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Judge Greenlights Data-Breach Case

When Verizon bought Yahoo, it had to know that the mega data breach would come back to haunt the company.

Yahoo revealed during the acquisition that hackers got into 1.5 billion email accounts, including user information, passwords and other personal information. It translated into a discount purchase price from $4.83 billion to $4.48 billion -- but who's counting?

Apparently, 1.5 billion Yahoo account holders are counting. They have sued over the data breach, and a judge says they all have a case.

"All plaintiffs have alleged a risk of future identity theft, in addition to loss of value of their personal identification information," Judge Lucy Koh said.

While the best way to handle a lawsuit filed by a customer is to just apologize privately, not admit liability, and settle out quickly and cheaply, sometimes that's just not an option. No matter how proactive you are as a GC or in-house, some lawsuits you just can't avoid.

When your company is facing a lawsuit, particularly a class action, filed by your customer base, public perception matters (especially consumer perception). After all, your customers are who pay your company to work. If the case concerns a safety issue, failing to address the underlying issue can severely damage a company's reputation. Unfortunately, although a court may not accept remedial measures as evidence of liability, the public will see it as a dead giveaway that you're company's liable.

Raytheon Beats $1 Billion Whistleblower Suit

For the second time, a federal judge has dismissed a $1 billion whistleblower case against Raytheon for allegedly overbilling the U.S. government for satellite sensors.

U.S. District Judge Otis Wright said the plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege that the defense contractor submitted false payment claims or that its actions mattered when the government paid the claims. Wright previously dismissed the case in 2013.

In the latest ruling, the judge said Steven Mateski's allegations were too general and "barebones."

Snopes Survives Legal 'Hostage' Crisis

Fact or fiction: Snopes is in danger of shutting down?

It's a fact, according to Snopes, the internet's fact-checking website.

The story goes that Snopes had contracted with an outside vendor, but the vendor will not relinquish control of the website, including advertising. That means Snopes is running out of money.

GC Tips for Serving as an Expert Witness

Marc Firestone, general counsel for Phillip Morris, told Congressional representatives that illegal tobacco dealers rob governments of up to $50 billion in tax revenue each year.

"Criminals are the only promoters of the global illegal tobacco trade," he reported to the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

His expert testimony highlighted a serious problem in the industry, but it also underscored a challenge that general counsel face when called upon to testify: what can you actually say?

McDonald's Faces Another Labor Suit

After McDonald's sold its first 100 billion hamburgers, the company stopped counting.

Now the fast-food chain is counting labor law cases it has settled. Last year, it was one.

This year, the business is facing a class action over a policy that keeps its workers from going to competing McDonald's franchises. That's a lot of employees who want to make more money, and they don't want french fries with that.

After Nevada Win, Is Wells Fargo on Comeback Trail?

Wells Fargo stock ticked up another percent after the U.S. Supreme Court handed a significant win to the bank at the close of the summer session.

The decision, along with other recent developments at the company, pushed the bank slowly upward since its fall from grace several years ago. Shares climbed a modest three percent in the past twelve months, holding its spot as the nation's third largest bank.

Wells Fargo has survived the Wild West since 1852, but can the company really bounce back from an expose that has cost the bank billions? For some shareholders -- especially executives and corporate counsel -- their fate may rise or fall with the bank's legal challenges.

Controlling Outside Counsel: Micromanage or Hands Off?

As the allied forces stormed Normandy on June 6, 1944, Hitler slept.

His generals were afraid to wake him, and they were not allowed to make decisions on their own. Their delay -- and the victory on D-Day -- marked the beginning of the end for the Germans.

General counsel should take a lesson from their history, says attorney and leadership consultant Ken Grady. Rather than follow flawed practices, they should empower outside counsel to win more battles in the courtroom.

Airline Complaints Rise, Image Going Down

If the tail seems to be wagging the plane, it's something airlines must be getting used to.

A blind man says Frontier Airlines refused to let him board with his granddaughter because he was a "liability." It wasn't a "no shoes, no shirt, no service" policy, but it just sounds wrong.

If there were a video -- like the cell phone video that pinned United Airlines for dragging a passenger off the plane -- this case would have settled already. For now, it's the kind of public relations problem that forces policy changes.

Another Uber Lesson: Firing an Employee at the Center of Scandal

Uber has more problems than an old car and it's starting to break down -- legally.

Drivers have sued the company for overtime and other complaints. Contractors have sued for unpaid bills. A competitor has sued for stealing technology.

But if ever there were a legal spot between a rock and a hard place for Uber, it's between the company and its engineer Anthony Levandowski. The former Google worker allegedly stole self-driving technology and took it to Uber, and a judge is not happy about it.