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Corporate Legal Affairs

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Donald Trump says he invoked the Fifth Amendment and wouldn’t answer questions under oath in the long-running New York civil investigation into his business dealings. Trump arrived at New York Attorney General Letitia James’ offices Wednesday morning, but sent out a statement more than an hour later saying he declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.” Anything he said during the deposition could have been used against him in a criminal case, if one ensues. While James’ investigation is civil in nature, the Manhattan district attorney is running a parallel criminal probe.

A Kansas man convicted of performing illegal autopsies has been fined more than $700,000 and is permanently banned from doing business in the state. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Wednesday that a Shawnee County District Court judge ordered 42-year-old Shawn Parcells to pay $254,762 in restitution to 82 consumers related to the private autopsy service in Wabaunsee County. He also was ordered to pay thousands more in penalties and fines to other entities or for violating Kansas laws. Parcells was convicted in November of six criminal charges related to autopsies in Wabaunsee County. He also pleaded guilty in May to one federal wire fraud charge.

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Former President Donald Trump is expected to be questioned under oath in the coming days in the New York attorney general’s long-running investigation into his dealings as a real estate mogul. Two of the former president’s adult children — Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump — sat for questioning in the investigation in recent days. That's according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The former president's deposition could be a critical moment in the investigation of allegations that his company misled banks and tax authorities about the value of prized assets like golf courses and skyscrapers.

A southwest Iowa company that makes metal castings used by military contractors in helicopters and other equipment has reached a settlement in a lawsuit alleging the company failed to test the castings and falsely certified test results over seven years. Wellman Dynamics, a Creston company that manufactures large metal castings used by military contractors including Bell Helicopter, Sikorsky Aircraft and Boeing Co. will pay $500,000 in restitution to the U.S. government to settle the allegations which surfaced when an employee reported lack of testing and filing of false documents under a whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act.

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The Justice Department’s legal effort to block the merger of book publishing giants Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster is more than just a showcase for the Biden administration’s tougher approach to corporate consolidation. The trial going on in federal court in Washington is also a rare moment for the publishing industry itself to be placed in the dock. Through the trial's opening week, industry executives, along with agents and authors such as Stephen King have shared opinions, relived disappointments and revealed financial figures they would otherwise have preferred to discuss privately or confide on background with reporters.

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Elon Musk accused Twitter of fraud in a countersuit over his aborted $44 billion deal for the social media company, which he said held back necessary information and misled his team about its true user base. According to The Washington Post, the countersuit filed by the billionaire and Tesla CEO filed on Thursday alleges that Twitter committed fraud, breach of contract and violation of the Texas Securities Act. The Wall Street Journal reported that Musk’s counterclaims were filed confidentially last week and unsealed in a filing late Thursday at the Delaware Chancery Court.

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Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones says he now understands he was irresponsible to declare the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax, and he now believes it was “100% real.” The jury in Austin, Texas, began deliberating Wednesday how much the conspiracy theorist and Infowars host owes the parents of one of the children who were killed in the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut. Testimony wrapped up with Jones telling the jurors that any compensation above $2 million would sink his Texas-based company. Jones also acknowledged that he was wrong to push false claims that the massacre didn’t happen. The parents suing Jones testified Tuesday that an apology wouldn't suffice and that Jones must be held accountable. They are seeking at least $150 million.

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The parents of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre say conspiracy theorist Alex Jones made their lives a “living hell” by pushing claims that the murders were a hoax. Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse was killed at Sandy Hook, testified Tuesday on the final day of testimony in the two-week trial. They’re seeking at least $150 million from Jones. Jones was not in court when Heslin began testifying, but he was there when Lewis took the stand. Both parents said they had received death threats and harassment and experienced ongoing trauma because of Jones. Jones later testified and apologized to the parents, saying he never intended to hurt them. The 2012 attack killed 20 first-graders and six staffers at the Connecticut school.

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Bestselling author Stephen King has testified in a federal antitrust trial in Washington. Tracing his own history beginning as an unknown author in the 1970s, King laid out a portrait of a publishing industry that has become increasingly concentrated over the years. He testified as a witness for the U.S. Justice Department. The government is trying to convince a federal judge that the proposed merger of Penguin Random House and rival Simon & Schuster, two of the world’s biggest publishers, would thwart competition. In his testimony Tuesday, King described himself as “a freelance writer.” He said publisher consolidation "is bad for competition.”

