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Wednesday’s ruling against MP3.com was hardly the first time that U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York Jed S. Rakoff has come down in favor of big business. In his four years on the federal bench, he has ruled in favor of car manufacturers, information-publishing giants and the New York Stock Exchange, finding them exempt from liability — or often outside his jurisdiction altogether. In 1999, Rakoff overturned a $750,000 jury verdict in a liability case against DaimlerChrysler, ruling that the corporation was not responsible for the death of a 5-year-old boy whose neck was broken by a minivan’s air bag. This July, the 57-year-old former prosecutor held the New York Stock Exchange immune from liability after it charged a stockbroker with illegal trading, only to drop the charges. Rakoff dismissed the case, saying that when acting in its capacity as a quasi-regulatory agency, the NYSE could not be sued for civil damages. Earlier this summer, in a previous high-profile Net case, Rakoff issued a ruling that effectively barred Web site Jurisline.com from operating a kind of My.MP3.com for legal records — using material copied from CD-ROMs produced by information giant Lexis-Nexis. In that case, Rakoff once again exercised judicial restraint to exert a pro-big-business influence. Rather than rule in favor of Lexis and its parent company, Reed Elsevier, he simply sent the case back to a state court, where the issue would have been decided as a straightforward breach-of-contract suit rather than as the more convoluted federal copyright case that Jurisline had sought to portray it. Rakoff’s decision prompted Jurisline to settle the case and withdraw the service. Three years ago, Rakoff ruled that a suit brought against Texaco by a group of Ecuadorian Indians was outside his jurisdiction and should be overseen by a judge in Ecuador. Rakoff’s decision was overturned by a federal appeals panel, sending the case back to his court. Subsequently, the New York Times reported this month that Rakoff attended a Texaco-sponsored seminar in Montana. As a result, lawyers for the Indians have filed a motion seeking to have Rakoff remove himself from the case. The next big item on Rakoff’s docket is a suit filed by Calvin Klein against Warnaco, the contractor that manufactures Calvin Klein jeans. The case is in an early stage, but the judge has already put his stamp on it — throwing out four counts of the suit that name Warnaco CEO Linda Wachner as a defendant, and chastising Klein for making the litigation excessively personal. Related Articles from The Industry Standard: The MP3 Files Universal Wants $450 Million From MP3.com In Judge Rakoff’s Court, Boys Won’t Be Boys MP3.com Trial: Napster-Bashing and ‘One Guy in a Dress’ Copyright � 2000 The Industry Standard

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