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Supreme Court to review light cigarette dispute
Headline News | 2007/01/13 03:31


The US Supreme Court Friday granted certiorari in four cases, including one that will determine if tobacco companies are protected from judgments in state courts on the grounds that cigarettes are federally regulated. The appeal, Watson v. Philip Morris, Cos. (05-1284), was filed by two Arkansas women who found their state court case against Phillip Morris for advertising claims of low tar and nicotine in “light” cigarettes, being removed to federal jurisdiction. Phillip Morris argued that the “unprecedented, detailed, and direct control” exerted by the Federal Trade Commission over cigarette advertising made the company a “person acting under” a federal officer, and convinced the US Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals that removal on those grounds were justified.


Moss Adams New Audit Firm for Cherokee, Inc.
Headline News | 2007/01/12 20:51

SALT LAKE CITY-ZEVEX International, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZVXI) has executed a definitive Merger Agreement with Moog Inc. (NYSE: MOG.A and MOG.B). Upon the closing of the merger, ZEVEX will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Moog. The merger is expected to close in March, 2007.

Upon the closing of the merger, each share of ZEVEX common stock that is issued and outstanding immediately prior to the closing, and each outstanding restricted stock unit that is convertible into shares of ZEVEX common stock, will be converted into the right to receive from Moog $13.00 in cash. Each outstanding option for shares of common stock will automatically be converted into the right to receive $13.00 per share for each share of common stock that is purchasable pursuant such option, less the per share exercise price of each such share. The maximum aggregate purchase price in the merger is $83.8 million. Moog intends to pay this purchase price from an existing line of credit.

The per share price of $13.00 represents a premium of approximately 36 percent above the average trading price of ZEVEX common stock during the past 30-day period. A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc. was engaged to act as financial advisor to ZEVEX's Board of Directors and delivered an opinion to the Board that, as of the date of the opinion, the consideration to be received by the shareholders pursuant to the terms of the merger agreement is fair, from a financial point of view, to the shareholders of ZEVEX. The law firm of Jones, Waldo, Holbrook and McDonough acted as legal advisors to ZEVEX.

The merger is subject to certain conditions, including regulatory approval and approval by ZEVEX stockholders. ZEVEX will solicit approval of the merger from its stockholders by means of a proxy statement, which will be mailed to ZEVEX stockholders upon completion of the required filing and review process by the Securities and Exchange Commission. That proxy statement and other relevant documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission will contain information about ZEVEX, Moog, and the proposed merger. STOCKHOLDERS ARE URGED TO READ THE PROXY STATEMENT AND OTHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS CAREFULLY WHEN THEY ARE AVAILABLE BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION THAT STOCKHOLDERS SHOULD CONSIDER BEFORE MAKING A DECISION ABOUT THE MERGER. In addition to receiving the proxy statement by mail, stockholders will also be able to obtain the proxy statement, as well as other filings (including annual, quarterly and current reports) containing information about ZEVEX, without charge, at the Securities and Exchange Commission’s website (http://www.sec.gov). Stockholders may also obtain copies of these documents without charge by requesting them from ZEVEX in writing at 4314 ZEVEX Park Lane, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84123, or by phone at (801) 264-1001, extension 203.

Following the merger, ZEVEX will become a part of Moog’s Medical Devices Segment. ZEVEX will continue normal operations through its two primary divisions, Applied Technology and Therapeutics, located in Salt Lake City. ZEVEX President and Chief Executive Officer, David J. McNally, said, “We are delighted to announce our acquisition by Moog. We are pleased that our operations will remain in Salt Lake City, where 178 employees continue to serve the customer base that we have developed over the past 20 years. For our customers, we will expand our offering of fluid delivery technologies, based upon Moog’s electronic and disposable infusion products, as well as on Moog’s proven fluid management expertise in demanding industrial, commercial aircraft, and aerospace applications.”

Martin Berardi, Vice President and head of the Medical Devices Segment of Moog, said, “This acquisition is a perfect fit, based upon the excellent product offering and quality reputation of ZEVEX. We believe that ZEVEX’s personnel, technology portfolio, and existing customer base provide a platform on which we can generate new growth in fluid delivery applications, including enteral feeding, and from which we can expand our product lines of medical sensors and surgical tools.”



Libby judge refuses to release audio recordings of trial
Headline News | 2007/01/10 04:41

US District Judge Reggie B. Walton denied a request Tuesday from several news organizations seeking the daily release of audio recordings of arguments and testimony in the upcoming CIA leak trial of former vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Walton ruled that the US District Court for District of Columbia will not follow the lead set by the US Supreme Court, which now makes audio recordings of arguments available to the public.

Libby faces charges of perjury and obstruction of justice when his trial begins January 16. One of Libby's defense lawyers said last month that his client plans to call his former boss, Vice President Dick Cheney, to testify.



Lawyers take legal debates online
Headline News | 2007/01/07 18:38

Retired judge Stan Billingsley pores through news accounts daily to find the law behind the story. He's part of a new and growing medium that hopes to fill a gap in news coverage and encourage discussion of the law: legal blogs.

Last week, after studying case law and interviewing the lawyer for the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, Billingsley concluded on news.lawreader.com that the commission has no legal basis to continue legal proceedings against Dan Druen in light of Gov. Ernie Fletcher's pardon of him in the merit hiring investigation.

He's previously defended Chief Justice Joseph Lambert for writing a controversial footnote to a Supreme Court opinion and blasted a Western Kentucky judge for jailing illegal immigrants.

"We look at the law behind the issues," Billingsley said. "We are certainly not partisan in respect to political philosophy, but we do have the driving concept of, 'If you're going to state the law, state it correctly.'"

