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Failed Abortion Sparks Child Care Lawsuit
Court Feed News | 2007/03/07 13:53
A woman who had an abortion but still gave birth has filed a lawsuit against two doctors and a family planning organization seeking the costs of raising her child.

The complaint was filed by Jennifer Raper, 45, last week in Suffolk Superior Court and still must be screened by a special panel before it can proceed to trial.

Raper claimed in the suit that she found out she was pregnant in March 2004 and decided to have an abortion for financial reasons, The Boston Globe reported in its Wednesday editions.

Dr. Allison Bryant, a physician working for Planned Parenthood at the time, performed the procedure on April 9, 2004, but it "was not done properly, causing the plaintiff to remain pregnant," according to the complaint.

Raper then went to see Dr. Benjamin Eleonu at Boston Medical Center in July 2004, and he failed to detect the pregnancy even though she was 20 weeks pregnant at the time, the lawsuit alleges.

It was only when Raper went to the New England Medical Center emergency room for treatment of pelvic pain in late September that year that she found out she was pregnant, the suit said.

She gave birth to a daughter on Dec. 7, 2004.

Raper and her lawyer, Barry C. Reed Jr., refused comment when contacted by the newspaper, and a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood said the organization does not comment on pending litigation.

Massachusetts' high court ruled in 1990 that parents can sue physicians for child-rearing expenses, but limited those claims to cases in which children require extraordinary expenses because of medical problems, medical malpractice lawyer Andrew C. Meyer Jr. said.

Raper's suit has no mentions of medical problems involving her now 2-year-old daughter.


Supreme Court rejects Ebbers fair-trial
Court Feed News | 2007/03/06 17:40

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal by the ex-WorldCom Inc. chief of his federal fraud and conspiracy conviction in the $11 billion accounting scandal that destroyed his former Clinton-based company and cost investors thousands of dollars. A former P.E. coach-turned-telecommunications king, Ebbers had challenged two facets of his federal trial that resulted in a 25-year prison sentence.

The justices rejected without comment Ebbers' bid for review of his 2005 conviction based on his contention that he was denied a fair trial.

Hearing the news, Thomas Harris of Brandon, a former WorldCom accountant, who at one time thought he might be able to retire at age 40, said, "I don't harbor any ill feelings against Bernie, but when we make decisions we have to live by them."

Harris, a 13-year employee, left the company, then known as MCI, to open a business with his wife when it appeared he would have to move to stay with the company.

"Hopefully all of this will be a deterrent to other executives making decisions not good for a company," Harris said.

Ebbers began serving his sentence in the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, La., in September, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons Web site lists July 4, 2028, as the 65-year-old Ebbers' projected release date.

Absent a presidential pardon -which was less likely than Supreme Court intervention - Ebbers will serve his sentence, said Matt Steffey, a professor at Mississippi College School of Law.

Steffey said he wasn't surprised the Supreme Court rejected Ebbers' appeal.

"Other than Mr. Ebbers' status as a businessman, there was nothing noteworthy from a legal perspective," he said. "It seems he got a fair trial, he was ably represented and he had his conviction reviewed by the Court of Appeals. Everything went according to form.

"Cases like this rarely get reviewed by the Supreme Court. If Mr. Ebbers weren't famous, there would be little public interest."

Ebbers argued in court papers the trial judge improperly allowed prosecutors to use testimony from witnesses who had been given immunity but denied immunity to potential defense witnesses.

The judge also instructed jurors they could find Ebbers guilty if they believed he suspected a crime was being committed but intentionally looked the other way.

A federal appeals court upheld the conviction last year while acknowledging Ebbers' sentence for a white-collar crime was longer than sentences routinely imposed by many states for violent crimes. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Ebbers' actions to hide WorldCom's financial problems were substantial and had cost investors dearly.

Stacey Wall, president and chief executive officer at Pinnacle Trust Wealth Management in Ridgeland, said he sympathizes with investors who lost money but thinks Ebbers' sentence was too harsh. "Relative to other corporate scandals and executives involved, he got very unfair treatment," he said.

Ebbers was convicted of fraud and conspiracy in March 2005 for his role in the scheme that drove the former telecommunications giant into bankruptcy in 2002.

Investigators uncovered $11 billion in fraud, much of it because accountants were classifying regular expenses as long-term capital expenditures. The company re-emerged under the name MCI and moved the headquarters to Virginia. Verizon later bought MCI.



