Fed court reverses order for VA system overhaul
Legal Business | 2012/05/07 18:19
A federal appeals court on Monday reversed its demand that the Veterans Affairs Department dramatically overhaul its mental health care system.

A special 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that any such changes need to be ordered by Congress or the president.

The 10-1 ruling reversed an earlier decision by a three-judge panel of the same court.

The May 2011 ruling had ordered the VA to ensure that suicidal vets are seen immediately, among other changes. It found the VA's "unchecked incompetence" in handling the flood of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health claims was unconstitutional.

The new decision said courts are powerless to implement the fixes sought by two veterans groups that filed the lawsuit against the VA in 2007. The lawsuits alleged that hundreds of thousands of veterans had to wait an average of four years to fully receive the mental health benefits owed them.

"There can be no doubt that securing exemplary care for our nation's veterans is a moral imperative," Judge Jay Bybee wrote for the majority. "But Congress and the president are in far better position" to decide whether and what changes need to be done.


Bernstein Liebhard LLP Announces Class Action
Legal Business | 2012/01/31 18:13
Bernstein Liebhard LLP today announced that a class action has been commenced in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of purchasers of Veolia Environnement S.A.  American Depository Shares (“ADSs”) during the period between April 27, 2007 and August 4, 2011, inclusive (the “Class Period”).

The complaint charges Veolia and certain of its officers and directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Veolia operates utility and public transportation businesses. The Company supplies drinking water, provides waste management services, manages and maintains heating and air conditioning systems, and operates rail and road passenger transportation systems.

The complaint alleges that, during the Class Period, defendants issued materially false and misleading statements regarding the Company’s business and prospects. Specifically, defendants misrepresented and/or failed to disclose the following adverse facts: (a) that Veolia was materially overstating its financial results by engaging in improper accounting practices; (b) that the Company lacked adequate internal controls and was therefore unable to ascertain its true financial condition; (c) that Veolia failed to timely record an impairment charge for its Transport business in Morocco, Environmental Services businesses in Egypt, Marine Services business in the United States, and for Southern Europe; (d) that the Company’s revenues were being hampered by the renewal of some of its major concession contracts; and (e) that, as a result of the foregoing, defendants lacked a reasonable basis for their positive statements about the Company and its prospects.

On August 4, 2011, Veolia announced its half year results, for the period ended June 30, 2011. For the half year, the Company reported consolidated revenue of €16,286.7 million. Moreover, defendants reported operating income of €252.2 million, compared to €1100.7 million in the prior year period, due to “non-recurring write-downs amounting to €686M (principally in Italy, Morocco and the United States).” The Company stated that it would exit certain businesses and certain geographies, including its Transport business in Morocco, Environmental Services businesses in Egypt, Marine Services business in the United States and in Southern Europe. In reaction to these announcements, the price of Veolia ADSs fell $4.66 per share, or over 22%, to close at $16.10 per share, on heavy trading volume.

Plaintiffs seek to recover damages on behalf of all Class members who purchased or otherwise acquired Veolia ADSs during the Class Period. If you purchased or otherwise acquired Veolia ADSs during the Class Period, and either lost money on the transaction or still hold the shares, you may wish to join in this action to serve as lead plaintiff. In order to do so, you must meet certain requirements set forth in the applicable law and file appropriate papers no later than February 27, 2012.

A “lead plaintiff” is a representative party that acts on behalf of other class members in directing the litigation. In order to be appointed lead plaintiff, the court must determine that the class member’s claim is typical of the claims of other class members, and that the class member will adequately represent the class. Under certain circumstances, one or more class members may together serve as lead plaintiff. Your ability to share in any recovery is not, however, affected by the decision whether or not to serve as a lead plaintiff. You may retain Bernstein Liebhard LLP, or other counsel of your choice, to serve as your counsel in this action.

www.bernlieb.com


Law Firm To Collect $35M In Forfeited Bonds
Legal Business | 2011/07/11 07:51
A law firm will be appointed to collect about $35 million in forfeited bonds owed to Dallas County.

District Attorney Craig Watkins said Wednesday that a law firm, to be selected later, will get to keep 25 percent of the amount collected.

A recent local newspaper review found that many of the uncollected defaulted judgments date back decades. The newspaper reports that Dallas County has been hampered by outdated computers, poor oversight and lack of coordination among departments.

