News Roundup

Afternoon Briefs: 'Don’t play games with the judge,' PG&E lawyers warned; Ex-Dewey CFO appeals

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California wildfire

California National Guard photo.

A bankruptcy judge in San Francisco told lawyers for the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. on Friday that they shouldn’t have buried the new CEO’s $3 million sign-on bonus in a table when they filed a motion to approve his new pay package. “One rule is don’t play games with the judge,” said U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali. The judge also expressed misgivings about proposals for $16.3 million in incentive payments to a dozen executives. The utility filed for bankruptcy protection after disclosing that its possible liability for California wildfires could exceed $30 billion. (Courthouse News Service, Law360)

Former Dewey & LeBoeuf Chief Financial Officer Joel Sanders contends there are 13 reasons why his fraud conviction should be tossed by a New York appeals court. They include “legally impossible” jury instructions, introduction of evidence about acquitted conduct and prosecution comments about his failure to testify. Sanders was convicted and fined $1 million for misleading lenders and bond buyers about the firm’s finances before its 2012 collapse. (Law 360)

American University’s first African American student body president, Taylor Dumpson, was awarded $725,000 on Friday for being targeted in a racist online troll storm. It is the third judgment in three months against one of the defendants, neo-Nazi and Daily Stormer publisher Andrew Anglin. It is the first time a court has ruled that racist online trolling can interfere with equal access to public accommodations. (The New York Times, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, order and opinion by U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer)

A federal judge in Norfolk, Virginia, ruled Friday that a high school bathroom policy violated the constitutional and Title IX rights of a transgender student, Gavin Grimm, who wanted to use a bathroom that matched his gender identity. A federal appeals court had previously found a Title IX violation in the case, but the U.S. Supreme Court vacated that decision and remanded for a new determination because of a switch in stance between the Obama and Trump administrations. (The New York Times, the Associated Press, ACLU press release, decision by U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen)

There is finally some good news for LeClairRyan, the law firm that has announced it is dissolving amid budget shortfalls and partner defections. A Virginia state court has tossed a $603 million malpractice suit filed against the law firm by the former CEO of a defunct company. The plaintiff had contended the law firm’s bad advice about anti-kickback laws doomed the company; the Virginia court said the plaintiff lost that argument in a prior suit when jurors found her partly responsible for Medicare fraud. (Law360)

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