First up, Japanese automotive safety equipment maker Takata’s US general counsel Eric Laptook has left the company amid an ongoing compliance scandal. On 13 January, Takata paid a near $1 billion settlement to the US Department of Justice in relation to claims it deliberately lied to consumers about the safety of airbags produced by the company. Mr Laptook had been general counsel of the company’s US arm, known as TK Holdings, since October 2015. His departure from the company was officially announced last Wednesday.
Meanwhile, former Ericsson associate general counsel of litigation Frank Vecella is moving back into private practice. Mr Vecella will be joining leading US trial firm McKool Smith as a principal in the firm’s Dallas office. His switch back to law firm life comes after 16 years working in-house at Ericsson, which has a longstanding client relationship with McKool: ‘Ericsson is a long-time client and Frank has been a very dear friend of the firm for many years,’ said McKool Smith managing principal David Sochia of the hire. ‘We couldn't be more excited to have Frank with us. He has significant litigation and industry expertise, and his in-house counsel perspective will be invaluable to the firm as we continue to strengthen our client service initiatives.’
Also in the US, clinical-stage biotechnology company BioTime has hired Stephana Patton as its first ever general counsel. Dr Patton leaves behind her role as general counsel and commercial compliance officer at publicly-traded specialty pharma group BioDelivery Sciences, and brings more than 17 years’ experience in intellectual property, licensing and other pharmaceutical industry-related work to her new role. BioTime chief executive officer Adi Mohanty said Dr Patton will be an asset to the company as it looks to leverage its expansive IP portfolio and move towards commercialisation.
Payment solutions provider BillingTree has hired Barton ‘Chip’ Bright as the company’s new general counsel and chief compliance officer. In his new role, Mr Bright will be tasked not only with overseeing internal compliance but also equipping BillingTree’s customers around the globe with the tools required to make sure they stay compliant in the face of evolving regulatory scrutiny. He joins the company from bank SunTrust, where he also oversaw compliance, and FactorTrust, where he held the role of general counsel and vice president of compliance.
Finally, Guardian Life Insurance subsidiary ReedGroup has announced the hire of Josh Protass as the company’s new general counsel. ReedGroup is a healthcare and absence management company that currently counts over half of the US Fortune 100 among its clients, with operations also in Canada and India. Mr Protass joins from healthcare information technology group TriZetto Corporation, where he most recently held the role of associate general counsel.