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GM to ask bankruptcy court for lawsuit protection
Press Releases | 2014/04/17 22:02
General Motors revealed in court filings late Tuesday that it will soon ask a federal bankruptcy judge to shield the company from legal claims for conduct that occurred before its 2009 bankruptcy.

The automaker's strategy is in a motion filed in a Corpus Christi, Texas, federal court case, and in other cases across the nation that involve the defective ignition switches that have led GM to recall 2.6 million small cars.

The motion asks U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos to delay action on the lawsuit until the bankruptcy court rules and other federal courts decide if the case should be combined with other lawsuits. But GM says it's not asking to halt action on a motion to force GM to tell customers not to drive their cars that are being recalled.

GM has said at least 13 deaths have been linked to the switch problem. The switch can unexpectedly slip out of the "run" position, shutting down the engine, knocking out power-assisted steering and power brakes, and disabling the air bags. GM admits knowing about the problem for at least a decade, but it didn't start recalling the cars, including Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions, until February.

The company's motion says GM will ask the bankruptcy court in New York to enforce an order made during the 2009 bankruptcy case that split GM into a new company and an old company. Claims from before the bankruptcy would go to "Old GM," called Motors Liquidation Co., while claims after the bankruptcy would go to the new General Motors Co.


Lawyer: Evaluate stabbing suspect's mental health
Press Releases | 2014/04/15 21:42
The attorney for a 16-year-old accused of stabbing 21 other students and a security guard at their high school said Thursday he wants to have a mental health expert evaluate the boy and hopes to have the case moved to juvenile court.

For now, Alex Hribal is charged as an adult with four counts of attempted homicide, 21 counts of aggravated assault and a weapons charge, and is being held without bond in the Westmoreland County juvenile detention center.

In an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America," attorney Patrick Thomassey acknowledged that his client stabbed the victims, and said any defense he offers will likely be based on the boy's psychological state, which he hopes to have an expert evaluate soon.

"I would assume so, yes, depending on what the mental health experts tell me," Thomassey said.

He said that, under Pennsylvania law, he will have to convince a judge that Hribal can be rehabilitated in juvenile court, which would have jurisdiction over him until he's 21. If convicted as an adult, Hribal faces likely decades in prison.

The attorney told several media outlets that Hribal was remorseful, though he acknowledged his client did not appear to appreciate the gravity of his actions. Thomassey said he is still getting to know his client, saying he spoke with Hribal only for about 20 minutes before his arraignment late Wednesday.


SC Supreme Court hears appeal in fatal dog attack
Press Releases | 2014/04/15 21:42

Prosecutors want South Carolina's highest court to reinstate the conviction of a Dillon County man whose dogs attacked and killed a 10-year-old boy in 2006.

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday hears an appeal in the case of Bentley Collins. In 2012, the state Court of Appeals overturned Collins' involuntary manslaughter conviction and prison sentence, ruling a judge shouldn't have allowed prosecutors to show pictures of the boy taken before his autopsy.

The photographs showed the extent of the boy's injuries, including how the dogs mauled him so badly his bones were exposed and his ears and nose were eaten.

The judges said the pathologist testified to the injuries, so the photographs did nothing more than rile the jury's emotions.


Egypt court sentences 528 Morsi supporters to death
Press Releases | 2014/03/24 22:00
A court in southern Egyptian has convicted 529 supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, sentencing them to death on charges of murdering a policeman and attacking police.

The court in Minya issued its ruling on Monday after only two sessions in which the defendants' lawyers complained they had no chance to present their case.

Those convicted are part of a group of 545 defendants on trial for the killing of a police officer, attempted killing of two others, attacking a police station and other acts of violence.

More than 150 suspects stood trial, the others were tried in absentia. Sixteen were acquitted.

The defendants were arrested after violent demonstrations that were a backlash for the police crackdown in August on pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo that killed hundreds of people.


French court blocks secret recordings of Sarkozy
Press Releases | 2014/03/14 22:10
A French court has ordered an ex-aide of Nicolas Sarkozy to pay 10,000 euros ($14,000) in damages and costs to the former French president over secret recordings that were published in an online journal, and instructed the publication to pull down the links.

Sarkozy and his pop-star-supermodel wife, Carla Bruni, had demanded an emergency injunction blocking publication of their conversation, which surfaced in the online publication Atlantico. The court Friday ordered Atlantico to take down the audio files.

Once-trusted aide Patrick Buisson was ordered to pay 10,000 euros in damages to Sarkozy for making the recordings, and Atlantico and Buisson were each ordered to pay 1,000 euros in court costs.

Atlantico has already pulled the playful exchange between Sarkozy and Bruni.


Supreme Court allows Stanford Ponzi scheme suits
Press Releases | 2014/02/28 23:37
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that victims of former Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford's massive Ponzi scheme can go forward with class-action lawsuits against the law firms, accountants and investment companies that allegedly aided the $7.2 billion fraud.

The decision is a loss for firms that claimed federal securities law insulated them from state class-action lawsuits and sought to have the cases thrown out. But it offers another avenue for more than 21,000 of Stanford's bilked investors to try to recover their lost savings.

Federal law says class-action lawsuits related to securities fraud cannot be filed under state law, as these cases were. But a federal appeals court said the cases could move forward because the main part of the fraud involved certificates of deposit, not stocks and other securities.

The high court agreed in a 7-2 decision, with the two dissenting justices warning that the ruling would lead to an explosion of state class-action lawsuits.

Stanford was sentenced to 110 years in prison after being convicted of bilking investors in a $7.2 billion scheme that involved the sale of fraudulent certificates of deposits from the Stanford International Bank. They supposedly were backed by safe investments in securities issued by governments, multinational companies and international banks, but those investments did not exist.


Gov. Snyder signs jury duty, trampoline court laws
Press Releases | 2014/02/20 23:46

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a law letting full-time college students postpone jury duty until the end of the school year.

The governor on Tuesday also approved rules for indoor trampoline parks where adults and kids can bounce around for a fee.

Snyder says jury duty is "an important part of our civil responsibility" but can be disruptive to college students' studies. A similar exemption already exists for high school students.

The other law requires trampoline courts to publicly display rules and inform customers of the activity's inherent dangers. Trampoliners also must adhere to rules specified in the law.

A trampoline user, spectator or operator who violates the law is liable for damages in civil lawsuits.


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