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Adelphia Trial Adjourned; Michael Rigas Is Said to Be Ill

Southern District Judge Leonard B. Sand yesterday adjourned the trial of four former top Adelphia Communications Corp. executives until further notice after one of the defendants reportedly took sick over the weekend. Former Adelphia executive vice president Michael Rigas, 50, was hospitalized and released last weekend in Coudersport, Pa., where Adelphia was based and where the Rigas family still lives, according to a source familiar with the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity. A lawyer for Michael Rigas declined to comment on his client’s health or whereabouts. Michael Rigas’ father, John, and brother, Timothy, who are also on trial here on charges of conspiracy and fraud, were not in the courtroom yesterday. Another former Adelphia executive, Michael Mulcahey, is on trial with the three Rigas family members. No testimony was given yesterday. The judge met with the lawyers in his chambers, then excused jurors, saying they could call later to find out when court would reconvene. — Associated Press

Some 28 Families Sought No Compensation for 9/11 Deaths

An estimated 28 families who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have foregone seeking compensation of any kind, according to federal officials. The vast majority of families have filed claims with the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, which established an administrative system for setting compensation awards without a showing of fault. Of 2,976 families who lost relatives in the attacks, only 102 have chosen to pursue lawsuits. As of May 1, the federal fund had processed 2,003 death claims, of which only 40 (2 percent) were denied completely. The average award for the 1,943 successful claims, is $1.9 million. The denial rate has been much higher for personal injury claims, with 782 granted and 1,617 (67 percent) denied, according to fund officials. A June 15 deadline has been set for processing of all claims. — Daniel Wise

Group Hopes to End Unlimited Liability

Automakers last week launched a lobbying and public relations campaign to support a bill that would essentially eliminate unlimited vicarious liability with regard to auto leasing. New York is the only state with a statute that imposes limitless liability on vehicle owners. The result is that auto makers that lease vehicles are liable for damages caused by the lessee. Auto industry lobbyists claim that exposure has all but eliminated the leasing option in New York. The industry is beginning a radio campaign to support bill A1042 sponsored by Assemblyman Ronald Canestrari, D-Albany County, which would, for civil liability purposes, make the lessee the presumptive owner of the vehicle. — John Caher

Bin Laden Aide Sentenced to 32 Years

For stabbing a prison guard, a former top aide to Osama bin Laden was sent to prison for 32 years at an emotional sentencing in which the wheelchair-bound guard shouted, “I look like I’m dead and I am dead.” Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, 46, buried his face in his hands and put his head down as the guard, Louis Pepe, waved a black comb in the air and told how Mr. Salim and an accomplice stabbed him in the eye with a black comb they had carved into a knife. The Nov. 1, 2000, attack left Mr. Pepe barely able to see, partially brain damaged and prone to courtroom outbursts that, after several warnings, caused Southern District Judge Deborah A. Batts to order him removed from court after he had ended a victim statement. — Associated Press

Personal Notes on Lawyers

Lorenzo Borgogni has joined the corporate and securities department of Greenberg Traurig as a shareholder. He was a senior corporate associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

McGuireWoods has named Jeffrey W. Herrmann a partner in its products liability and litigation management department. He was a partner at Vedder, Price, Kaufman & Kammholz.

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