Ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections. Beyond the drug at issue is the larger question of the validity of so-called pay-for-delay pacts among drugmakers.
The case at times extended into related questions of intellectual property and antitrust litigation. It too started while Saveri was at Lieff Cabraser and eventually reached the state Supreme Court, which reserved an appellate panel and developed a “structured rule of reason” doctrine that explained the factors judges should evaluated in scrutinizing patent agreements for antitrust flaws.
For Saveri, a chief lesson of the opinion was that pay-for-delay deals are subject to California antitrust laws. That fit into a longstanding interest he’s had in the relationship of law and economic policy. “I took a lot of economics in college, and I thought seriously about an academic career,” he said. “I came to believe in a more rational approach to economics than that of the Chicago school [of economics],” in which free markets are key and which long influenced the government’s tendency toward a hands-off approach to antitrust enforcement. At the UC Berkeley School of Law, he found, “antitrust academics were in opposition to the Chicago school, and the pendulum was starting to swing back. I’m proud now of helping to move that back.”
He added, “The Chicago school was about a fundamental belief that if you leave markets unobstructed it is best for everyone. I think regulation is essential and so is intervention by the courts. The marketplace isn’t always consistent with the interests of justice.”
As a more immediately practical matter, the state high court’s Cipro decision returned to a trial court in San Diego Saveri’s class action against the remaining defendant, Barr Laboratories Inc., over claims that Barr and Bayer Corp. illegally agreed on a reverse payment to keep a generic version of Ciprofloxacin off the market. In August, other defendants settled for $100 million, and the court approved the deal Oct. 7. Earlier, Bayer settled for $74 million. Trial against Barr is set for Jan. 20, 2017. In re Cipro Cases I & II, 4154 and 4220 (San Diego Super. Ct., filed Aug. 5, 2002).
(Reporting by John Roemer)