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GlaxoSmithKline to settle Paxil class for $65M GlaxoSmithKline PLC has agreed to pay $65 million to settle an antitrust class action brought by consumers who alleged they paid inflated prices for Paxil, a popular anti-depressant drug, because the pharmaceuticals giant allegedly filed a series of “sham” patent lawsuits in a campaign to delay any generic version of the drug from reaching the market. The filing of a patent suit delays a generic drug from entering the market by 30 months, according to court papers. In the proposed settlement, which needs final approval by U.S. District Judge John R. Padova in Philadelphia, GlaxoSmithKline admitted no liability and maintains its position that its litigation efforts were not designed to cause any delay. Overhaul of Calif. courts California state judicial leaders have quietly called a closed-door meeting with key legislators and bar leaders to build support for an ambitious overhaul of the California court system. An invitation to the meeting, set for Feb. 17 at a San Francisco hotel, was sent to 100 judges and bar representatives in January by, among others, California Chief Justice Ronald George. The invite, a copy of which was obtained by The Recorder, an affiliate of The National Law Journal, lays out for discussion proposals on everything from changing the way courts are funded and managed to the length of judges’ terms and the way their salaries are set. Prop. 64 not retroactive, Calif. appeals court rules The California plaintiffs’ bar scored a surprising victory last week when the state’s 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that Proposition 64-the November ballot initiative that makes it tougher to sue companies for unfair business practices-is not retroactive. The ruling on a motion for dismissal came in a case that few expected to produce a precedent-setting opinion. The intermediate court was plain in its ruling. “The language used in the proposition and ballot materials-fails to provide any implicit indication that the electorate intended the law to be retroactive. If anything, the statutory language and ballot materials suggest an intention that the law apply prospectively to future lawsuits,” wrote Justice Patricia Sepulveda. Californians for Disability Rights v. Mervyn’s, No. A106199. [NLJ, 12-20-04.] Merrill Lynch wins major round in WorldCom case Merrill Lynch & Co. won a major round last week in the ongoing ERISA litigation arising from WorldCom Inc.’s collapse when a federal judge ruled in its favor on a summary judgment motion. Judge Denise Cote of New York’s Southern District held that as a “directed trustee” under ERISA, Merrill Lynch’s fiduciary duties were limited in nature and that its decision not to block investment in WorldCom stock by the company’s 401(k) participants did not amount to a breach of its fiduciary duties. In re WorldCom Inc. ERISA Litig., No. 02 Civ. 4816, is one of many class actions filed in the wake of WorldCom’s 2002 bankruptcy. Marsh settles, agrees to pay $850 million Insurance broker Marsh & McLennan Cos. settled with government regulators last week, agreeing to pay $850 million in restitution to clients in what authorities said was bid-rigging. The settlement comes after months of negotiations sparked by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s investigation into the insurance industry. A civil complaint filed by Spitzer on Oct. 14 accused the company of arranging sham bidding procedures that steered business to insurers based on kickbacks to Marsh. N.Y. gay marriage ban ruled unconstitutional A New York trial judge declared on Jan. 4 that a section of law that forbids same-sex marriage violates the state constitution, a ruling which if upheld on appeal would allow gay couples to wed. Justice Doris Ling-Cohan of Manhattan supreme court ruled that the words “husband,” “wife,” “groom” and “bride” in relevant sections of the Domestic Relations Law “shall be construed to mean ‘spouse,’ and all personal pronouns . . . shall be construed to apply equally to either men or women.” Ling-Cohan also said the New York City clerk could not deny a marriage license to any couple solely on the ground that the two are of the same sex.

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