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You might recognize Frank Sivero from such films as "Goodfellas" and "The Godfather Part II." But what about "The Simpsons"?

Sivero apparently recognized himself in a semi-recurring character on Fox's animated television series "The Simpsons." Sivero has filed a $250 million lawsuit against Fox claiming that the character Louie, who has appeared in 16 episodes of the long-running hit show, is based on the character Sivero "developed and played" in the 1990 mob film "Goodfellas."

What's the basis of Sivero's eye-popping lawsuit?

The Seventh Circuit has written a scathing rejection of a "scandalous" class-action settlement by in which a lawyer inserted his father-in-law as a named plaintiff and negotiated a $2 million advance on his fee.

Judge Richard Posner wrote in the opinion (attached below) that the lower court should have heeded dire warning signs. 

"Almost every danger sign in a class action settlement that our court and other courts have warned district judges to be on the lookout for was present in this case," Posner wrote. "The district court approved a class action settlement that is inequitable-- even scandalous."

Lead attorney Paul M. Weiss' agreement was structured to pay him and his co-counsel $11 million. 

Though the settlement was valued at $90 million, the class "could not expect to receive more than $8.5 million from the settlement, given all the obstacles that the terms of the settlement strewed in the path of the class members," Posner wrote.

A delayed General Motors recall that led to at least 13 deaths was caused by "a pattern of incompetence and neglect" throughout the company, an internal report released Thursday said.

GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra announced that 15 employees -- many of them senior legal and engineering executives -- have been dismissed and five more have been disciplined after the probe by former federal prosecutor Anton Valukas.

Valukas' report, described by Barra as "brutally tough and deeply troubling," is attached below.

Barra has confirmed that GM will soon begin compensating victims of crashes linked to the faulty ignition switches that have plagued the company for over a decade, The Associated Press reports. The program is expected to begin taking claims August 1 of this year.

GM officials said that the number of fatalities related to the part defect may rise. Reuters reports that at least 74 people have died in crashes similar to those GM has linked to the faulty switches, based on an analysis of government data.

It's the topic that won't die: Donald Sterling is a racist.

Of course, those of us who paid attention to the L.A. sports scene have known this for years -- there was the refusal to rent to African Americans, and the time he brought women into the locker room to view his players' "beautiful black bodies," relays Deadspin. His former general manager, NBA legend Elgin Baylor, who admittedly had a bone to pick with him (litigation was ongoing at the time), compared Sterling's management of the team to a plantation, reports Yahoo.

But with Sterling's lifelong suspension, imposed by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver earlier this week, came an interesting question: can the league force him to sell the team?

Obviously, with the NBA and Donald Sterling being private parties (as opposed to the government, which has its own set of powers), any ability to force a sale is going to have to come from a contract: the NBA bylaws. The formerly secret bylaws were released by the league earlier this week, leading to lots of speculation. One lawyer, writing for Fox Sports, argued that the bylaws don't provide such an authority.

We'll toss the question to you, dear audience: do these bylaws support a forced sale? Hint: Article 13 - Termination of Ownership or Membership begins on page 36 of the PDF (page 26 of the document).

Tweet us your best legal theories, in 140 characters or less, to @FindLawLP.

Whatever happens, this battle won't be resolved quickly. Though the NBA has a long queue of interested buyers, Sterling has let it known that he'll file suit to block the sale, under breach of contract or antitrust claims, reports the New York Daily News.

For Sports Law geeks, this is going to be fun to watch.

Northwestern University football players on scholarship are university employees and may unionize, a National Labor Relations Board hearing officer ruled on Wednesday.

The first-round legal victory by Northwestern players has the potential to shake up the world of big-time college sports. But the fight has just begun, as this is likely just the start of a long, arduous legal battle.

Still, the Northwestern football union ruling (attached below) is groundbreaking and could prove revolutionary.

NLRB regional director Peter Sung Ohr ruled that ex-Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter and current players are employees and entitled to form a union.

Universities have long argued -- successfully in court -- that athletes are not employees.

But Ohr disagreed, ruling Northwestern's players work between 20 and 50 hours per week and generate millions of dollars for their institutions. He illustrated how they perform services under a contract of hire (scholarship), subject to the other party's control (coaches) and in return for payment ($61,000 per academic year at Northwestern; $76,000 for those players who attend summer school).

Northwestern promptly announced it plans to take the case to the full NLRB in Washington.

"This is a landmark decision," William Gould IV, a former chairman of the NLRB, told the Chicago Tribune. "This is going to rattle the universe of universities."

The legal battle for compensating college athletes just began in earnest.

Airline Lawsuit Over Sex-Toy Prank Survives at 5th Cir.

A lawsuit against an airline for allegedly taping a sex toy to the top of a checked bag should survive a motion to dismiss, the Fifth Circuit has ruled.

The complaint for intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and negligence can proceed, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in an unpublished opinion (attached below).

The lawsuit claims the sex toy had been removed from their luggage, covered in a greasy foul-smelling substance and taped to the top of one of their bags.

