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TWO NEW PARTNERS ELEVATED AT KEKER Keker & Van Nest has elevated two associates to partner, bringing the total number of partners at the 50-attorney litigation firm to 22. The new partners are Elizabeth Egan and David Silbert. Egan, a 1992 graduate of Boalt Hall School of Law, focuses on complex civil litigation, legal malpractice defense and consumer class action defense. Silbert, who graduated from Hastings College of the Law in 1994, specializes in complex litigation and intellectual property cases. — Brenda Sandburg OPHTHALMOLOGIST GETS BIG PUNITIVE AWARD A Marin jury awarded $31.7 million in damages to an eye surgeon Thursday, concluding that his phobia about operating was a legitimate disability and that his disability insurance carrier had acted in bad faith by denying his claim. The large award, $30 million of which is in punitive damages, caps a three-month trial in Marin County Superior Court. “I’m very gratified,” said plaintiffs attorney Arnold Levinson, of San Francisco’s Pillsbury & Levinson. “Anytime you get punitive damages you’ve got to be grateful.” The case revolved around Dr. Randall Chapman, an ophthalmologist who claimed he developed a specific phobia around surgery that caused his hands to shake so much that he was unable to perform surgery. UnumProvident Corp. suspended Dr. Chapman’s disability payments after three months, and denied his claim on the grounds that he could still perform other office procedures. According to Levinson, the insurance company’s real motivation in denying the claim was financial. The company had set monthly financial targets based on a specific number of claims, and put pressure on its claims agents to meet those targets by terminating legitimate claims. Horace Green, an attorney at Barger & Wolen who represented UnumProvident, said the verdict is not supported by the evidence and that he will ask the court for a new trial or for a reduction in the amount of the award. “I think the public’s perception of corporations is at an all time low,” said Green. “In situations like litigation, people are much more willing to believe accusations that are leveled against corporate clients.” — Alexei Oreskovic POLYGLOTS WIN STATE BAR PAMPHLET FIGHT English may be the official language of California, but that doesn’t mean the State Bar cannot voluntarily print and distribute consumer pamphlets in other tongues. On Thursday, San Francisco’s First District Court of Appeal ruled unanimously in an unpublished decision that the State Bar’s pamphlets, which discuss common legal problems in Spanish, are not precluded by a provision of the California Constitution that makes English the state’s official language. Contra Costa County resident Simon Levy had argued that the State Bar’s actions could lead to litigants demanding to file briefs or court orders in Moroccan or Bulgarian and students requesting that classes be taught in German. “The simple response to this argument,” Justice Barbara Jones wrote, “is that [Levy] fails to distinguish between an entitlement and a voluntary governmental act.” Justices Lawrence Stevens and Linda Gemello concurred. The case is Levy v. Davis, A098306. — Mike McKee

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