Soup’s On — The Chicken Soup for the Soul line of books, customized with inspirational messages for teenagers, parents, cat lovers and NASCAR fans, among others, has sold more than 112 million copies. Now the publishers want to leap from bookstore shelves to grocery shelves, with a line of soups “inspired by real people and their stories about food, family and feelings.”

Campbell Soup Co. isn’t heart-warmed by the new product, planned for launch next year. In a suit filed Wednesday in federal court, the Camden-based company says the package design is too similar to its own, with color bands and script lettering reminiscent of Campbell’s soups’ classic labeling.

The packaging infringes on Campbell’s trade dress in violation of the Lanham Act, says the suit, filed by Stephen Orlofsky and Jonathan Korn of Blank Rome in Princeton and Ira Jay Levy of Goodwin Procter in New York.

Cos Cob, Conn.-based Chicken Soup for the Soul and its partner, food-products maker Daymon Worldwide of Stamford, say they believe the suit is without merit and that consumers will not confuse their product, to be sold in jars, with Campbell’s, which is sold in cans.

Always Pay the Secretary — A lawyer who held onto his secretary’s car accident settlement for more than five years was hit with a one-year suspension on Wednesday.

Marvin S. Davidson did not handle the case for the secretary, Sabrina Clyburn. He stepped in only after she got into a fee dispute with the firm that won her the $8,000 settlement. Davidson received the check in November 2005, paid fees to the other firm and to himself, but held onto Clyburn’s $5,013 share.

Davidson claimed to have his reasons. Clyburn was supposed to order two office computers from Dell, but the company billed him for five. He said he assumed she took three for herself and was holding onto her money until the time ran for Dell to sue him over the three computers. Clyburn was fired and she moved to Georgia and filed an ethics grievance and a Lawyers Fund for Client Protection claim. The limitations period still had not run when he finally paid her in April 2011.

The Supreme Court factored into Davidson’s suspension his extensive disciplinary history. He has been suspended since September 2010 for misconduct in multiple client matters, including gross neglect, lack of diligence, and funds handling and record-keeping improprieties. The new suspension is consecutive, with any return to practice requiring supervision.

The telephone at Davidson’s former office in Orange has been disconnected and he could not be reached for comment.


Judge James Citta

Safe Behind the Robes — A judge who compared a defendant being sentenced for attempted murder to O.J. Simpson can’t be sued for civil rights violations, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday.

Former Ocean County Judge James Citta had remarked at the sentencing of Earl Peeples, who had pleaded guilty to stabbing the mother of his child, “You’re a dangerous individual. You look up domestic violence in the dictionary, your picture should be next to it. The only difference between you and O.J. Simpson is he had more money and he got off for some reason in a land of fruits and nuts. And the only difference between [the victim here] and Nicole Brown Simpson is that she got lucky and somebody was able to get her some medical assistance before she bled to death on her living room floor.”

After Peeples’ sentence was affirmed, he filed a civil rights claim in federal court, alleging Citta acted with “malicious intent” because Peeples is black and his girlfriend is white.

Judges Dolores Sloviter, Thomas Vanaskie and Joseph Weis Jr., of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, said they agreed with U.S. District Judge Joel Pisano‘s finding that Peeples’ claims were barred, noting that “judicial immunity is not overcome by allegations of bad faith or malice.”

The Supreme Court reprimanded Citta for his remarks in 2010 and he retired in 2011. He declined to comment.


Dennis Daly

Betting on Atlantic City — Denver-based Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck has opened an office in the Atlantic City area with the addition of three attorneys.

Joining the firm as shareholders are Paul O’Gara and Pacifico Agnellini. Dennis Daly is of counsel. The attorneys, whose practices focus on gambling law, come from 28-lawyer Sterns & Weinroth in Trenton. The new office is located in Absecon.

The additions bring to 13 the number of gambling lawyers at Brownstein Hyatt, which has about 215 lawyers. The practice group is led by Frank Schreck, a partner in Las Vegas. The law firm, with 13 offices, also has a practice in Reno. Schreck said in a press release that the additions solidify the firm’s position as having a top gambling practice.

Clients include Caesars Entertainment Corp., online gambling platform Bwin International Ltd., Tropicana Entertainment Inc. and Landry’s Inc. The practice group handles matters involving licensing, regulatory investigations and compliance. It represents gambling clients in public offerings, financing, business restructurings, and mergers and acquisitions.

— By Charles Toutant, Mary Pat Gallagher, Michael Booth and Leigh Jones (The National Law Journal).