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Court Leaves Diabetes Drug Case Intact
Court Center | 2008/03/04 03:19
A divided Supreme Court is leaving intact a ruling favoring people who sued a pharmaceutical company, saying they had been harmed by a drug to combat diabetes.

The dispute stems from several suits against Warner-Lambert over its diabetes drug Rezulin. Warner-Lambert is now owned by Pfizer. The Supreme Court split 4-4 in the case, with Chief Justice John Roberts not participating.

The users of the drug are relying on a Michigan law to allege that the pharmaceutical company engaged in fraud by misleading federal regulators to get the drug approved. The Michigan law shields pharmaceutical companies from product liability lawsuits, unless they committed fraud.

At issue in the case is whether that fraud exception, which allows lawsuits to proceed, is pre-empted by federal regulation of the pharmaceutical industry.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled that the exception to the Michigan law was not pre-empted by federal regulations, enabling the plaintiffs to pursue the case.

Twenty-seven Michigan residents say they suffered personal injuries caused by Rezulin, a drug that federal regulators approved despite risks to the liver and cardiovascular system.



Campton Hills pays $124,000 to lawyers
Legal News | 2008/03/03 20:42

Campton Hills leaders are attempting to catch up on the village's mounting legal bills.

Village board members Tuesday voted 4 to 0 to pay Chicago-area legal firm Arnstein & Lehr LLP nearly $124,000 for services dating from July to November. Trustees Bern Bertsche and Al Lenkaitis were absent.

While there is currently enough money in municipal coffers to square up the latest bill, Village Treasurer Kathy Catalano said officials might soon need to dig into contingency funds earmarked for budget overruns.

Legal expenses are expected to only mount as the village wages ongoing legal battles with several groups of property owners who are trying to detach their land from the new municipality.

The latest bill is in addition to a roughly $50,000 tab the village paid off around the beginning of the year.

"I'd prefer it wasn't that much," Village President Patsy Smith said Tuesday. "But that's the cost of starting a new village when you're being challenged legally."

Village Attorney Bill Braithwaite has said his firm attempted to help the village by delaying invoices until the municipality, which incorporated after a referendum last April, began receiving state-shared revenue.

Catalano said while "there have been some invoices lagging because of this," the money is finally arriving.

"We've got the ability to pay these bills," she said.

No one at Tuesday's meeting addressed when to expect legal bills from November through today or how much they will be.



Holme Roberts & Owen chooses new leader
Firm Websites | 2008/03/03 20:40

B. Lawrence Theis has been elected chairman of the executive committee at Denver law firm Holme Roberts & Owen LLP, succeeding Robert Bach.

Theis is a partner with HRO's litigation practice group. He founded the litigation firm of Musgrave & Theis, which merged with HRO in 2006. He is a former state antitrust prosecutor.

Bach had been the firm's executive committee chairman for eight years, HRO (hro.com) said in a statement Tuesday. Bach will return to full-time law practice.

Theis had been HRO's general counsel. Mashenka Lundberg will assume that post.

HRO, founded in 1898, is Denver's second-largest locally based law firm, according to the Denver Business Journal's Book of Lists. The firm says it has more than 260 attorneys in three Colorado officers as well as in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, London and Munich.



Helms Mulliss & Wicker merging into Virginia law firm
Press Releases | 2008/03/03 20:35

McGuireWoods LLP and Helms Mulliss & Wicker PLLC are joining forces in a merger that will create a law firm with nearly 900 lawyers and offices in 17 locations.

The combined firm will be known as McGuireWoods LLP. The merger will be effective at the close of business on March 31, 2008.

McGuireWoods currently has 750 lawyers at 15 locations worldwide, including 40 in Charlotte. Helms Mulliss, established in Charlotte in 1922, has 145 lawyers, including 120 in Charlotte and 25 in offices in Raleigh and Wilmington.

Triangle Business Journal reported in January that Charlotte-based Helms Mulliss & Wicker was in merger talks with Richmond, Va.-based McGuireWoods. Firms with a strong Charlotte presence often are courted by out-of-state firms interested in the city's high-powered financial sector.

Both firms do business with Wachovia and Bank of America. But Richard Cullen, chairman of McGuireWoods, says that the merger was driven by more than just obtaining additional banking business.

"It would be wrong to assume we're doing this merger because of any one city in North Carolina or any one client," says Cullen. "We're very eager to be in Raleigh. We're planning on growing that office."

Cullen declined to go into specifics about how many people might be added over the coming years in the Raleigh office, which currently has 20 lawyers.

After the merger, Peter Covington, the chairman and managing member of Helms Mulliss, will become vice chairman of McGuireWoods, a newly created position.



Yanez beats Criss in Texas Supreme Court primary
Legal Watch | 2008/03/03 20:31
South Texas appellate Judge Linda Reyna Yanez will be the next Democrat trying to win a seat on the GOP-dominated Texas Supreme Court.

Yanez won the high civil court's Place 8 Democratic primary Wednesday over Galveston Judge Susan Criss. Yanez is a judge in the state's Thirteenth Court of Appeals.

Criss lost despite the visibility she earned presiding over recent high-profile cases like the civil lawsuits filed in wake of the deadly 2005 BP refinery explosion in Texas City.



Canada-U.S. lumber spat gets split court ruling
Headline News | 2008/03/03 20:30
A London arbitration court has issued a split ruling on Canadian softwood lumber shipments to the United States in the latest installment of the two countries' long-running trade feud.

The ruling, released on Tuesday, addresses the first of two complaints the Bush administration has lodged, alleging that Canada had breached a 2006 trade deal by shipping too much lumber and exacerbating woes for struggling U.S. lumber firms.

The United States accused Canada of misinterpreting the agreement to give its exporters an unfair advantage.

The ruling marked a victory for the Western Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta when the panel found against the U.S. claim that the provinces owed millions of dollars in export taxes aimed at limiting export surges.

Under the deal, Canadian lumber exporters can either pay export charges of up to 15 percent based on their selling price to the United States or cap the charge at 5 percent along with an export quota that restrains volume.

British Columbia has traditionally produced about half of all the softwood that Canada exports to the United States.

However, the court found that Quebec and Ontario in Canada's east, which are also big producers and use the quota option to limit their exports, had sent too much lumber south.

"Under the panel decision, producers in the east of Canada will be penalized for over-shipping their allowable quota," said Zoltan van Heyningen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, the U.S. industry group that has been driving the complaints from Washington.

Canada claimed at least partial victory and said the ruling was a healthy step for the bilateral 2006 agreement, which was designed to avoid repeating years of long, costly lawsuits.

"While Canada believes that it has fully complied with the agreement, we respect the tribunal's ruling ... Today's decision provides clarity with respect to the implementation of the SLA (Softwood Lumber Agreement) in the future," said Canadian Trade Minister David Emerson.

The United States had argued that the starting point for calculating export charges and volumes should be the first quarter of 2007, while Canada argued it should be July 2007. The court sided with the United States on that issue.



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