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Lawyers awarded $15 million in fees

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Denver Attorneys who helped shareholders win a $50 million settlement from Qwest Communications International are entitled to $15 million in fees, a judge ruled.

The settlement, reached in June, ended a class-action lawsuit alleging Qwest improperly avoided paying a $273 million quarterly dividend to investors who held shares of U S West before the companies merged in 2000.

The Association of U S West Retirees had objected to the 30 percent cut sought by the attorneys, but Denver District Judge John Coughlin said Tuesday the lawyers were entitled to it.

Coughlin said a 30 percent fee is customary in class-action suits. He said the attorneys had earned it because of the risk involved in the case and because they had pursued it for more than five years.

Law firms involved in the case included Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins of San Diego, Dyer & Shuman of Denver, Weiss & Lurie of Los Angeles and Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman of New York.

John Coughlin is not related to anyone at Lerach Coughlin.

Lerach Coughlin attorney Michael Dowd said the firms’ lawyers and paralegals logged nearly 16,000 hours on the case.

“If any case ever deserved a 30-percent fee award, it’s this case,” he said.

Court issues warrant to seize pirated films

New Delhi, India A Delhi court has heeded Hollywood’s request and issued a warrant that empowers police to search for and seize pirated films anywhere in the city, an aggressive maneuver in the copyright wars.

The type of court order involved, know as a general search and seizure warrant, is normally reserved for matters of national security, not copyright infringement, Indian lawyers said Wednesday.

The Motion Picture Association, the global arm of the Motion Picture Association of America, got a magistrate to issue such a warrant for the entire city on July 19 because of the scope of piracy and the police force’s difficulty in combating it, said Chander Lall, a lawyer for the group.

The MPA, based in Encino, Calif., initially tried to keep the warrant quiet in India for fear of tipping off those illegally selling pirated movies, Lall told The Associated Press.

MCI shareholders to vote on Verizon merger

McLean, Va. MCI Inc. shareholders will vote Oct. 6 on a proposed $8.5 billion acquisition by Verizon Communications Inc., as the two telecommunications companies seek to complete their deal by the end of the year, according to a filing Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The merger has been controversial with some MCI shareholders who believed the company should have accepted a $9.85 billion bid from Denver-based Qwest Communications International Inc. Qwest has since rescinded its offer.

Ashburn-based MCI’s board of directors accepted the lower offer from Verizon because they believed a merger with the larger Verizon would provide better long-term benefits.

Still, some MCI shareholders have said they will seek to vote down the merger. Deephaven Capital Management, a Minnesota-based hedge fund, has said that it would solicit proxy votes in opposition to the merger. A call to Deephaven, which owned less than 5 percent of MCI’s shares when it announced its intentions in June, was not immediately returned Wednesday.

MCI spokesman Peter Lucht declined to comment on the SEC filing.

The companies still need various federal and state regulatory approvals, and said in the SEC filing that they hope to close the acquisition late 2005 or early 2006.

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