Culinary Students Lose
After giving former California culinary school students a second chance to make their case that Sallie Mae had fraudulently roped them into high-interest loans, a federal judge again threw out their proposed class action, this time without an opportunity to amend their “legally insufficient” complaint.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White on May 29 ruled that former students of California Culinary Academy failed to provide anything more than generalities to back up their contention that the lender locked them into high-rate student loans without considering their ability to repay them.
The plaintiffs claimed that Sallie Mae knew that most graduates of the San Francisco school would wind up in dead-end jobs — if they got jobs at all — due to the allegedly poor education the school provided, its poor reputation and the lack of well-paying jobs in the field.
Ford Recovers Fees
NEWARK — Ford Motor Co., having prevailed in a 15-year-long class action filed by truck dealerships, may tax litigation costs jointly and severally against the plaintiffs, a federal judge has ruled.
The May 29 ruling may mark the end of a litigation saga that began in 1999 when 74 dealers claimed Ford violated a contract to supply them company products when it exited the heavy-truck business two years earlier.
U.S. District Judge Jose Linares granted the plaintiffs summary judgment in 2005 and certified the class in 2006. In a damages trial of 11 bellwether cases in June 2012, a jury awarded $29 million. But in September 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed the judgment and the damages award. On remand, Linares dismissed breach-of-contract claims.
Loss for Marriage Foes
MIAMI — A state trial judge ruled on June 3 that three groups opposing same-sex marriage cannot intervene as parties in the lawsuit challenging the ­constitutionality of Florida’s ban on the unions.
Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel found that Florida Family Action Inc., Florida Democratic League Inc. and People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality Inc. had no concrete legal interest in the case because “they will not be directly and immediately affected if others enter into a same-sex marriage or are prevented from entering into a same-sex marriage.”
Zabel has set a July 2 hearing for the case, in which six couples sued the Miami-Dade clerk of courts, Harvey Ruvin, for refusing to give them marriage licenses. The plaintiffs cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last summer striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Auditor’s Pal Sentenced
LOS ANGELES — The golfing buddy of a former KPMG LLP senior partner was sentenced to five months in prison for making about $1.6 million in stock trades from insider tips.
Scott London, former chief of KPMG’s audit practice for the Pacific Southwest, was sentenced earlier this year to 14 months in federal prison for disclosing confidential information about public companies, including Herbalife Ltd. and Skechers USA Inc., to his friend, Bryan Shaw, in exchange for $70,000 in cash, concert tickets and a $12,000 Rolex watch.
U.S. District Judge George Wu, who imposed Shaw’s sentence on June 2, ordered him to surrender to federal authorities in August. Prosecutors, acknowledging Shaw’s cooperation in the case, sought six months in prison, below the guideline minimum.
Parents’ Claims Survive
PHILADELPHIA — Claims against child welfare workers brought by the parents of an infant who was taken from them following a misdiagnosis of shaken baby syndrome have survived in federal court.
U.S. District Judge William Caldwell of the Middle District of Pennsylvania let stand their claims that Lancaster County, Pa., workers violated their due-process rights and that the county had failed to properly train its employees.
Mark Seldomridge and Alisha Torres filed the suit against the Pennsylvania State University Hershey Medical Center, six doctors, the county and six employees of the county’s children and youth services agency.
The couple alleged that authorities removed their child for seven months following the misdiagnosis.
Board Tosses Patents
SAN FRANCISCO — Apple Inc. has persuaded the Patent Trial and Appeal Board to largely invalidate two patents on software activation technology that had generated settlements with a broad range of other technology players.
The board ruled that Apple did not wait too long to file for inter partes review, even though the patentee had sued an iPhone application developer more than a year earlier.
Achates Reference Publishing Inc. had argued that Apple has a “substantive legal relationship” with codefendant QuickOffice Inc., and the two were using it do an end-run around rules and time limits for inter partes review set out in the America Invents Act.
A federal judge has ruled that inequitable conduct by a client of Chicago law firm Niro Haller & Niro before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office made the company’s subsequent litigation with Dell Inc., Sharp Corp., Palm Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. an “exceptional case” worthy of a fee award under Section 285 of the Patent Act.
U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer ordered Niro Haller to produce internal communications with client Intellect Wireless Inc. to see if the firm took part in a “pattern of deceit.”
Pallmeyer was the second Chicago federal judge in the past month to pierce the attorney-client privilege between Niro Haller, Intellect Wireless and chief executive officer Daniel Henderson. Dell and its codefendants want to know if Niro Haller was aware that Henderson knowingly filed a false declaration to help obtain patents on picture phone and caller ID technology.
Dewey Lawsuit Stayed
A federal judge has stayed the civil case brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission against five former leaders of defunct Dewey & LeBoeuf, in response to a New York state prosecutor’s request for a stay while criminal charges are pending.
Among the five Dewey defendants in action, three have pleaded not guilty to criminal charges, including former chairman Steven Davis, former executive director Stephen DiCarmine and former chief financial officer Joel Sanders. The other two — ex-finance director Francis Canellas and ex-controller Thomas Mullikin — have pleaded guilty in state court and may be trial witnesses.
The district attorney, in papers filed on May 30 in New York’s Southern District, argued that because Canellas and Mullikin are cooperating, if they were deposed in the SEC suit and did not claim their Fifth Amendment privilege, “the other defendants would gain the unfair advantage of being able to conduct a test run of their cross examination in the criminal case.”
Ropes Settles Claim
Ropes & Gray has agreed to pay an undisclosed sum of cash to settle a long-running malpractice suit filed against the firm by former client Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
The laboratory had accused Ropes of, among other things, undermining a patent it was hired to prosecute by plagiarizing another inventor’s application. It announced the settlement on June 2.
The lab filed suit in the Eastern District of New York in February 2010, alleging it was deprived of millions of dollars in potential licensing and royalty revenue as a result of delays in the issuance of a patent originally prosecuted by former Ropes partner Matthew Vincent.
It alleged he copied, without citation, 11 pages of its application for a patent on technology that allows researchers to selectively turn off genes directly from a separate application submitted by a Nobel Prize-winning scientist.
Lipitor Case Dismissed
An Alabama plaintiff has lost his lawsuit alleging his use of cholesterol drug Lipitor caused him pain, nerve damage and muscle tissue breakdown after a federal judge ruled the complaint did “not provide any factual support for an allegation that the necessary warnings were present but inadequate.”
U.S. District Judge Karen Owen Bowdre dismissed David James Miller’s complaint without prejudice and granted defendant Pfizer Inc.’s motion for judgment on the pleadings.
Although the plaintiff said the warnings regarding Lipitor’s downsides were inadequate, Bowdre found that the Lipitor label specifically discussed the risk of the breakdown of muscle tissue leading to kidney damage and that the plaintiff did not provide any factual support to allege that the warnings were inadequate.