Latest Legal News: Florida Judge Bails Out Philip Morris

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Florida Judge Bails Out Philip Morris

The tobacco industry faces thousands of individual lawsuits in Florida, ever since a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision broke up the original "Engle" class of sick smokers and invalidated a $145 billion punitive damages award.The industry had been faring reasonably well in the cases, with an analyst back in August saying that the damages awarded have been "fairly manageable from a cash-flow perspective." And then last November, Philip Morris (PM) lost big, with a jury ruling an emphysema sufferer was entitled to $300 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

The judge presiding over the case found the jury's decision "excessive" and "shocking" and announced he would reduce it, though he didn't say by how much. Although the judge is coming to Philip Morris's rescue, he was unimpressed by the company attorneys' performance at trial. Their "blame-the-smoker" defense backfired, the judge suggested, by upsetting the jury.

Shareholder Sues Hugh Hefner for Choosing his Lifestyle Over Playboy's Investors

According to the shareholder suit, Hefner sabotaged two potential deals to purchase Playboy Enterprises Inc. (PLA) because they would have interfered with the 81-year-old's ability to keep his buxom blonds and limelight life.

St. Louis Macy's Needs a Shredder

For the second time in five months, sensitive information from Macy Inc's (M) -- such as social security numbers of shoppers -- has been found littering St. Louis's streets. The first incident happened because the sensitive documents were thrown into lidless bins. This time the bins had lids, but not locks, and a homeless person used the documents to make a bed. Social security numbers are gold for identity thieves, and it's not clear what Macy's is doing about the security breach as I couldn't find a statement about the incident on its website. Whatever it does to protect the exposed consumers, going forward, Macy's should listen to Above the Law: Buy a shredder! If you're in St. Louis, you may want to be careful about giving any personal information to the Macy's there.

Texas Attorneys Got Laid Off Too

Although the Lone Star firms tried to keep the numbers under wraps, it's has now come out that in 2009 the lawyer head count at 25 of the top 26 Texas law firms declined nearly 6%.

Really, We're Not Dissolving! Says Florida Firm

Florida firm Ruden McClosky has had so many attorneys jump ship or get laid off in the last year that it's now fighting rumors that it is dissolving.

Buchanan Downsizes Its Way to Profit Increases

Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney transformed a 2009 revenue decrease of 3% into a 5% increase in profits per partner and revenue per lawyer by shedding approximately 10% of its partnership and associates.

Perkins Coie Revenues and Profits Flat

Litigation, IP and cost-cutting propped up Perkins Coie, enabling it to keep revenues and profits roughly flat in 2009 versus 2008.
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