LAW.COM Newswire Highlights April 23, 2010

If you are already an online subscriber to the LAW.COM service you should be able to click on any of the links below, sign in, and access the full text of all articles listed. A subscription to LAW.COM is needed for online access to this service.

Pope, Vatican Officials Targeted in New Suit by U.S. Sex Abuse Victims The National Law Journal
A federal suit filed on Thursday in Milwaukee alleges that Pope Benedict XVI and senior Vatican officials covered up allegations that a Wisconsin priest molested at least 200 children at a suburban Milwaukee school for the deaf. The lead plaintiff’s lawyer is seeking injunctive relief, hoping to force the Vatican to open what he claims are confidential files that contain details of priest abuse allegations and monetary settlements. He also seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

Countrywide Home Loans in $150 Million Fight With Mortgage Insurer The Recorder
In a case born out of the mortgage crisis, one of the United States’ largest home lenders is trying to force its mortgage insurer to pay up on claims in at least 1,400 loans. Lawyers for Countrywide Home Loans want the suit in San Francisco Superior Court, but Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp., which wants to go to arbitration, is battling to keep the case in federal court. The stakes are sizable: Countrywide has said, in the course of opposing arbitration, that it is seeking damages of at least $150 million.

Merrill Lynch Suit May Resemble Goldman Sachs Fraud Case The American Lawyer
The SEC’s suit against Goldman Sachs has people wondering whether other banks committed the same conduct with which Goldman is charged: structuring debt it secretly knew would fail and then pitching that debt to investors. It turns out Quinn Emanuel, representing a Dutch bank, alleged almost a year ago that Merrill Lynch did something similar in creating an investment fund nicknamed Norma. Quinn filed papers last week in which the law firm claimed that the SEC’s charges against Goldman “bear directly” on Merrill’s conduct.

RICO Charges Purged From Indictment of Former Prosecutor New Jersey Law Journal
A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed racketeering charges against Paul Bergrin, a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor accused of being at the heart of a criminal enterprise that involved murder, bribery and prostitution. The judge said federal prosecutors had failed to show that Bergrin and his purported associates had engaged in an ongoing criminal enterprise or had, as a group, participated in a pattern of racketeering activity.

Firm Partner Embroiled in Termination Dispute Involving Claims of Affair, Retaliation and Racial Bias The Legal Intelligencer
An ugly dispute between two female lawyers in the Philadelphia city solicitor’s office has turned into a federal suit in which the plaintiff claims that her husband, a Pepper Hamilton partner, was having an affair with the other woman, her supervisor, and that the conflict resulted in the plaintiff’s firing. A federal judge tossed some of the plaintiff’s claims, but ruled she may proceed on others, including that her firing was retaliation for suing the other woman for defamation, and that the firing was racially motivated.

Federal Judges Still Finding Their Way in Post-‘Booker’ Sentencing Landscape New Jersey Law Journal
Five years after the Supreme Court held that the federal sentencing guidelines are merely advisory, judges still follow them for the most part, though there is an ever-growing divergence, according to the most recent federal statistics. Although nationally more than half of sentences are within the guidelines, the rate varies widely from district to district — from a low of 27.8 percent in the District of Arizona to a high of 92.3 percent in the District for the Northern Mariana Islands, both part of the 9th Circuit.

Former Epstein Becker Shareholder Claims Firm Kept His Money The National Law Journal
A former shareholder at Epstein Becker & Green claims that the firm committed fraud and balked on an agreement to return his capital contribution when he left in 2006. Thomas Brown alleges that, despite assurances from the firm that its policy was to repay capital contributions, it had no intention of doing so and unjustly kept his money for lost billables that it suffered. He seeks punitive damages plus $150,000 in unpaid capital reimbursements, interest on that amount and damages for infliction of emotional distress.

Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy Bill Approaches $750 Million — and Counting The American Lawyer
The latest Lehman Brothers bill is in, and the total dollar amount the bankrupt estate has paid out to financial advisers and law firms is approaching $750 million and might possibly be on its way to $1 billion, according to Bloomberg and documents Lehman filed Thursday with the SEC. The biggest biller, to no one’s surprise, continues to be Lehman’s lead debtor counsel at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, which has billed the estate just short of $165 million since the bankruptcy filing.

