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Effectively ordering a lawyer to get a sense of humor, a federal judge has dismissed a defamation suit brought by attorney Thomas J. Karl — the former general counsel of a health-care company. He said he was ridiculed in a humorous videotape that marked his company’s merger with a California firm. Karl claimed that while most of the eight-minute video, titled “Merge Wars,” was intended to be funny, the 7.5-second portion that referred to him turned suddenly serious, suggesting that he had earned unethically huge profits in the deal. In the clip, the narrator says: “RTC’s General Counsel, Tom Karl, exercised his modest severance package” while the video shows a bank robbery scene in the Coen Brothers’ comedy Raising Arizona. The clip shows two men holding shotguns, bank patrons getting on the ground and bundles of cash being put into a bag by a teller. U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell found the entire video was intended to be ironic and ridiculous and that no reasonable person who watched it would have taken the portion about Karl seriously.

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