Ohio man pleads not guilty to Pitt threat charges
Legal Business | 2012/08/29 18:28
An Ohio man charged with conspiracy for allegedly claiming to be part of the computer hacking group "Anonymous" and posting a YouTube threat to release confidential computer information belonging to the University of Pittsburgh pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.

Alexander Waterland, 24, of Loveland, Ohio, and his attorney declined comment after his 15-minute arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maureen Kelly.

A federal grand jury earlier this month indicted Waterland and Brett Hudson, 26, of Hillsboro, Ohio, on charges they posted the threats in April and May. Online court records don't list an attorney for Hudson, who is scheduled to be arraigned in Pittsburgh on Sept. 6. Hudson has previously told The Associated Press he won't comment on the charges.

Although Pitt officials later determined their computer information was never hacked, the threats claimed it was and the FBI determined that Waterland and/or Hudson had downloaded some personal information from students and faculty and emailed some of it to Pitt officials to "prove" the hacking had occurred.


Appeals court affirms oil company polar bear rules
Legal Business | 2012/08/22 21:54
Oil companies operating in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast will have a negligible effect on polar bears and walrus, according to a federal Appeals Court ruling Tuesday that backed U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rules on harassment of the animals.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the agency correctly issued rules that provide legal protection to oil companies if small numbers of polar bears or Pacific walruses are incidentally harmed.

"We're glad that the court has reaffirmed the appropriateness of our conservation measures," agency spokesman Bruce Woods said.

The Center for Biological Diversity sued over the rules, claiming both individual animals and entire populations must be analyzed for protection. Center attorney Rebecca Noblin said the Appeals Court agreed but concluded the Fish and Wildlife Service had done sufficient separate analyses. Noblin called the decision disappointing.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act generally prohibits the "take" of marine mammals. Take is defined to include harassment or annoyance that has the potential to injure or that could disrupt behavior patterns such as migration, nursing, breeding and feeding.


Appeals court affirms that cheering is not a sport
Legal Business | 2012/08/08 19:47
A federal appeals court has ruled that colleges cannot count competitive cheerleading as a sport when trying to comply with gender-equity requirements, upholding a U.S. District Court decision against Quinnipiac University.

In a decision released Tuesday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that competitive cheerleading does not yet meet the standards of a varsity sport under Title IX, the 1972 federal law that mandates equal opportunities for men and women in education and athletics.

The ruling comes on an appeal filed by Quinnipiac, a school with about 8,000 students in Hamden, which had been successfully sued by its volleyball coach after it tried to eliminate the women's volleyball program in favor of competitive cheering.

"Like the district court, we acknowledge record evidence showing that competitive cheerleading can be physically challenging, requiring competitors to possess 'strength, agility, and grace,' the court wrote. "Similarly, we do not foreclose the possibility that the activity, with better organization and defined rules, might someday warrant recognition as a varsity sport. But, like the district court, we conclude that the record evidence shows that 'that time has not yet arrived.'"

The appeals court agreed with U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill, who found in 2010 that competitive cheerleading did not have the organization, post-season structure or standardized rules required to be considered a varsity sport.


Court spurns religious claim to name change
Legal Business | 2012/08/03 00:00
An appeals court has rejected a Kansas man's claim that the federal justice system's refusal to recognize his new Muslim name violates his constitutional religious rights.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Michael White failed to show it was unreasonable to deny his request to amend all records in his criminal case.

A lower court held that replacing the name Michael White with Abdul Hakeem Kareem Mujahid in all federal court records would create confusion.

Mujahid is serving 10 years at a prison in Colorado for killing another inmate at the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth. A Kansas court granted his petition to change his name in December 2010.


Goldman agrees to settle mortgage debt class action
Legal Business | 2012/07/20 18:26
Goldman Sachs Group Inc has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit with investors who claimed losses on $698 million of securities backed by risky mortgage loans issued by defunct subprime lender New Century Financial Corp.

Lawyers for the investors said in a letter filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Tuesday that a proposed settlement had been reached. Terms were not immediately disclosed, though they are expected to be included in court papers filed by July 31.

Goldman is one of many banks accused by U.S. legislators and regulators of fueling the nation's housing and financial crisis by misleading investors about the quality of mortgage debt they sold.

A federal judge in February ordered Goldman to face the class-action lawsuit that accuses it of defrauding investors in GSAMP Trust 2006-S2, a $698 million offering of certificates backed by second-lien home loans.

The loans were made by New Century, a subprime mortgage specialist that went bankrupt in 2007.

The investors, led by the Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi, contend the offering documents contained materially untrue statements about the underwriting and appraisal standards used by California-based New Century, the mortgage originator. Goldman securitized and issued the certificates.


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


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