Tuesday, September 21, 2010

LAW.COM Newswire Highlights September 21, 2010

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Hewlett-Packard Settles With Former CEO Hurd
The Recorder

Hewlett-Packard Co. and former CEO Mark Hurd have settled their legal dispute over his decision to become co-president of rival Oracle Corp. HP announced Monday that it has dropped a lawsuit against Hurd under a settlement agreement that requires him to give up 346,030 shares of HP stock, or nearly $14 million, effectively waiving about half of his severance package. HP ousted Hurd on Aug. 6, citing expense account lapses discovered after a marketing contractor accused him of sexual harassment.

Judge May Allow Additional Claims Against Toyota
The National Law Journal

A federal judge has opened the door for additional economic damages claims to be asserted against Toyota in the multidistrict litigation over its sudden unintended acceleration recalls. The order Monday came after the plaintiffs' steering committee filed two complaints last month: an economic loss master consolidated complaint and a first amended consolidated complaint. Toyota's lawyers called the maneuver "tactical gamesmanship" that omits claims in most of the nearly 200 economic damages suits that are part of the MDL.

9th Circuit Strikes Down Law on Providing Explicit Materials to Minors
The Recorder

It shouldn't be illegal to sell a Judy Blume novel to a little girl, the 9th Circuit said Monday. A three-judge panel found a pair of Oregon statutes that ban certain people from providing minors with sexually explicit information unconstitutionally broad, reversing a district court judgment. The ruling sides with booksellers and others, including a grandmother, who sued to halt enforcement of the laws, which are aimed at preventing child abuse.

$350 Million UnitedHealth Class Action Settlement Approved
New York Law Journal

A New York federal judge on Monday gave final approval to a $350 million class action settlement with UnitedHealth Group, awarding $89 million in attorney fees and expenses along the way. The judge endorsed a motion by plaintiffs lawyers at Pomerantz Haudek to grant final approval of the settlement, which resolved claims that the health insurer colluded with others to underpay doctors outside of its network.

Eversheds Targets In-House Lawyers With New Consultancy Business Venture
Corporate Counsel

It's still a tough economic climate out there, and it's challenging law firms to do things they never would have considered before. Alternative billing? RFPs? A season of beauty contests? They're all on the table. Now, add legal department consulting to the list. At least that's what the U.K.-based firm Eversheds is doing in an effort to drum up and retain clients.

Defense Attorney Blames Client's Caffeine Intake for Murder Confession
The Associated Press

The lawyer for a Kentucky man accused of strangling his wife argued at trial Monday that excessive caffeine from sodas, energy drinks and diet pills left the defendant so sleep-deprived and mentally unstable that he falsely confessed to the killing. The argument was a twist on a previously stated defense outlined in earlier court documents -- that a high intake of caffeine rendered Woody Will Smith temporarily insane and unable to form the intent to kill his wife.

Judge Clears SEC's Fraud Case for Trial Against Former Countrywide Execs
The American Lawyer

Rejecting the defendants' "truth in the market" defense, a Los Angeles federal judge has denied motions for summary judgment by ex-Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo and two other defendants, clearing the way for their trial over Securities and Exchange Commission fraud allegations on Oct. 19. The SEC's complaint alleges that Mozilo and senior Countrywide executives David Sambol and Eric Sieracki committed securities fraud by misrepresenting the risks of the loan company's underwriting practices.

States Join Media Groups in Briefs Opposing California's Violent Video Game Ban
The National Law Journal

Nine states and Puerto Rico have joined to file a brief with the Supreme Court urging the justices not to uphold a California law that bans the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. In addition to raising the "specter of censorship," the states agreed that California's law, if replicated, would waste scarce law enforcement resources and provide support for a Twinkie-style defense argument that "the video game made me do it" for accused criminals. The case is set for argument at the high court on Nov. 2.

41 More Top Legal Execs Join Attack on FASB Proposal
Corporate Counsel

Forty-one more corporate legal officers on Monday added their names to a letter objecting to proposed rules requiring more disclosure about their companies' financial loss contingencies. Many general counsel say the proposed rules would force companies to reveal critical information about their potential liabilities, legal strategies and insurance coverage. The Association of Corporate Counsel filed the initial letter, with 110 signatures, last month with the Financial Accounting Standards Board.

Family Awarded $23 Million Over Illnesses Linked to Apartment Pesticides
The Associated Press

An Indiana jury has awarded $23.5 million to a family whose lawsuit alleged that pesticides sprayed in their apartment afflicted two children with severe neurological problems. The jury's verdict came 14 years after Todd and Cynthia Ebling sued Prestwick Square Apartments and its management company over their children's illnesses. The jury awarded $500,000 each to the parents, $16 million to their daughter and $6.5 million to their son.

Prop 8 Proponents Attack Walker's Ruling in 9th Circuit Brief
The Recorder

Proposition 8 supporters kicked off their appellate fight to preserve California's gay-marriage ban Friday night with a 31,000-word opening brief. As expected, proponents made their case for standing and leveled wide-ranging arguments for upholding the ban, taking particular aim at Chief Judge Vaughn Walker's finding that Prop 8 failed to meet rational basis review. The brief further argues that the ruling flies in the face of uniform judgment of state and federal appellate courts across the country.

Judge Rules Continued Light Cigarette Purchasers Can Remain in Philip Morris MDL
The American Lawyer

Six plaintiffs who accuse Philip Morris of misleading smokers with "light" branded cigarettes have survived a summary judgment motion, allowing their claims against the tobacco company to remain part of federal multidistrict litigation underway in Maine. Philip Morris had argued that, as a matter of law, the six plaintiffs could not show that alleged misrepresentations about safety caused them to continue smoking light cigarettes because they kept using the products after learning of the health risks involved.

Using Social Network Evidence in Family Court
The National Law Journal

The use of ESI like e-mail, voice mail, text messages and information from social networking sites as evidence in family court has increased dramatically. Because of the proliferation of this type of information, attorneys should be familiar with its availability and admissibility.
Visit Legal Technology

Thomas Clerk Moves On to Winston & Strawn
The National Law Journal

Last term's Supreme Court law clerks have begun to fan out across the legal landscape, and one of the first to announce her plans is Elizabeth Papez, a Justice Clarence Thomas clerk. She is joining Winston & Strawn in D.C. as a partner handling commercial and appellate litigation.
Visit lawjobs.com News & Views

LL.M. Degrees Get More Popular, but Are They Worth It?
The National Law Journal

Master of laws degrees are gaining in popularity among foreign and domestic law students, even as their value remains questionable. The number of LL.M.s conferred by ABA-approved law schools grew by 65 percent between 1999 and 2009, compared to 13 percent growth in J.D.s.
Visit lawjobs.com News & Views

The Careerist: You've Failed the Bar, and You Want a Job?!
The Careerist

Check out some of the latest posts on the lawjobs.com blog, The Careerist. You've Failed the Bar, and You Want a Job?! Career coach Elizabeth Munnell advises on making the best of a bad situation And More Law Firm Oscars? Yawn ... Plus Women Partners Get Paid Less -- Duh?

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