FANNIE, FREDDIE SETTLE WITH DEFUNCT FORECLOSURE FIRM
MIAMI — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have settled lawsuits with David Stern, once the nation’s most prolific filer of foreclosures on behalf of mortgage lenders, over outstanding legal fees.
The confidential deals were reached after Stern sued Fannie Mae for $8.8 million and Freddie Mac for $5.4 million.
Fannie and Freddie fired the Law Offices of David J. Stern in Plantation, Fla., after Florida’s attorney general accused it in the "robo-signing" scandal. Stern is no longer practicing law and is buying fast-food franchises in South Florida, according to an attorney for the mortgage lenders.
WASHINGTON POST PREVAILS AGAINST SECURITIES LAWSUIT
WASHINGTON — A federal judge on March 19 dismissed a securities fraud lawsuit against the Wash­ington Post Co., finding that the plaintiffs failed to sufficiently allege that executives intended to deceive the market about the financial health of for-profit education subsidiary Kaplan Inc.
The ruling was the latest in a string of defeats for dissatisfied investors suing over the workings of for-profit education institutions, U.S. District Senior Judge Barbara Rothstein noted in her opinion.
The plaintiffs were represented by Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, which has pursued securities fraud cases against other for-profit education institutions in light of growing scrutiny over their recruitment and financial aid practices.
ANIMAL-TERRORISM LAW FEARS JUDGED EXAGGERATED
BOSTON — A federal judge on March 18 threw out a lawsuit filed by animal rights activists who challenged the constitutionality of a federal law criminalizing violence and property damage against animal-related organizations and the people who work for them.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro cited lack of standing, writing that the plaintiffs’ fear of being targeted under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act for legitimate protest activities were overblown.
"Where Plaintiffs seek to engage in lawful and peaceful investigation, protest, public-speaking, and letter-writing, the court cannot reasonably conclude that these actions fall within the purview of a statute requiring intentional damage or loss to property or creation in an individual of a reasonable fear of death," he wrote.
CLAIMS AGAINST INDIAN AUTOMAKER MAY PROCEED
ATLANTA — A federal judge will allow fraud claims by five U.S. auto dealers to proceed against the U.S. subsidiary of India’s largest automotive manufacturer in a suit stemming from a failed deal to sell Indian-made sport utility vehicles and pickups in the United States.
The dealers claim that Mahindra U.S.A. and parent Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. lured them into paying millions for the rights to sell vehicles that were never shipped to the United States because they did not pass U.S. emissions and safety standards.
But while allowing the case to proceed, Judge Thomas Thrash Jr. characterized the dealers’ claim that Mahindra never intended to enter the U.S. market "a seemingly inexplicable course of conduct" for which the dealers had offered "no motive."
TRADE SECRETS SUSPECT TO REMAIN BEHIND BARS
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge on March 20 overruled a magistrate and ordered the continued detention of a defendant accused of stealing trade secrets from E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. and selling them to China.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White echoed the magistrate’s disquiet over Walter Liew’s 19-month confinement, but said he did not feel comfortable that a $2 million bond would reasonably assure Liew’s appearance at trial.
According to prosecutors, Liew was paid roughly $30 million to provide Chinese companies with DuPont’s secret method for producing the industrial pigment used to give commercial products a bright white color and has never accounted for the money.
EX-PROSECUTOR CONVICTED ON RACKETEERING, DRUG CHARGES
NEWARK, N.J. — A federal jury on March 18 convicted a former prosecutor on 23 counts, mostly related to running his criminal defense practice as a rack­eteering and illegal drug enterprise and serving as "house counsel" to a drug kingpin.
The counts against Paul Bergrin included witness murder and murder conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute cocaine, maintaining drug-involved premises, travel in aid of a drug-trafficking business, conspiracy to travel in aid of drug trafficking and bribery, travel in aid of prostitution and evading currency transaction reporting requirements.
It was the second jury to hear the evidence against Bergrin. His first trial ended in late 2011 with a hung jury.
FIRM MUST SHARE DOCUMENTS IN AMAZON POLLUTION CASE
NEW YORK — Patton Boggs, locked in a fierce battle to enforce a $19 billion Ecuadoran judgment against Chevron Corp. related to environmental pollution in the Amazon region, must allow the oil giant to see documents that the firm claims are privileged.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan on March 15 refused to squash a subpoena Chevron served on Patton Boggs in hopes of uncovering additional evidence that the verdict, issued by an Ecuadoran court in 2011, was obtained through fraud and misconduct.
Kaplan ruled that because there is "probable cause" to believe that the judgment was fraudulent, Patton Boggs can’t assert the work-product doctrine or attorney-client privilege. Those protections don’t apply to communications in furtherance of a fraud or criminal conduct, he wrote.
JUDGE NARROWS BLAME IN DEEPWATER HORIZON LAWSUIT
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal judge conducting a trial to assign fault for the worst U.S. offshore oil spill dismissed claims on March 20 against a BP PLC contractor and a company that made a key safety device on the drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, triggering the catastrophe.
After plaintiffs’ attorneys rested their case, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled there was no evidence that BP’s drilling fluids contractor M-I LLC made any decision that led to the blowout of BP’s Macondo well.
The judge also agreed to rule out punitive damages against Cameron International Corp., the manufacturer of the blowout preventer on the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon rig, which was rocked by an explosion and fire that killed 11 workers and touched off the enormous spill.
EX-BUSINESS ASSOCIATE TRIED TO QUASH POTENTIAL MERGER
NEW YORK — Securities brokerage IDX Capital LLC and its officers have won an $8.25 million judgment against a former business associate convicted of sabotaging a $25 million merger deal by sending the would-be buyer disparaging emails under pseudonyms, including the comic book character Daredevil.
New York County, N.Y., Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Oing, who presided over a jury trial, entered the judgment earlier this month.
The complaint alleges that Wesley Wang learned of Knight Capital Group’s interest in buying IDX and responded by sending at least 12 anonymous emails disparaging ex-partner James Cawley. The emails were sent using false names, including Matt Murdock, the alter ego of Marvel Comics’ Daredevil, and Anne Frank.
ATTORNEY SENTENCED FOR SNEAKING DRUGS INTO JAIL
LOS ANGELES — A defense attorney has been sentenced to a year in jail for attempting to smuggle heroin and methamphetamine to his incarcerated client.
Solo practitioner Kenneth Roger Markman was sentenced on March 15 after pleading guilty to charges that he tried to smuggle 26 balloons containing the drugs into a holding facility where his client was scheduled to appear in an attempted carjacking, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
Markman was first arrested on October 21, 2011. He was arrested a second time on November 18, 2011, after security officials discovered suspicious items on an X-ray machine as he attempted to enter a courthouse. A sheriff’s deputy detained him and found drug paraphernalia and rock cocaine in his wallet.