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Court Denies Altria Motions To Dimiss Claims
Topics | 2008/02/27 21:57

The law firm of Broach & Stulberg LLP said the U.S. District Court denied Altria Group Inc.'s (MO) motions to dismiss an age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by a former Swiss-based employee against Altria and Philip Morris International Inc.

The motions sought to dismiss the claims on the ground that the U.S. court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the plaintiff, D'Arcy Quinn, was employed by a "foreign" employer not subject to the U.S. Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Judge Laura Taylor Swain ruled that Altria "failed to raise a meritorious issue as to lack of subject matter jurisdiction."

The suit alleges that firing, hirings and promotions within Philip Morris illegally considered ages of candidates and employees.

The suit was filed in October in the U.S. District Court for the Southern district of New York on behalf Quinn, a former Philip Morris brand integrity director who served as in-house counsel for international anti-counterfeiting and anti-smuggling matters.

An Altria spokesman wasn't immediately available for comment.



US appeals court rejects California ship emission rules
Law Firm News | 2008/02/27 19:24
California must obtain approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before enforcing new rules to require ships to burn cleaner diesel fuel as they enter and dock at the state's ports, a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday.

The California Air Resources Board had sought to implement stricter air pollution controls within 24 miles of the state's coastline. The rules would require ships to use fuel in their auxiliary engines that emits lower levels of sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter.

But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal reinstated a lower court's injunction barring the state from enforcing its Marine Vessel Rules, finding that the Clean Air Act preempts them.



A Law Firm Puts Its Chefs on Trial
Topics | 2008/02/25 21:58

Big-time lawyers are pros at waiting for judges' tough decisions, but yesterday afternoon at Nixon Peabody in the District, some may have posted fewer billable hours until results of the firm's 19th annual cook-off were handed down.

The competition pits men against women, which could lead to actionable territory and dangerous stereotyping. Yet, it has helped build camaraderie among all departments, firm employees say, pointing to Nixon Peabody's ranking among Fortune magazine Top 100 Best Companies to Work For, three years running. Still, the trash talk leading up to the cook-off can start two months in advance, when planning meetings and team captains are chosen. Attempts have been made in past years to choose sides differently -- by floor, say, instead of along gender lines. Those negotiations have failed.

Some companies set up tennis or golf tournaments, which can draw more male than female employees. Nixon Peabody's cook-off turns out to attract partners and paralegals alike and is even more popular than the bocce tournaments it has held in the summer.

Not all the women in the firm, which has 216 employees in its Washington office and about 1,725 nationwide, agree on the event's attractions. Women's team co-captain and associate Emily Hargrove, 30, says that although more women than men participate, she still ran into plenty of resistance from women in the firm who said they don't cook; they just make reservations.



Former partner suing Dorsey & Whitney law firm
Topics | 2008/02/25 21:56

A former partner in the New York office of Dorsey & Whitney is suing the Minneapolis-based law firm, claiming gender discrimination and violations of the whistleblower act, among other things.

Hennepin County District Court Judge Gary Larson heard an hour of arguments Tuesday on the Dorsey firm's motion to dismiss Kristan Peters' suit.

Peters began working as a Dorsey partner in January 2007 and left on June 23. At the core of the case is her handling of a trade secrets dispute on behalf of Wolters Kluwer Financial Services in New York. The matter drew media attention in trade publications, largely because of U.S. District Court Judge Harold Baer Jr.'s 129-page opinion criticizing Peters' behavior.

According to R. Scott Davies of Briggs and Morgan, who is representing Dorsey, Baier scolded Peters 22 times for her handling of the case. Davies said Peters played fast and loose with the litigation, lied to the court and misrepresented circumstances to the firm's partners.

Peters' lawyer James Kaster countered that the judge's behavior, not Peters', was unusual. The behavior Baer disliked -- such as scheduling a 7-hour deposition over two days and refusing to give bathroom breaks -- is not unusual, Kaster said.



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