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Survey: Public company costs soar under SOX The cost of running a public company with revenues below $1 billion rose 33% last year in the wake of corporate governance reforms, according to a study conducted by Foley & Lardner. The law firm’s third annual Sarbanes-Oxley study found that the biggest jump in costs for public companies of that size last year was in audit costs, which averaged $1 million, representing a 96% increase from 2003. In addition, lost productivity costs for those companies soared 556% compared with 2003, for an average cost of $1.1 million. The study determined that the average cost of maintaining a public company has jumped 223% since Sarbanes-Oxley was passed in 2002. Venable enters New York market with a merger washington-based Venable has opened a New York office by acquiring Heard & O’Toole, a 12-attorney litigation boutique. Effective on June 30, seven partners, four associates and one of counsel attorney will join 460-lawyer Venable. Heard & O’Toole focuses on litigation involving complex securities matters, products liability, insurance and environmental law. Venable’s existing offices are in Baltimore, Washington and suburbs of those cities. The firm said it also seeks to expand to California. Class action certified for reality TV patients In a case of first impression in New Jersey, a trial judge has certified a class action on behalf of hospital patients who claim that a production company invaded their privacy by filming a reality television show in the emergency room. The certified class consists of more than 5,000 patients treated in the emergency room at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune during the summer of 2001 filming of Trauma: Life in the ER by New York Times Television, a New York Times Co. subsidiary. The Monmouth County, N.J., suit, Castro v. NYT Television, No. MON-L-2743, also names as defendants the hospital and Discovery Communications Inc., owner of the network that televised the program. Plaintiffs’ lawyer Gerald Clark alleged that the crew was allowed to peruse patients’ medical files and that Times Television sold footage of one patient to another reality program for $5,000. Coudert shutters its long-standing S.F. office After more than 30 years in San Francisco, Coudert Brothers is closing up shop. The New York-based firm known for its international presence told its attorneys and staff on June 13 that it is shuttering the 12-lawyer office. The closure follows a string of partner defections from the firm. With the loss of three partners earlier this month, the office had just two partners, James Topinka and William Hebert. Topinka and Hebert could not be reached for comment, nor could other leading firm partners. But Coudert said in a statement that it wanted to concentrate on its other offices. The firm has U.S. offices in Los Angeles and Washington. New York upholds ban on cameras in court New York’s high court last week upheld the state’s 53-year-old ban on cameras in the courts, flatly rejecting Court TV’s invitation to stake independent state constitutional ground in favor of electronic access to trial proceedings. The New York Court of Appeals found that a 1952 law banning cameras from the trial courts easily survives both federal and state constitutional muster-even if a strict scrutiny standard were applied, which it said was not necessary here. The court said the press has no greater right of access to the courtroom than the general public; that the state Legislature and not the courts should decide if televising trials is in the public interest; and that in some applications, New York’s historically expansive free speech provision covers no more ground than the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

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