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EMPLOYER SUIT BARRED OVER SINGER’S DEATH NEW YORK — A record company cannot sue over the death of singer Aaliyah, who died in a 2001 plane crash, an appeals court ruled Thursday. A unanimous panel of New York’s Appellate Division, First Department, found that the trial judge who let the suit go forward had ignored well-settled law governing wrongful death actions. The judge, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead, ruled in May that Aaliyah was an asset rather than an employee of Blackground Records. The distinction allowed the record company to sue Instinct Productions for damages over the singer’s death. Instinct was producing an Aaliyah video in the Bahamas and it had arranged for the fatal flight. On Thursday the First Department rejected Justice Edmead’s determination, writing that the judge’s “property asset” analysis was unfounded. “The concept that a person is a property asset of another is, of course, abhorrent to modern-day thinking,” Justice Joseph Sullivan wrote for the court in Barry & Sons v. Instinct Productions, 4714. The court emphasized that under New York law, corporations and employers are barred from bringing wrongful death claims, which are reserved for the personal representatives of a decedent. — New York Law Journal

New Partners

LIEFF CABRASER ELEVATES SIX TO ITS PARTNER RANKS Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein has elevated six associates to partner, including five in the San Francisco office. Effective Jan. 1, former associates Lori Andrus, Caryn Becker, Stephen Cassidy, Bruce Leppla and Scott Nealey became partners in the San Francisco office. Andrus received her J.D. from Duke University School of Law in 1999. Her class action work includes a $45 million settlement on behalf of Louisiana crawfish farmers who claimed a pesticide maker’s products killed their crustaceans. Becker, who obtained her J.D. from Duke University School of Law in 1998, specializes in international and human rights litigation. Cassidy, who handles personal injury, defective product and securities cases, is also the firm’s marketing director. He graduated from Hastings College of the Law in 1989. Leppla received his J.D. from Boalt Hall School of Law in 1975. The securities litigator is former president of California Bankers Insurance Services Inc. Nealey practices consumer, human rights and personal injury litigation. He graduated from Boalt Hall in 1996. Last year, the 64-lawyer firm named three new partners. — Justin Scheck

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