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Classes certified over IPO rigging allegations Judge Shira A. Scheindlin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York certified as class actions six of 310 cases arising from allegations that the market for initial public offerings was manipulated by several investment banks between 1998 and 2000. The six class actions certified involve the offerings for VA Software Corp. (formerly the VA Linux Systems Inc.); the Corvis Corp. (now the Broadwing Corp.); Engage Inc.; Firepond Inc.; iXL Enterprises Inc.; and Sycamore Networks Inc. The IPO cases name 310 issuers and 55 underwriters as defendants. The suits also include allegations that the investment banks misused their securities analysts to hype the stocks. 11th gives Pryor the nod Judge William H. Pryor Jr. sits lawfully on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, eight of 10 members of the Atlanta-based court ruled last week. The decision answered an awkward question posed by litigants in an upcoming 11th Circuit case and Senator Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., a vocal opponent of Pryor’s nomination for a lifetime seat on the court. Kennedy and lawyers for plaintiffs in a case set to be argued later this month claimed that President Bush’s use of his powers to appoint judges during congressional recesses was unconstitutional in Pryor’s case. Ex-city attorney for Oakland to manage firm Former Oakland, Calif., City Attorney Jayne Williams will be the new managing partner of Meyers, Nave, Riback, Silver & Wilson, the California firm announced last week. Williams will take the reins at the 65-lawyer firm on Jan. 1, 2005. Founding Managing Partner Steven Meyers, who has held the post for 18 years, will still play an active role. He will lead the redevelopment practice group and sit on the firm’s executive committee. Managing the firm’s growth is at the top of Williams’ agenda. Attorneys’ “practice areas are getting more complicated and diverse,” she said, noting that the firm has recently started an airport practice. Meyers Nave was founded in 1986 with three attorneys in San Leandro, Calif. Now one of the go-to firms for public sector work, it serves as a contract city attorney for 28 cities. GM class action rejected A Philadelphia judge has denied certification to a proposed class that would have included General Motors vehicles manufactured in nine model years and ranging from compact cars to large SUVs. The plaintiffs in Zwiercan v. General Motors Corp., have alleged that the front seats of numerous vehicles manufactured by GM feature a common design defect that renders those vehicles “extraordinarily dangerous in the event of rear-end collision.” In a recent opinion, Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Mark I. Bernstein held that the plaintiffs had not met the “commonality” criterion of Pennsylvania’s five-part class certification test. Calif.’s high court to tackle online liability The California Supreme Court last week injected itself into the rapidly growing world of online law by accepting a case that will determine whether Internet businesses such as eBay Inc. can be held liable for defamatory Web site postings. The Internet case, Grace v. eBay Inc., No. S127338, arose after Roger Grace, editor and co-publisher of Los Angeles’ Metropolitan News-Enterprise, purchased vintage magazines on eBay and then criticized their delivery and condition. The seller responded with postings calling Grace “dishonest all the way!!!!” and demanding that he be banned from the site. California’s 2d District Court of Appeal ruled in July that eBay had protected itself with a release provision in its user agreement. But the court said that the California Decency Act of 1996 does not immunize eBay against liability for distributing information it knows or had reason to believe was false. Insurance brokers taking payoffs, Spitzer alleges Insurance brokers required to provide competing bids to customers seeking the best deal have been taking payoffs from insurance companies to rig the system in widespread corruption in the industry, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer charged last week. Two insurance company executives were expected to plead guilty to participating in the illegal conduct and are expected to testify in future cases, Spitzer said in announcing the broader investigation into whether brokers and companies violated fraud and antitrust laws. Spitzer announced the civil suit against Marsh & McLennan Cos. of New York City, the nation’s leading insurance brokerage firm, accusing it of steering clients to insurers for lucrative payoffs under long-standing agreement. The firm said it is conducting an investigation.

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