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'We're Not Cougars,' Women Say In Suit
Court Center | 2008/09/11 14:11
Three women say their girls' night out ended with a cable TV station setting them up to look like they were trolling for younger men, and then broadcasting the action as "The Great Cougar Hunt."

Christine Torres and Charnette Hildreth say they were celebrating Tammi Tary's birthday at the Chapter Eight dance club when an employee of defendant G4 Media asked if he could videotape them. The women say they refused.

Later, they say, two young men sat down at their table and began talking with them. The women say the men turned out to be paid props whom G4 used to portray them falsely as "cougars," or "sexually cunning 35+ females on the hunt for a much younger energetic male."

At the end of the evening, the women say, G4 employees approached them again, asking them to sign a release consenting to G4's use of their voices and likenesses. The women say they refused.

Eight months later, the women say, they discovered "The Great Cougar Hunt" on G4's cable station. The video portrayed their birthday party as a group of "older women" looking for younger men at a "world famous cougar hot spot."

According to the complaint, the video describes "cougars" as the "easiest, most ravenous" prey for younger men.

The women say they were "not attempting to meet or 'hunt' younger men." They say they do not even date younger men.

The plaintiffs say the defendants have lined their own pockets with a video that has exposed them to "contempt and ridicule and has caused others to shun or avoid (them)."

G4 originally was devoted to gaming programming, but now bills its content as "general male-interest programming."

The women demand punitive damages of at least $1 million. They are represented by Neville Johnson in Superior Court.


Firm Can't Sue Enron Again, 5th Circuit Says
Headline News | 2008/09/10 14:16
A Houston law firm cannot file 34 more lawsuits against Enron after the high-flying company's financial collapse, the 5th Circuit ruled.

Fleming & Associates has represented hundreds of plaintiffs against the failed energy company, but Judge Prado agreed with the district court that the statute of limitations on the latest group of cases had expired.

The lawsuits would have covered 1,200 clients and would have alleged state law claims of fraud, negligence and civil conspiracy. Prado ruled that the district court did not violate "any notions of federalism" by determining that the state court would dismiss the claims as untimely.

"The district court is intimately involved in the many facets of litigation surrounding the Enron collapse," Prado wrote. "Further, federal courts often consider issues involving a state statute of limitations."


J.K. Rowling Smites Copyright Violator
Legal Watch | 2008/09/09 14:02
J.K. Rowling vanquished the forces of darkness Monday when a federaljudge permanently enjoined RDR Books from publishing "The Harry PotterLexicon," a guidebook to Rowling's best-selling series. U.S. DistrictJudge Robert Patterson Jr. blocked also ordered RDR to pay $6,750 instatutory damages.

Steven Jan Vander Ark, a librarian andHarry Potter fan, thus cannot publish his guide to Rowling's series,for which he said there was a considerable demand. Warner Bros., whichmade the Harry Potter movies, joined Rowling in suing for copyrightviolations.

The ruling came 5 months after a 4-day trial,during which Rowling described the "Lexicon" as "wholesale theft of 17years of my hard work."

The next day at trial, Vander Ark sobbed on the stand, clearly upset that he had annoyed Rowling.

Judge Patterson found that RDR Books "failed to establish its affirmative defense of fair use."


EU Court Unfreezes Assets of Saudi Charity
Court Center | 2008/09/08 14:23
Europe's highest court overturned a decision by the EU governments to freeze the assets of a Saudi businessman and a Sweden-based charity because of their alleged ties to terrorist groups.

The ruling allows judicial review of a regulation by the United Nations Security Council requiring member states to freeze the assets of individuals and organizations with ties to Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida or the Taliban.

But the European Court of Justice said the Security Council should not have deprived Yasin Al-Qadi and the Al Barakaat International Foundation of their property without giving them a chance to defend themselves in court.


