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Afternoon Briefs: Jurors award $8B in Rispderdal case; most minority partners have nonequity status

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Jurors award $8B in punitive damages in Risperdal case

Jurors in Philadelphia found Johnson & Johnson liable for $8 billion in punitive damages Tuesday in a case brought by a man with autism, who said the drug Risperdal had caused him to grow breasts. Nicholas Murray had taken the drug at age 9 to help him treat symptoms of autism. The suit claimed that Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals had downplayed the risks of abnormal breast growth. Johnson & Johnson said the award is “grossly disproportionate” to the compensatory award, and it is confident that it will be overturned. (Reuters, the New York Times, Law360)

A majority of minority partners are in nonequity tier

Minority lawyers are disproportionately placed in the nonequity tiers of the nation’s largest-grossing law firms, an American Lawyer analysis has found. Minority lawyers are being placed in the nonequity tier at triple the rate of white lawyers. More than 58% of white partners were equity partners compared to nearly 46% of minority partners. (The American Lawyer)

Once-secret ruling said FBI improperly searched email database

A federal judge secretly ruled last year that the FBI violated Fourth Amendment privacy rights in broad searches of Americans’ emails contained in a database of the warrantless surveillance program. The ruling and appeal upholding the judgment were revealed in secret rulings declassified Tuesday. (The New York Times, the Washington Post)

Lawyer sentenced for stealing from family trusts

Cooperstown, New York, lawyer Thomas Lagan was sentenced Tuesday to four to 12 years in prison for his role in a scheme to steal more than $9 million from family trusts that he oversaw with a co-defendant. (The Albany Times Union, press release)

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