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GORDON & REES OPENS OFFICE IN HOUSTON Gordon & Rees has moved into the Lone Star State with the opening of a small satellite office in Houston. The firm launched the office earlier this month with a trio of recently hired solo attorneys from the region. The team comprises Donna Smith Cude, a labor and employment law attorney who will head the Houston office, and litigators Lucinda Stanford and Sloane Underwood. According to Gordon & Rees, Sloane represents energy and chemical companies in personal and property injury suits. Houston is home to a number of large energy companies, including Dynegy Inc. and El Paso Corp. In January, Pillsbury Winthrop launched a Houston office. For San Francisco-based Gordon & Rees, the Houston outpost is the firm’s eighth office. — Alexei Oreskovic FEN-PHEN SETTLEMENT TRUST SUES FOR FRAUD PHILADELPHIA — A second doctor was accused of fraud last week in a federal lawsuit filed by the AHP Settlement Trust, the entity created to process claims related to the $3.75 billion fen-phen settlement. Attorneys Richard Scheff and Jeremy Mishkin of Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads filed the suit against New York City cardiologist Richard Mueller alleging that he intentionally defrauded the trust by certifying medically unreasonable claims. The suit alleges that Mueller conspired with an unnamed law firm to submit fraudulent claims “in order to earn substantial additional fees being offered by the law firm in exchange for VHD [valvular heart disease] certifications.” The trust alleges that, as a result of Mueller’s actions, millions of dollars were paid to fen-phen claimants without VHD, while payment to legitimate claimants was delayed. In September, the trust filed a civil RICO suit against Dr. Linda Crouse, a Kansas City, Mo., cardiologist, alleging that she defrauded the trust by “certifying that thousands of [fen-phen] claimants had serious valvular heart disease when either she knew that they did not or had no reasonable basis for certifying that they did.” Crouse was first targeted by the trust last year when a team of lawyers from Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen successfully moved to block payment of all claims connected with two law firms and two of the doctors they had used. At the time, U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III said he was forced to issue an injunction because the settlement funds were set aside for “rightful claimants who suffered from fen-phen and not as a pot of gold for lawyers, physicians and non-qualifying claimants.” — The Legal Intelligencer

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