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Louisiana's new AG probes Foti's last-stand lawsuits
Legal Focuses | 2008/03/04 21:50

FCC General Counsel Feder Leaves for Law Firm
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell could be ready to ditch some of the more "curious" cases he inherited from his predecessor.

Former attorney general Charles Foti, unseated by Caldwell last November, issued a flurry of lawsuits in his final days on the job, LNL reported last month. In two cases he teamed up with campaign-donor lawyers to file big class-action suits.

"There has been documented curious official behavior on the part of the previous AG's office that has not gone unnoticed," Caldwell stated in a report.

Another case left for Caldwell was against Foti, accusing the former AG of illegally contracting the same lawyers to represent Louisiana in another big lawsuit. Four law firms working on two of Foti's suits donated $13,500 to his unsuccessful re-election campaign last year, that report notes.

Attorneys from New Orleans firms Dugan Law Firm and Murray Law Firm - both of which gave Foti's campaign $5,000 - are listed as plaintiffs in two of the suits.

On the flip side, Foti has also been accused of violating state law by not gaining official approval to contract with private lawyers in a lawsuit against re-constructor Road Home. The case was filed by major insurers including State Farm.



Campton Hills pays $124,000 to lawyers
Legal Focuses | 2008/03/03 20:42

Campton Hills leaders are attempting to catch up on the village's mounting legal bills.

Village board members Tuesday voted 4 to 0 to pay Chicago-area legal firm Arnstein & Lehr LLP nearly $124,000 for services dating from July to November. Trustees Bern Bertsche and Al Lenkaitis were absent.

While there is currently enough money in municipal coffers to square up the latest bill, Village Treasurer Kathy Catalano said officials might soon need to dig into contingency funds earmarked for budget overruns.

Legal expenses are expected to only mount as the village wages ongoing legal battles with several groups of property owners who are trying to detach their land from the new municipality.

The latest bill is in addition to a roughly $50,000 tab the village paid off around the beginning of the year.

"I'd prefer it wasn't that much," Village President Patsy Smith said Tuesday. "But that's the cost of starting a new village when you're being challenged legally."

Village Attorney Bill Braithwaite has said his firm attempted to help the village by delaying invoices until the municipality, which incorporated after a referendum last April, began receiving state-shared revenue.

Catalano said while "there have been some invoices lagging because of this," the money is finally arriving.

"We've got the ability to pay these bills," she said.

No one at Tuesday's meeting addressed when to expect legal bills from November through today or how much they will be.



Justices reject appeal by Adelphia founder, son
Legal Focuses | 2008/03/03 19:20

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected on Monday an appeal by Adelphia Communications Corp founder John Rigas and his son Timothy of their conspiracy and fraud convictions.

The justices declined to review a ruling by a U.S. appeals court in New York which upheld the pair's convictions on 22 of 23 counts of conspiracy and securities and bank fraud.

A jury found the father and son guilty in 2004 of the charges that accused them of concealing loans and stealing millions from the cable operator.

John Rigas, formerly Adelphia's president and chief executive officer, was sentenced in 2005 to 15 years in prison, while Timothy Rigas, the former finance chief, was sentenced to 20 years. They began serving their prison terms last year.

In the appeal, defense attorneys argued that federal prosecutors were required to prove that John and Timothy Rigas had violated Generally Accepted Accounting Principles or call an expert accounting witness in order to convict them of securities fraud.

The attorneys also argued that the reversal by the appeals court of the bank fraud convictions on count 23 for John and Timothy Rigas required the reversal of their bank fraud convictions on count 22.



Peloton hedge fund to liquidate and close shop
Legal Focuses | 2008/03/02 20:38

Peloton Partners LLP, a London-based hedge fund that formerly held nearly $3 billion in assets, is liquidating its two funds and shutting down, the firm told investors on Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Peloton last week told investors that it was liquidating its $2 billion ABS Fund after lender banks pulled back on credit. It held out hopes that it could salvage its second fund, the $1.6 billion Multi-Strategy Fund, even though some 40 percent of that fund's assets were invested in the ABS Fund.

Today, however, the fund told investors that the Multi-Strategy Fund is being liquidated in coming days, with the proceeds returned to investors, the source said.

It is unclear at this point what proceeds, if any, investors will get from the liquidation of the two funds, the company told investors.



Law Firm Warns Of Looming Katrina Lawsuit Deadline
Legal Focuses | 2008/02/28 22:05

That's significant not only in it being leap year, but it's also exactly six months until the deadline for anyone with a Katrina insurance dispute to file a lawsuit against insurance companies. Now one law firm is launching a campaign telling people who haven't decided whether to take their claim to court, not to wait until it's too late.

The Merlin Law Group has already fought for hundreds of people unhappy with how their insurance companies handled their Katrina claims. Attorney Chip Merlin says he worries about the thousands who have yet to join the battle.

"There's a whole bunch of people who've filed claims and they've been paid," said Merlin. "Sometimes they've been paid a little bit, sometimes they've been paid a lot. But they're still owed some more. Insurance companies bank on people just giving up."

Beginning February 29th, the Merlin Law Group will start running print and television ads letting people know the clock it ticking down.

"The deadline effectively stops people's ability to collect from the insurance company," Merlin said. "You have to have a lawsuit filed by that time. It doesn't mean the lawsuit is over with. It just means you have to have it filed."

Merlin says he's not concerned about where people who lost their homes and businesses go to find legal representation, just that they go and quickly.

"I don't think it's right for insurance companies to cheat people and not pay the full amount that's owed," said Merlin. "I've devoted my adult life to this and I believe that, regardless if they go to my law firm or any other law firm anywhere, it would be really wrong in our society if we allowed insurance companies to cheat people. They shouldn't just let the claim go away because they don't think it's worth the hassle."

Attorney Chip Merlin says many attorneys don't charge to review the merits of a claim, and will work on contingency. He says as the deadline for Katrina suits loomed in Louisiana last year, people were lined up outside the courthouse.



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