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Every year, the fins of as many as 73 million sharks are sliced from the backs of the majestic sea predators, their bleeding bodies sometimes dumped back into the ocean where they are left to suffocate or die of blood loss. But while the barbaric practice is driven by China, where shark fin soup is a symbol of status for the rich and powerful, America’s seafood industry isn’t immune from the trade. A spate of recent criminal indictments highlights how U.S. companies, taking advantage of a patchwork of federal and state laws, are supplying a market for fins that activists say is as reprehensible as the now-illegal trade in elephant ivory once was.

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West Virginia cities and counties have reached a $400 million tentative settlement with three major U.S. drug distributors. The cities and counties accused the distributors in a lawsuit in state court of fueling the opioid epidemic. The companies are AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson. The funds will be distributed over 12 years. Wheeling attorney Bob Fitzsimmons and Huntington attorney Paul Farrell Jr. announced the settlement Monday and said the individual counties and municipalities still have to approve it. Last month, a federal judge ruled against Cabell County and Huntington in similar claims. They're not included in the settlement announced Monday.

Some family members of the people killed or wounded during a 2019 shooting at a California garlic festival are suing the companies that distributed the rifle used in the attack that killed three and wounded 17. Two similar lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Vermont on July 28 allege Century International Arms and Romanian firearm producer ROMARM did not take sufficient care to prevent misuse of the firearm used in the attack. Century International Arms is based in Delray Beach, Florida, but has a facility in Georgia, Vermont, where the ROMARM AK-style rifles are modified to comply with U.S. law.

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Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ media company Free Speech Systems has filed for bankruptcy, but his attorney says it shouldn't disrupt the defamation damages trial underway in Texas that seeks to force Jones to pay $150 million or more to the family of one of the children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School attack. The trial in Austin, where Jones lives and Free Speech Systems is based, wrapped up its first week of testimony and is expected to conclude next week. The bankruptcy filing was announced in court late in the day. Courts in Texas and Connecticut have already found Jones liable for defamation for his portrayal of the Sandy Hook massacre as a hoax.

A German court has thrown out a lawsuit against a guideline issued by automaker Audi calling for the use of gender-sensitive language by employees. An employee of Audi’s parent company, Volkswagen, objected to Audi colleagues using such language in their communications with him. He went to court to challenge the guideline, alleging a violation of his personal rights. German news agency dpa says a judge ruled Friday that the plaintiff had no right to demand the non-application of the guidance. The judge said it was directed only at Audi employees and the plaintiff. as a Volkswagen employee, was not required to follow it.

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The State Department has offered a $10 million reward for information about Russian interference in American elections, including a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a troll farm that officials say fueled a divisive social media campaign in 2016. The reward is being offered by the department’s Rewards for Justice program. It seeks information about the Internet Research Agency, Yevgeniy Prigozhin — a wealthy businessman whose ties to Putin earned him the nickname “Putin Chef” — and other entities involved in interfering in the 2016 election won by Donald Trump.

A producer for conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s media company tried to paint a sympathetic portrait of him as a jury decides how much in financial damages he should pay for his past claims that the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school was a hoax. The sympathetic portrayal of the bombastic Jones drew immediate rebuke Thursday from attorneys for the parents suing Jones for at least $150 million for the abuse they say they’ve suffered for years because of Jones’ false statements about the slaying of their child in the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. Courts in Texas and Connecticut have already found Jones liable for defamation for his portrayal of the slayings as a hoax aimed at increasing gun control.

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A Georgia county has filed a lawsuit that seeks to force a company to sell it 4,000 acres on which the county has long planned to build a launch pad for commercial rockets. Coastal Camden County took legal action just days after Union Carbide Corp. said it no longer intends to sell the land, citing a March referendum in which county residents voted to kill the deal. Camden County has spent more than a decade and $11 million pursuing a spaceport for launching satellites into orbit. Critics fear the project would pose safety and environmental risks that outweigh any economic benefits. The lawsuit filed Wednesday contends Union Carbide violated a binding agreement to sell land to the county.

