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Coca-Cola’s legal troubles are no longer Deval Patrick’s headache. The 47-year-old Harvard graduate is stepping down as GC of the world’s largest soft drink maker, handing off the job to chief deputy counsel and company veteran Geoff Kelly. Coke has struggled with legal issues recently, including SEC and DOJ investigations prompted by a whistleblower’s allegations of accounting problems and a rigged market test. Coke hired Patrick in 2001, just after it had agreed to settle a race discrimination suit by employees. Patrick had shepherded Texaco through similar troubles … Settled �- and sealed. A Texas judge signed off Monday on a settlement between 14 alleged victims of a Lutheran pastor and affiliated church agencies. But details of the deal won’t be released until after a civil trial against the denomination’s Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod. The lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Edward Hohn, called the synod the “target” defendant in the case … A $30 million defamation lawsuit struggled for life Monday before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr has alleged that former President Clinton, adviser James Carville and publisher Larry Flynt conspired to damage the Georgia Republican’s reputation by publishing a lengthy expose in Hustler magazine. But the appeals court questioned whether the suit met a filing deadline and whether Clinton and Carville could be linked to the article … Too flimsy, said the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, reviewing evidence that Federal Prison Industries had unlawfully expanded its furniture making business. A group of private furniture makers, including Herman Miller, had claimed that it lost $450 million in business to FPI. The court disagreed, prompting the furniture makers to vow to take their fight out of the courts and back to Congress. – Lori Patel

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