An Oklahoma state law that helps fund schools, passed 23 years ago, was never implemented, and now 48 school districts are seeking action from the Oklahoma State Supreme Court. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of the school district and names Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, Treasurer Ken Miller and the Oklahoma Tax Commission as defendants. Every school district across the state has been given the wrong amount of money every year since 1991, the lawsuit alleges, a charge former State Superintendent Janet Barresi confirmed in 2014.
More than 150 districts are being short-changed funds, a group called Oklahoma Schools for Fair Funding said Monday. Just under 50 are participating in legal action, including Oklahoma City Public Schools. The law was intended to give districts extra money when taxes over a certain level. That money would go to local districts instead of the state. But that law was never implemented. The cap on property taxes has resulted in districts not getting the right amount of money now for some 20 years. And the fix means some districts will lose money, while some will gain.
The lawsuit seeks the defendants to “fufill its statutory duty” to determine the amount of money owed districts from 1991 until this year, “as a result of the [Department of Education’s] acknowledged failure to follow the plain language of” Oklahoma law. It started with Ponca City superintendent Dr. David Pennington some 10 years ago, as he struggled to figure out why his calculations of how much his district should get—always came up short. In a press conference announcing the lawsuit, Pennington said his district is estimated to have lost $14 million.
A new, free iPhone app is designed to help organizations navigate 46 state data breach notification laws as well as federal statutes, such as HIPAA, attorney Scott Vernick says. Vernick, a partner at the law firm Fox Rothschild whose practice includes privacy and data security law, coordinated the development of the app, known as Data Breach 411. “We wanted to put something at people’s fingertips so that they could readily, at a minimum, look at the 46 different breach notification statutes and get a sense of what their reporting obligations were,” Vernick says in an interview with Information Security Media Group. The free app can be downloaded from iTunes. Vernick says the firm will likely eventually create an Android version.
Among the app’s features:
An alphabetical listing of the 46 states with data breach laws, with links to relevant notification statutes; Links to federal breach notification rules and other relevant information related to the loss or theft of protected health information; and Links to credit agencies and credit monitoring services and the Federal Trade Commission website. The app also offers a section on the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act as well as infor-mation regarding the mining of data on minors. In the interview, Vernick describes the features of Data Breach 411, discusses the environment that created the need for the app and explains how the app will be updated and upgraded. Vernick is a commercial litigator who focuses on technology, intellectual property, health care, privacy and data security law. He regularly counsels multi-national and mid-sized businesses on how to mitigate risk and overcome the challenges posed by the multitude of state and federal laws and regulations dealing with IT security, privacy and data breach notification.
The court will not countenance the gross overreaching evidenced under the facts and circumstances of this case in which the client is not even being billed for legal services. To move any court to put its imprimatur of approval on such practices is simply intolerable.
– Judge Frank Nervo, denying a Biglaw firm’s request for more than $126,000 in attorneys’ fees in a lawsuit over a $6,400 security deposit. Judge Nervo added that the firm spent “a grossly unnecessary amount of time” on simple tasks, including “research on the most basic and banal legal principles.”
(Which firm was on the receiving end of this benchslap? Find out after the jump, where we’ve posted the full opinion.)
The firm in question was Mayer Brown, which apparently made this foray into landlord/tenant law because one of the tenants, Thomas Clozel, is the son of Jean-Paul Clozel, a founder and CEO of Actelion, a Swiss biopharmaceutical company that’s a Mayer Brown client. The client wasn’t being billed, as noted by Judge Nervo, because the case was being handled as one of those “friend of the firm” matters.
I can’t really fault Mayer Brown here, since “friend of the firm” matters often require Biglaw attorneys to immerse themselves in areas of law that they know nothing about. I once worked on such a case, involving the high school disciplinary problems of a kid whose father was a titan of finance, even though neither I nor the partner I worked with knew anything about education law. Luckily we were able to resolve the matter to the family’s satisfaction (and they sent me a lovely case of wine for the holidays).
