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JURY SAYS CREMATION NOT INTERFERED WITH HOUSTON — A Houston jury declined to award damages to a Hindu widower who sought a total of $24 million from his deceased wife’s cousin and an insurer for allegedly interfering with his right to cremate his wife’s body within the time that he contends is required by their religion. After a weeklong trial in the 281st District Court, the jury found that defendants Harina Kapoor, the deceased woman’s cousin, and Farmers New Life World Insurance Co. did not unlawfully interfere with Parvin Gidvani’s rights with regard to his wife’s interment and that Kapoor did not intentionally inflict severe emotional distress on Gidvani. “This has got to be the only case like this to ever be filed [in Texas],” says Ileana Blanco, a partner in Bracewell & Patterson in Houston and the lead attorney for Farmers in Gidvani v. Farmers New World Life Insurance Co., et al. Blanco says Gidvani is based on old Texas case law. In 1936, the Ninth Court of Appeals in Beaumont held in Love v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. that “any interference with the right of possession of the body of a deceased by mutilation or otherwise disturbing the body without the consent of the next of kin is an actionable wrong for which a claim for damages may be maintained.” The Texas Supreme Court affirmed Love in 1938. — Texas Lawyer LAWYER EXCUSED FOR BREAKING 1-HOUR RULE PHILADELPHIA — A secretary out sick is a plausible excuse for why a Philadelphia attorney failed to appear in court on one hour’s notice, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania has ruled. According to the three-judge panel’s unpublished memorandum opinion in Thompson v. Houston, the denial of lawyer Brandon Johnson’s post-trial motions concerning his failure to appear in Philadelphia Common Pleas court on Nov. 19, 2002, should be reversed, and his client, Carolann Houston, should be given her day in court. The opinion also noted the difficulties in complying with Philadelphia’s one-hour notice rule, which requires litigants in appeals of arbitrations to be on-call for a one-month period and come to court within an hour of being telephoned. “After careful review of counsel’s excuse in light of the existing circumstances,” the opinion stated, “including the potential impracticalities associated with adhering to a requirement to appear in court for trial on one-hour’s notice, we conclude that the order denying relief must be reversed.” — The Legal Intelligencer

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