NY Judge dismisses challenge to gay marriage recognition
Court Center | 2008/09/08 14:22
Judge Lucy Billings of the New York State Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday that challenged the decision made by New York Governor David Paterson to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. The lawsuit, brought by conservative Christian legal advocacy group Alliance Defense Fund [advocacy website], asked the court to declare that Governor Paterson's May 14, 2008 Executive Directive recognizing such marriages "contravenes New York law" and asked the court to "permanently enjoin the Directive's enforcement, because it exceeds the Governor's lawful authority." In dismissing the lawsuit, Judge Billings wrote
Governor Paterson's Executive Directive dated May 14, 2008, requiring state agencies to recognize same sex marriages legally solemnized in other jurisdictions is consistent with New York's common law, statutory law, and constitutional separation of powers regarding recognition of marriages legally solemnized outside New York. ... The court therefore denies the declaratory and injunctive relief sought by the amended petition and grants respondents' motions to dismiss this proceeding.
Governor Paterson's Executive Directive notes a February decision by an intermediate New York appellate court in Martinez v. County of Monroe  holding that legal same-sex marriages performed outside the state are entitled to recognition in New York. The memo was dated one day before the California Supreme Court overturned a state ban on same-sex marriage in In re Marriage Cases.


Alabama Sues Banks In $3.2 Billion Bond Fiasco
Headline News | 2008/09/04 14:24
Alabama sued bond consultants Blount, Parrish & Roton and 12 banks and insurers for their part in Jefferson County's sewer bond fiasco: the $3.2 billion debt has the county on the verge becoming the nation's largest-ever municipal bankruptcy. The state claims Blount Parrish bribed Jefferson County Commission President Larry Langford to get its consulting contract, and JP Morgan Chase Bank and others profited by refinancing the enormous debt with auction rate securities and interest rate swaps, for their own benefit.

The Jefferson Parish sewer bond fiasco was the lead item in New York Times financial columnist Gretchen Morgenson's Sunday column on Aug. 31. Morgenson used Jefferson County to illustrate the perils faced by investors in municipal securities, which have $2.6 trillion in outstanding debt.

As state entities, the municipal agencies are largely free of regulatory oversight. More than half of them have failed to file required financial reports, and more than 25 percent chronically fail to do so, Morgenson reported, citing a recent study by DPC Data, "one of four data collectors known as nationally recognized municipal securities information repositories."

Alabama claims in Jefferson County Court that Blount Parrish JP Morgan Chase employee Charles LeCroy, "on behalf of defendants JP Morgan and JP Morgan Bank, teamed with defendant Blount Parrish to perpetrate the plan of refinancing the County's fixed rate sewer debt with auction rate securities and interest rate swaps, such plan to be for the benefit of the Defendants. It is alleged that co-conspirators Blount and LeCroy, having secured the cooperation of Langford, seized the opportunity to launch the massive sewer debt re-finance plan at issue herein which has brought the County to the brink of ruin.

"As a direct and proximate result of the Defendants' alleged conduct, the County and the public have suffered enormous financial harm and the future viability of the County's operations vital to the public has been put in imminent peril. Each Defendant allegedly profited directly fro the scheme or conspiracy perpetrated by Langford, Blount, LaPierre and LeCroy with each Defendant receiving valuable and lucrative contracts relating to the County's bond offerings and swap contracts."
(LaPierre is Al LaPierre, of Blount Parrish.)

The State says that "public corruption in Jefferson County government is well documents. In the past several years there have been 21 criminal convictions related to the sewer system, including the conviction of a former county commissioner.

Named as defendants are Blount Parrish & Roton, JP Morgan Chase & Co., JP Morgan Chase Bank, Bear Stearns Capital Markets, Stern, Agee & Leach, Bank of America NA, CDR Financial Services, Goldman, Sachs Capital Markets, National Bank of Commerce of Birmingham, Bank of New York, Financial Guaranty Insurance Co., Financial Security Assurance Inc., and XL Capital Assurance.

The State is represented by James O'Neal and Law One Group of Birmingham.


Southwest Georgia Law Firm Announces Name Change
Firm News/Georgia | 2008/09/03 21:55
Watson Spence Lowe and Chambless, a well-established law firm in
Southwest Georgia, announced today it will now be known as simply
"Watson Spence." The name change comes amidst the 60th year of the
Firm's history. During the milestone anniversary celebration earlier
this month, the Firm paid tribute to former partners Stuart Watson,
Norman Spence and Tommy Chambless.

  Dunn Stapleton, the Firm's managing partner, said that the Web
site address will now transition to www.watsonspence.com but will
continue to be available at the old address, as well. Likewise,
attorneys and staff members will be able to receive e-mail at both
their "watsonspence.com" addresses and old e-mail addresses.

  Watson Spence has been firmly rooted in the Albany community for
60 years. The firm provides a broad range of specialized legal
services to large corporations, small businesses, individuals,
professional associations, agribusinesses and health care providers.
The firm's practice includes both state and federal trial and
appellate courts and extends to the state and national capitols before
the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government.


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