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U.K. CASE TESTS INSURANCE FOR 9/11 LOSS A Florida cruise line that is a longtime client of Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn is believed to be the first policyholder to go to trial in a business interruption claim case related to the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The case is being tried in London. Arent Fox, with Alexandros Panayides of the London office of Clifford Chance and barristers Julian Flaux and Simon Picken, is representing defendant Silversea Cruises Ltd. in a suit filed by Swedish insurer IF P&C Insurance Ltd. The trial, which began Jan. 28, is expected to end this week. IF P&C, part of the Skandia Insurance Group, is disputing its responsibility to pay the $58 million claim filed by the luxury cruise line in November 2001 and amended as part of the litigation last year. Shortly after Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Silversea submitted a claim for business lost because of travel disruptions associated with the attacks, the insurer filed suit, arguing that the cruise line’s ship itineraries weren’t directly affected by the terrorism. One of the key issues in the case is whether the events of Sept.11 constituted an act of war as defined in the policy, says Arent Fox partner William McSherry Jr. The insurance policy, brokered in the United States and issued in April 2001, was designed to cover loss of anticipated revenue from specified occurrences, including acts of war, he says. McSherry, a litigator with experience in insurance, notes that the policy didn’t define an act of war. Lawyers for the insurance company are Michael Swainston and Clyde & Co., a London solicitor firm. Jerold Oshinsky, name partner at Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky, says the case is likely the first of its kind to go to trial. In England, civil trials are conducted without juries, and judges render written decisions. Observers say that while the ruling will be closely followed, it’s unclear what impact it could have on similar litigation in U.S. courts. “Whether it will have any teeth over here, I don’t know,” says Oshinsky. Matthew Jacobs, a partner who heads the Kirkpatrick & Lockhart insurance coverage group in the District, says the ruling will be significant if it is decided on a generic policy condition that policyholders involved in comparable suits in the United States might share. Other cases have reached the summary judgment stage, but haven’t been decided. One involves a New Orleans hotel operator that claimed the terrorist attacks and consequent airport closures meant a loss of business to its hotels. In that case, the Assurance Company of America denied coverage to Bienville Partners, arguing that the hotels didn’t suffer as a result of direct physical loss. Jacobs says a D.C. hotel represented by his firm filed a similar claim that was also denied by its carrier. � Lily Henning TAXING TIME FOR ENRON FIRMS In an exhaustive Feb. 13 report on several of the Enron Corp.’s tax avoidance schemes, the Senate Finance Committee shines a light on law firms that provided tax opinions in those deals. Specifically, the report raises questions about opinions penned by partners at Vinson & Elkins; Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; Shearman & Sterling; and McKee Nelson. For each of these firms, more unpleasant publicity may be on the way. Another report, from court-appointed investigator R. Neal Batson, is expected to focus on Enron’s tax shelters and to highlight the roles of lawyers at all five of these firms. Batson’s report is now slated to be made public on Feb. 28. � Otis Bilodeau SOUTH OF THE BORDER Project-finance lawyer Jorge Alers, 43, has left Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering for the D.C. office of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker. His departure means the end of Wilmer’s Latin America practice. The practice began with a splash in 1996, when Roberto Danino, Paul Dwyer, and Alers joined as partners, along with nine associates, from what was then Rogers &Wells. But Danino returned to Peru to become prime minister, and Dwyer left to start a private business. Wilmer, Cutler chairman William Perlstein says the departure of Alers, the only remaining partner, means the firm will shutter the group. He says Alers’ specialty didn’t fit in well with the firm, which isn’t strong in project finance. Paul Hastings, on the other hand, is known for its project-finance work. Of counsel Chris Bruneau, 34, and at least one associate will move with Alers. Perlstein says several of counsel lawyers in the Latin America group will probably disperse to other firms over time. � Jonathan Groner THE LION THAT ROARED On Feb. 4, the MGM lion roared in the direction of the Library of Congress, home of the Register of Copyrights. The entertainment giant, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleging