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JUDGE RULES AGAINST CLASS SEEKING $1B A San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled that California’s workers’ compensation insurance fund did not overcharge policy holders, handing the fund a major victory in its defense of a 163,000-member class action seeking more than $1 billion in damages. The tentative statement of decision by Judge John Munter, released Monday afternoon, found that the State Compensation Insurance Fund had not overcharged employers during a seven-year period that ended in 1994. It was unclear whether Los Angeles plaintiffs attorney Nicholas Roxborough would appeal the decision. In A&J Liquor Co. v. State Compensation Insurance Fund, 975-982, a class of 163,900 employers alleged that State Fund had a policy of forcing its adjusters to reserve the maximum probable amount of money for any claims that were incurred. This policy resulted in the fund improperly charging its employer policy holders excessive premiums. But the court found that the plaintiffs had failed to prove that there was a breach of fair dealing or a breach of contract, or that there had been fraud or deceit. The decision is a victory for Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, which represented the state fund. Los Angeles partner Gregory Long was the lead counsel in the case, assisted by Fred Puglisi. Both sides agreed to try the case in front of a judge instead of a jury. The case went to trial in July 2002 and included more than 1,200 exhibits. The transcript was nearly 15,000 pages long. — Alexei Oreskovic ORRICK’S NEWEST OFFICE IS IN MILAN On a European expansion spree, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe is opening an office in Milan later this month with 23 attorneys from the Italian legal affiliate of Ernst & Young. Five months ago the firm set up shop in Paris with the acquisition of 42 lawyers from the Paris office of London-based Watson, Farley & Williams. “The opening of our Milan office is another major step in Orrick’s global strategy of establishing a presence in the world’s centers of business and finance,” Orrick Chairman Ralph Baxter Jr. said in a statement. Orrick’s Milan outpost will focus on major cross-border and domestic mergers and acquisitions, debt restructuring, project finance transactions and public law. Orrick opened its first international office in Singapore in 1996 and subsequently established a joint venture with a local firm. Orrick recently closed the Singapore office as a result of the continued economic slump in Southeast Asia. The firm also has outposts in London and Tokyo. Alessandro De Nicola, previously national director of Ernst & Young affiliate Studio Legale Tributario, will lead Orrick’s Milan office. De Nicola is also a columnist for the financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore. – Brenda Sandburg WILSON PARTNER GOES TO PERKINS COIE Perkins Coie added another corporate partner to its Silicon Valley office Monday, luring Bruce McNamara from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. McNamara, who joined Wilson in 1993 as an associate and made partner in 1997, said he was intrigued by the opportunity to help build a local presence for the Seattle-based firm. McNamara is the ninth partner in the office, which has 24 lawyers. “It seemed like the kind of place where I could make an impact,” McNamara said. He wasn’t looking to move, he said, and instead, the opportunity came “out of the blue” from Watanabe Nason & Seltzer, a legal recruiter. Edward Wes Jr., managing partner of Perkins’ Menlo Park office, said the firm has been looking for securities lawyers to round out the startup and financing lawyers in the office. “He brings deep public company experience, which is a nice complement,” Wes said. – Renee Deger

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