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COMPANIES ORDERED TO PAY FOR FALSE BILLING NEW YORK — Two companies and their principals committed unfair trade practices by billing unsuspecting telephone subscribers for access to pornographic Web sites that they never used, a federal judge has ruled. Southern District of New York Judge Lewis Kaplan ordered two Bahamian corporations and two executives who he said are “at large” to pay the Federal Trade Commission almost $18 million for the false billings and for making false or deceptive statements to telephone subscribers who called to complain about charges wrongly billed to them. “In all the circumstances �” Kaplan said, “the court finds that defendants represented that line subscribers were legally obligated to pay these charges irrespective of whether they used or authorized use of the services of defendants’ Web sites.” The facts confronting the judge in Federal Trade Commission v. Verity International, 00 Civ. 7422, concerned the use of a billing method designed for customers who visited pornography sites but did not want to pay with their credit cards. The defendants were Verity International Ltd. and Automatic Communications Ltd., and the founders and former principals of both companies, Robert Green and Marilyn Shein. They have since become minority owners. Kaplan said they offered pornography Web site operators a billing service that used legitimate phone companies to charge customers for access “by including the charges on the telephone bills for the telephone lines over which customers accessed the Internet and describing the charges as being for telephone calls to Madagascar.” At least some of the bills were probably for computer connections to porn sites that were never made, Kaplan concluded. — New York Law Journal CANDID COMMENTS EARN LAWYER NOTORIETY NEWARK, N.J. — Donald Davidson, known as a lawyer who abides by the rules, has suddenly found himself the poster boy for stonewalling by defense lawyers. Videotaped remarks Davidson made at a New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education seminar in March — in which he advocated a “just say no” approach to discovery in nursing home litigation cases — are being disseminated around the country. A plaintiff lawyer in Minnesota is using Davidson’s comments — in frequent lectures for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America — as an example of obstructive defense tactics. The remarks even found their way into a discovery dispute involving another lawyer at Davidson’s New Brunswick, N.J., firm, Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas. A plaintiff lawyer who attended the ICLE seminar raised them to a judge, saying they signaled the firm’s philosophy. Davidson is clearly nonplussed by all the negative fanfare. “I was simply advocating an aggressive approach to document production,” he says. “If I knew the maelstrom that this would have created, I obviously would have temporized my comments. I probably was overenthusiastic and said things in a more candid, straightforward way than I should.” — New Jersey Law Journal

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