Darrel J. Hieber
Darrel Hieber’s practice involves a wide range of complex and high-profile litigation, including class actions, unfair business practices, e-commerce and taxation, insurance practices, securities fraud, mergers and acquisitions, antitrust law, constitutional law, and government investigations and enforcement proceedings. He represents business entities in federal and state trial and appellate courts throughout the country.
E-Commerce and Taxation. Mr. Hieber counsels and represents e-commerce companies on compliance, business practices and taxation issues. Mr. Hieber is national lead counsel representing priceline.com, a provider of online travel services, and its affiliates, in more than 90 cases in 28 states brought by states, counties and cities, as well as related consumer class actions, concerning the application of local hotel occupancy tax to service charges on reservations made through online travel companies. The Am Law Daily called Mr. Hieber “one of the few lawyers who have dominated this niche of litigation.”
Mr. Hieber represents Vertrue, Inc. (formerly MemberWorks, Inc.) and Adaptive in class actions and enforcement proceedings nationwide challenging Internet and telemarketing practices concerning the sale of discount and service membership programs, including In re Vertrue, Inc. Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation (MDL), which is pending in federal court in Cleveland. In 2010, Mr. Hieber achieved another major victory for Vertrue, when the Ninth Circuit affirmed the complete dismissal of all claims in a nationwide class action challenging telemarketing practices under the federal RICO statute, Unordered Merchandise Act and Electronic Fund Transfer Act. Mr. Hieber also achieved complete dismissals of federal actions challenging Adaptive’s Internet marketing practices under the federal Consumer Repair Organization Act, RICO and related laws.
Consumer Class Actions. Mr. Hieber defends insurers, lenders and other providers of consumer services in class actions challenging business practices under federal and state unfair business practice statutes and related laws. Notable cases include challenges to insurer practices regarding automobile repair shops, estimates and parts; insurer service fee charges to insureds; third-party claims for “diminished value” to vehicles; agent actions challenging insurer commission practices; actions challenging reserving and claims practices of workers compensation insurers; and consumer claims challenging lender financing practices.
Mr. Hieber also has represented clients in investigations and enforcement actions by the California insurance commissioner and attorney general, as well as county district attorneys, concerning various consumer practices.
Antitrust, Entertainment and Technology. Mr. Hieber advises clients and represents them in actions involving antitrust, tort and contract issues concerning motion pictures and television programming, trade secrets, technology, distribution and licensing. For example, Mr. Hieber represented Home Box Office in an antitrust action challenging its motion picture license agreements with studios; an action involving the interception of its satellite signals in Canada; and an action against a completion bond company for failure to complete and deliver motion pictures.
Mr. Hieber represented Cytec Industries, Inc. in the defeat of a licensor’s claims challenging Cytec’s decision to cease efforts to develop a new polymer technology for fabricating navel ships.
Insurance Regulatory Matters. Mr. Hieber regularly advises insurers on statutory, regulatory and corporate matters, including licensing, withdrawal from the market, capital and solvency issues, and representation in rate proceedings and enforcement actions. For example, he represented:
- insurers in the successful constitutional challenge to Nevada’s similar rate roll back statute before the Ninth Circuit;
- The Ohio Casualty Insurance Group in defense of the California Department of Insurance’s $90 million rate roll back order under Proposition 103, and in Ohio Casualty’s widely reported withdrawal from the California market;
- State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company in the successful defense of a class action seeking to compel the declaration of more than $6 billion in dividends and to enjoin it from making political contributions;
- Farmers Insurance Exchange in defeating the California attorney general’s action seeking to invalidate settlements entered into by Farmers and other insurers with the California insurance commissioner concerning the handling of Northridge earthquake claims;
- the developer of Florida housing developments destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in the negotiation and settlement of hundreds of subrogation claims brought by various insurers; and
- insurers, creditors or shareholders in each of the three-largest insurer insolvency conservatorship proceedings in recent years — the Mission Insurance, Executive Life and Golden Eagle conservatorships.
Securities Fraud, Mergers and Acquisitions. Mr. Hieber represents investment banks, insurers and other financial institutions in litigation arising out of mergers and acquisitions, and in defense of securities-related fraud claims. For example, he represented:
- Bear Sterns in obtaining complete vindication against claims of misappropriation of trade secrets arising out of a hostile tender offer;
- Zenith Insurance in the successful defense of an action arising out of a dispute over the purchase price of a Florida workers’ compensation business it acquired; and
- a nationwide securities brokerage firm in defense of a class action and receivership action involving claims of hundreds of investors in a failed series of allegedly fraudulent real estate investment partnerships.
Before joining Skadden, Mr. Hieber was involved in the successful challenge before the Fifth Circuit of the federal government’s approval of a major freeway expansion project through downtown Fort Worth, Texas. He also successfully defended the Inter-American Development Bank in state and federal court actions challenging the bank’s immunities under the International Organization Immunities Act, and asserting contract and tort claims arising out of foreign government projects.
Mr. Hieber frequently is consulted and quoted in business and legal media, including Fortune magazine, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, Reuters, The National Law Journal, The Recorder, The Daily Journal and National Underwriter, among others.
J.D., University of California at Los Angeles, 1980
B.A., University of California at Santa Barbara, 1977
Law Clerk to the Honorable Wm. Matthew Byrne, Jr., U.S. District Court, Central District of California (1980-1981)
Board Member, Western Center on Law and Poverty (commencing 2010)
Member, The Insurance Law Committee, California State Bar Business Section; Chair (2000-2001, 2003-2004)
Member, Executive Committee, Los Angeles County Bar Antitrust and Unfair Business Practices Section; Chair (2001-2002)
Member, Executive Committee, Los Angeles County Bar Association, Litigation Section
Co-author, “Recent Case Law Weapons for Defending Against California Unfair Business Practice Claims,” Skadden, 2002/2003
Co-author, “The Application of California’s Statutory Unfair Competition Laws to the Business of Insurance,” Loriman, 2001
Co-author, “A Primer on Directors and Officers Liability Insurance,” Loriman, 2000
Co-author, “Commissioner Garamendi’s Four-Year Struggle to Implement Proposition 103,” Business Law News, State Bar of California, 1994
Co-author, “Federal Regulation of the Business of Insurance: Current Proposals,” Insurance Companies In Crisis, PLI, 1991
Co-author, “Proactive Company, Officer and Director Responses,” Insurance Companies In Crisis, PLI, 1991
Co-author, “Living with Proposition 103,” Skadden, 1989