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Meter infringes A federal jury in Delaware has awarded $22.3 million to ABB Automation Inc. in a patent infringement suit. ABB, now Elster Electricity of Raleigh, N.C., successfully claimed that an electricity meter made and sold by defendant Schlumberger Resource Management Services Inc. infringed two of ABB’s patents. The verdict, which followed a seven-day trial, included lost profits in the damages award. ABB Automation Inc. v. Schlumberger Resource Management Services Inc., No. 01-077SLR (D. Del.). arbitration appeals The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has relaxed the evidentiary rules for trials of appeals from compulsory arbitration awards. The supreme court’s new rule, Civil Procedure Rule 1311.1, effective on Sept. 1, 2003, will permit specified documents to be admitted at trials where plaintiffs stipulate to $15,000 as the maximum recoverable damages. Under the new rule, parties will be able to submit to fact-finders, among other items, documents such as expert reports and descriptions of expert qualifications; hospital and health care provider reports; and reports of earning rates and lost wages that are prepared by employers. Jeffrey Dashevsky of Dashevsky Horwitz DiSandro Kuhn & Novello, a plaintiffs’ attorney and a co-chairman of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s compulsory arbitration committee, said the rule change would empower consumers who might otherwise drop their cases or accept low settlement offers in the wake of adverse compulsory arbitration awards. rite aid’s settlement With settlements totaling more than $334 million and attorney fees of about $83 million, the shareholders’ class action filed in the wake of an accounting scandal at Rite Aid Corp. now ranks among the nation’s five largest shareholder settlements ever. An opinion recently handed down by U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted final approval of settlements worth more than $126 million to be paid by the final three defendants. The accounting firm KPMG will pay $125 million, former Rite Aid CEO Martin Grass will pay $1.4 million and former Rite Aid Chief Operating Officer Timothy Noonan will pay more than $150,000. Dalzell had previously approved settlements that are now worth $207 million, bringing the total to more than $334 million. In a prior opinion, Dalzell awarded the plaintiffs’ lawyers 25% of the settlement fund as their fee. Now that all the settlements have won final approval, simple math shows that the plaintiffs’ lawyers will be receiving more than $83 million, with the lion’s share going to two firms-Berger & Montague of Philadelphia and Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach of New York. Court records show that 34 plaintiffs’ firms will share in the fees, but that more than 80% will go to the two lead firms, which together logged more than 11,000 hours on the case. In re Rite Aid Securities Litigation, MDL No. 1360.

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