January 15, 2021
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Corporate Spotlight
US District Judge James Donato has indicated that he will approve a $650 million settlement of allegations that Facebook violated an Illinois privacy law through facial-recognition technology used for the company's "Photo Tag Suggest" feature. Plaintiffs argue that Facebook collected and stored facial-recognition data in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act of 2008.
Full Story: Courthouse News Service (1/14),  Law (tiered subscription model) (1/15) 
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The Navajo Nation will receive $10 million from a unit of Canada's Kinross Gold to resolve a lawsuit over a toxic spill that occurred when a crew was preparing for a potential mine cleanup and contaminated rivers in three Western states. Meanwhile, New Mexico has arrived at an $11 million settlement for costs stemming from the spill.
Full Story: The Associated Press (1/14) 
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National News
President-elect Joe Biden says he will ask Congress to act swiftly to provide $1.9 trillion in immediate relief to help the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The package includes aid to states and cities, additional unemployment benefits, larger direct payments to Americans and a minimum wage increase.
Full Story: Bloomberg (1/14),  CNBC (1/14),  The New York Times (1/15),  Reuters (1/15) 
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Financial and Tax Update
Wall Street is bracing for tough regulation as expectations grow that President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission. As chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Gensler sought to rein in derivatives trading with aggressive rulemaking and enforcement actions.
Full Story: Bloomberg (1/14),  The New York Times (1/13) 
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The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has formalized a rule that prohibits banks from refusing to offer loans or other services to firms in potentially controversial industries. The banking industry largely opposes the rule which will likely be called back by President-elect Joe Biden's administration before it is entered into the Federal Registry.
Full Story: The Wall Street Journal (1/14),  Morning Consult (1/14),  CNBC (1/14),  American Banker online (subscription required) (1/14) 
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Major clearinghouses are reviewing whether to shift trillions of dollars in interest-rate derivatives out of Libor and into alternative benchmarks weeks before Libor's official end. LCH and CME Group are talking with clients about Libor exit strategies.
Full Story: Bloomberg (1/14) 
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PLI News
Recent Developments in Distressed Debt, Restructurings and Workouts 2021
Effective risk prevention practice, a volatile political environment, occasional fraud and cross-border issues require businesses to preplan and limit risk, including with distressed companies. Live online on January 28, explore the most current issues relating to structuring, drafting and enforcing the rights of creditors and parties to loans, various executory contracts and intercreditor agreements, principally in out-of-court restructurings and exchange offers. An expert faculty will present tactics to be utilized to better protect creditors, including banks, bondholders, hedge funds, and parties in interest, and to maximize values and recoveries.
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Now Is the Time for Telecommunications Professionals to Stay on Top of the Issues
Practising Law Institute's 38th Annual Institute on Telecommunications Policy & Regulation is now available for on-demand streaming. This year, it is even more critical than ever for telecommunications professionals to receive up-to-the-minute information about the latest developments. A top-notch faculty of senior government officials, firm practitioners, and in-house counsel at major telecommunications organizations review a wide array of topics, from wireless developments and privacy and national security issues to bridging the digital divide and understanding what the future holds for tech platforms and Section 230.
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Employment Focus
Employers must retroactively apply the "ABC test" designed to assess whether California workers should be classified as independent contractors or employees, the state Supreme Court has held. The challenge centered on a state high court decision from 2018 that established the test's criteria, which were established as state law last year.
Full Story: MarketWatch (tiered subscription model) (1/14),  San Francisco Chronicle (tiered subscription model) (1/14) 
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Supreme Court and Federal Court Watch
The execution of federal inmate Corey Johnson, who was convicted of killing seven people in Richmond, Va., in 1992, was carried out Thursday night after the US Supreme Court declined to issue a stay based on intellectual disability claims and the fact that Johnson had contracted COVID-19 in recent weeks. Dustin Higgs, another federal inmate who has contracted COVID-19, is scheduled to be executed today.
Full Story: Richmond Times-Dispatch (Va.) (1/15),  CNN (1/15) 
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The US Supreme Court has ruled 8-0 that Chicago is not breaking the law by retaining debtors' property as the city continues to impound vehicles after their owners have filed for bankruptcy. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that bankruptcy courts "are not powerless" to develop arrangements for vehicles to be released so that their owners can commute to work and repay their debts.
Full Story: Chicago Sun-Times (tiered subscription model) (1/14) 
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Lawyer Life
Tamarind's sharp, sweet taste works in a range of recipes
Tamarind's flavor depends on whether it is raw or ripe, as the raw fruit has a sour and tart taste, while the riper version has a sweeter flavor. The pod-like fruit is a staple in Indian cooking, where it's used make chutneys and candies and to flavor marinades, glazes and seasoning blends.
Full Story: Bon Appetit (1/13) 
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Editor's Note
SmartBrief will not publish Monday
In observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the US, SmartBrief will not publish Monday. Publication will resume Tuesday.
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Connect deeply with others. Our humanity is the one thing that we all have in common.
Melinda Gates,
philanthropist, advocate for women and girls
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