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DENTIST IS AFTER ‘FINDING NEMO’ PROFITS Imagine seeing yourself in a movie. Except you’re a cartoon, and you’re there by virtue of alleged intellectual property theft. That’s what Dennis Sternberg, a New Jersey dentist, says happened to him in 2003, when the movie “Finding Nemo” was released. In the film, a scuba-diving dentist takes the title character and puts him in an office fish tank. Sternberg, also a scuba-diving dentist � “ the scuba diving dentist,” he said Monday � was known to capture fish and put them in his office fish tank, too. In fact, Sternberg alleges in a suit filed Aug. 12 in San Francisco federal court, he wrote a story about the idea and pitched it to the Walt Disney Co. in 1996. As appetizing as the title sounds, the studio turned down Sternberg’s idea for “Peanut Butter the Jellyfish,” a story involving fish, an aqualung-toting dentist and a character named “Nemo,” alleges the complaint against Pixar Animation Studios and Disney. Sternberg is angling to get a cut of the “Finding Nemo” profits; his efforts began in February, with a suit in New Jersey federal court. With the suit moved to California, Sternberg � and local counsel Marc Bernstein, of the Bernstein Law Group � will continue the attempt to recoup “Nemo” profits later this year. While Sternberg referred all calls to his attorneys, who didn’t return messages by press time, he did say his twin passions have been long entwined. “I’ve been scuba diving for as long as I’ve been a dentist,” he said. “And I’ve been a dentist for 30 years.” � Justin Scheck LAWYER ON TALK SHOW CIRCUIT If local attorney and rising TV pundit Daniel Horowitz seems to have a gift for gab, much of the credit belongs to Nancy Grace. “Nancy started to train me. She would literally coach me,” said the Oakland defense attorney, who has logged plenty of time on Grace’s CNN talkfest � and others � during the Scott Peterson and Michael Jackson trials. “Then I got really damn good. At that point, you could put me in front of a camera anywhere,” he said. “She said, ‘Horowitz, keep it short. Make your point.’” Now something of a hot commodity on the cable networks, Horowitz will appear on Grace’s show to talk about the trial of Susan Polk, an Orinda woman charged with killing her husband, Felix Polk. It’s a dream case for TV. Polk was 15 when she met her husband, who was then her therapist. She is representing herself pro per, and her son is the prosecution’s chief witness. Horowitz, who has also appeared on Fox News and “The Abrams Report,” thinks the public gets the wrong impression of Grace, a former Atlanta prosecutor with a conservative bent. “She is known to destroy defense attorneys,” Horowitz said. “The truth about Nancy is she’s extremely, extremely pro-civil rights. She’s vehement in terms of human rights issues.” And fair, too. “Unless a defense attorney is a total asshole,” he said, “she never lets anybody leave humiliated.” � Warren Lutz PLACING A BAD BET ON A TYPO Retired California Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas wasn’t amused last year when attorney Geoffrey Mousseau argued that he had complied with five subpoenas by shipping documents to himself. So Lucas, acting as a referee in a case involving Sears, Roebuck and Co., hit the Glendale lawyer with nearly $12,500 in sanctions, then heaped on $9,650 three months later for other reasons. On Aug. 15, Los Angeles’ Second District Court of Appeal affirmed, saying Mousseau’s decision to deliver himself documents sought by Sears wasn’t done in good faith. “Not only did the subpoenas call for production at the address of Sears’ lawyers, Mousseau, as a lawyer himself, must have known what was intended,” Justice Laurence Rubin wrote. “Simply put, his contention that he could comply by delivering the documents to himself is preposterous.” Justices Candace Cooper and Paul Boland concurred. The court held that Mousseau, owner of Mousseau & Associates, took advantage of a typographical error that directed him to produce documents not only to Sears’ lawyers, but to the deposition officer � incorrectly identified as Mousseau. By delivering to himself, Mousseau argued, he had complied with the subpoenas. Sears’ lawyers had subpoenaed Mousseau to try to prove that he helped National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh develop a defense to an insurance claim filed by Sears. The department store giant had sued the insurer for bad faith for allegedly refusing to pay for the theft of $20 million by Focus Media Inc., a Studio City advertising agency once hired by Sears. According to the ruling, Mousseau had represented some of Focus Media’s principals, non-party witnesses subpoenaed as part of Sears’ discovery efforts. The appeal court ruled that Mousseau had relied on “evasions and false promises” to avoid compliance. The justices also noted that while Sears, after trying diligently to contact Mousseau, had finally filed its discovery motion with Lucas just days before deadline, Mousseau was at fault. “Even if Sears danced too close to the cut-off date,” Rubin wrote, “it was Mousseau who was leading.” The ruling is Sears, Roebuck v. National Union Fire Insurance, 05 C.D.O.S. 7315. � Mike McKee

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