December 07, 2016
The Latham & Watkins partners who led two landmark cases have been recognized as “Winning Litigators” in an annual report published by the National Law Journal that features a select group of lawyers who “score big wins in court (and)… have mastered their craft.”
Partner Gregory Garre, who chairs the firm’s Supreme Court & Appellate Practice, was recognized for leading the litigation team in the landmark affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, in which the US Supreme Court issued a closely-watched decision upholding the constitutionality of UT’s consideration of race as one of many factors in undergraduate admissions. Winning the case was “a long shot,” according to the NLJ report, yet the Supreme Court, in a 4-3 opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy, issued a ruling that not only upheld the University’s plan but strongly reaffirmed the Court’s precedents in this area. “Garre freshened the argument to make a stronger case that ¬diversity among — and within — races was a compelling reason to consider race. He also demonstrated, complete with maps, that the university's purportedly race-neutral ‘top 10 percent’ admission plan alone was insufficient,” said the NLJ.
Brook Roberts and John Wilson, partners in the firm’s Litigation & Trial and Environment, Land & Resources Departments, were honored for their work on behalf of Fluor Corporation in a case that enabled the engineering and construction company to secure insurance coverage for long-tail liability in asbestos-related lawsuits. The decision in Fluor Corp. v. the Superior Court of Orange County involved overturning a prior decision by the California Supreme Court that could have allowed Fluor’s insurance company to escape tens of millions of dollars of coverage obligations. Through a team-oriented approach building off the diligent research of partner Andy Lundberg, the case team “uncovered a dusty statute in California's insurance code that they argued required insurers to adhere to their policies even when policyholders restructure themselves,” which led the state’s high court to overrule itself, a rare feat. The case was a significant win for Fluor and it has far-reaching ramifications for insurers, policyholders and businesses engaged in corporate transactions and reorganizations, as it eliminates a potential trap-door that could lead insurance rights to inadvertently be sacrificed in the course of routine transactions.