This week in legal news Yahoo Finance is following Big Tech's apparent dodge of bipartisan antitrust legislation that appears to be stalling, as Congress heads into its traditional August recess.
Meanwhile, Elon Musk's derailment of his $44 billion agreement to buy Twitter (TWTR) now includes claims of fraud against the social media company. As Musk and Twitter gear up for an October trial, their lawyers are pressing for documents and witness testimony.
Finally, baby formula manufacturer Abbott (ABT) is facing increasingly consolidated litigation tied to infants who became ill or died after ingesting formula contaminated with bacteria.
Abbott's under fire over tainted formula
A group of 18 lawsuits alleging that contaminated Abbott-manufactured baby formula caused sickness — and in some cases death — in premature infants has moved to a federal court in Chicago. The transfer to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on Friday brings the cases, some of which allege less serious, economic injuries, into a court where 97 similar cases are being heard.
The cases raise high-stakes legal pressure on the pharmaceutical giant as they blame Abbott for the infiltration of a life-threatening bacteria, Cronobacter sakazakii, into its Sturgis, Michigan manufacturing facility. If held liable for the infiltration, the company could be ordered to pay millions in damages.
The contamination incident and its connection to infant illness and death is currently under investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Abbott has recalled four formulas: Similac, Similac 60/40, Elecare, and Alimentum. The FDA said it hasn't directly linked the contaminated formula to infant injuries. According to the FDA, the bacteria can cause bowel damage and lead to infection and inflammation to membranes that safeguard the brain and spine.
Musk makes new fraud claim against Twitter
Elon Musk raised the stakes in his court battle with Twitter on Friday, filing a countersuit accusing the social media company of fraud. And this week, Musk and Twitter continue their competing requests to disclose information to each other before their highly anticipated October trial.
In a 126-page countersuit made public on Friday, Musk’s lawyers elaborated on arguments first made in a July 8 letter to terminate the Tesla CEO's agreement to acquire Twitter in a $44 billion merger. According to Musk's new claim, Twitter defrauded him by making false and misleading estimates in its regulatory filings concerning fake and spam accounts. Twitter counters in its response to Musk's claim that its securities filings are true.
On Monday, Musk’s lawyers sought the deposition of a Twitter representative. Meanwhile Twitter’s lawyers requested documents from individuals and companies associated with Musk, including Oracle founder Larry Ellison; Bob Swan, an operating partner for Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz; and Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.
Big Tech still dodging antitrust reform
Lawmakers are about out of time to push through bipartisan antitrust legislation targeting Big Tech competition. The dwindling clock is translating to diminishing hope among proponents of tougher antitrust regulation that Congress will bring such legislation to a vote ahead of Congress’ August recess and the undecided balance of power following November’s midterms.
One bill that had gained traction among Democrats and Republicans — the American Innovation and Choice Online Act — was introduced by House Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI). The bill, which includes companion legislation introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), would block major technology companies like Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Facebook (META) and Google (GOOG, GOOGL) from favoring their own products and services over the products and services of competing companies that list on their platforms.
Alexis Keenan is a legal reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow Alexis on Twitter @alexiskweed.