The bag was circulating on the luggage carousel at the Norfolk Airport when the travelers discovered it, the ABA Journal reports. The plaintiffs argue that airline employees targeted them because they are gay men.

The defendants -- United Continental Holdings, Inc. and Continental Airlines -- argued the plaintiffs' suit was preempted by Article 17 of the Montreal Convention, which governs airline liability, including liability for damage to baggage. But the 5th Circuit disagreed.

"The alleged misconduct in this case simply does not relate to any damage to plaintiffs' duffel bag ... rather, plaintiffs seek a remedy for the way in which their bag was utilized to inflict personal injury," the court ruled.

The case was remanded to the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas.

Google Books Lawsuit Defeated: Book Scanning Deemed 'Fair Use'

Google has defeated an 8-year-old lawsuit by authors who accused the Internet company of digitally copying millions of books for an online library without permission.

U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin’s ruling (attached below) states that Google’s scanning of more than 20 million books, and making “snippets” of text available online, constituted “fair use” under U.S. copyright law.

Thursday’s ruling, which the Author’s Guild has vowed to appeal, ostensibly permits Google to continue expanding the library.

Judge Chin wrote that the scanning makes it easier for students, teachers, researchers and the public to find books, while maintaining “respectful consideration” for authors’ rights.

“This is a big win for Google, and it blesses other search results that Google displays, such as news or images,” University of Maryland intellectual property law professor James Grimmelmann told Reuters.

The Authors Guild expressed disappointment over the ruling.

“Google made unauthorized digital editions of nearly all of the world’s valuable copyright-protected literature and profits from displaying those works,” Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, told Reuters. “Such mass digitization and exploitation far exceeds the bounds of the fair use defense.”

Yelp Sues Law Firm for Posting Fake Reviews, Testimonials

Do legal consumers use Yelp, the consumer review website best known for reviewing restaurants, to help them choose an attorney?

A San Diego law firm apparently seems to think so. Enough so that it allegedly used its staff and five fellow attorneys to write fake, beaming reviews of its bankruptcy practice. Yelp has sued the McMillan Law Group for violating Yelp's terms of service and eroding its value to consumers in a damning complaint (attached below).

The company's complaint states that a series of favorable reviews of the firm were written by McMillan employees -- sometimes from the office itself. Yelp further alleges that five San Diego lawyers also wrote glowing, quid pro quo reviews for the firm.

"The McMillan Law Group's efforts to mislead consumers are particularly brazen and disappointing given they have targeted some of the most vulnerable consumers of all -- individuals who may be facing bankruptcy," claims the lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court.

Firm owner Julian McMillan, meanwhile, says Yelp is actually after revenge. She claims Yelp's lawsuit is in response to her firm winning a small claims court case against the website last year.

"I'm the only business that ever sued them and won," McMillan told The Recorder. "And now, I'm the only business they've ever counter-sued."

American-US Airways Merger Blocked by DOJ Antitrust Lawsuit

The American Airlines-US Airways merger should be blocked to protect consumers from higher fares and fees, the U.S. Justice Department argues in an antitrust lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The antitrust lawsuit (attached below) upends American’s plans to exit bankruptcy via a deal that would create the world’s biggest airline. United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, which both grew through mergers of their own in recent years, are currently the two largest domestic carriers.

The DOJ, along with the attorneys general of six states and the District of Columbia, argue the proposed American-US Airways merger would lead to less competition in the industry, higher fares and cut flight service. The Department the merger would result in four airlines controlling more than 80 percent of the U.S. commercial air travel market.

“This merger will leave three very similar legacy airlines—Delta, United and the new American—that past experience shows increasingly prefer tacit coordination over full-throated competition,” says the lawsuit, filed in Washington, D.C., federal court. “Competition at [Washington’s] Reagan National [Airport] cannot flourish where one airline increasingly controls an essential ingredient to competition.”

US Airways CEO Doug Parker vowed to fight the lawsuit in a letter Tuesday to airline workers.

“We are extremely disappointed in this action and believe the DOJ is wrong in its assessment,” Parker said. “We will fight them.”

Apple Import Ban: Obama Admin. Overrules Ban on Some iPhones, iPads

The Obama Administration has vetoed a ban on imports of some Apple iPads and older iPhones — a rare move that undercuts a legal victory for smartphone rival Samsung.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman overruled a June decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) which banned imports of the iPhone 4 and some variations of the iPad 2.

Froman’s formal decision (attached below) to veto the ITC ban cited concerns about patent holders gaining “undue leverage” as well as potential harm to consumers and competitive conditions in the U.S. economy.

The action is the first time since 1987 that a presidential administration had vetoed an import ban ordered by the ITC, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The ITC had ruled that the Chinese-made Apple devices violated a patent held by Samsung and couldn’t be imported.

Samsung and Apple are in a global legal battle over smartphones. Patent victories have been claimed by both sides in legal proceedings around the world.

Indeed, Froman said Samsung could continue to pursue its patent rights through the courts.