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FARELLA IN MARKET FOR A NEW CHAIR After nine years at the helm, Farella Braun & Martel Chairman William Schlinkert is stepping down. The 62-member partnership will elect a new chair at the end of April. Schlinkert will retain his post through June to help with the transition and then return to his tax and business practice full time. Schlinkert, 51, said there are a number of strong candidates that could succeed him, and it will be up to the partnership to chose someone from its ranks. “Succession is natural and healthy, and after nine years it’s time to get some new blood into the position,” Schlinkert said. Under Schlinkert’s leadership, the firm has doubled in size to 125 lawyers and maintained profitability at a time of industry consolidation. Schlinkert said that over the past decade it has been difficult for mid-size firms to thrive and prosper. “I’m most proud of the fact we’ve secured our position as one of the top-notch premier regional firms in California,” he said. A 1978 graduate of Boalt Hall School of Law, Schlinkert spent three years working for the chief counsel’s office of the Internal Revenue Service before joining Farella in 1981. — Brenda Sandburg VIETNAMESE AGENT ORANGE SUIT TOSSED NEW YORK — A federal judge Thursday dismissed a lawsuit that accused American chemical companies of war crimes for supplying the U.S. military Agent Orange, a defoliant used during the Vietnam War. Eastern District Judge Jack Weinstein, ruling in a 233-page decision, said the first-ever suit by Vietnamese plaintiffs — roughly 4 million of them — could not be sustained under any legal theory. “There is no basis for any of the claims of plaintiffs under the domestic law of any nation or state or under any form of international law,” he wrote in In re Agent Orange, 04-CV-400. William Goodman of Moore & Goodman, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told the Associated Press the case would be appealed. “The use of this chemical in Vietnam was a scandal from the very beginning and the failure of this court to redress these wrongs is a continuation of that scandal,” Goodman said. Scot Wheeler, a spokesman for Dow Chemical Co., commended Judge Weinstein’s ruling. “We believe the defoliant saved lives by protecting allied forces from enemy ambush, and also that it did not create adverse health effects,” Wheeler said. “Issues regarding war-time activity during the Vietnam War should be resolved by the U.S. and Vietnam governments as a matter of policy, and not in the courts.” Dow and Monsanto Co. were among more than a dozen chemical manufacturers named in the suit, which could have resulted in billions of dollars in damages to compensate alleged victims and repair environmental damage caused by the chemical. The U.S. Department of Justice weighed in on the year-old case, urging Judge Weinstein to dismiss the suit under the government contractor defense, which shields manufacturers from actions taken under government order. The government argued that if the suit succeeded it could set a precedent for future lawsuits by a wide range of foreign enemies for alleged harms by the U.S. military, and also “expose defense contractors to potential liability for possibly unforeseen uses of the goods ordered by the American Armed Forces.” — New York Law Journal

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