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New York AG files complaint
Court Center | 2008/07/25 14:54
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed a lawsuit against financial firm UBS on Thursday for allegedly misrepresenting so-called "auction rate securities" as low-risk despite the actual volatility of such investments. In the complaint, Cuomo alleges that UBS led investors to believe they could easily divest themselves of the long-term securities, and that after the company was aware of market instability, they continued to push the funds even though top executives had moved quickly to sell their own holdings. During a press conference on the lawsuit, Coumo said:

   Not only is UBS guilty of committing a flagrant breach of trust between the bank and its customers, its top executives jumped ship as soon the securities market started to collapse, leaving thousands of customers holding the bag. Today we bring the first nationwide lawsuit against UBS, seeking to recover billions of dollars for customers and sending a resounding message to the rest of the industry that this type of deceptive behavior will not be tolerated.

Cuomo is seeking to force UBS to buy back the securities from investors and to pay restitution for any profits made from their sale, as well as other damages.

On Wednesday, the Texas Securities Board said it is considering banning UBS from selling securities in the state because of auction rate securities misrepresentations. A March New York Times report said the practice of representing the securities as low-risk and highly liquid was widespread and has resulted in large loses and a number of lawsuits around the country.


Kuwaiti Diplomat Accused Of Enslaving Maid In D.C.
Headline News | 2008/07/24 14:41
A military attaché in Kuwait's Embassy is accused of enslaving, raping and torturing an orphan woman he brought to the United States from India to work as his maid. She claims Brig. Gen. Ahmed S.J. al Naser and his wife promised her $1,150 a month for a 40-hour week, but forced her to work 17 hours a day seven days a week without pay, confiscated her passport, beat and kicked her till she bled, forced her to eat off the floor, and the general raped her.

She claims Naser sexually abused and raped her, and threatened to deport her to Kuwait if she complained, and threatened that he had friends there and "They'd know what to do." She says that until she managed to escape, "Defendant Al Naser raped plaintiff on many occasions when his wife was not in the home."

She sued Gen. Al Naser, his wife Muna S.M.N. Al Najdai and the State of Kuwait in Federal Court.

The plaintiff says she escaped in May 2006. She does not know where Gen. Al Naser is now. She is represented by Michael Coe with Crowell & Moring.


Sotheby's Won't Return Renaissance Painting
Headline News | 2008/07/23 14:33
Sotheby's refuses to return, or has lost, a painting by the Renaissance painter known as Parmigianino, the family that owns it claims in Federal Court. The family's representative claims Sotheby's took the painting "Rest on the Flight Into Egypt," from a New York studio in 2005 "for evaluation and/or authentication," and has refused to account for it or return it, despite repeated demands.

Plaintiff Giancorrado Ulrich, of Milan, says he is sole representative of the family that owns the painting.

Parmigianino - Francesco Mazzola, 1503-1540 - was an Italian Mannerist painter.

Ulrich says Sotheby's Senior Vice President and Director of Old Master Paintings Christopher Apostle arranged to have the painting taken from Marco Grassi's New York studio in 2005.

Ulrich says Grassi inquired about the painting in 2007 and this year, and Apostle "assured Mr. Grassi that the painting had already been returned to him."

Ulrich says it's not so - that neither Grassi nor he has the painting, that Sotheby's has it or lost it. He says that the "release slips" that Sotheby's claims prove they returned to painting are not signed by Grassi or Ulrich, and appear to refer to another painting, called "The Holy Family."

Ulrich is represented by Gena Zaiderman with Sanders Ortoli.


Monkey See, Monkey Sue
Court Center | 2008/07/22 14:57

Wal-Mart, local health officials and Cox Health Systems discriminated against a woman and her monkey named Richard, Debby Rose claims in Greene County Court. Rose says the monkey helps her with a social anxiety disorder that causes her to have panic attacks in public.

Rose says local heath officials sent letters to area businesses advising them not to let Rose in with Richard, and says she was denied access to Cox Health Systems facilities.

