A daily look at legal news and the business of law:
Missouri Voters Reject Health-Care Reform
Missouri ballot measure Proposition C, which would block the individual mandate at the heart of the fight over the constitutionality of health care reform, passed nearly 3 to 1. The New York Times attributed the measure's passage in part to the fact that it was on a primary ballot, rather than a general election ballot, and the most competitive primary battle was on the Republican side -- meaning most people voting on the measure were Republican primary voters.
It's not yet clear what the Prop C vote means for November's election, nor is it clear what Prop C means as a practical matter. The courts will likely decide the constitutionality of the individual mandate before it takes effect in 2014.
With a summary judgment hearing on the Virginia challenge to the constitutionality of the health care reform law scheduled for Oct. 18, it's very unlikely the issue will be decided before the November election. Meanwhile, one pair of commentators thinks the Virginia judge's ruling suggests he's leaning in favor of Virginia -- at least, he's accepted the way Virginia is framing the issues. That's notable as the commentators are from the American Constitution Society, which supports health care reform.
Bloggers Beware: Newspapers Hire Pros to Sue for Copyright Infringement
The Las Vegas Review-Journal has partnered with Rightshaven LLC, a company that specializes in suing people who infringe the paper's copyrights, including mom-and-pop blogs, according to the ABA Journal. Rightshaven looks for infringing material, buys the copyright from the paper, and then files suit. The 86+ suits filed so far seek $75,000 and the infringing websites' domain names. The effort is set to expand far beyond Las Vegas; the Review-Journal's publisher has contracted with Rightshaven to enforce copyrights for 70 other papers in nine states.
BP Faces $10 Billion Refinery Suit
Big money suits against BP (BP) aren't limited to the Gulf of Mexico disaster. Reuters reports that over 2,000 people have filed a $10 billion potential class-action suit over excess pollution from BP's Texas City, Texas refinery. That's the same refinery whose catastrophic explosion in 2005 killed 15 people. At the heart of the suit is the release of over 550,000 pounds of toxic chemicals into the air, including 17,000 pounds of the known carcinogen benzene. Apparently the releases were so extreme the Texas Attorney General's office is investigating whether it should be treated as a criminal matter.
Art Dealer Gets Up to 18 Years for Fraud
Gallery owner Lawrence Salander, who defrauded clients, including John McEnroe and Robert DeNiro, out of $120 million, was sentenced to six to 18 years in prison. He may have to serve that time in a state facility, which, according to Bloomberg, is tougher than doing federal time as "there are older facilities and more violent inmates." It seems white collar criminals don't always get off easy.
And in the Business of Law...
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy raids Latham & Watkins, picking up a five-partner banking and leveraged finance team, reports the New York Law Journal.