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First class action for uninsured is certified An Oregon state court judge has certified a class action involving what could be tens of thousands of uninsured patients who claim that Legacy Health System charged them more for health services than patients with insurance. The Multnomah County Circuit Court decision in Turner v. Legacy Health System, No. 0412-12483, apparently is the first to grant class action status in a case that is part of nationwide litigation claiming that several nonprofit hospitals overcharged patients without health care coverage. About 60 cases across the country are pending. Legacy officials stated last week that they were committed to ensuring that a lack of money or insurance was not a barrier to care. Expenditures on outside counsel grew by 16% The amount that corporate counsel spent on outside counsel grew by 16% this year compared with last year, according to a survey of Fortune 1,000 companies conducted by BTI Consulting. In addition, outside counsel cost companies about 63% of their total legal expenditures, the survey found. The biggest money-making areas for outside counsel were class actions, products liability, general litigation, regulatory matters, securities and intellectual property litigation. The total market size for outside counsel services is about $47 billion, the survey revealed. 9th Circuit’s en banc panels to have 15 judges The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will increase its en banc panels from 11 to 15 judges. The change is aimed at satisfying critics who worry that the supersized circuit’s 11-judge outcomes aren’t representative of the court as a whole. When fully staffed, the 9th Circuit has 28 judges. “We wanted to respond to those criticisms,” said Chief Judge Mary Schroeder. But it’s not clear that critics-or anyone else, for that matter-will be satisfied by the rule change. “I just have not been persuaded that the en banc panel is representative of the court,” said Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, one of the few judges who contend the court is too large and should be split. But O’Scannlain said a four-judge increase is no solution, and last week voted against a two-year trial run of 15-judge panels. Duane Morris set to acquire Hancock Rothert Philadelphia-based Duane Morris will acquire Hancock Rothert & Bunshoft, a 75-lawyer San Francisco firm best known for its insurance coverage practice. According to partners at Duane Morris, a vote at that firm was scheduled to take place last week, with an official announcement expected soon afterward. Duane Morris Chairman Sheldon Bonovitz said last week it was firm policy not to comment on merger discussions. Ronald Ruma, a member of Hancock’s management committee and a firm spokesman, declined to comment. Most of Hancock’s lawyers are in San Francisco, but the firm has smaller, satellite offices in Las Vegas; Lake Tahoe, Calif.; and Los Angeles, plus a two-lawyer office in London. Duane Morris has two Western offices, with about 45 lawyers between its San Diego and San Francisco locations. U.S. court rejects French damages over Web site A French court’s award of damages to fashion designers who claimed that a U.S. Web site operator posted their designs on the Internet without authorization is not enforceable in American courts, a federal judge has ruled. U.S. District Judge Gerard Lynch said enforcement of the default judgment entered against the American company would be “repugnant” to the First Amendment. Sarl Louis Feraud International v. Viewfinder Inc., No. 04 Civ. 9760. Viewfinder is a Delaware corporation that maintains fashion Web sites containing photos of fashion shows and other fashion industry information. The plaintiffs, Sarl Louis Feraud International and S.A. Pierre Balmain, claimed that Viewfinder made unauthorized use of their intellectual property and engaged in unfair competition by posting on its site photos of the companies’ models. Lynch said it was obvious that Viewfinder’s activities fall within the protections of the First Amendment.

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