Defendants post bond to get out of jail, paying bondsmen usually 10 percent of the amount set by a judge. If the person doesn’t show up for court, a warrant is issued and the bond is forfeited.

The review found many companies failed to pay Dallas County the full amount.


Nevada Supreme Court hosting Law Day Live program
Legal Business | 2011/05/05 16:25
The Nevada Supreme Court is hosting an interactive Law Day Live forum linking courtrooms in Las Vegas, Carson City, and Winnemucca around an American Bar Association theme honoring the legacy of the nation's second president, John Adams.

Court spokesman Bill Gang said a Thursday videoconference hook-up will be streamed live as an educational tool for middle and high school students across the state.

Panels at each location will include judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and law enforcers — moderated by Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta.

Adams was the first U.S. lawyer-president, and was a staunch advocate of the rule of law — including the principle that accused persons are entitled to a legal defense.

Adams defended British soldiers in court on charges after the Boston Massacre of 1770.


Conn. high court hears death penalty appeal
Legal Business | 2011/04/27 16:08
A lawyer told the state Supreme Court yesterday that his client’s death penalty case was the weakest one ever to go before the high court, alleging that the jury was biased and that key evidence was improperly withheld from the trial.

Justices heard the appeal of former Torrington resident Eduardo Santiago, 31, who prosecutors say agreed in 2000 to kill a West Hartford man in exchange for a pink-striped snowmobile with a broken clutch. He was sentenced to death by lethal injection in 2005 after a jury convicted him, despite no clear evidence that he was the one who pulled the rifle trigger.

Two other men are serving life prison sentences for the killing of Joseph Niwinski, 45, who was shot in the head while sleeping in his home.

Santiago’s lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Mark Rademacher, told the Supreme Court that there was no way a reasonable jury could have condemned Santiago. The defense presented 25 mitigating factors, including Santiago’s troubled childhood, for jurors to consider against the death penalty, while the state based its argument for execution on one aggravating factor, that Niwinski was killed in a murder-for-hire plot.


Lawyer-legislator says ethics opinion clears Prattville lawmaker
Legal Business | 2011/03/10 20:01

The chairman of the Legislature's Contract Review Committee said an opinion from the executive director of the State Ethics Commission clears a senator to work for a law firm that does business with the state.

The chairman, Republican Sen. Bill Holtzclaw of Madison said the opinion settled the issue of whether Republican Sen. Bryan Taylor of Prattville was in compliance when he joined the law firm of Capell & Howard.

The Huntsville Times reported that the opinion from Executive Director Jim Sum-ner said changes made in the state ethics law in December had very little, if any, impact of state contracting.

The committee had sought the advice last month when Capell & Howard got a $100,000 contract from the state Department of Corrections.




Too big to stop? Obama's overhaul lumbers on
Legal Business | 2011/02/02 17:51

Most insurers, hospital executives and state officials expect they'll keep carrying out President Barack Obama's health care overhaul even after a federal judge cast its fate in doubt by declaring all of it unconstitutional.

"It's still the law of the land," said William Hoagland, vice president for public policy at health insurer Cigna. "We'll continue to proceed with its requirements, and (the ruling) will not slow that down. We have no other choice until this thing is resolved one way or the other." Insurers spent millions to block passage of the law.

Health care accounts for about one-sixth of the economy, and many players in the sprawling sector have a love-hate relationship with Obama's health care remake. There's dissatisfaction with key provisions, and a sense that parts may be unworkable. But at the same time, it's seen as a vehicle to start addressing problems of cost and quality that, left to fester, could trigger more drastic consequences.

"I don't think people are going to hit the stop button," said Paul Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, a research arm of the consulting firm. "You probably don't make the big bets right now, but you make the incremental investments in case you have to make the big bets 6 or 12 or 18 months down the road. Everyone proceeds with an informed approach."

Monday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Florida had been expected to go against the Obama administration. But the scope of the decision in a lawsuit by 26 of the 50 states took some by surprise.

Vinson struck down the entire law after finding its requirement for nearly all Americans to carry health insurance unconstitutional. Another judge who reached the same conclusion in a separate case voided the individual insurance requirement and left everything else in place.




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