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SQUIRE EYEING MERGER WITH MIAMI FIRM MIAMI � Embattled Steel Hector & Davis, formerly one of Miami’s fastest growing and most powerful law firms, is close to finalizing a deal to merge with Cleveland-based Squire Sanders & Dempsey, according to several sources. Under the proposed combination, Squire Sanders, a 700-lawyer firm that has been expanding aggressively through acquisitions, would gobble up Steel Hector. The Miami firm suffered financial setbacks recently and has been plagued by partner defections amid much speculation about its ability to stay afloat. The sources said the merger could be announced as early as Sept. 1. Representatives for both Squire Sanders and Steel Hector acknowledged that serious talks are under way but denied that a merger is imminent. “We’re talking with Squire Sanders, but we’re also talking with other firms,” said Joseph Klock Jr., former managing partner of the 160-lawyer Miami firm. He added that Squire Sanders “is an outstanding firm. The people are extraordinary. They have 27 offices throughout Europe and Asia. That’s an extremely tempting platform for us.” Several sources, including a partner, an of counsel and a legal recruiter, said Steel Hector is looking at a Sept. 1 merger. All spoke on the condition of anonymity. The partner said management has threatened to fire any lawyers who spoke to reporters. “The merger is moving forward,” the partner said. “The fine details are still being worked out. But there will be a partnership vote very soon.” � Miami Daily Business Review SEARCH OF DOCTOR’S OFFICES CHALLENGED NEW YORK � The warrantless administrative search of a Rhode Island doctor’s office in 2002 turned up bottles of diluted and outdated vaccines for measles, chickenpox and tetanus that he had administered to hundreds of unsuspecting immigrant patients. Now Dr. Wallace Gonsalves Jr. � serving a 10-year prison sentence for that conduct as well as tax evasion and falsifying HIV and syphilis test results � has challenged the broad discretion of state health officials to walk into a doctor’s office unannounced to conduct searches. His challenge is now before the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and is expected to be argued in the fall. Complicating the search issue, a decision against the doctor could also implicate efforts in some states to monitor abortion clinics by means of administrative searches. Administrative search laws exist in every state and allow for random warrantless searches of highly regulated professions as an aid to state enforcement of regulations. Nine states � Alaska, Arkansas, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Vermont � have laws virtually identical to Rhode Island’s, and many more have very similar language, according to papers filed by federal prosecutors in the case. But so far, courts have not deemed the medical profession as a “highly regulated” profession allowing exceptions to Fourth Amendment restrictions on warrantless searches. In the past, the courts have defined closely regulated professions as firearms dealers, auto wreckers, the liquor industry, liquefied propane gas sellers and pharmaceutical firms. � The National Law Journal CIRCUIT REVIVES SUIT AGAINST AIRLINE EXECS PHILADELPHIA � In an era rife with corporate scandals, a decision this week by the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is likely to stir up the atmosphere in boardrooms and executive offices nationwide by making it significantly easier for bankruptcy trustees to file suit against corporate directors and officers for alleged breaches of their fiduciary duties. In Stanziale v. Nachtomi, a unanimous three-judge panel revived a suit against the former officers and directors of the defunct charter airline Tower Air Inc. in which the trustee claims they drove the company into insolvency by indifference and egregious decision-making. The appellate panel concluded that U.S. District Judge Kent Jordan of the District of Delaware erred by applying Delaware stricter Chancery Rule 8 pleading standard and instead should have applied the more lenient federal “notice pleading” standard. Although Chancery Rule 8 appears at first glance to mirror Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court found that, in practice, the rules are significantly different. “The problem is that Delaware courts interpret Chancery Rule 8 to require pleading facts with specificity. That is not the federal notice pleading standard,” U.S. Circuit Judge D. Brooks Smith wrote. “By requiring Stanziale to allege specific facts, the district court erroneously pre-empted discovery on certain claims by imposing a heightened pleading standard not required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8,” Smith wrote in an opinion joined by Circuit Judges Richard Nygaard and D. Michael Fisher. � The Legal Intelligencer

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