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A U.S. House investigation has found that gun manufacturers have taken in more than $1 billion from selling AR-15-style guns over the past decade. And sales of those rifles, sometimes marketed to young males as a sign of manhood, have been rising, according to a report unveiled Wednesday. The revenue has come as such weapons have been used in mass shootings that have horrified the nation, including one that left 10 people dead at a grocery store in Buffalo and another where 19 children and two teachers were shot to death in Uvalde, Texas. Firearm company CEOs testified at a committee hearing that their products are legal and they are horrified by violence but guns themselves aren't to blame.

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Federal regulators have taken legal action to block Facebook parent Meta and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg from acquiring virtual reality company Within Unlimited and its fitness app Supernatural. They are asserting the deal would hurt competition in the virtual reality market and violate antitrust laws. Experts said it was the Federal Trade Commission's first legal challenge to a Big Tech merger. The FTC filed a complaint Wednesday in federal court against the tech giant and its high-profile CEO. The agency is seeking a temporary restraining order against the proposed acquisition. Meta rejected the regulators' claims, saying the case is based on ideology and speculation.

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A federal judge has thrown out multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuits against five media companies brought by a Kentucky student. Nicholas Sandmann was a 16-year-old high school student when was involved in a 2019 viral encounter at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. The lawsuits sought tens of millions of dollars in damages. Sandmann argued that the Native American man, Nathan Phillips, had defamed him in media reports. A federal judge ruled that statements made by Phillips were “objectively unverifiable." The lawsuits thrown out Tuesday by the judge were against The New York Times, CBS News, ABC News, Gannett and Rolling Stone magazine.

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Cameroon has emerged as one of several go-to countries for the widely criticized “flags of convenience” system, under which companies can -- for a fee -- register their ships in a foreign country even though there is no link between the vessel and the nation whose flag it flies. The ships are supposed to abide by that nation’s fishing agreements with other countries. But experts say weak oversight and enforcement of fishing fleets by counties with open registries like Cameroon offer shipping companies a veil of secrecy that allows them to mask their operations. Regulators in Europe recently warned the country that its inability to provide oversight of its fishing fleet could lead to a ban on fish from the country.

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Drugmaker Teva has announced an agreement to settle lawsuits over the allegations that it helped fuel the U.S. opioid epidemic. The deal calls for the Israel-based company to pay more than $4.3 billion to state and local governments and Native American tribes over 13 years. The total includes settlements the company has already reached with individual states and providing at no charge a drug that reverses overdoses. The company was found liable last year in a trial involving claims in New York state; that will still head to a damages phase unless a separate deal is reached on those claims.

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In one of the most significant attacks by law enforcement on insider trading in a decade, nine people have been charged in four separate and unrelated insider trading schemes They include a former U.S. congressman from Indiana, technology company executives, an investment banker, and a man training to be an FBI agent. The charges were announced Monday in Manhattan. One indictment identified Stephen Buyer as someone who misappropriated secrets he learned as a consultant to make about $350,000 illegally. Buyer was a Republican congressman from 1993 through 2011. He was arrested Monday in Indiana. His lawyer said he is innocent and his stock trades were lawful.

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The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against some of the largest poultry producers in the United States. It’s part of an effort to end what the government says are longstanding deceptive and abusive practices for workers. The suit names Cargill, Sanderson Farms and Wayne Farms, along with a data consulting company. The Justice Department alleges the companies have been engaged in a multiyear conspiracy to exchange information about the wages and benefits of poultry plant workers to suppress competition for those workers. The companies haven't responded to messages seeking comment.

Opposition from friends, not foes, is creating some potential roadblocks to President Joe Biden’s green energy agenda in the blue-leaning, Western swing state of Nevada. Two lithium mines and a geothermal power plant in the works in the biggest gold-mining state in the U.S. are under attack from conservationists, tribes and others who otherwise generally support Biden's efforts to expedite the transition from fossil fuels to renewables. Renewable or not, the actual mining of the resources faces many of the same regulatory and environmental hurdles the government has encountered for decades when digging for coal or drilling for oil.

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