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No private right to sue under Sarbanes-Oxley A federal judge has ruled that Section 304 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act-a key provision of the 2002 law that calls for disgorgement of profits and bonuses from top corporate executives in the wake of an alleged accounting scandal-does not provide a private right of action for shareholders to file a derivative suit. The decision in Neer v. Pelino by U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell of Philadelphia is the first in the nation squarely to address whether Section 304 creates an implied private right of action. Dalzell found that Congress clearly intended for Section 304 to be enforced only by the Securities and Exchange Commission and not by shareholders in private lawsuits. Another merger tightens Boston’s legal market The Boston legal market continues to consolidate, this time with the merger of Edwards & Angell and Palmer & Dodge. The combined firm includes 340 attorneys from Edwards & Angell and 180 attorneys from Palmer & Dodge, which has particular strength in public finance, antitrust, banking and real estate law. The Boston legal community in the last two years has undergone big changes, including mergers between Ropes & Gray and New York’s Fish & Neave; Goodwin Procter and Shea & Gardner in Washington; and Washington’s Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering and Boston’s Hale and Dorr. [See Movers for more law firm news]. Senate bill would curb use of eminent domain U.S. Senator Bill Nelson vowed last week to deny federal funds to any city or state project that uses eminent domain for private gain. The Florida Democrat, who is running for re-election next year, is co-sponsoring a bill that would reserve eminent domain only for public-use projects. If passed, the Protection of Homes, Small Businesses and Private Property Act of 2005 will prevent the federal government from taking private property for economic development, and local governments’ use of federal funds for any project in which they are using eminent domain for private gain. Nelson and other bill sponsors next week will attempt to amend a U.S. Treasury Department appropriations bill to prevent the use of federal funds for projects that involve eminent domain. KPMG, Sidley reach $225M tax settlement KPMG LLP and Sidley Austin Brown & Wood have agreed to pay $225 million to settle a putative class action filed by a class of taxpayers who purchased allegedly abusive tax shelter strategies, according to court papers filed in Newark, N.J., federal court last week. Subject to the court’s approval, the defendants will pay $195 million into the class fund and $30 million to the plaintiffs’ lawyers, Milberg Weiss Bershad & Shulman of New York, and Carella, Byrne, Bain, Gilfillan, Cecchi, Stewart & Olstein of Roseland, N.J. U.S. District Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh will hear the parties’ motion for an order to show cause for a preliminary approval order in Simon v. KPMG, No. 05-3189 (D.N.J.), on Oct. 7. Morgan Lewis, Japanese firm in joint venture Legislative changes affecting Japan’s business environment have not only opened up its marketplace, but allowed for a joint venture between Japan’s sixth-largest law firm and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. Japanese TMI Associates and Morgan Lewis have created a third law firm, Morgan Lewis-TMI, which will focus on cross-border transactions in Japan. Clients of both firms will now have access to more than 100 American and Japanese lawyers based out of the Japanese firm. Lawyers from Morgan Lewis’ pre-existing Tokyo office will join the new firm. Morgan Lewis’ Tokyo office, with five lawyers, currently is its sole Asian location. The joint venture is not expected to be the last step in expanding Morgan Lewis’ global reach. The firm’s managing partner, Philip H. Werner, who was involved in creating the venture, said Morgan Lewis is in the process of getting a license to practice in Beijing, an area whose growing economy has been on the radar screens of many U.S. firms. “Japan and Tokyo were a critical step in building out to the broader Asian market,” he said.

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