Legal Roundup: Kanye vs. Walmart, Facebook’s Antitrust Suit Dismissed and More

The latest court filings and cases that will have an impact on the risk management and insurance industry.
By: | July 7, 2021

Kanye West Vs. Walmart: Rapper Battles Retailer

The Case: In a suit filed in California state court in Los Angeles (and discovered by the website TMZ), rapper and entrepreneur Kanye West claims that “Walmart has been profiting from his name by selling foam sliders that look ‘virtually indistinguishable’ from his Yeezy Foam Runners,” according to Business Insider.

West asks that the lookalikes be removed from Walmart’s site, and he is also suing for monetary damages, claiming his business has suffered losses in the “hundreds of millions of dollars.”

West’s Yeezy Foam Runner retails for $75, and the third-party version of the slider has been selling on Walmart’s site for $20 to $30.

Scorecard: The case has recently been filed and has not reached a resolution.

Takeaway: “The Yeezy brand initially reached out to Walmart on Wednesday to pull the shoes from its online marketplace, but said that, as of its court-filing date, Walmart had failed to pull the product,” according to Yahoo News.

TMZ reports that Walmart has pulled the shoes since the suit was filed, but hundreds of knock offs remain for sale online.

This isn’t the first time Walmart and West have had words. Back in April 2021, Walmart went to battle with West, claiming his new logo was too similar to Walmart’s own sun-like logo, according to Bloomberg.

Facebook Antitrust Suits Thrown Out

The Case: In two separate complaints, the “Federal Trade Commission and more than 40 states accused Facebook on Wednesday of buying up its rivals to illegally squash competition,” according to The New York Times.

The antitrust suits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in December 2020. They represent the growing concern over the dominance of big tech.

“Federal and state regulators of both parties, who have investigated the company for over 18 months, said in separate lawsuits that Facebook’s purchases, especially Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 and WhatsApp for $19 billion two years later, eliminated competition that could have one day challenged the company’s dominance,” according to the Times.

Scorecard: Judge James E. Boasberg of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia threw out the two antitrust lawsuits.

Takeaway: “The judge eviscerated one of the federal government’s core arguments, that Facebook holds a monopoly over social networking, saying prosecutors had failed to provide enough facts to back up that claim. And he said the states had waited too long to bring their case, which centers on deals made in 2012 and 2014,” The New York Times reports.

While these two lawsuits were dismissed, the fight against big tech dominance continues.

“Congress, President Biden and many states have made weakening the grip of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google a high priority. Mr. Biden has installed critics of the technology giants in key regulatory roles,” the Times reports

Juul Must Pay $40 Million in N.C. Settlement

The Case: In a 2019 lawsuit, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein accused e-cigarette maker Juul of targeting young people in the design, marketing and sales of its products.

Stein alleged that the brand violated North Carolina’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The state was the first to take legal action against Juul.

Scorecard: Juul has agreed to pay $40 million to settle the case and change its business practices in the state, as reported on CNBC.

Takeaway: “North Carolina kicked off its investigation in 2018 and announced the lawsuit the following year. In May, the judge for the case ruled that Juul destroyed documents, provided thousands of pages of irrelevant information and ignored related court orders. The company faced millions of dollars in fines tied to that decision, but the agreement announced Monday will wipe that slate clean,” according to CNBC.

Among other restrictions associated with the settlement, Juul is barred from advertising to minors and may not feature anyone under the age of 35 in marketing materials.

This case is one of many that the e-cigarette maker faces, according to the Times: “The deal removes just one of numerous legal actions pending against it. Thirteen other states, including California, Massachusetts and New York, as well as the District of Columbia, have filed similar lawsuits.”

Goldman Sachs Ordered to Face 1MDB Lawsuit

The Case: In a 2018 complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York, the Goldman Sachs Group was accused of “misleading shareholders about the bank’s work for 1MDB, a Malaysian fund that became embroiled in a corruption scandal,” as reported by Reuters.

It was discovered that the country’s former Prime Minister siphoned around $700 million from the fund to his personal bank accounts in 2015.

“Shareholders led by Swedish pension fund Sjunde AP-Fonden claimed that Goldman’s market value fell by billions of dollars as the truth about its 1MDB dealings became public,” according to Reuters.

Scorecard: U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick in Manhattan has ordered Goldman to face the shareholder lawsuit.

Takeaway: Goldman was involved in selling $6.5 billion of bonds for 1MDB.

Judge Broderick stated that “the proposed class action adequately alleged that several statements by Goldman, former Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and former Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn about 1MDB and Goldman’s ethics were false and misleading,” according to Reuters. &

Jared Shelly is a journalist based in Philadelphia. He can be reached at [email protected]

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