At least six Kentucky law blogs, or blawgs, have emerged in the last two years, regularly posting digests of court decisions, analyses of statutes and dissections of legal theories. Others are popping up around the country and internationally.

They provide online the kind of in-depth, regular legal analysis usually available only in limited-access media.

Blawggers say they also are motivated by loftier ambitions of improving their profession. Three Kentucky blawggers who were recently interviewed say that what they do is an extension of what civic-minded lawyers have always done: encourage a scholarly discussion of the law.

But now that debate occurs daily rather than in periodicals and journals.

Blawggers have attempted to distinguish themselves from their partisan political counterparts. Louisville personal-injury lawyer Michael Stevens, who publishes kentuckylawblog.com, recently wrote that he doesn't want to be called a blogger anymore because of the baggage associated with it.

Blogs, short for Web logs, are online diaries or journals that allow readers to respond to and comment on the writer's posts.

Blawgs mostly are geared toward lawyers and not a general audience -- unless, say, you have a strange fascination with the intricacies of divorce law. For that, go to Divorce Law Journal at http:// louisvilledivorce.typepad.com.

Billingsley started his free blog to drive traffic to his commercial Web site, lawreader.com, an online law library. It has a search engine for Kentucky's laws and rules of evidence, synopses of appeals court cases and examples of jury instructions, pleadings and other documents commonly filed by attorneys.

"We get the same comment time after time: 'Now I can compete with the big firms,'" Billingsley said. "A single practitioner cannot afford to maintain a big law library."

The Web site saves lawyers time, not to mention inconvenient trips to Frankfort, he said.

The local blawgs are generally light on political commentary, though they do analyze and digest court decisions. They've also defended judges who they say have been criticized unfairly.

"We are doing this for the love of the profession," said Diana Skaggs, who publishes Divorce Law Journal. "We are all aware of the undermining of the public confidence in the judiciary. We see the need for public confidence in our judiciary, and we have an excellent judiciary."

Billingsley defended Lambert last summer for tucking into an unrelated ruling a footnote that said the governor enjoys absolute immunity and may face prosecution only if impeached first. Billingsley disagreed with the footnote but said it's common for judges to comment on legal matters that are not directly related to the case at hand.

The blawggers frequently analyze the law behind major news stories. Billingsley, for example, posted Kentucky cases involving the Bible in the courtroom after a Mississippi jury consulted a Bible while deliberating whether to give the death penalty to a woman who murdered her husband.

Stevens links to court stories across the state -- appeals, court decisions and other law related news such as forums and local bar events. He says his site fills a void left by state bar publications that publish only monthly or quarterly.

"I enjoy thinking about the law, writing about the law and sharing this information with other lawyers," he said.

Blawgs have generated some controversy among those concerned that they constitute lawyer advertising, which is regulated by state bar associations. Lawyers are required to submit advertisements to the Kentucky Bar Association for review and pay a $50 fee, leading to initial fears that blawggers would have to pay $50 per post.

The bar's advertising commission has ruled that is not necessary, but it does require lawyer bloggers to register their "about" pages, which typically contain biographies and links to law firm Web sites.

Robert L. Elliott, a Lexington lawyer who is on the advertising commission, said law blogs "are kind of a new game in town." He said the bar has not yet developed hard rules for how to handle them.

Law blogs are not necessarily lawyer advertising, depending on their content, he said. But Elliott said some blawgs do appear to be nothing more than advertisements, though he declined to point to specific sites.

Lexington lawyer Benjamin Cowgill, who publishes Legal Ethics Newsletter at legalethics.info, said law blogs have no more ethical issues than lawyer Web sites. Cowgill's site triggered the bar association's review of its advertising regulations.

Cowgill says if Thomas Jefferson were alive today, he'd be a blawgger.

"He would be thrilled to live at a time when it is possible to share information with interested people throughout the world, simply by sitting down at his desk and writing at a keyboard," Cowgill wrote in an e-mail.



Bi-coastal U.S. law firm merger off
Headline News | 2007/01/06 01:13

A bi-coastal U.S. law firm merger that would have created a 1,200-lawyer national firm with annual revenue of $1 billion has been called off, the firms say.

Dewey Ballantine of New York and San Francisco`s Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe called off the merger less than three months after the firms` executive committees backed the combination, The American Lawyer reported.

Since the initial agreement, a number of 'significant challenges' arose, the firms said. Adding to the strain, more than 10 Dewey partners left, though not all departures were merger-related, the American Lawyer said.

A former partner attributed the breakdown of the merger to a leak early in the discussions between the two firms.

The combined firm, whose name would have been Dewey Orrick, would have ranked among the 10 largest law firms in the United States.



U.S. law firm again at center of big CEO payout
Headline News | 2007/01/03 21:49

Law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is again at the center of a massive and controversial CEO payout, representing the board of Home Depot Inc.that gave its departing boss a $210 million goodbye.

Wachtell's work for Home Depot marks the third time in recent years that it gave advice to boards during other large payout controversies, including executive ousters at Morgan Stanley and the New York Stock Exchange.

Home Depot confirmed Wachtell is representing its board. Wachtell, a respected New York city corporate law firm led by prominent takeover attorney Martin Lipton, did not respond to a call seeking comment on Home Depot.

The home improvement retailer said on Wednesday that Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Nardelli had resigned after a year of heavy criticism of the company's underperformance and Nardelli's pay package. The company also found past problems with its stock option grants.

Nardelli's $210 million exit package sparked widespread criticism and thrust Wachtell back in the CEO pay spotlight.

Martin Lipton was also chairman of the legal-advisory committee of the NYSE, where former Chairman Richard Grasso was forced out in 2003 after a furor over his $187.5 million pay package.



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