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LAW SUMMARY

Bozzuto Landscaping, TruGreen Bury HatchetBozzuto Landscaping Co., of Laurel, has quietly settled its $12.5 million federal lawsuit against TruGreen LandCare LLC, a nationwide behemoth based in Houston. Attorneys for both sides — Thomas N. Biddison Jr. for Bozzuto, and John E. McCann Jr. for TruGreen — declined to comment on the confidential settlement terms approved earlier this week. Bozzuto, an area developer’s landscaping subsidiary, had alleged that the big Texan posed as a purchaser only to gain access to confidential company information. In the lawsuit, transferred from Baltimore County Circuit Court to federal court last month, Bozzuto alleged that TruGreen had a contract to buy the landscaping subsidiary, but suddenly canceled it —an indication, it claimed, that TruGreen “never intended to go through with any purchase” but was simply trying “to undercut [Bozzuto’s] relationship with its customers and obtain an unfair competitive advantage.” Bozzuto had sought $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages against TruGreen and its Illinois parent company, The ServiceMaster Co.


Federal Inmate Wants LifeA Hispanic inmate who could become the first person executed by the federal government since 1963 has urged President Clinton to commute his sentence to life in prison because of the “long-standing racial bias” involving capital punishment sentencing. Lawyers for Juan Raul Garza, sentenced to death in 1993 for three drug-related murders, asked the Justice Department for clemency in light of the department’s admission this week that 80 percent of defendants charged with federal crimes punishable by death during the last five years were minorities. Last month, Clinton delayed Garza’s scheduled Aug. 5 execution, setting a new Dec. 12 date and giving the 43-year-old inmate access to the Justice Department’s findings as well as the opportunity to apply for clemency. Garza’s lawyers said they were asking for a new sentence “in the face of such profound doubts and uncertainties about the fundamental fairness of the federal death penalty.” The Justice Department’s pardons office will now consider Garza’s petition and prepare a recommendation for Clinton. Another inmate, David Paul Hammer, could face execution before Garza now that a U.S. appeals court has granted Hammer’s wish to be executed promptly — perhaps as early as this fall. The last federal execution was 37 years ago, when Victor Feguer was hanged in Iowa for kidnapping and killing a doctor.


Body SearchBoston police combed through the sand of a city beach for a second day yesterday after finding human bones in a suspected mob burial site. The remains of one person were found in the course of a federal investigation into a gang once headed by fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi. Bulger has been a fugitive since 1995 and Flemmi has been in prison awaiting trial on a number of charges. Boston newspapers, citing anonymous sources, said police were searching for one or more victims of the gang after being tipped off by a former Bulger lieutenant turned government informant.


Shareholders AppealCendant Corp. said several shareholders have appealed the company’s proposed $2.85 billion settlement of a class-action lawsuit brought over alleged accounting irregularities. Cendant said a final judgment on the settlement won’t come until all rights of appeal have been exhausted — and the company won’t be required to fund the settlement for some time. In August, a federal court in Newark, N.J. approved the deal, which is intended to end shareholder claims resulting from the company’s previously reported accounting irregularities. Cendant said the appeals primarily focus on the right of certain shareholders to be excluded from the class-action suit and the allocation of the settlement. New York-based Cendant, the franchiser of brand names such as Ramada, Avis and Century 21, was formed following the merger between CUC International and HFS Inc. in December 1997. In December 1999, the consolidated class action against Cendant was settled for $2.85 billion, and Ernst & Young, CUC’s auditors, settled claims commenced by shareholders against it for $335 million.


Spam FightA polling company has withdrawn a lawsuit that accused a number of Internet service providers of blocking correspondence with as many of 2.7 million of its 6.6 million online panelists. Harris Interactive Inc. yesterday said it has restored virtually all its e-mail links by way of negotiations over the last two months with more than a dozen service providers, in particular America Online Inc. and Microsoft Corp. The publisher of the Harris poll filed a lawsuit in federal court in July that accused the companies of blocking its mail at the prompting of Mail Abuse Prevention System, a California company established to fight e-mail abuse. MAPS, based in Redwood City, Calif., accused Harris of sending unsolicited, bulk e-mails or “spam” — an accusation the market research company denied.