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LITTLER SHUTTERS ITS SANTA ROSA OFFICE Littler Mendelson is pulling out of the North Bay as the firm shuts down its two-attorney Santa Rosa outpost. Littler Managing Director Wendy Tice-Wallner confirmed that the firm would close its Santa Rosa office when the lease expires on May 1. Barbara de Oddone, the managing partner of the Santa Rosa office, is moving to San Francisco’s Dillingham & Murphy. A 24-year Littler veteran, de Oddone launched the firm’s Santa Rosa office in 1990. The office was always a small satellite of Littler’s San Francisco headquarters, housing only three attorneys at its peak. “We just have not had any critical mass up there for the past year, and there does not appear to be any great reason to grow it,” Tice-Wallner said. The decision to close Santa Rosa marks Littler’s latest consolidation within the Bay Area as the firm continues to expand nationwide. Last year Littler pulled the plug on its Oakland office. Meanwhile, on Thursday, Littler announced that it had opened a seven-attorney Miami office, its first foray into Florida. “Our business strategy is to build in geographic locations that have strong markets for our services,” said Tice-Wallner. “We’re not looking to build satellite offices, we’re looking to build strong core practices, and Miami most definitely is its own market.” De Oddone, who represents employers in wrongful discharge and employment discrimination litigation, said her move to Dillingham was a great opportunity to be with a firm that’s committed to the North Bay. “I’m a grape grower up here,” said de Oddone. “This is where my heart is.” According to de Oddone, it’s possible that Dillingham & Murphy, which currently has a handful of attorneys in Santa Rosa, will move into the Littler space. It’s unclear whether the Littler associate and two staff members in Santa Rosa will join Dillingham with de Oddone, though they will no longer be Littler employees when the firms closes its North Bay office. — Alexei Oreskovic MCKENNA LONG AIMS TO ESCAPE LIBEL SUIT ATLANTA — A Fulton County, Ga., state court judge has refused to dismiss a libel suit against McKenna Long & Aldridge, but the Georgia Court of Appeals has decided to hear the firm’s appeal. The libel dispute began last year after Atlanta securities broker John Keller sued McKenna Long (then Long, Aldridge & Norman) and former partner Terry Weiss over a letter Weiss wrote and then tried to recall. The suit claimed that Weiss wrote to Keller’s new employer, Neidiger Tucker Bruner, and falsely accused Keller of stealing property, including customer lists, from his former employer, First Atlanta Securities. At the time, Weiss, now with Washington, D.C.-based Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan’s Atlanta office, represented First Atlanta Securities. Weiss sent that letter on Feb. 21, 2001. Five days later, he sent a second letter to Keller’s boss at Neidiger Tucker telling him to “ignore” the previous letter. Weiss wanted the original letter and all copies rounded up and returned to him. However, the damage was done, according to Keller’s suit. Copies of Weiss’ first letter had been distributed to Neidiger Tucker’s management committee and board of directors. In the wake of the accusatory letter, Keller wasn’t allowed to open accounts at Neidiger Tucker on behalf of his clients and subsequently resigned. McKenna Long represents the Fulton County Daily Report, a Recorder affiliate. — Fulton County Daily Report LAWYER IN CONTEMPT IN FEN- PHEN CASE PHILADELPHIA — If at first an injunction doesn’t succeed, try holding the lawyer in contempt and enjoining him again. That seems to be the lesson that U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III drew from his dealings over the past few months with George Fleming, a Texas lawyer who was found in contempt by Bartle for ignoring an order that barred him from seeking punitive damages in a suit over the diet drug fen-phen. Although Bartle in Philadelphia and attorney Fleming in Houston are thousands of miles apart, they found themselves on a collision course over Fleming’s handling of a suit pending in Orange County, Texas. Bartle is the federal judge who currently oversees the massive settlement of the fen-phen litigation, including any issues that crop up in cases around the country brought by plaintiffs who took advantage of the settlement’s liberal opt-out policy. In the settlement, American Home Products and Wyeth agreed to waive all statute of limitations issues. But in return, the settlement papers said plaintiffs such as Fleming’s client, Clara Clark, would give up their right to seek punitive damages. — The Legal Intelligencer

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