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Verizon Drops $350 Million From Offer to Buy Yahoo Because of Data Breaches

When Yahoo disclosed last year that hackers had compromised 1.5 billion email accounts, Verizon saw a silver lining in the cloud over its offer to buy the company. Let's make that about $350 million worth of silver lining.

Verizon had offered to pay $4.8 billion for Yahoo's core internet business before the data breaches were discovered, but now the parties have agreed to $4.48 billion. According to reports, the deal will go to shareholders for approval in April.

"We have always believed this acquisition makes strategic sense," said Verizon's Marni M. Walden. "We look forward to moving ahead expeditiously so that we can quickly welcome Yahoo's tremendous talent and assets into our expanding portfolio in the digital advertising space."

HP Holds Back Fees to Encourage Diversity

Remember when we were kids, and our parents withheld our allowance or another privilege to compel certain behavior?

Or if you have kids now, and you turn off their cell phone to get across the message that you expect compliance with certain rules?

Well, say hello to some parental persuasion from Hewlett-Packard. Starting now, the rule is: be diverse or lose 10 percent of your fees.

According to Kim Rivera, chief legal officer and general counsel for HP, the company has implemented a "diversity holdback" mandate. "With this we can hold back up to 10 percent of all invoices billed by law firms that do not meet or exceed our minimal diverse staffing requirements," she said in a letter to law firm partners.

Data Security Stressing Health Care Counsel

When thieves stole a laptop from a medical worker's car, who knew that it would become a big stressor for general counsel across the country?

According to a national survey of health care attorneys, more than 75 percent of the general counsel say that data security is the issue they worry about the most. The $5.5 million penalty against an Illinois-based health care group must have still been on their minds.

Advocate Health Care System agreed last August to pay $5.5 million to federal regulators for computer thefts from a doctors' office and a staff member's car. The group was also penalized for failing to protect records that somebody hacked at a company handling the hospital's billing.

In an age when cyber-insecurity has spread like a disease, health care providers have it bad. Because of heightened privacy requirements in the industry, their lawyers are on the forefront of the problem.

Merger Blocked of Health Insurance Titans Aetna and Humana

Citing antitrust violations, a federal judge has blocked Aetna's $37 billion purchase of Humana, Inc.

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates said the deal would violate antitrust laws by reducing competition among insurers. Under the proposed merger agreement, Aetna now owes Humana a $1 billion breakup fee.

The insurance companies' lawyers scrambled Tuesday to chart out the next course of action. Aetna is considering an appeal, but also is concerned about the prospects for a pending $48 merger with Cigna Corp.

Govenrment lawyers, meanwhile, are caught mid-step in the transfer of power in Washington. The Obama administration started the ligitation against the Aetna-Humana deal, and they are waiting for a decision on the Anthem-Cigna case

There's plenty in-house attorneys can learn from Volkswagen's emissions fraud scandal: the role of the private organizations in enforcing regulations, the teeth in the Clean Air Act, the strange overlap between copyright law and defeat devices.

But ever since the automaker's $4.3 billion settlement with the Department of Justice two weeks ago, we've all been fixated on one thing: the role of one VW in-house attorney in bungling a litigation hold, resulting in destroyed documents and implicating the attorney in obstruction of justice. The lawyer, known only as "Attorney A," may still be under investigation.

Ever sense the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944, Western governments have been moving toward free trade and open markets. For generations, reducing barriers to trade has been almost universally approved by the dominant political class, leading to institutions like the IMF, GATT, NAFTA, and the WTO -- an entire alphabet of neoliberalism.

But the same day that the global elites were leaving Davos, having spent nearly a week singing the praises of open markets, Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States, his victory fueled in part by skepticism towards international trade. And the president put that skepticism into action on Monday, issuing an executive order abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement long supported by the Obama administration.

Government lawyers seem to be in a rush to wrap up high-profile cases before the new administration takes over. In December, Deutsche Bank settled a federal investigation into its mortgage securities, for $7.2 billion. Then came Volkswagen, laying out almost $15 billion in what might be the most expensive corporate scandal ever. Last week, Takata agreed to settle an investigation into its cover up of airbag defects for $1 billion, a relative steal. Credit Suisse followed, agreeing to pay $5.3 billion for violations involving mortgage-backed securities.

Today, JPMorgan Chase joined the ranks, agreeing to pay $55 million to settle a Justice Department lawsuit that accused it of discriminatory mortgage lending practices targeted at African-American and Hispanic homebuyers.

Volkswagen has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and settle the federal investigation into its "clean diesel" emissions fraud -- for $4.3 billion in civil and criminal penalties. That comes on top of the nearly $15 billion the company has agreed to pay to consumers, making VW's emissions scandal perhaps the most costly corporate scandal ever.

But that's hardly the end of things for VW. Last week, six executives were charged with wire fraud, conspiracy, and violations of the Clean Air Act -- and more prosecutions could be coming, implicating even the company's in-house attorneys.

Takata to Pay $1 Billion in Air Bag Scandal

Japanese auto-parts maker Takata will pay $1 billion as part of a criminal settlement stemming from the company's cover-up of defective air bags that contributed to the deaths of at least a dozen motorists and injuries to almost two hundred others.

The U.S. Justice Department announced the deal Friday, which included one guilty plea to wire fraud, $25 million in fines, $125 million for injured motorists, and $850 million for recall and replacement costs. Prosecutors said Takata and three of its executives, who separately face fraud and conspiracy charges, repeatedly falsified critical test data about the safety of its products for more than a decade.

"Automotive suppliers who sell products that are supposed to protect consumers from injury or death must put safety ahead of profits," said U.S. Attorney McQuade. "If they choose instead to engage in fraud, we will hold accountable the individuals and business entities who are responsible."

NY Times Promotes David McCraw, Lawyer Who Called Out Trump During Election

David E. McCraw, newly appointed deputy general counsel for the New York Times, isn't one to shy away from confronting powerful people. At least, that's the reputation he earned for himself when he stood up against Donald Trump's lawyers during the presidential campaign last year.

They demanded that the Times apologize and retract an article about two women who alleged Trump had groped them. Showing that the pen may be mightier than the sword, McCraw virtually stared them down and said: "Go ahead. Make my day."