So next time your cousin wants your help getting back his security deposit, refer him to a knowledgeable residential real-estate litigator — unless your cousin is willing to pay you a six-figure sum.
After decades of commitment to the American Bar Association, Seth Rosner has been elected chair of the ABA Senior Lawyers Division. But focusing on professional pursuits would only tell part of his story.
Rosner, a Saratoga Springs, N.Y.-based practitioner specializing in business law, legal ethics and professional responsibility, was admitted to practice in 1955, the same year he received his JD degree from Columbia Law School. He began his service to the ABA in 1964 as a delegate from the New York City Bar to the Young Lawyers Division. He went on to represent seven different constituencies in the House of Delegates, among many other ABA involvements.
Rosner, 83, has served a cumulative 45 years on ethics and professionalism committees of the ABA as well as other lawyer groups.
“While many academics, judges and practitioners have distinguished themselves in the field of legal ethics, only a handful can truly claim to have contributed meaningfully to the overarching concepts of professionalism. Mr. Rosner is a leader of this very elite group,” ethics lawyer Diane Karpman of Beverly Hills, Calif., said when Rosner won the Michael Franck Professional Responsibility Award in 2009 from the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility.
In nominating Rosner for the Franck award, the late legal ethics expert Steven C. Krane wrote: “Seth has worked in the professionalism vineyards as a volunteer. His service in this area over a period of more than four decades may be unparalleled.”
Another Center for Professional Responsibility award, the Rosner & Rosner Young Lawyers Professionalism Award, was created and is funded by Seth Rosner in memory of his father and brother.
Rosner earned his LLM degree in comparative law from the New York University School of Law, where he was an adjunct faculty member for 29 years.
He is a founding trustee,past chairman and now chairman emeritus of the Board of Governors of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, which has conducted programs for more than 100,000 public officials, school administrators, military and police officers, journalists, corporate and nonprofit executives, and judges and lawyers.
Building on his experience racing sports cars as young man in California and France, Rosner serves as a trustee and officer of the Saratoga Automobile Museum. He has also served on the boards of Jewish Home Lifecare, Wesleyan University (his undergraduate alma mater) and the Leica Historical Society of America
Earlier in his life, Rosner worked on a ranch in Idaho, won squash racquets championships in New York City and won table tennis tournaments aboard trans-Atlantic ocean liners. During his three and half years of active duty in the Navy, Rosner was legal officer and anofficer-of-the-deck on the USS Intrepid in the Atlantic. He writes verse and his photographs have appeared in national magazines and a book. Rosner presently sings bass in the Racing City Chorus, the men’s barbershop singers of Saratoga Springs.
The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday that it would consider whether to make it easier to hold companies liable for encouraging others to commit patent infringement.
The court agreed to hear an appeal by Internet services company Limelight Networks Inc.LLNW -4.11%, which is fighting a patent infringement lawsuit brought by larger rival Akamai Technologies Inc.AKAM -3.94%
A badly splintered federal appeals court ruled in 2012 that Akamai could proceed with allegations that Limelight encouraged its customers to infringe an Akamai patent involving a method for helping website owners manage online traffic efficiently.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in a 6-5 decision, ruled Limelight would be liable if Akamai could prove that Limelight performed some actions outlined in the patent and then directed its customers to perform the remaining steps in the patent.
Limelight, which denied Akamai’s allegations, argued that a company shouldn’t be held liable for encouraging patent infringement unless some single party performs every step in the patent.
Akamai said the lower court’s ruling correctly closed a loophole that allowed companies to induce patent infringement without any penalty.
A host of technology companies, including Google Inc. , Cisco Systems Inc.CSCO -0.14% and Oracle Corp.ORCL -0.94%, urged the Supreme Court to hear the case. They warned that the lower court ruling would dramatically expand patent-infringement liability for companies whose high-tech products could be used to facilitate patent infringement by others.
The Obama administration also urged the court to hear the case, voicing similar arguments.
