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PILLSBURY WINTHROP LAYS OFF 6 L.A. STAFF Pillsbury Winthrop has trimmed its staff ranks in Los Angeles, laying off five secretaries and a paralegal from the office. Spokeswoman Crystal Rockwood described the layoffs as a “routine adjustment” in order to maintain appropriate staffing levels. The firm’s Los Angeles office counts 102 attorneys and roughly 92 staffers, and according to Rockwood has the lowest turnover rate of any of Pillsbury’s 17 offices. “So there’s not a lot of the voluntary attrition that usually happens,” said Rockwood. The staffers were terminated Friday and offered the firm’s standard severance package, which provides up to six months’ compensation depending on years of service. — Alexei Oreskovic LEBOEUF HIT WITH MALPRACTICE VERDICT NEW YORK — A New York Supreme Court jury in Manhattan returned a legal malpractice verdict Thursday against LeBoeuf, Lamb, Green & MacRae in favor of its former client, Sheraton Corp., which claims the award could total as much as $21 million. While Sheraton brought a broad-based complaint asserting mishandling of the underlying case by a senior associate at LeBoeuf who was lead counsel, the trial judge, Justice Ira Gammerman, issued a directed verdict, limiting the case to a single issue, according to a statement issued by LeBoeuf. But on that issue — relating to the way the firm defended against a claim for punitive damages — the jury agreed with Sheraton and ruled that the hotel chain could recover the punitive component of the award. The jury in the underlying case, which charged Sheraton with improperly profiting from a volume purchasing plan used for the network of hotels it managed, had returned a $50 million verdict in 1999 against Sheraton, of which $37.5 million was for punitive damages. An appeal of the verdict, which was subsequently reduced by the trial judge to $30 million, is pending before the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Approximately $17 million of the $30 million was allocated to punitive damages. The plaintiff in the underlying case was the owner of a Washington, D.C., hotel that had contracted with Sheraton to run it. Sheraton’s lawyer, Robert Ward of the New York office of Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, was traveling and unavailable for comment. However, the company apparently claims that damages may total $21 million based on a combination of the $17 million punitive award plus interest since 1999. A spokesman for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which now owns Sheraton, did not return a request for comment. — The New York Law Journal

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