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Top U.S. court backs S.F. health care
Legal Focuses | 2008/02/23 21:45

The U.S. Supreme Court allowed San Francisco on Thursday to continue requiring employers to pay part of the cost of providing health care to uninsured residents while a group of restaurant owners tries to overturn the program.

Justice Anthony Kennedy denied a request by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association to suspend the employer contributions while the case awaits an April 17 hearing before an appellate panel.

The city expanded its health care program six weeks ago after winning a ruling from the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. That court allowed city officials to require large and medium-size companies to provide insurance to their employees, at spending levels set by the city, or pay a fee to support care for the uninsured at 22 hospitals and clinics.

The expansion lets San Francisco phase in coverage for about 26,000 residents who were not previously eligible for subsidized care. The city says the program will ultimately cover all 73,000 adult residents who are not poor enough for Medi-Cal or old enough for Medicare. About 12,500 people have enrolled so far, program Director Tangerine Brigham said Thursday.



Hogan law firm eyes new Legg tower
Attorney News | 2008/02/22 22:10

Washington, D.C., law firm Hogan & Hartson is negotiating to take at least 40,000 square feet in the planned Legg Mason Tower, a 24-story office building to be constructed on the fringes of the city's business district at the waterfront Harbor East development.

The law firm would be the first tenant to follow Legg Mason to the new office tower, where rents are said to be the highest in the city. Legg is slated to move by summer 2009 from its signature office building at Light and Pratt streets.

Hogan has about 45 local lawyers and about 30,000 square feet at Harborplace Tower, a waterfront office building at Calvert and Pratt streets where its lease is set to expire in October. The building is connected to the Gallery shopping mall.



Two Birmingham law firms agree to merger
Attorney News | 2008/02/22 22:02

Birmingham law firm White Arnold & Dowd PC and fellow Birmingham firm Summey & Hennecy have merged.

Partners Sidney C. Summey and Karen M. Hennecy and their staff members recently agreed to join White Arnold & Dowd PC, which brings the firm's total staff to 17.

The move strengthens the firm's growing probate and elder law practice, a news release said.

Summey has more than 30 years of experience practicing in the probate and civil courts in Alabama and will continue his primary practice of wills, trusts and estates, assistance to litigators handling lawsuits for minors and incompetents, special needs trusts and planning, guardianships and conservatorships, elder law and litigation related to probate issues.

Hennecy will concentrate her practice on elder law issues, assisting clients and their families with matters including advance directives, durable powers of attorney, wills, trusts, asset preservation and Medicaid planning and administration of the estates of decedents and protected persons.



US court rules for Medtronic, bars some state suits
Legal PR | 2008/02/20 21:46

The U.S. Supreme Court handed a victory to Medtronic Inc on Wednesday, ruling that patients cannot sue medical-device manufacturers in state court over harm from a device that has approval from federal regulators.

By an 8-1 vote, the court ruled a 1976 law creating federal safety oversight for medical devices bars state-law claims challenging safety or effectiveness of devices that have won premarket approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The decision was the Supreme Court's first ruling on the legal effect of the FDA's approval of a medical device on liability lawsuits, Medtronic said.

The ruling could benefit other device makers, who have argued that the FDA's judgment that a product is safe and effective should protect companies from being sued for liability in state court.

The Medtronic case involved a New York man who was injured in 1996 when a doctor inflated a balloon catheter during an artery-clearing procedure.

Medtronic has said the doctor in the case used the catheter contrary to labeling instructions and in a patient for whom it was not recommended. The company no longer makes that specific catheter.

A federal trial court in Albany, New York, dismissed the lawsuit, finding the patient was not entitled to state law remedies because of the FDA's prior approval of the device.

A U.S. appeals court agreed that the lawsuit was pre-empted by federal law, and the Supreme Court upheld that decision.



Top US court rejects spying case
Legal PR | 2008/02/19 21:48

The US Supreme Court has dismissed a legal challenge to a domestic anti-terrorism eavesdropping programme.
President George W Bush authorised the monitoring, without a court order, of international phone calls and e-mails of US citizens after the 9/11 attacks.

The American Civil Liberties Union argued that Mr Bush did not have the constitutional authority to order the programme, which ended last year.

The Supreme Court gave no explanation for its ruling.

Legality questioned

The domestic spying programme was denounced by Democrats and rights activists when it was disclosed in 2005.

A group of civil liberties activists, journalists, academics and lawyers challenged the spying programme in the courts, arguing it violated a 1978 rule prohibiting surveillance of American citizens on US soil without a warrant.

In July last year, an appeals court struck down a lower court's ruling that found the programme to be unconstitutional.

The appeals court, based in Cincinnati, dismissed the case because the plaintiffs had failed to show that their communications had been monitored.

But the Cincinnati judges did not rule on the legality or otherwise of the programme.

The president rejected claims that he broke the law by ordering surveillance without first securing warrants. He argued the eavesdropping programme was necessary and was targeted against al-Qaeda.

The Bush administration has so far refused to release documents about the programme that might reveal who was under surveillance.




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