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TRIAL LAWYERS GIVE TWO ANNUAL AWARDS The Trial Lawyers for Public Justice Foundation awarded trial lawyer of the year honors to 14 attorneys for their successes in a pair of noted public interest cases. One of the seven-member teams was recognized for a rare victory against the FBI in the Judi Bari case; their co-winners received the award for a successful class action against sweatshops in six Asian countries and an American territory. It was the sixth tie in the 20-year history of the award. In Estate of Judi Bari v. Doyle, solo practitioners Dennis Cunningham, J. Tony Serra, Robert Bloom and Benjamin Rosenfeld of San Francisco, William Simpich of Oakland, William Goodman of Moore & Goodman in New York and Michael Deutsch of The People’s Law Office in Chicago won a $4.4 million verdict against the FBI for violating the civil rights of two environmental activists during the investigation of a 1990 car bombing that injured Darryl Cherney and crippled Judi Bari. In the sweatshop litigation, Michael Rubin of Altshuler Berzon Nussbaum Rubin & Demain and Alan Caplan of Bushnell, Caplan & Fielding, in San Francisco; Albert Meyerhoff Jr. of Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach in Los Angeles; Pamela Parker and Keith Park of Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach in San Diego; L. Thomas Galloway of Galloway & Associates in Boulder, Colo., and Joyce C.H. Tang of Teker Civille Torres & Tang in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, worked a combined 70,000 hours over four years. The $20 million settlement included oversight provisions designed to prevent companies that sell products in the United States from using overseas factories to evade workplace safety regulations. – Benjamin Temchine MAN IS ALIVE AND WELL AND HAS THE OK TO SUE PHILADELPHIA — Claiming that the credit report of his death was greatly exaggerated, plaintiff Richard Sheffer filed suit against Sears Roebuck & Co. and three credit reporting agencies, complaining that despite his protests that he was still very much alive, the “deceased” notation remained on his credit report because the reporting agencies said Sears had “verified” his death. Now a federal judge in Pennsylvania has cleared the way for Sheffer’s case to go to trial, ruling that a jury must decide whether two of the credit reporting agencies — Trans Union LLC and Equifax Inc. — employed “unreasonable” procedures for dealing with such a mix-up. Significantly, U.S. District Judge Berle Schiller also refused to dismiss a claim for punitive damages after concluding that Sheffer may be able to prove at trial that one or both of the reporting agencies engaged in “willful” violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. “There is evidence regarding the conduct of Equifax and Trans Union suggesting that the problems that Mr. Sheffer experienced were not the result of mere human error and that the errors were not promptly cured. On this basis, a jury may be able to find that defendants acted with conscious or reckless disregard to the rights of consumers,” Schiller wrote in his nine-page opinion in Sheffer v. Experian Information Solutions. – The Legal Intelligencer BANKS AGREE TO PAY $286M IN SETTLEMENT NEW YORK — J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. have agreed to pay $286 million to settle charges that they helped Enron Corp. hide billions of dollars in debt from investors, the Securities and Exchange Commission and Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau announced Monday. Chase will pay $135 million and Citigroup $101 million for creating transactions with Enron that disguised $8.3 billion in loans as cash from operating activities. The SEC alleges that the banks structured the loans as complex financial transactions, which they knew would allow Enron to inflate cash flow from operating activities, underreport cash from financing and underreport debt. The banks will each pay $12.5 million to the state and $12.5 million to New York City, plus the costs of Morgenthau’s investigation. Citigroup will pay an additional $19 million to settle similar charges for its financial dealings with Dynergy Inc. Neither bank will admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement, and Morgenthau said Monday that his office would not bring criminal charges against any of the banks’ employees. “You have to show intent to defraud,” Morgenthau said. “We did not feel we could show that here.” – The New York Law Journal JEWELL WANTS PAPER’S SOURCES REVEALED ATLANTA — After 6 1/2 years and detours to three appeals courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, former Olympics security guard Richard Jewell’s libel suit against The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was back where it began: in the courtroom of Fulton State Court Judge John Mather. On Thursday, opposing counsel Peter Canfield and L. Lin Wood also were back in Mather’s courtroom, as was Jewell. The attorneys argued an issue quite familiar to Mather: whether The Journal-Constitution must reveal confidential sources used when its reporters wrote about the FBI’s investigation of Jewell in connection with the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing. The Journal-Constitution sources are at issue because Jewell has alleged that he needs them to pursue his libel claims against the newspaper. Mather, several years ago, ordered the paper to name its sources, but was reversed on appeal. He is now taking a second look at the source question under a different analysis, laid out by the Georgia Court of Appeals in a 2001 opinion. Jewell’s attorney, Wood, told Mather that he could prove The Journal-Constitution‘s statements false, but needed every piece of evidence to build his case. – Fulton County Daily Report

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