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​​The Latest Legal News & Industry Information

D.C. Attorney General Seeks Lawyers
To Sue Exxon Over Climate Change

     Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine is expected to file a lawsuit soon against oil giant ExxonMobil Corp. on claims the company’s automobile fuels pollute air in the nation’s capital.
     Last month, he posted a job solicitation that he announced in a Tweet seeking a legal team “passionate about protecting our environment.”
     The solicitation requires the winning job candidates to provide legal services for the attorney general’s "investigation and potential litigation against ExxonMobil Corporation (Exxon).”
     The solicitation says a lawsuit would seek to show Exxon violated the Consumer Protection Procedures Act by failing to warn its customers that its fuels can damage the environment, such as by causing climate change.
     “Since at least the 1970s, Exxon has been aware that its fossil fuel products were significantly contributing to climate change, and that climate change would accelerate and lead to significant harms to the environment in the twenty-first century,” the solicitation says. “However, despite this knowledge, in connection with selling gasoline to D.C. consumers and others, Exxon has failed to inform consumers about the effects of its fossil fuel products on climate change.”
     A D.C. lawsuit against a major oil company would kickstart plans by liberal attorneys general nationwide to hold polluters liable for climate change. In March 2016, 17 of them joined a coalition called AGs United for Clean Power.
     So far, only New York has sued Exxon in claim filed last October. Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands have investigated possible lawsuits.
     The attorneys general accuse Exxon and other major oil companies of “climate fraud.”
     The implication of fraud was clear in Racine’s job solicitation, which said, “Exxon has also engaged or funded efforts to mislead DC consumers and others about the potential impacts of climate change.”
     The job posting seeks two lawyers and a paralegal. They would be paid on a contingency basis, meaning they would collect a percentage of the total damages awarded by a court.
     For more information, contact The Legal Forum (www.legal-forum.net) at email: tramstack@gmail.com or phone: 202-479-7240.
     Link to D.C. Attorney General Request for Proposals: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2019-03/OAG-RFP-DCCB-2019-R-0011-Outside-Counsel-for-Climate-Change-Litigation-Issued-2-28-19_1.pdf

D.C. Joins States in Opposing
Agriculture Dept. Nutrition Rules

     The District of Columbia is leading a 21-state coalition to oppose proposed cutbacks in food stamps for some low-income recipients.
     The comment letter filed by the D.C. Attorney General is one of two legal actions the city has taken against the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the past three weeks.
     The Agriculture Department proposes modifying a 1996 welfare law that limits the time to three months that unemployed able-bodied adults without dependents can receive food stamps.
     The law allows states to request waivers from the time limit if they have unemployment rates over 10 percent or lack enough jobs to employ food stamp recipients who would lose their benefits.
     The proposed Agriculture Department rule would severely restrict states’ ability to obtain the waivers.
     The proposed rule is now in the public comment stage before it can become a regulation applied to recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, commonly called food stamps.
     The joint comment letter from the District of Columbia, Maryland and others says that “it is inconsistent with—and indeed undermines—the fundamental purpose of the Food & Nutrition Act, which is to ‘alleviate hunger and malnutrition’ and ‘permit [recipient] low-income households to obtain a more nutritious diet through normal channels of trade by increasing food purchasing power.’”
     The letter says about three-quarters of a million people would lose food stamp benefits under the Trump administration proposal. About 20,000 of them are in the District of Columbia.
     It also accuses the federal government of interfering with state discretion in the program, which is administered jointly by federal and state governments.
     In a separate action, the D.C. government and six states sued the Agriculture Department this month over its rule change that weakened nutritional standards in school breakfasts and lunches.
     The new rule allows more salt and refined grains in school foods, despite federal nutritional guidelines that would drastically reduce salt content and require more whole grains.
     For more information, contact The Legal Forum (www.legal-forum.net) at email: tramstack@gmail.com or phone: 202-479-7240.