Supreme Court rules in Colorado redistricting
Legal Career News | 2007/03/06 17:29
The US Supreme Court handed down decisions in two cases Monday, including Lance v. Coffman, where the Court concluded that four Republican voters in Colorado did not have standing to challenge a court-ordered congressional redistricting plan. A state judge in Colorado drew up a redistricting plan in 2002 when the state legislature was unable to agree on a plan in time for elections that year. The legislature drew up a plan in 2003, but that plan was rejected by the Colorado Supreme Court because the state constitution allows for a new plan only once per decade. The state supreme court held that "judicially-created districts are just as binding and permanent as districts created by the General Assembly." The redistricting plan was subsequently challenged by four voters, who argued that their rights had been violated under the Elections Clause of the US Constitution, which states that the "Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of choosing Senators." The US Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs did not have standing, writing:
The only injury plaintiffs allege is that the law - specifically the Elections Clause - has not been followed. This injury is precisely the kind of undifferentiated, generalized grievance about the conduct of government that we have refused to countenance in the past. It is quite different from the sorts of injuries alleged by plaintiffs in voting rights cases where we have found standing. Because plaintiffs assert no particularized stake in the litigation, we hold that they lack standing to bring their Elections Clause claim.


New Jersey verdict for Vioxx drugmaker upheld
Court Feed News | 2007/03/06 17:27

A New Jersey superior court judge Monday upheld a Friday jury verdict  for Merck & Co, finding that the company had given adequate warning to physicians of the risks associated with its painkiller Vioxx. Judge Carol Higbee rejected a motion by plaintiffs attorney Mark Lanier disputing a finding that the drug company had warned doctors prescribing Vioxx that a 2004 study showed the drug doubled the risk of heart attack or stroke in patients who took it for longer than 18 months; Lanier represents the estate of a deceased man whose fatal heart attack is alleged to have been caused by the drug.

Merck faces more than 27,000 lawsuits from people who say they were harmed by the once $2.5 billion-a-year drug before it was pulled from the market in September of 2004. Merck has set aside $1 billion to fight every Vioxx court challenge. In November 2006, a federal judge declined to certify a national class action suit, ruling that it made more sense to try the cases in their respective states of origin.



Court denies GOP redistricting challenge
Court Feed News | 2007/03/05 17:02

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled against Colorado Republicans challenging a congressional redistricting plan favorable to Democrats.

In a unanimous decision, the justices said that the four Republicans were not entitled to sue in an effort to replace a redistricting plan ordered by a court with one passed by a Republican-controlled state legislature.

A Democratic state judge drew up the first redistricting plan in 2002, while the Republican Legislature drew one up in 2003.

The court plan had been put in place when a divided Colorado General Assembly was unable to agree on one in time for the 2002 election.

In their lawsuit, the Republican voters say the court-imposed map violates a right of citizens under the U.S. Constitution to vote for congressional candidates in districts created by state legislatures.

In an unsigned opinion, the justices said that the only injury the Republican voters allege is that the Elections Clause had not been followed.

"This injury is precisely the kind of undifferentiated, generalized grievance about the conduct of government that we have refused to countenance in the past," the court stated.

Citing earlier rulings, the justices said the Republicans must have more than a general interest common to all members of the public in order to pursue the case.

Last year, a U.S. District Court in Colorado had ruled that the Republicans could proceed with their lawsuit asserting an Elections Clause violation.

The Colorado case is the Supreme Court's latest foray into congressional redistricting battles. Last year, the justices addressed a messy redistricting fight in Texas, ruling that the Constitution does not bar states from redrawing political lines in mid-decade when one party or the other senses an advantage.

The decision grew out of a court review of a Texas redistricting plan orchestrated in 2003 by Tom DeLay, who was a Republican congressional leader at the time.

The Colorado dispute also involved a lawsuit brought by the Democratic state attorney general. It led to a Colorado Supreme Court decision against the Republican legislative plan in 2003. The Colorado Supreme Court said the state constitution restricts congressional redistricting to once per decade and that the legislature's plan was the second plan.



Taiwan's president wants new constitution
Legal World News | 2007/03/05 15:00

Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian angered Chinese nationalists by renewing his call for independence from China and a new constitution.

Speaking at a dinner in Taipei, Chen said the people of Taiwan did not want to be considered China's 23rd province, the Taipei Times reported Monday.

"Taiwan will say yes to independence," he said. "Taiwan will be correctly named, Taiwan will have a new constitution, Taiwan will develop. Taiwan needs a new constitution in order to become a normal, complete country."

Chang Jung-kung of the opposition Chinese Nationalist Party told reporters the remarks were "an attempt to provoke China when it comes to the issue of cross-straits relations," while Hwang Yih-jiau of the opposition People First Party said Chen was "using rhetoric to stir up independence-unification issues for political gains."



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