October 28, 2008
The Texas A&M University System regents voted Monday to authorize school president Elsa Murano to settle a lawsuit brought by families over the deadly bonfire collapse nearly a decade ago.
The decision came a day before a hearing for final judgment in the case in Brazos County, where a number of lawsuits stemming from the accident that killed 12 people and injured 27 were consolidated. The sides have negotiated a settlement, according to an agenda item for Monday’s meeting of the nine-member Board of Regents.
In 1999, the wedding cake-like bonfire structure collapsed while students were building it. The accident ended the bonfire as an annual tradition before the Texas A&M-Texas football game, although students and alumni still have the event without university support.
The lawsuits originally named several current and former Texas A&M administrators, and construction and equipment leasing contractors. The university tried to argue that its officials were immune from lawsuits based on the state constitution preventing such cases, but a state appeals court ruled otherwise five months ago.
University officials declined to comment, and an attorney for some of the families declined comment.
Read Article: Houston Chronicle
A construction-defect lawsuit involving 34,000 Clark County homeowners could be nearing a partial settlement.
Clark County District Court Judge Timothy Williams will hold a preliminary hearing on Thursday to consider a $90 million settlement that plumbing-fitting maker IPEX has offered to plaintiffs who say the company’s Kitec pipe connections failed and damaged their homes.
If Williams preliminarily approves the agreement at Thursday’s hearing, homeowners would then consider whether to accept the deal.
Sergio Salzano, a partner in the local law firm of Lynch Hopper & Salzano and an attorney representing the homeowners, said the class representatives — the handful of plaintiffs designated to speak for the 34,000 homeowners in the lawsuit — have come out in favor of the settlement.
“It’s a substantial amount of money given the current economic situation the country finds itself in,” said Salzano, whose firm is co-counsel on the case along with the local law firm of Harrison, Kemp, Jones & Coulthard. “It might make sense to get this wrapped up.” Salzano also said there was no guarantee the court would sign off on the settlement.
“It’s not a done deal,” he said.
IPEX’s local attorney, James Carraway, didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
Read Article: Las Vegas Review Journal
Two former partners at a prominent law firm have been sentenced to six months in prison for their role in a class-action lawsuit kickback scheme aimed at large corporations.
David Bershad, 68, was a key player in the scheme that paid people to act as plaintiffs in cases that brought roughly $239 million in legal fees to New York-based Milberg Weiss, now known as Milberg.
“I want to say that I personally take responsibility for what I did. It was wrong,” Bershad said in court.
In a letter submitted to U.S. District Judge John Walter, Bershad apologized for the deception. “I now recognize that our behavior grievously injured the judicial process,” he wrote. “I will live out my days with the painful knowledge that our acts tarnished all of the good work we did.”
Read Article: Los Angeles Times
The outraged widow of a Central Islip man has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit charging that his brain has been lost for more than two years following an autopsy by the Office of The Suffolk County Medical Examiner.
Mozelle Purifoy said her complaint filed Thursday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan claimed the brain of husband Tom Purifoy was removed from his body after he died in July 2006 and that officials at Mount Sinai Medical Center and its related units attempted to acquire it without permission.
In her complaint, which seeks $4 million in damages for emotional distress, Purifoy said that neither she nor her husband signed any organ donation card. Court papers didn’t say what illness Purifoy died from.
Read Article: Newsday
A widely watched trial over Chevron’s Nigerian operations featured a new online frontier Monday in the battle to influence the hearts and minds of potential jurors. While imposing a general gag order, Northern District of California Judge Susan Illston ordered Chevron to take down a paid Google link sponsored by the company. Plaintiffs objected to the link, which directed Internet surfers to a Chevron-created Web site that provided information about the incident at issue in trial.
The company placed the link to appear when anyone Googled the name of the lead plaintiff, Larry Bowoto, plaintiffs argued. “This new advertising strategy was launched just after the jury pool learned the names of the parties,” wrote lead plaintiff attorney Dan Stormer of Hadsell Stormer Keeny Richardson & Renick.
In court Monday, defense attorney Robert Mittelstaedt of Jones Day defended the sponsorship, pointing out that nine of the first 10 Google search results for the lead plaintiff’s name produced Web pages friendly to Bowoto.
“Are they sponsored links?” Illston asked.
Mittelstaedt said he didn’t think so, and the judge indicated that that’s what concerned her.
Read Article: Law.com
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