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BABIES RETIRED? Until he started representing collector Jan Clute, Lake Jackson, Tex., lawyer Vaughan O. Stewart didn’t know much about Beanie Babies. He’s since become familiar with the ubiquitous stuffed animals that are the centerpiece of a class action that Stewart filed in Texas state court in Brazoria County. Stewart alleges that Ty Inc., the Westmont, Ill.-based maker of Beanie Babies, is engaging in unlawful, unfair and deceptive business practices by making “retirement announcements” for particular Beanie Babies and then continuing to ship retailers products up to and after the retirement dates. The suit alleges that Ty is using the retirement “scheme” to artificially inflate consumer demand, and that the practice is eroding the collectible nature of the product. Stewart wants Ty to disgorge its profits and make restitution on its “ill-gotten gains” to the class of Texas consumers. He also seeks an injunction to prevent Ty from engaging in practices that violate the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Stewart says collectors like Clute, of Angleton, Tex., believe they have been duped. “People who would collect these darn things have been sort of lulled … into perceiving the Beanie Babies business as an investment,” says Stewart. “Once I got involved, I was shocked at how many mature adult females have bought these things.” (from Texas Lawyer) PLAYING A GAME Somebody in Kansas City, Mo., is playing a game, although Michael Lazaroff is the easiest to suspect. For years a fixer for casinos, he was convicted earlier this year in federal court for stealing $800,000 from his law firm, St. Louis-based Thompson Coburn. Part of the loot was a $500,000 bonus that client Station Casinos gave him — and he didn’t tell the firm. He used the extra cash on luxuries and to fund his favors. In fact, the Missouri Gaming Commission held hearings on Aug. 29-31 to learn whether Lazaroff used the cash to influence public officials on behalf of Station. All but one casino executive refused to testify, subpoenas and all. They bet big: regulators immediately took Station’s license to run good-time riverboats, which pull in $288.4 million a year. The commissioners may be gambling, too, by trusting a felon’s jailhouse tales. “Michael Lazaroff is an admitted and repeated liar,” said Charles German, the casino’s (new) lawyer. “He now has every motive to lie.” And now the commission has a motive to play cop. Lazaroff implicated the commission’s former chairman, saying the two of them had an improper back channel that aided Station. Of course, he could be lying. (from National Law Journal) BITTEN BY THE ACTING BUG Once the acting bug bites, it seems that nothing stops the yearning for the greasepaint and applause. Not four years as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Not a scholarly legal career with expertise in domestic violence issues. Well, maybe for a while that yearning took a backseat to the career that Clare Dalton carved out as a nationally known legal scholar and director of Northeastern University School of Law’s Domestic Violence Institute in Illinois. And maybe the four years her husband, Robert Reich, spent as labor secretary during President Bill Clinton’s first term, and currently as a Brandeis University Professor of social and economic policy, left him little time to learn his lines. But now, they’ve decided to return to their acting roots, planted in their student days together at Oxford University, where Dalton was directed by her future husband in her first leading role in Oxford’s Dramatic Society. The long-married couple will star in A.R. Gurney’s “Love Letters” as a benefit for the Domestic Violence Institute. “I think it’s a play that benefits from being performed by people who have a relationship,” Dalton said. “The characters are different from us, but you do bring your own relationship to the roles.” (from American Lawyer Media)

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