Thursday, October 21, 2010

LAW.COM Newswire Highlights October 21, 2010

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N.Y. Courts to Require Attorneys to Verify Foreclosure Papers

New York Law Journal
Amid mounting national concern over the accuracy of court documents in foreclosure cases, New York state's court system has directed lenders' lawyers to file an affirmation that they have taken reasonable steps to verify the accuracy of papers they file to support residential foreclosures. The court system's affirmation form notes that foreclosure filings in various U.S. courts have been subject to such defects as failure to review documents and establish standings, bogus affidavits and the "robo-signing" of documents.

Bondholders Gear Up to Sue Banks Over $47 Billion in Countrywide Mortgage-Backed Securities

The American Lawyer
A group of eight institutional investors who collectively hold more than 25 percent of the voting rights in more than $47 billion in Countrywide mortgage-backed securities has sent a notice of non-performance to Bank of America and Bank of New York Mellon, claiming that BofA failed to perform its duties as the servicer of the bond deals. And unless BofA takes action on the notice -- by buying back at par securities backed by mortgages that violated contractual underwriting standards -- the group intends to sue.

9th Circuit Grants Stay of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Injunction

The National Law Journal
The 9th Circuit on Wednesday granted the government's emergency motion for a temporary stay of a worldwide injunction barring enforcement of "don't ask, don't tell," the military's ban on openly gay service members. The only reason the appeals court gave for its action was "to provide this court with an opportunity to consider fully the issues presented." The three-judge panel gave the plaintiff in the underlying case until Oct. 25 to oppose the government's broader request for a stay of the injunction pending its appeal.

Former Greenberg Lawyer Pleads Guilty to $500,000 Fraud

The American Lawyer
Former Greenberg Traurig associate Michael Shaw pleaded guilty on Wednesday to stealing nearly $500,000 from the firm between 2002 and last year, when the scheme was discovered and he was fired. According to a guilty plea and plea agreement, Shaw has already paid $524,947 to "a victim of the fraud" -- presumably Greenberg. The agreement states that Shaw is subject to a maximum prison term of 30 years and a maximum penalty of $1,000,000.

Vet May Seek Punitives in Claim for Denial of Job Reinstatement

The Legal Intelligencer
A military reservist who claims he was denied the right to "reclaim" his civilian job after returning from a deployment to Pakistan has won the right to pursue punitive damages under a state tort claim for wrongful discharge. A Pennsylvania federal judge ruled that the plaintiff -- a Marine veteran and a member of the Air Force Reserve -- is entitled to seek tort damages, "including compensatory damages for emotional distress, embarrassment and humiliation, as well as punitive damages."

Suit Says Wilson Sonsini Tried to Hide Conflict

The Recorder
A former client is suing Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati over an alleged conflict of interest. Existence Genetics claims Wilson Sonsini IP partner Vern Norviel represented the predictive medicine company even though the firm also represented a competitor. The company claims Norviel told its CEO that he had checked for conflicts of interest and found none, but that a year later, a junior associate at Wilson Sonsini "let slip" that the firm also represented a direct competitor, Navigenics Inc.

Judge Approves Disclosure Statement for WaMu Reorganization Plan

The American Lawyer
Washington Mutual's bankruptcy finally looks to be winding down, with Delaware bankruptcy Judge Mary F. Walrath signing off on an order approving a disclosure statement filed in connection with WaMu's proposed reorganization plan. The plan, which would liquidate $7 billion with the bulk coming from a $6 billion settlement between WaMu, its owner JPMorgan Chase, and the FDIC among various creditors, is set to be voted on by WaMu's creditors on Nov. 15 -- two weeks after the independent examiner's report is due.

Bayer Agrees to 'Watershed' Settlement in 7,000-Case Rice Crop Contamination Litigation

The American Lawyer
Last Friday, Bayer Crop Science finished the fourth day of a bellwether trial in the 7,000-case mass tort over its alleged contamination of the U.S. long-grain rice crop with an experimental strain of genetically modified rice. The trial was the first in which the plaintiffs could present their case for punitive damages along with their case in chief, which apparently made a difference: On Monday, Bayer announced a $290,000 settlement -- Bayer's first in the litigation.

DOJ, Plaintiffs Lawyers Announce $680 Million Settlement in American Indian Discrimination Suit

The National Law Journal
Potentially capping more than a decade of litigation in Washington, the government has agreed to pay $680 million to a class of American Indian farmers and ranchers who alleged the Agriculture Department's loan program was discriminatory. President Barack Obama praised the settlement and urged Congress to act on two proposed settlements in separate suits that would resolve claims among black farmers and a class of American Indians who are challenging the management of Indian trust accounts and resources.

8th Circuit Affirms Pre-emption Dismissal of Defibrillator Cases Against Medtronic

The American Lawyer
Last week, Medtronic's $268 million settlement of essentially all pending U.S. claims alleging product liability defects in its Sprint Fidelis defibrillator leads came before the 8th Circuit ruled on the dismissal of many of those cases on pre-emption grounds. On Friday, that ruling came down. It's the first appellate interpretation of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Riegel v. Medtronic -- and it's a home run for fans of federal pre-emption of state law-based product liability claims.

Full 2nd Circuit Upholds N.Y. Law Allowing Longer Terms for Felons

New York Law Journal

New York's persistent felony offender statute does not violate the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the 2nd Circuit has ruled. Sitting en banc, an easy majority of circuit judges said that judicial findings in applying an enhanced sentencing range for defendants under the statute do not violate the right to trial by jury. The decision reversed a three-judge panel's March 31 ruling that the Sixth Amendment "prohibits the type of judicial fact-finding resulting in enhanced sentences" under the statute.

Calif. Judge Certifies Class of Oracle Employees in Wage-and-Hour Suit

The Recorder
A California judge last week certified a class of an estimated 3,000 Oracle employees who allege they were misclassified as exempt and deprived of overtime pay. Judge Steven Brick's order certified three subclasses of technical analysts, project managers and quality assurance analysts or developers for Oracle and PeopleSoft, which Oracle bought in 2005. They say Oracle violated provisions of the California Labor Code by failing to pay overtime wages and give them off-duty meal periods.

Attorney Sentenced to 5 Years for OxyContin Possession

The Associated Press
An Idaho attorney who police say recruited a client to help feed his prescription pill addiction has been sentenced to five years in prison. Shawn C. Nunley, a former county deputy prosecutor, pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance and began his prison sentence on Friday at the Idaho State Correctional Institution.

Review: Nuance PDF Converter 7

Special to
Among vendors offering professional-grade PDF converters, Nuance Communications has been at the top of the list. John K. Waters reviews Nuance's latest release, PDF Converter Professional 7, which comes with a number of enhancements that build on its collaboration with Microsoft.

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If Lockstep Is Dead, How About a 'Miles Earned' Type of System?

Fulton County Daily Report
As Big Law strays away from the use of lockstep, the ladder lawyers thought they were all climbing has been kicked out from under them, notes The Snark. So how about a new ranking system with catchy mineral-based names that weighs factors like number of direct phone calls from clients?

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The Careerist: Les Femmes Fatiguees

The Careerist
Check out some of the latest posts on the blog, The Careerist. Les Femmes Fatiguees: It turns out French women's lives may not be so fantastique Also We're Not on the Same Page: Men and women on corporate boards And When Mom Disses Your Work

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