The Supreme Court likely will hear oral arguments in April, with a decision expected by the end of June.
The mophie space pack is coming, and it’s the sort of product that had us thinking, “This is so obvious – why didn’t anyone do this sooner?” We’ve all known mophie for its excellent battery packs and battery cases, but with the space pack, we’re getting more storage space, too.
If your 16/32/64GB iPhone isn’t cutting it for you, you can add an additional 16GB or 32GB, plus 1,700mAh of juice to your iPhone 5 or 5S. And the big news for mophie is that it just got the Made for iPhone certification from Apple, too, hence the big CES 2014 announcement.
The mophie space pack is almost exactly like the mophie juice pack air, except it’s 3mm longer and it features the new “Space” hardware inside that works in conjunction with mophie’s Space iOS app.
You’ll feel right at home with the Space app since it’s designed to look and function like a native iOS 7 app. From there, you can access your files, photos, videos and anything else you store within the mophie space pack.
You can also see your usage and available space via a pie chart or a line graph that looks like the iTunes usage graph. It’s really great and there is virtually no learning curve in using this thing if you’re already familiar with iOS 7 and iTunes.
One neat feature is the way file management is handled: you can transfer files between the iPhone and space pack, send files via e-mail, messaging, AirDrop, Dropbox and more from space pack, and you can arrange/delete/transfer files on the space pack via your computer.
Mophie gave us a quick demo of the Space app, and we were impressed with just how easy it is to use. We’re definitely looking forward to reviewing the mophie space pack next month. We were reminded again why we gave the mophie space pack a Best of CES 2014 award.
As far as the hardware goes, it will be familiar to any mophie user with the addition of a new feature for that silver button in the back. The button will allow you to use Space when you open up the app, and the reason for the button is so that it conserves memory and battery life when you’re not using Space. You just press the button again to activate it when you’re in the app.
We can’t stress enough just how useful the mophie space pack is, and why no one has thought to do this before. The downside is that it supports only the iPhone 5/5S right now, so if you’re a mophie user with a Galaxy device, you might have to wait a bit longer.
The mophie space pack will become available March 14 in 1,700 mAh 16GB and 32GB variants for $149.95 and $179.95, respectively, but you can pre-order them now from mophie.
New York University was blocked by a state judge from beginning much of a 2 million-square-foot expansion in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood.
State Supreme Court Justice Donna M. Mills in Manhattan ruled yesterday that portions of the plan would interfere with public parks, a result which would require approval by the state legislature.
“The court concludes that the public trust doctrine applies to three of the four parcels of land involved,” Mills wrote, referring to the parks. If NYU is unable to obtain legislative approval, “it will, at the very least, have to develop alternative areas for construction staging that will not interfere with the use by the public,” the judge said.
NYU, one of the largest private, nonprofit universities in the U.S. by enrollment, says it needs more academic and housing space to accommodate its growing student body. Neighborhood groups, arguing that the plan would overwhelm a cramped historic area, sued the city in September 2012 over its approval of the expansion.
“This is a huge victory for the Greenwich Village community, preserving this historic neighborhood and protecting its precious parkland,” said Randy Mastro, an attorney representing opponents of the project and a deputy mayor under former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
John Beckman, a spokesman for NYU, said the ruling still allows the university to start part of the project in which it would replace an existing gym with 980,000 square feet of new space.
Mastro called that notion “delusional,” saying the plan had been approved by the city as a comprehensive project and would need to be resubmitted.
“Any such piecemeal approach would constitute a new project materially different from that previously approved by the city and requiring its own separate environmental review process,” he said. “So NYU has to go back to square one.”
Beckman said in a statement that the university disagrees with the assertion that the plan must be resubmitted.
City officials are reviewing the decision, Christopher Reo, a lawyer for the city, said in a statement.