6th Circuit Says No to Sanctioning Law Firms Over Meritless Suit The National Law Journal
A San Diego law firm has been spared $1 million in sanctions by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a trade secret case. The court ruled on Wednesday that, under federal law, courts may not impose sanctions on law firms — as opposed to individual lawyers — for knowingly pursuing meritless lawsuits. The decision reversed a lower court ruling that had imposed $1 million in sanctions on Meisenheimer Herron & Steele for bringing an allegedly meritless trade secret case against Lexmark.

Judge Who Sentenced Madoff Confirmed to 2nd Circuit The National Law Journal
The U.S. Senate on Thursday unanimously confirmed Judge Denny Chin to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, as Democrats continued to inch through a backlog of lower-court judicial nominees. Chin will be elevated from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, where he drew national attention for sentencing financier Bernard Madoff to 150 years in prison for orchestrating a massive Ponzi scheme. Born in Hong Kong, Chin will be the only active Asian-American judge on a federal appellate court.

Did Ruden McClosky Take $1.1 Million From an Alzheimer’s Organization?
The American Lawyer
Florida law firm Ruden McClosky has been plagued by partners leaving, a Ruden lawyer describing firm management as “morons,” a decrease in head count from 175 to about 100, and rumors that the firm will dissolve. Now, an association devoted to the study and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease has filed a lawsuit accusing Ruden and two former firm principals of misappropriating $1.1 million from the organization and using the money, in part, to fund a startup run by the daughter of a former Ruden lawyer.

Troutman Elects New Managing Partner, Delegates Some Roles Held by Chairman Fulton County Daily Report
As part of its succession planning, Troutman Sanders has announced leadership changes that include electing a new firmwide managing partner, Stephen E. Lewis, effective Jan 1. The firm’s chairman and managing partner, Robert W. Webb Jr., who also chairs the partner compensation committee, is delegating some of his roles to other lawyers at the firm, but will remain Troutman’s chairman. Andrea M. Farley, the first female section leader at the firm, will succeed Lewis as the corporate section leader.

Texas Court Hears State’s Appeal in Gay Divorce Case The Associated Press
A lawyer for a Dallas man trying to divorce the man he married in Massachusetts told a Texas appeals court his client is entitled to a divorce because he had a valid marriage. But the Texas attorney general’s office argued before the panel that the marriage isn’t recognized by Texas, so they cannot get a divorce. An assistant Texas solicitor general said the union can only be voided. The men wed in 2006 in Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal, separating two years later.

Risk Assumption Ruled Incomplete Defense in Cheerleading Mishap New York Law Journal
Though a cheerleader assumed some risk when practicing stunts with her squad, her participation in the potentially dangerous activity is not a complete defense by her school district for liability for the serious injuries she suffered, a New York appeals court has ruled. The court said a triable issue of fact had been raised through the testimony of an expert, who contended that too many cheerleaders were practicing too closely together for safety purposes.

On-Premise EDD Appliance Saves Firm Time and Money Special to
Dallas-based Haynes and Boone had been using Stratify’s hosted service to process ESI. But the firm found that an on-premise appliance saved lawyers’ time and clients’ money, reducing e-discovery costs up to 75 percent in some cases, says Thom Wisinski, the firm’s chief knowledge officer.
Visit Legal Technology
New Report Finds Increase in Women Making Partner New York Law Journal
Women made up 34 percent of their 2010 new partner classes, compared to 28 percent the year before, according to a recent report by the Project for Attorney Retention. At nearly 20 percent of the firms tracked, women comprised half or more of the new partner classes.
Visit the Career Center
Top 8 Reasons to Take Pro Bono Cases Fulton County Daily Report
Attorney Dawn Levine acknowledges that she likes to make money as much as the next person. But while “thanks” with a paycheck feels good, Levine notes that the thanks you get from your client when you took their case for nothing feels good on a completely different, but very real level. Levine counts off her eight top reasons to do pro bono work, including that it makes her a better attorney. Her No. 1 reason? For every pro bono case you take, that is one attorney joke that is undermined.
Visit Small Firm Business®
120 Broadway, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10271-1101 (877) 256-CIRC Customer Service Phone: (877) 256-CIRC

© 2010 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved.

Contact Information