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Doctor’s prescription: No care for lawyers It is not unethical to refuse medical care to plaintiffs’ attorneys and their spouses except in emergencies. That would become the policy of the American Medical Association (AMA) in the unlikely event that a South Carolina doctor gets his way. Angered at what he terms “the professional liability crisis,” Dr. J. Chris Hawk submitted a resolution to a committee that will be hearing legislative matters at the AMA convention in Chicago this week. He wants attorneys to experience access problems firsthand. Any AMA member may introduce a resolution. Until voted on, it reflects only the position of the submitter. The chair of the Pennsylvania delegation issued a statement opposing the resolution that he said came from a “frustrated individual.” Oregon defies high court The Oregon court of Appeals has reaffirmed a $79.5 million verdict against cigarette maker Philip Morris in the case of an Oregon janitor who died of lung cancer. The U.S. Supreme Court had ordered the Oregon court to re-examine the 1999 verdict to ensure it was not unconstitutionally excessive under new standards for punitive damages set by the high court in State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co. v. Campbell. Judge Walter Edmonds noted in the Oregon decision that “reprehensibility is the most important factor in assessing the reasonableness of an award.” Williams v. Philip Morris Inc., No. 9705-03951. Wolin leaves bench, citing inability to help U.S. District Senior judge Alfred M. Wolin, who was removed from three high-stakes asbestos bankruptcy cases in Newark, N.J., said last week that he decided to resign from the bench, in part, because he could no longer help those harmed by asbestos. “A lot of people are dying every day, and if I could not assist them, then I might as well get on with my life,” Judge Wolin told The National Law Journal. Wolin, 71, said he is searching for new employment and is interested in alternative dispute resolution and complex litigation. The recent announcement of his resignation followed a May decision from the 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which removed him from three of the five asbestos cases he was handling. A 2-1 panel granted a motion for recusal filed by some creditors of the asbestos companies. They alleged that his meetings with plaintiffs’ counsel and asbestos case advisers demonstrated bias. Without finding bias, the panel concluded that his conduct created a “perception of bias.” Iraq torture suit filed A national team of attorneys filed a RICO civil class action last week against two U.S. corporations for allegedly conspiring in the torture, rape, murder and abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the now-infamous Abu Ghraib prison. Named as defendants in the suit are Titan Corp. of San Diego and CACI International Inc. of Arlington, Va., along with three individuals who work for the companies. The team includes six lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York: Michael Ratner, Barbara Olshanky, Jeffrey Fogel, Jennifer Green, Judith Brown Chomsky and Jules Lobel. Morgan group to Dechert In a rare bit of lateral movement between Philadelphia’s two most profitable firms, an eight-attorney securitization practice group led by partner Steven Molitor will be leaving Morgan, Lewis & Bockius for Dechert. Molitor, who joined Morgan Lewis more than a decade ago from New York’s Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, has served as chairman of the firm’s securitization group. He started his new job at Dechert last week and will be joined by a counsel and six associates. Molitor could not be reached for comment, but Dechert Chairman Barton Winokur said the acquisition will greatly enhance the firm’s structured finance practice group. New Jersey expanding its business courts New Jersey lawyers are applauding the state Administrative Office of the Courts’ plan to establish complex commercial court pilot programs in Burlington, Hudson, Mercer and Ocean counties in September. Under the plan, general equity judges will be assigned to complex commercial cases involving monetary damages and the judges’ respective management teams will handle the cases from start to finish. Complex commercial cases traditionally have been assigned to civil part judges, regardless of their experience in this area. [NLJ, May 17.] The pilots have ground rules designed to expedite case closings. Cases will be eligible only if all the parties request, within 30 days of joinder, management by the general equity judge; submit a waiver of jury trial; agree to use complementary dispute resolution techniques; and agree to expedited recovery.

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