A Jenner & Block team will receive the 2012 Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Service from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. The members of the team – Craig C. Martin, David Jiménez-Ekman, Joseph R. Dunn and Kristin L. Rakowski – are being recognized for their pro bono representation of Spamhaus, an international nonprofit anti-spam organization. Over a course of more than six years, the team succeeded in vacating an $11.7 million judgment against Spamhaus and having that judgment reduced to just $3 in nominal damages.
The case began in 2006 when e360, a now-defunct electronic marketing company, sued Spamhaus, claiming that e360 had been unfairly labeled a “spammer” by Spamhaus. e360 and its owner sought damages for tortious interference with contractual relations, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, and defamation. When first sued, Spamhaus was represented by counsel other than Jenner & Block. Prior counsel’s advice resulted in the entry of an $11.7 million default judgment and permanent injunction against Spamhaus by Judge Charles Kocoras of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Mr. Martin and the Jenner & Block team then took over Spamhaus’ representation and appealed the district court’s judgment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. After Mr. Martin’s argument, the Seventh Circuit vacated the injunction and remanded the case back to the district court for a bench trial on damages. On remand, the plaintiffs sought more than $100 million in damages. The Jenner & Block team conducted extensive fact discovery and, after a three-day bench trial, Judge Kocoras entered a reduced judgment of $27,002 in June 2010.
Because the Firm team believed even the much-reduced judgment was not supported by e360’s evidence, the team again appealed to the Seventh Circuit. Mr. Martin again presented the oral argument. On September 2, 2011, the Seventh Circuit issued its decision, which reduced the judgment to $3 in nominal damages – $1 for each of e360’s claims.
In his letter to the team announcing the award, Chief Judge James Holderman noted that not only did the selection committee feel that the work merited the award, but Judge Kocoras agreed.
The award will be presented at a ceremony on Friday, May 18, at the Dirksen United States Courthouse.