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by Vault Law Editors | October 21, 2009


… and other random legal news for the week thus far:

• Up yonder in Massachusetts, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that even smokers who have no apparent health issues can still sue tobacco makers, forcing them to pay for medical monitoring intended to catch cancer in its early stages.  The plaintiffs comprise a class of Massachusetts residents, aged 50 and older, Marlboro smokers for at least two decades who haven’t as yet been diagnosed with lung cancer.  Shock and surprise: Philip Morris tried to have the case thrown out, arguing that plaintiffs should have to prove actual physical injury in order to recover damages.  *Insert joke about sue happy, chain-smoking law students here*

• New York City’s tap water may be among the nation’s finest, but walk wide of any wells in Jamaica, Queens:  New York City just won $105 million from Exxon Mobil, after a federal jury found the oil company liable for contaminating groundwater with the gasoline additive MTBE.  In 2004 NYC sued Exxon Mobil for $300 million, arguing that Exxon ignored its own scientists’ warnings regarding not using the additive in regions where groundwater is used for drinking water.  

• Bank of America and its Cleary Gottlieb team are in the news, for *potentially* screwing up an order waiving attorney-client privilege.  The SEC is investigating BofA for violating shareholder disclosure requirements during BofA’s 2008 merger with Merrill Lynch.  A settlement fell through this past September, and BofA eventually waived its attorney-client privilege, claiming it relied on advice from Wachtell in crafting the merger documents.  The bank surrendered communications between its executives and Wachtell lawyers (which has Wachtell just a lil bit antsy).  But according to Gregory Joseph, former head of litigation at Fried, Frank and an expert in attorney-client privilege, the maneuver could result in more access to documents than BofA intended, since the bank’s Cleary Gottlieb team didn’t quite get the legal semantics right.

• And oh look, Twitter is in the news, for a change.   Looks like a New York social worker was arrested for using  the service to tell demonstrating comrades how to elude police during the G-20 summit.  His lawyers say “free speech,” the police are calling it “assisting others in evading apprehension”.  Tomato, tomahto.

- posted by anu



Filed Under: Law
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