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FEE REQUEST REJECTED IN HOLOCAUST CASE NEW YORK — A federal judge has rejected a request for attorneys fees in the $1.3 billion Swiss settlement of Holocaust claims, saying the lawyer and his client contributed nothing to the case and had essentially tried to blackmail the court. The attorney, Samuel Dubbin of Miami, originally asked for $3.6 million in fees for his work and another $2.3 million for research done by his client, Thomas Weiss, a founding member of the Holocaust Survivors Foundation-USA. Dubbin, of Dubbin & Kravetz, later reduced his request to $550,000 and then $300,000. Weiss withdrew his entire fee request in a letter to New York Chief Judge Edward Korman late last month. By withdrawing his fee request, Korman said Weiss had come to recognize that his research into the Swiss banking industry’s ties to the Holocaust had no impact on the Swiss settlement. “Mr. Dubbin,” Korman wrote in In re Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation, CV-96-4849, “has not.” The judge also accused Dubbin and Weiss of trying to play “hold-up” by threatening to appeal the amended settlement unless the court approved attorneys fees and money to fund Weiss’ private Holocaust research. “This was beyond the pale,” Korman wrote. “I was not going to be blackmailed, particularly with funds that belong to Holocaust survivors.” The alleged “hold-up” took place during a September 2000 phone conference between the judge, Dubbin, Weiss and Burt Neuborne, a professor at New York University School of Law who has played a key role in the settlement. Dubbin, reached on Friday, defended his reputation and said via e-mail that the judge’s accusations were “incorrect and unjustified.” He said he would appeal the ruling. — New York Law Journal SCORE ONE FOR DEFENSE IN NASCENT PPA ISSUE PHILADELPHIA — In the third phenylpropanolamine trial nationwide and the first in Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia jury returned a defense verdict for the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline last week. The 12-member jury in Common Pleas Judge Norman Ackerman’s courtroom came to the same conclusion that other PPA juries in New Jersey and California have when it rejected claims that a pharmaceutical company had manufactured an unsafe over-the-counter drug containing PPA without label warnings that the chemical had been linked to an increased risk of stroke. The eight-day PPA trial in Sparich v. SmithKline Beecham was the first against Philadelphia-based GlaxoSmithKline (SmithKline Beecham and Glaxo Wellcome merged in 2000 to form GSK). The pharmaceutical company Novartis was the defendant in the three other PPA cases that have been tried, two in Los Angeles (consolidated into one trial) and one in Parsippany, N.J. “It’s clear the jury listened closely to the evidence,” said Detroit attorney Tom Foley of Foley Baron & Metzger, who was one of GSK’s three lawyers at trial. “We’re pleased with their decision.” Reflecting on his loss, plaintiff’s attorney Lee Balefsky of Kline & Specter said the verdict was not a surprise. He said the case had many confounding factors, such as his client’s alcohol use and long-term use of Contac 12 Hour, an over-the-counter decongestant manufactured by GSK that contained PPA and that she contended had caused a stroke she suffered in 1999. — The Legal Intelligencer NEW YORK PANEL FINDS JUDGE IS UNFIT ALBANY, N.Y. — New York’s Commission on Judicial Conduct is calling for the removal of a popular jurist who, the panel said, repeatedly abused his power and systematically denied criminal defendants appropriate bail and the benefit of assigned counsel. The disciplinary agency adopted the report of a referee who sustained 49 misconduct charges against Judge Henry Bauer. In a divided opinion, the commission said Judge Bauer is unfit for the bench. He showed a pattern of setting extraordinarily high bail for no apparent purpose other than to coerce guilty pleas, and he persistently neglected counsel rights, the commission said. Judge Bauer’s behavior warrants his ouster and a permanent bar on ever again holding judicial office, it said. “Viewed in its totality, [Judge Bauer's] conduct demonstrates a sustained pattern of indifference to the rights of defendants and establishes that his future retention in office” is contrary to the fair administration of justice, the majority said in determination. The entire nine-member panel agreed that Judge Bauer is guilty of misconduct. But it split six to three on the sanction. Three members called only for a public censure. Judge Bauer said he will challenge the determination, made public Monday, at the court of appeals, where he has a right to appeal. Typically, judges targeted for removal are suspended by the court with pay while the matter is pending. Since 1978, the court has reviewed 79 commission determinations, dismissing charges only once. It has reduced the proposed sanction 12 times. “On some level, it would be easier if I was this harsh, tough-on-bad guys judge they think I am,” Judge Bauer, a former assistant public defender, said in an interview. “But it just isn’t true.” — New York Law Journal

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