Rite Aid Corp., a drugstore chain grappling with a $2.9 billion debt load, has parted ways with a pair of Big Law firms with partners personally linked to former and current senior executives.
A Rite Aid spokeswoman confirmed the Harrisburg Pa.-based company is “no longer working” with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings and Littler Mendelson.
Both firms collectively received $641,000 during fiscal 2022, a year in which Rite Aid disclosed it would transition its legal work to other firms so that “related persons do not have a material interest” in it.
Rite Aid said at the time that a sister of Paul Gilbert, its former chief legal officer, worked at Bradley, which represented the company in opioid-related litigation.
A Littler partner is the brother of Matthew Schroeder, Rite Aid’s chief financial officer, the company said. Littler handled employment matters for Rite Aid. The company didn’t identify by name the lawyers at either firm related to its executives.
Littler had a role on roughly 6% of cases involving Rite Aid in US federal courts since 2007, according to Bloomberg Law data. Littler and Bradley’s relationship with the company predated Gilbert’s 2020 hire. He replaced former Rite Aid legal chief James Comitale. Bradley and Littler didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Rite Aid recently installed deputy general counsel Christin Bassett as its acting legal chief following the departure of Gilbert in April. Gilbert was afterward gilbert-joins-summit-bhc-as-chief-legal-officer/”>named the top lawyer for Nashville-based Summit BHC, a private equity-owned behavioral health and addiction services company.
A proxy statements filed by Rite Aid this month revealed that Gilbert received nearly $1.6 million in total compensation—including about $930,000 in stock awards—during fiscal 2023, down from $1.9 million the year prior. The company announced June 9 that Thomas Sabatino Jr., most recently the top lawyer at auto parts maker Tenneco Inc., would succeed Gilbert as its legal group leader.
Sabatino is an in-house legal veteran who has previously been the No. 1 lawyer at United Airlines Inc., Walgreens Co., Hertz Global Holdings Inc., Baxter International Inc., and Aetna Inc. He helped the latter orchestrate its $68 billion sale in 2019 to Rite Aid rival CVS Health Corp., a transaction that earned Sabatino an estimated $13.6 million severance package. Bassett, another Aetna legal department alum, said via LinkedIn she’s “excited” to work again with Sabatino.
Rite Aid is facing myriad legal issues, from opioid litigation to a mounting debt load, according to a report earlier this year.
Bloomberg News reported last week that Rite Aid bondholders have banded together and retained Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison ahead of potential discussions with the company to rework its debt. Rite Aid, which installed rite-aid-corporation-names-elizabeth-busy-burr-interim-chief-executive-officer”>Elizabeth “Busy” Burr as its interim chief executive officer in January, is being advised on its restructuring efforts by Kirkland & Ellis.
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