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FAT SUIT FOES MEET SUPER-SIZE ADVERSARY It was advertised as a debate “in the lions’ den.” Public interest crusader John Banzhaf, who champions obesity lawsuits against food companies and restaurants, was to go toe to toe with lawyers from a handful of insurance companies over the merits of such litigation — or at least that’s what Banzhaf’s fliers proclaimed. The problem was, last week’s meeting was never intended to be public. Or a debate. Or anything like that. Instead, the insurers say, they simply invited Banzhaf, a George Washington University law professor best known for taking on tobacco companies, to a meeting to discuss obesity lawsuits in general. Then Banzhaf took it from there. “I don’t know why they wouldn’t let the public listen to this debate,” Banzhaf says. Some from the public and press did show up at the meeting and were quickly shown the door. Despite the confusion, David Snyder, vice president and assistant general counsel of the American Insurance Association, in whose offices the meeting was held May 27, describes it as a “candid exchange.” “He gave a very frank analysis of the situation,” Snyder says. “But there were no agreements on the merits of any pending or future litigation. Clearly we don’t share the same views on litigation, but whether there is any common ground in terms of legislation remains to be seen.” Banzhaf, who appears in the fast-food documentary “Super Size Me,” believes insurance companies should link premiums to the fat content in the products their clients sell. In other words, the more fat a company’s products contain, the higher the insurance premium the company would pay. Snyder says that such a move by insurance companies would likely violate antitrust laws, but that the aim could be achieved through legislation. He adds, however, that the insurance association would only advocate such legislation if the food and restaurant industry were on board as well. Among Banzhaf’s other proposals is the development by the insurance industry of uniform warnings of fat content in food products. The standards would provide an additional layer of protection from litigation, Banzhaf says. Snyder says it is “way too early to think about anything like that” and that such a move would have to be initiated by the businesses themselves, rather than the association. “We would not be in a position to suggest to businesses what they do disclose and what they don’t disclose.” Any cooperation between the insurance industry and anti-obesity advocates doesn’t mean the litigation assault on the food industry is waning. Banzhaf says trial lawyers will meet this summer in Boston, as they did last year, to discuss tactics in obesity suits. — Lily Henning BACK IN THE FOLD Since joining the Justice Department’s Civil Division in 2001, Deputy Assistant AG Shannen Coffin has defended the Bush administration in many of its most high-profile cases. Coffin stepped down from his post last week, ending a litigation streak that included representing Vice President Dick Cheney in lawsuits brought by citizens’ groups seeking documents related to the vice president’s energy task force. Coffin, a Georgetown Law Center grad and former associate at D.C.’s Steptoe & Johnson, also coordinated the government’s defense in court cases challenging the so-called partial-birth abortion ban and successfully beat back a lawsuit brought by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), which sought to stop the administration from terminating the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. In 2003, he went head to head with his former firm, leading the government’s efforts to stop frozen Iraqi assets from being used to pay a $959 million civil judgment awarded to Gulf War POWs. Steptoe partner Stephen Fennell represents the 17 American soldiers and 37 family members who are plaintiffs in the case. Apparently, no animosity carried over outside the courtroom. Coffin will rejoin Steptoe as a partner in July. “You’re always happy to have a worthy adversary come and be your partner,” Fennell says. — Vanessa Blum GOING WITH STYLES Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi has named Keith Styles, a partner in the project finance and real estate development and the mergers and acquisitions practices, as its regional managing partner in the D.C. office. Styles, 46, has been with Robins, Kaplan since 1990. He replaces Richard Nettler, who is stepping down after 12 years to resume his practice full time. “This is a great opportunity to lead a very talented group of professionals,” Styles says. As managing partner, he says, his goal is to make the office a bigger D.C. player. — Bethany Broida HOT PROPERTY Firms often set up shop in D.C. to get a piece of the city’s seemingly endless supply of regulatory work. But Boston-based Goulston & Storrs saw an opportunity in the District’s real estate market. The 175-lawyer firm, which since 2001 has had a tiny D.C. outpost, has poached some top real estate partners from much larger D.C. firms. Last week, the firm added former Hogan & Hartson real estate partner Dennis Moyer, who was managing partner of the firm’s Northern Virginia office. Moyer says he was impressed with Goulston’s dedication to growing the real estate practice. The firm started “strategic growth” of its D.C. real estate practice in January with the addition of Sheldon Weisel, co-founder of the real estate practice at Shaw Pittman. In March, real estate lawyer Petrina Markowitz left Piper Rudnick for a Goulston partnership. Goulston managing partner Douglas Husid says client demand and the consistent strength of the local real estate market drew the firm to the city. “We thought it wasn’t as well covered by some of the historic firms, given the growth in the market,” he says. — Marie Beaudette JUMPING THE FENCE Latham & WatkinsSteven Schulman has gone where few in corporate firms dare: the plaintiffs bar. Schulman, an antitrust litigator who became the firm’s first pro bono counsel in 2001, joins D.C.