NYU’s intended expansion, known as the Sexton Plan after university president John Sexton, is a $6 billion project comprising almost 2 million square feet, according to a court filing on behalf of opponents. The expansion is opposed by dozens of university departments and divisions. Professors in the university’s largest school passed a vote of no-confidence in Sexton on March 16, saying he failed to consult with them on the plan.
At a hearing in the case in July, more than 100 people packed the courtroom including Padma Lakshmi, co-host of the television show “Top Chef,” who said in an interview afterward that she lives in the neighborhood and attended the hearing as a “concerned mother.”
The city’s law department said previously in a statement that the plan would bring a “pedestrian-friendly mix of public open spaces and academic, residential and retail use.”
Beckman said in a statement yesterday that the decision “reaffirms” the city’s approval of the plan. Five of six legal claims asserted in the case by the project’s opponents were dismissed by the judge, he said.
“This is a complex ruling, but the judgment is a very positive one for NYU,” he said. After further analysis of the ruling, the university will “work with the city, as lead respondent, to determine our next legal steps,” he said.
The case is Weinstein v. Harvey, 103844-2012, State Supreme Court of New York (Manhattan).
Source – abajournal.com/ By – Martha Neil Category – Matthews Bark
When David Seeley was working as a deputy prosecutor for Clark County, Wash., he happened to handle a number of cases against the son of a woman who said she knew Marlon Brando.
He didn’t believe her when she said the famous actor was interested in her son’s cases. And in 2000, when she called Seeley up shortly after he went into private practice and told him Brando wanted to meet him because she’d been impressed with his work, Seeley thought she was joking. When he had an assistant call the Los Angeles number the woman gave him, however, Brando’s iconic voice was soon on the other end of the line, reports the Seattle Times.
The woman who’d given him the number was a business manager for Brando and Seeley took a flight to Los Angeles the day after the phone call to meet the celebrity who would become his new client. Seeley, now 49, served as Brando’s general counsel for the last four years of the actor’s life and has continued to serve as general counsel for Brando Enterprises following the actor’s death in 2004. A partner of Livengood, Fitzgerald & Alskog, Seeley also handles general litigation, criminal defense and school district matters working in an office decorated with licensed Brando memorabilia.
“Any time the phone rang after 10 p.m. at home, I knew it was Marlon,” says Seeley. “I think to some degree he was lonely and a little isolated late in his life.”
Brando didn’t like Los Angeles lawyers, who he felt charged too much, Seeley says, and, although Brando never discussed acting or his films, he had eclectic business interests.
On Seeley’s first visit to Los Angeles, the lawyer brought with him a Seattle patent attorney, at Brando’s request. The actor, who loved to play bongo and conga drums, had a drumhead-tightening device patented in 2002, the Times recounts. At Brando’s instigation, Seeley also whipped up a contract on short notice for Michael Jackson to pay his client $1 million to introduce him for a television special. The introduction wasn’t used, but Brando still got the $1 million.
An Internet marketing plan to sell signed coconuts from Tetiaroa, an atoll in French Polynesia that Brando purchased after first visiting the island during the filming of Mutiny on the Bounty, was less fruitful. Although Seeley said he was present when Brando discussed the idea on speakerphone with Jeff Bezos of Amazon, it never went anywhere.
Nonetheless, the actor left a $26 million estate, and his survivors expect to profit from a 99-year lease that will allow a developer to open a luxury “eco-resort” on Brando’s island next year. It will be air conditioned through a plan Brando envisioned, using piped seawater, the article notes.
The law firm of Herzfeld, Rubin, Meyer & Rose Limited (HRMR) announced itself as the first 100% American owned law firm in Myanmar on July 29, 2013. While the United States has reduced the number of sanctions it has against the former nation of Burma in the past year, there are many U.S. sanctions still on the books that make it more difficult for American companies to do business in Myanmar than companies of any other country. I had a series of conversations with Eric Rose of HRMR about his parent law firm’s global brand, its specialty in emerging and frontier markets and why it has chosen Romania and Myanmar as its two outposts in these markets.
