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A federal judge has given Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., a tiny bit of relief in the Henry Blodget mess. The bank was hit with scores of investor lawsuits after Blodget, its former star Internet analyst, was accused of making misleading stock recommendations. In July, Judge Milton Pollack dismissed three suits involving 24/7 Real Media, Inc., Interliant, Inc., and Merrill’s Global Technology Fund. But Merrill isn’t out of the clear yet: At press time about two dozen other similar suits remained on Pollack’s docket. In the 24/7 Real Media and Interliant cases, the plaintiff investors claimed that Blodget and other Merrill analysts made overly optimistic predictions of the companies’ stock performance. Both stocks, which Blodget rated favorably, dropped dramatically from their peak values. The investors sought rescission of their stock transactions, demanding that Merrill buy back shares at the price that had been offered to the public. But none of the investors were Merrill clients or even acknowledged reading its analysts’ reports on Interliant and 24/7 Real Media. In dismissing their suits, Judge Pollack emphasized that the plaintiffs had failed to convince him of Merrill’s intent to defraud investors, nor had they shown adequately that their losses were caused by anything other than the bursting of the Internet bubble. Just a day later, Judge Pollack dismissed a similar securities class action suit involving shareholders in Merrill’s Global Technology Fund. In that suit, Judge Pollack ruled that the defendants had no duty to disclose that their analysts had purportedly issued misleading reports. The plaintiffs in all three cases are seeking judicial review of Pollack’s decisions. For plaintiff investors in 24/7 Real Media, Inc. Finkelstein, Thompson & Loughran (Washington, D.C.): Douglas Thompson, Jr., of counsel Adam Savett, and associates Conor Crowley and Donald Enright. For plaintiff investors in Interliant, Inc. Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll (Washington, D.C.): Herbert Milstein, Steven Toll, and associate Joshua Devore. For defendants Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., and Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Inc. (New York) Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (New York): Jay Kasner, Scott Musoff, Edward Yodowitz, and associates Joanne Gaboriault, Krisana Hodges, and Kelly Park. For defendant Henry Blodget Foley & Lardner (Milwaukee): Marc Dorfman, Joseph Edmondson, Jr., Douglas Hagerman, James Ossyra, Samuel Winer, and associates Mark Carnow and Adam Eisner. (Dorfman, Edmondson, Winer, and Eisner are in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office. Hagerman, Ossyra, and Carnow are in Chicago.) For plaintiff investors in Merrill Lynch Global Technology Fund Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz (New York): Daniel Krasner, Jeffrey Smith, of counsel Robert Weintraub, and associate Stephanie Lindeman. For defendant Merrill Lynch Global Technology Fund Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman (Washington, D.C.): Joseph Donley, Andrew Levander, and associate Laura Proctor. (All are in the firm’s New York office.) For defendant Merrill Lynch Investment Managers (New York) In-house: First vice president and assistant general counsel Lori Martin. Clifford Chance U.S. (New York): James Benedict, Mark Holland, and associates Mary Dulka, Sanny Hua, and Jennifer Wendy. Benedict and Holland have represented Merrill Lynch for more than two decades. For defendant directors of the Merrill Lynch Global Technology Fund Bass, Berry & Sims (Nashville): James Cheek III, Michael Dagley, and associate Matthew Curley. Bressler, Amery & Ross (Florham Park, New Jersey): David Libowsky and associate Hugo Hilgendorff IV.

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