the Copyright Office improperly rejected the motion picture giant’s claim for as much as $8 million in royalties stemming from cable television and satellite broadcast of MGM productions. Under the 1976 Copyright Act, companies must submit their claims for a particular year’s royalties by July 31 of the following year. Seems MGM’s 2000 claims didn’t arrive at the Copyright Register until Aug. 2. MGM had sent the package by certified mail, but lost the receipt. Without the receipt, the Copyright Register office declared in a Dec. 2, 2002, letter, MGM was out of time and out of luck. To remove the $8 million thorn from its paw, MGM turned to Williams & Connolly partner David Kendall and associate Vidya Atre. Kendall declined comment, but the heart of MGM’s argument is that the statute doesn’t require a certified mail receipt to prove a claim was mailed on time. It helps, but isn’t mandatory. The Copyright Register has rejected similar arguments in the past, but none with a delivery date so close to the deadline. The case is assigned to Judge Rosemary Collyer. � Siobhan Roth DEFENDANT JUST DYING TO STAY OUT OF TROUBLE Some people will do anything to get out of having to go to court. When convicted check thief Daniel Williams fell behind on his restitution payments last year, Williams did the only thing he could to keep from having to explain himself to a federal judge: He died. According to court papers, Williams’ defense lawyer Christopher Davis received a funeral program in October � just days before Williams was to appear in court on a probation violation � stating that his one-time client had passed away. Davis sent a copy of the program to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors investigated and found Williams alive and well and living on Capitol Hill. At a Feb. 12 hearing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Coombe handed Judge Emmet Sullivan a copy of the funeral program and requested that Williams receive “significant” jail time for the hoax. “This was an unacceptable way of misleading this court, and he should be punished,” Coombe said. Sullivan said there was no evidence that Williams himself prepared the funeral program or sent it out. The judge ordered Williams to a halfway house for 90 days. � Tom Schoenberg SINCLAIR’S BET D.C. attorney H. Van Sinclair has represented Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson for 15 years as a partner at D.C.’s Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn. Now Sinclair � who recently handled legal work for Johnson’s $300 million acquisition of a National Basketball Association team in Charlotte, N.C. � is officially joining Johnson’s business empire. Sinclair is stepping down as partner to serve as president of the RLJ Cos., Johnson’s holding company. He will continue to serve as counsel to Arent Fox, where he has worked since joining the firm as a summer associate in 1976. � Vanessa Blum THE ABA’S GREY MATTER At its midyear meeting in Seattle last week, the American Bar Association elected Robert Grey Jr. as its next president-elect. Grey is a partner at Hunton &Williams in Richmond, Va. His term of office begins in August 2004 � 40 years after another Hunton partner, Lewis Powell Jr., began serving as ABA’s top officer, a prelude to being named to the Supreme Court. Grey also will be only the second African-American to serve as president of the 410,000-member ABA. The first is former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, the chairman of Dickinson Wright who takes office this August. Invoking Powell’s legacy of promoting legal services for the poor, Grey pledged to speak out on “how best to protect the laws and freedoms we cherish.” � Tony Mauro YOU GOTTA HAVE FRIENDS With Feb. 18 as the deadline for filing briefs at the Supreme Court in support of the University of Michigan’s affirmative action programs, a near-avalanche of amicus briefs � more than 60 in all � is on its way. One brief alone will carry the names of more than 60 companies, ranging from Nike to Steelcase to Fannie Mae. “The high number is not surprising, because this issue is so important to them,” says David DeBruin, coordinator of the brief at the D.C. office of Jenner &Block. Separate business briefs are also expected from General Motors, as well as science and engineering firms and media corporations. Also weighing in: top former military brass, including former superintendents of military academies, in a brief by Greenberg Traurig D.C. shareholder Joe Reeder, former Army undersecretary. Meanwhile, more than 13,000 law students from 139 law schools � possibly representing the largest number of amicus signatories in high court history � have signed on to a pro-diversity brief. “The response has been phenomenal,” says Georgetown University third-year student David Fauvre. � Tony Mauro

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