In the interview below, Mr. Rose candidly speaks about the opportunities and risks in Myanmar where he expects GDP to at least triple in the coming 20 years. While representing his law firm, his answers provide a clear view of investing opportunities, business prospects, sanction situations, Myanmar’s history, current stability and international relations. Jon Springer: During your legal career, you have done a lot of work in emerging and frontier markets both in private practice and as an in-house lawyer for corporations. When did you first work in Myanmar? Eric Rose: I set up the strategy for American Standard, the kitchen and bath goods manufacturer, in Myanmar in the mid-1990s. At that time, U.S. sanctions were limited. Major sanctions came in 2003. JS: Was this experience part of why HRMR decided to open an office in Myanmar?
ER: Our firm specializes in emerging and frontier markets. We chose both Romania and Myanmar for similar reasons. Both countries at the time we arrived were newly open to American business. They both have large, literate populations. In both cases they were or are countries starting with a low GDP basis, a high need for infrastructure development, an incredible wealth of natural resources and a strong relatively cheap workforce. JS: When you say your firm specializes in emerging and frontier markets, what is the range of countries your firm’s attorneys have worked in and range of services provided?
ER: A law firm is only as good as the attorneys it has. Our attorneys have lead transactions in over fifty countries on five continents, the majority of which were then, and some still are, emerging or frontier markets. For example, in the early 1990s, I guided companies like John Deere and Tyco Toys in countries of the former Soviet Union, South Africa and China. In the middle ’90s, I lead American Standard’s and Trane’s entrance in Vietnam, Burma, Egypt and Eastern Europe. Later, I helped Wabco Automotive and Diasorin penetrate India and China. More recently, I steered Cybertel and Perry Equipment transactions in Latin America and Eastern Europe. The firm has over 200 practitioners in six affiliated offices on three continents, and offers a full range of legal services to its clients, which range from individuals to Fortune 500 companies the world over. JS: Specifically looking at Myanmar, it has been touted as early as 1885 as the greatest place to invest in the world in Archibald Colquhoun’s Burma and the Burmans: Or, “The best unopened market in the world”. What is different now?
ER: In the first half of the 20th century, Burma was the richest country in Southeast Asia, the largest producer of rice in the world and the number one producer of beans and pulses. Rangoon, at the time, had the best universities and was the hub airport for travel throughout Asia and beyond. Today, Myanmar is the poorest country in Southeast Asia, 75% of its population does not have access to electricity, and only 10% have access to cell phones. What has changed is that, for the first time since Myanmar’s independence, all of its citizens from all ethnic groups, as well as the government and the army, are sharing the same goals. JS: Thus, the case is that the communism and dictatorship the country experienced after British colonial rule ended in 1948 led to the current malaise and the country is now democratic and primed for capitalist success?
ER: Not quite! Myanmar has experienced civil war since its inception. It is now on the threshold of nationwide peace, it had free by-elections last year, it has freed almost all of its political prisoners, has adopted freedom of the press and association legislation and ended press censorship and it has passed a number of laws and regulations which have opened up most of the country to foreign investment. At the same time, much of industry is still controlled by companies associated with the military and cronies of the former government, land rights are in doubt or disputed, rule of law is still in its infancy, and the country is still rated very low on the corruption index of Transparency International. The effect of the sanctions can still be felt everywhere. For example, in 2002, the Myanmar garment industry exported 75% of its product to the United States. After 2003, when the major U.S. sanctions began, 300 factories closed and 80,000 people were laid off. Assuming on average that those factory workers, most of whom were women and the breadwinners for the average family of 5, the sanctions in that industry alone directly impacted 400,000 people. Now that the U.S. has lifted import restrictions, being able to export garments to the U.S. will, by itself, substantially help grow the economy. For example, in nearby Cambodia, once restrictions were lifted in 1997, exports of garments grew from $175 million to over $2.5 billion during the next dozen years. The same applies to the U.S., once again, granting Myanmar the GSP status, which it lost in 1989. GSP would cover a large percentage of agricultural products, minerals, plastics and rubber products, as well as wood products. All other developed countries have granted GSP to Myanmar, it is the U.S. alone which has not. Generally speaking, the U.S. today – while the GSP program has lapsed – is collecting $2 million/day in duties from the poorest countries on earth, Myanmar included [The U.S. Congress did not renew GSP legislation prior to its expiration July 31, 2013. The legislation to renew it is still pending]. In the first six months since the U.S. import ban against Myanmar has been lifted earlier this year, Myanmar’s exports to the U.S. amounted to only $14 million. Yet, over $8 million were GSP-eligible products, with an average duty of 4.2% when they would be paying zero under GSP.