-based class action firm Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll this week. Schulman says the opportunity to work with top plaintiffs-side antitrust litigator Michael Hausfeld, while still doing work at a firm committed to pro bono, sealed the deal. “Going to a firm that has such a strong commitment to social justice was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” says Schulman, who practiced at Latham for 10 years. But “I will greatly miss the people here,” he adds. Schulman’s pro bono push helped make Latham one of the top firms for pro bono work in the country. In 2002, Latham had more pro bono hours — 120,000 — than any other firm on the AmLaw 100. Schulman also helped the firm develop its pro bono human rights and refugee practice, which represents asylum-seekers in the United States. Latham & Watkins D.C. managing partner Eric Bernthal was traveling and could not be reached for comment. — Marie Beaudette EXECUTIVE DECISIONS Defense lawyers for three former Rite Aid Corp. executives charged for their roles in an accounting fraud had little cause for celebration last week as their clients were sentenced to prison terms ranging from five months to eight years. “I’ll put it this way,” says Baker Botts D.C. partner William Jeffress Jr., who represented former Rite Aid Chief Executive Officer Martin Grass. “We had argued for less.” Still, O’Melveny & Myers D.C. partner Ira Raphaelson, who represents former Rite Aid Chief Financial Officer Franklyn Bergonzi, says the outcome could have been much worse for his client. Bergonzi, initially charged on several counts of accounting fraud, pleaded guilty to a single count and was sentenced to two years, four months in prison. He faced a potential five-year sentence. If the offense had occurred after passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002, which dramatically increased penalties for corporate crimes, Raphaelson says the defendants “would have been looking at 25 years.” — Vanessa Blum TRADE AGREEMENT McDermott, Will & Emery has lured to the firm’s D.C. office two D.C. lawyers from the international trade practice at New York-based Kaye Scholer. Partner Michael House, co-chair of the international practice at Kaye Scholer, and of counsel Raymond Paretzky joined the firm as partners May 10. Two others — Shi Zhaoyu, who is awaiting bar admission, and Sandra Wright, a nonlawyer trade analyst — came to McDermott with the two partners. House says McDermott “presented what I considered to be the most impressive commitment to international practice.” Timothy Waters, managing partner of McDermott’s D.C. office, says the firm is growing its international trade group, and the Kaye Scholer lawyers’ expertise in China and South Korea will help expand the practice to Asia. “We’re very pleased to have convinced them to join us,” says Waters. G. Christopher Griner, managing partner of Kaye Scholer’s D.C. office, did not return a call for comment. — Marie Beaudette MOVING EXPERIENCE Piper Rudnick has signed a letter of intent to lease 200,000 square feet as the anchor tenant in a new building at 9th and E streets, N.W. The lease is set to begin in October 2007 and run 15 years. The new location would provide about 40,000 more square feet than the firm has now in its office at 1200 19th St., N.W. Piper’s D.C. managing partner, Theodore Segal, says the firm, which has more than 200 lawyers in the District, is running out of space in its current office. “We needed to look for a location that would give us room to grow,” he says. The new location, across from the International Spy Museum, is in “a dynamic, growing part of town,” says Segal.” We looked at an array of sites in the city, and just found that one to be most suited to our needs.” — Marie Beaudette TOUGH MEDICINE A divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9thCircuit has blocked an attempt by Attorney General John Ashcroft to declare Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act illegal. It also had a few pointed things to say about the AG’s attempt to overturn the voter-approved law, which allows doctor-assisted suicide in the state. Ashcroft issued a directive that doctors would be violating federal law by participating in a suicide. But that order overstepped “the bounds of the AG’s statutory authority,” Judge Richard Tallman wrote in a sharply worded May 26 ruling. “The attorney general’s unilateral attempt to regulate general medical practices historically entrusted to state lawmakers interferes with the democratic debate about physician-assisted suicide and far exceeds the scope of his authority under federal law,” Tallman wrote. Eighth Circuit Senior Judge Donald Lay, sitting by designation, joined Tallman. Judge J. Clifford Wallace dissented. The Justice Department says it was still reviewing the decision and would not comment about whether it will appeal. — Jeff Chorney, The Recorder

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