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Judge orders new trial in Chicago patronage case
Legal Network | 2009/12/24 05:00
A federal judge threw out the fraud conviction of Chicago's former streets and sanitation commissioner Tuesday and granted him a new trial on charges of illegally rewarding political campaign workers with city jobs.

Al Sanchez was convicted at the high profile trial based on testimony from a key witness whose arrest record and gang affiliations should have been disclosed beforehand to defense attorneys but were not, Judge Robert W. Gettleman said.

FBI agents based in Indiana also should have told prosecutors in Chicago that the witness, Brian Gabriel, was under investigation in a gang war between the Spanish Vice Lords and Latin Kings at the time of the trial, Gettleman said.

And the prosecutors could have learned of that investigation if they had performed a records search, Gettleman said in his 22-page opinion.

"Based on these findings, this court has lost confidence in the integrity of the verdict convicting these defendants," Gettleman said in his 22-page opinion.

Gettleman also ordered a new trial for a youthful former aide to Sanchez, Aaron Delvalle, who was convicted of one count of perjury at the March trial.

The trial attracted the spotlight because as streets and sanitation commissioner Sanchez headed a department that for decades was a major pool of patronage jobs for the once mighty Chicago Democratic Machine. That spotlight was intensified because in recent years the U.S. attorney's office has conducted a major investigation of hiring fraud at City Hall.



Lyondell settles lawsuit brought by unsecured creditors
Legal Network | 2009/12/07 19:16
Lyondell Chemical Co. settled a lawsuit brought by its unsecured creditors against bank lenders to help the chemical company reorganize in bankruptcy. The creditors don't support the agreement.

The settlement, which still needs court approval, resolves a lawsuit brought by the creditors on behalf of Lyondell against the company's bank lenders related a 2007 buyout, Lyondell spokesman David Harpole said in a phone interview.

Creditors' lawyer Steven Pohl said while his clients don't support the deal, under bankruptcy law Lyondell owns the creditors' claims and has the right to settle.

“Its especially unusual on the eve of a trial for the debtor to come in and settle when the parties have spent four months getting ready for trial,” said Pohl in a phone interview.

The proposed settlement would give the creditors a cash payment of $300 million when Lyondell exits bankruptcy, and establish a litigation trust to fund lawsuits against third parties. The accord was reached after a mediator, whose appointment was announced Nov. 9, failed to resolve the dispute, Harpole said.

“This clears the path for us to move forward with filing an amended disclosure statement and exiting bankruptcy,” Harpole said.

Lyondell's creditors and lenders accepted the appointment of mediator Myron Trepper “for the purpose of facilitating settlement discussions,” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber said in court papers filed Nov. 9. The lawsuit, filed July 22, sought a trial to determine damages.

The lawsuit claimed Lyondell's 2007 buyout, financed with $22 billion in borrowings, left the company with too much debt and caused it to fail a year later. The suit names Lyondell's parent, Netherlands-based LyondellBasell Industries AF, and banks including ABN Amro Bank NV, Citibank NA, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co. and UBS AG.


Pension drops lawsuit against ACS over Xerox buy
Legal Network | 2009/11/23 18:03

NORWALK, Conn. — Xerox Corp. said Monday that a pension fund hasdropped a lawsuit over provisions in the copier company's purchase ofAffiliated Computer Services Inc. that would have made it tough for abetter buyout offer to succeed.

Xerox said the plaintiffs, Cityof St. Clair Shores Police and Fire Retirement System in Michigan,ended the litigation after the copier company agreed to removeroadblocks to a superior offer for ACS.

Xerox agreed that if theACS board receives a better offer to its $5.6 billion cash-and-stockbid for ACS, the copier company will not require ACS Chairman DarwinDeason to vote his shares in favor of Xerox.

The previousagreement would have forced Deason to give half of his votes to supportthe Xerox bid. He controls a 44 percent of the votes at ACS.

Xerox also won't force ACS to hold a shareholders meeting to vote on the Xerox bid but instead end the merger if requested.

The lawsuit was filed in October in Dallas County, Texas. A separate shareholder class action lawsuit is pending in Delaware.



Jury Rules Against Blue Nile in $60.1 Million Lawsuit
Legal Network | 2009/11/02 17:36
Following a six-day trial, a federal jury here
dismissed Blue Nile Inc.'s $60.1 million claim against The Yehuda Diamond
Company, reaffirming Yehuda Diamond's right to compare the prices of its
clarity enhanced diamonds to the untreated diamonds sold by online retailer
Blue Nile.

Yehuda Diamond, based in New York, has earned widespread industry and consumer
loyalty for its successful competition with Blue Nile and other online
jewelers, favoring consumers not only with lower prices but also with
unsurpassed expert face-to-face service and full Federal Trade
Commission-compliant disclosure.

The suit [No. C-07-2017 TSZ], brought by Blue Nile and heard last month in
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, involved Blue
Nile's efforts to prevent Yehuda Diamond from comparing the price and
appearance of its clarity enhanced diamonds to those natural untreated
diamonds sold by Blue Nile.

Yehuda Diamond has consistently contended, even before Blue Nile filed the
lawsuit against it in December 2007, that Yehuda Diamond's price comparisons
are in the best interest of consumers.  After 4-1/2 hours of deliberations,
the jury agreed, dismissing both Blue Nile's federal and state claims that
Yehuda Diamond had engaged in false or misleading advertising.

Blue Nile, which has brought multiple lawsuits against smaller competitors
over the past decade, had petitioned the jury to award it exemplary damages of
$60,161,834.64, based on alleged actual damages of $20,053,944.88.   

"This is a momentous victory for all consumers and for free-market
competition," says Dror Yehuda, president of Yehuda Diamonds.  

"In essence, the jury told Blue Nile that it can't use its massive size and
legal muscle to prevent consumers from learning about lower-priced, quality
alternatives to Blue Nile diamonds," explains Mr. Yehuda.  "In recent years,
Blue Nile has preferred to fight its competitors in the courtroom than in the
marketplace."

The jury's decision clears the path for Yehuda Diamond to continue to inform
consumers of how much they stand to save by shopping at Yehuda Diamond
authorized retailers, who offer competitive prices along with personalized,
expert, face-to-face customer service for its clarity enhanced diamonds.  By
comparison, Blue Nile untreated diamonds are frequently higher-priced and Blue
Nile bypasses the retail distribution chain altogether.

Moreover, Mr. Yehuda vowed that his company will continue to press its own
lawsuit against Blue Nile [Court Case #08-CV-9751] filed in November 2008 in
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

In that ongoing case, Yehuda Diamond contends that consumers who purchased
rubies, emeralds, sapphires or jewelry containing those stones from Blue Nile
were not informed that the gemstones had been treated to enhance their
appearance.



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