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VENTURE LAW GROUP NOT LIABLE FOR LOSSES A state appeal court says five former employees of a high-tech company can’t hold Venture Law Group liable for their financial losses in a merger handled by the Menlo Park law firm. The employees, minority shareholders in the erstwhile software firm of Soft Plus, had sued Venture Law Group, claiming they had suffered losses because of allegedly deficient services to Soft Plus in its merger with U.S. Interactive Inc. The five claimed Venture owed them third party liability as non-clients because the market value of their shares in Soft Plus plunged to nearly zero. San Mateo County Superior Court Judge George Miram granted Venture Law summary judgment, and San Francisco’s First District Court of Appeal agreed in an unpublished ruling released Friday. “The question on this appeal is � whether the facts before the superior court on defendant’s motion for summary judgment fit the � criteria sufficiently so as to render defendant law firm liable, whether in tort or contract, for the losses in the value of plaintiffs’ Soft Plus shares,” Justice Patricia Sepulveda wrote. “We conclude they do not.” Justices Laurence Kay and Maria Rivera concurred. The case is Singhania v. Venture Law Group, A098815. — Mike McKee GOVERNMENT COUNSEL TAPPED FOR BENCH SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gray Davis looked inside state government for a round of judge appointments to fill vacancies in Sacramento County, his office announced Monday. Davis tapped Shelleyanne W. L. Chang, his chief deputy legal affairs secretary; Michael Kenny, the executive officer of the California Air Resources Board; and John Winn, chief counsel to the Board of Prison Terms, to fill spots created by two resignations and one retirement. Chang joined Davis’ office in 1999 and was one of the main attorneys who negotiated gaming agreements between the state and Indian tribes. Before that, she was a deputy state attorney general, according to a press release from Davis’ office. Chang, 42, attended McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific. Kenny, 48, has been with the Air Resources Board since 1996. Before that, he worked for the Fair Political Practices Commission. A graduate of the University of San Diego School of Law, he also worked with James & Kilpatrick, a Sacramento law firm, and the San Joaquin County district attorney’s office. Winn, 45, has been with the prison board since 2000. Before that, he was with the Department of Corrections. A graduate of Boston College Law School, he also worked as a deputy district attorney in Sacramento and Yolo counties. The appointees will be paid $139,476 a year. — Jeff Chorney

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