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Five Arthur Andersen partners have been dismissed from a shareholder lawsuit triggered by the Enron collapse, including an in-house lawyer whose suggestion to alter a company memo led to Andersen’s conviction for obstructing justice. Federal Judge Melinda Harmon of the Southern District of Texas released lawyer Nancy Temple and the other former partners from the $25 billion lawsuit Tuesday because the plaintiffs didn’t specify what she and the others allegedly did wrong. Thirteen other Andersen partners, including former chief executive Joseph Berardino, remain as defendants. The lawsuit is led by the University of California and other investors who lost millions when former Andersen client Enron Corp. went bankrupt in December 2001. Trey Davis, spokesman for the university, said it didn’t appear Harmon’s ruling will significantly affect the suit. Andersen spokesman Patrick Dorton said nearly all the partners dismissed in the ruling no longer work for the firm. Temple’s lawyer did not return calls. Andersen was convicted in June of obstruction of justice for destroying Enron-related documents as the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated the energy company’s tangled finances. Harmon presided over the trial. Temple allegedly advised David Duncan, a former Andersen partner in charge of Enron’s account, to remove a sentence and her name from an internal memo about Enron’s earnings. Jurors said her action interfered with the investigation. Temple has not been charged with any crime. Andersen, once a $4 billion firm with 85,000 employees, was damaged by the mass defection of clients. The firm no longer audits public companies and has fewer than 1,000 employees. Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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