She claims theSpringfield-Greene County Health Department lacks the authority todecide that Richard is not a service animal covered by the Americanswith Disabilities Act.



Calif. Court Orders New Headwaters Logging Plan
Headline News | 2008/07/21 15:02
Pacific Lumber Co. must revise its long-term logging plan for Humboldt County to provide adequate protection for endangered species, the California Supreme Court ruled.

In the controversial $480 million Headwaters Forest deal, state and federal governments bought 10,000 acres of old-growth redwoods and other trees from Pacific Lumber, which owns property in Humboldt County, and regulated how the company would log the remaining 220,000 acres.

The Environmental Protection and Information Center objected to the deal, as did the United Steelworkers of America and other labor and environmental groups.

Justice Moreno ruled that Pacific Lumber did not submit an identifiable Sustained Yield Plan, or a master plan for logging a large area. If the company submits a new plan, it would have to analyze the impact of logging on individual watersheds, Moreno ruled.

Also, Moreno found that the previous logging agreement improperly limited the company's obligation to mitigate the impact of old-growth logging on endangered and threatened species.


Jr. College Fired Her For Answering A Student's Question
Court Center | 2008/07/18 14:40
A biology professor says San Jose Community College illegally fired her because a student claimed to be "offended" by her response to a question in a Human Heredity class. June Sheldon, who has a master's degree in biology, says she responded to a question about homosexuality by citing scientific research that indicates it may be related to maternal stress.

Sheldon says the student complained that Sheldon had spoken in class "about something that had no mention in the textbook," and that the student "found many parts of her lecture highly offensive and unscientific," leaving the student "horribly offended."

Be that as it may, Sheldon says, citing scientific literature in response to a question about human heredity in a human heredity class is not grounds for firing, under the college's own rules.

Sheldon says the student who filed the complaint objected to a comment she made in her class of June 21, 2007. She says that student dropped her class at 9:06 a.m. that day. The class met from 9 to 11 a.m.

Sheldon sued the seven trustees of the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District, and its chancellor and vice chancellor. She is represented in Federal Court by David Hacker of Folsom.


Kelley / Uustal Wins More Than $1 Million in Back Pay for Former Alamo Employee
Firm News/Florida | 2008/07/17 21:44
McDonald Clark was the marketing genius behind Alamo-Rent-a-Car’s glory days.    When Alamo was taken over by Republic Industries in 1996, Republic entered into a new employment contract with Clark which provided for certain payments to Clark for 10 years if his contract was not renewed.  Republic later changed its name to AutoNation and spun off Alamo into a separate company.  When Alamo went bankrupt, AutoNation refused to make the payments.

Clark hired the attorneys at Kelley / Uustal to fight to enforce the agreement.  After six years of litigation, the jury found that Clark was entitled to $1,098,800.  The jury deliberated for only a few minutes after the four-day trial, which included testimony from a host of former Republic executives, including Steve Berrard and Michael Karsner.

“McDonald had a contract which was negotiated by Republic, written by Republic on Republic letterhead, and signed by Republic’s CEO, Steve Berrard,” explained John Uustal, who tried the case with his partner, Todd Falzone.  “Republic tried to use Alamo’s bankruptcy as an excuse to avoid responsibility.  But the jury didn’t buy it.  A deal’s a deal.”

Clark’s five-year contract with Alamo included a 10-year, $100,000-a-year salary continuation benefit that would begin at the end of the contract.  One year into the contract, Alamo was sold and Republic, now AutoNation, renegotiated the contract.  In 2000, the contract was not renewed, and Clark began receiving his salary continuation payments.  By November of 2001, however, Alamo filed bankruptcy and the payments stopped.

“AutoNation’s CEO gave Mr. Clark his word that this contract would be fully honored.  But when it came time for them to make good on that promise, AutoNation turned its back,” said Falzone.  “Thanks to the Judge and Jury, we had a fair trial and a just verdict.”

Mr.  Clark’s claim for attorney’s fees is still pending.


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