JS: Could you briefly elucidate the U.S. sanctions currently in place and what is needed to remove them? ER: Currently, the U.S. sanctions regime against Myanmar is still in place, five laws and at least five executive orders. Most of the sanctions have been suspended by the president, but can be re-instated on short notice. No other country continues to have sanctions against Myanmar, except as to its military. By itself, the simple existence of such laws and executive orders hampers the ability of American business to invest in Myanmar, with little, if any, discernable current positive effect on the people of Myanmar. In addition to the bar on deals with the Tatmadaw (the Myanmar military), or its controlled business entities, there continues to be a bar on transactions with Myanmar entities and individuals listed on the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s Specially Designated Nationals list, and on the importation of certain jewels. Furthermore, American companies and individuals alone have to annually report on their investments exceeding $500,000, certain payments to the government, dealings with the national oil and gas company, and a plethora of other requirements. Although large corporations are well equipped to deal with these reporting requirements, small and medium and enterprises (SMEs) are not. Thus, these reporting requirements put a disproportionate burden on SMEs investing in Myanmar.
A Seoul court rejected Samsung’s claim that iPhone and iPad models violated three of its patents, another setback for the South Korean electronics giant in a global battle with Apple over rights to technologies that power smartphones and tablets. A Seoul Central District Court judge ruled Thursday that Apple did not violate Samsung’s intellectual property rights. The technology in two of Samsung’s patents could easily be independently developed by others, Judge Shim Woo-yong said, making it unlikely they were copied. He said one patent was not used in the iPad.
“We are glad the Korean court joined others around the world in standing up for real innovation and rejecting Samsung’s ridiculous claims,” Apple Inc. spokesman Steve Park said. Samsung Electronics Co. sued Apple in March 2012, accusing the iPhone maker of illegally using three patented technologies related to short message services in smartphones and tablet computers. The maker of Galaxy smartphones sought 100 million won ($95,000) in initial compensation and a ban on sales of six iPhone and iPad models, which included models still available in the market, such as those with Retina display.
The judge said Samsung’s patent for a multitasking technology that prevents incomplete messages being lost when switching to another application was not violated by the existence of a similar technology. Another technology that enables users to touch a notification box to access a message can be invented easily, he said. A third Samsung patent for how mobile devices display short messages from the same sender together was not used in Apple’s iPad, which instead has Apple’s iMessage application, Shim said. The ruling is the latest legal blow to Samsung, which owes Apple $930 million from two jury verdicts in Silicon Valley. Samsung is seeking to appeal both. The world’s top two smartphone makers have waged legal battles over mobile devices since 2011. Samsung said it was disappointed by the ruling and will decide whether to appeal this decision after a thorough review. “As Apple has continued to infringe our patented mobile technologies, we will continue to take the measures necessary to protect our intellectual property rights,” it said in a statement. So far, two verdicts in Silicon Valley have been the most damaging to the South Korean company. Last month, a Silicon Valley jury added another $290 million to the damages Samsung Electronics owes Apple. A previous jury awarded Apple $1.05 billion, which was later reduced by a judge to $640 million.
But the size of the award is small compared with the size of Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest maker of mobile devices, TVs and memory chips. The South Korean firm reported it had $47 billion in cash at the end of September and $247.5 billion in 2012 revenue.