Former Skadden Arps Partner Pleads
Not Guilty to Foreign Lobbying Charge

     Former Skadden Arps partner Gregory Craig pleaded not guilty last week after being arrested on charges that he lied to federal investigators about his role in a foreign lobbying campaign on behalf of the Ukrainian government.
     He was indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C.
     Craig worked on behalf of Skadden Arps to write a report for the Ukrainian government in 2012 on the prosecution of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
     She was a political opponent of then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who had her jailed and prosecuted on financial corruption charges. Craig’s report was supposed to be an objective analysis but critics said it whitewashed the political motives behind the prosecution.
     The allegations against Craig arose from the investigation by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, who was investigating whether Russia influenced the 2016 U.S. presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.
     The investigation led first to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was paid millions of dollars as a lobbyist and advisor by the Ukrainian government.
     However, Manafort never registered as a foreign lobbyist. He also has pleaded guilty to charges that he lied to Justice Department investigators about his efforts for the Ukrainians.
     The Skadden Arps report was used by Manafort in his public relations campaign for the Ukrainians.
     The law firm reached a settlement in January with the Justice Department in which it acknowledged it should have registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The settlement included a $4.6 million payment to the U.S. Treasury, the same amount the firm was paid by the Ukrainian government.
     Craig is represented by the firm of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, which released a statement saying, "Mr. Craig is not guilty of any charge and the government's stubborn insistence on prosecuting Mr. Craig is a misguided abuse of prosecutorial discretion."
     Craig was an Obama administration White House counsel who has represented clients in several high-profile cases. The two-count indictment accuses him of making false statements and concealing material facts about his work for the Ukrainian government.
     For more information, contact The Legal Forum (www.legal-forum.net) at email: tramstack@gmail.com or phone: 202-479-7240.

Families of Preschool Children
Sue On Sexual Abuse Allegation

     The families of seven children sued the Edlavitch Tyser Early Childhood Center in Northwest D.C. this week on allegations a staff member sexually abused the preschool students over two years.
     They also say the Washington Hebrew Congregation, which operates the pre-school, and its top administrator were warned but did not adequately intervene to halt the abuse.
     The lawsuit filed in D.C. Superior Court says an assistant teacher named Jordan Silverman took advantage of the children between 2016 and 2018. The children, both boys and girls, were between two years old and four years old.
     Silverman’s actions at the preschool represented the "most grievous, demeaning and damaging forms of sexual abuse" and was "systemic and regular," the lawsuit says.
     Evidence of the negligence can be found in administrators’ failure to follow the Washington, D.C. “two-deep” policy that requires at least two adults to be present with children at licensed preschools, the lawsuit says.
     "Essential protection against abuse of this type in a child-caring environment requires visibility and accountability of all adults present at all times," the 23 plaintiffs say in their lawsuit. "Defendants provided for neither."
     The lawsuit seeks an amount of damages to be determined by a jury.
     Washington Hebrew Congregation denied allegations its staff violated any laws but added they are cooperating with a police investigation.
"Child safety has always been our top priority," a statement from the synagogue says.

Parents of Murdered Child
Sue D.C. Housing Authority

     The parents of a murdered 10-year-old girl are suing the District of Columbia in a wrongful death claim that accuses the Housing Authority of failing to provide residents with adequate security.
     The city could have prevented the murder of Makiyah Wilson in the Clay Terrace neighborhood by providing guards, erecting fences with security gates and using video cameras, the girl’s parents say.
     In addition, the city had notice of the dangers to residents from multiple murders in the same neighborhood over several years, the lawsuit says.
     The fifth-grader was killed nine months ago in the public housing complex when masked men fired more than 60 shots into a courtyard filled with people. She was hit in the back while trying to buy ice cream.
     Seven people have been arrested and charged in the murder.
     The girl’s parents are claiming $30 million for what they say is the city’s negligence.
     D.C. Housing Authority officials have declined to comment on the pending litigation.