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Police raided a noted French publishing house Wednesday in their investigation of an 83-year-old writer who celebrated pedophilia in his work as court proceedings opened in another case against him.

Investigators raided the offices of French publishing house Gallimard in connection with a preliminary investigation as to whether Gabriel Matzneff raped a minor decades ago, a judicial official said. The official, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly, provided the information on condition of not being named.

The investigators were looking for unpublished passages from Matzneff's writings, according to press reports.

The raid came as lawyers met in a Paris courtroom on another legal front, one concerning Matzneff's recent pieces for news publications in which he defended his relationship with a young girl decades ago as "the exceptional love that we lived together.”

He was 50 at the time, and the girl to whom he referred, Vanessa Springora, was 14. The publication last month of a tell-all book by Springora, "Consent," brought a writer long-forgotten on the literary circuit back into the public eye.

The Blue Angel Association, a French pedophilia prevention group in France, is behind the court case. The group's lawyer, Mehana Mouhou, said he expects to call five to 10 witnesses.

Woman gets up to 10 years for insurance fraud

  Insurance  -   POSTED: 2012/09/03 16:06

A repeat offender from Caldwell received up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of insurance fraud.

Martha Patricia Feely, sentenced last week in 4th District Court, was already on felony probation in a California insurance fraud case in 2009 when she submitted forged performance bond documents to three southwestern Idaho government agencies.

Performance bonds are necessary to bid on public jobs and ensure a contractor will fulfill its obligations.

Such bonds also ensure subcontractors and suppliers will be paid.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said Friday Feely's duplicitousness violates a system where companies usually work ethically to ensure fairness on public works jobs.

When one person breaks the rules, he said, it puts honest business owners at a disadvantage.

The Progressive Corp. insurance group is defending itself against an onslaught of negative publicity after it tried to avoid paying $75,000 to the family of a client killed in a car crash and sought to blame the wreck on her.

The criticism began Monday with a blog post from 33-year-old Matt Fisher of Brooklyn, whose sister Kaitlynn Fisher had Progressive insurance and was killed in a June 2010 car crash in Baltimore. In order to avoid the payout to Kaitlynn Fisher's family, Progressive interjected itself into a lawsuit the Fisher family filed against the other driver.

Last week, a jury found the other driver negligent, despite Progressive's efforts to persuade the jury otherwise.

Matt Fisher said Thursday that the deluge of online support his family has received is gratifying. The backlash against Progressive was strong enough that the Ohio-based company felt compelled to issue a public statement on the case. The statement denied Progressive was representing the driver who was ultimately found negligent. And it prompted even further backlash because it failed to acknowledge that, as a practical matter, Progressive's lawyer was indeed working in court as a third party to combat the Fisher family's claims.

While Fisher didn't quite anticipate the wave of support he received, he was sure others who learned about the case would be as shocked as he was that his sister's own insurance company was going to such lengths to cast the blame on her for the accident.

Calif. Supreme Court tells insurers to pay

  Insurance  -   POSTED: 2012/08/11 17:35

The California Supreme Court has told insurance companies they must pay up to the policy limits for cleanup of a toxic dump in Riverside County.

Thursday's unanimous decision in the decades-long dispute means the state will likely receive tens of millions of dollars more from insurers to clean up the Stringfellow Acid Pits near Glen Avon.

The industrial waste facility operated by the state from 1956 to 1972 leaked contaminants into ground water.

The Los Angeles Times says the California Supreme Court ruled that consecutive insurance policies require each insurer to pay up to their policy limits for waste site damages.

The court says the state, which purchased multiple policies and paid multiple premiums, should be able to collect up to the policy limit from each company.

Appeals court tosses insurance fraud convictions

  Insurance  -   POSTED: 2011/08/02 14:01

A federal appeals court has thrown out the fraud convictions of five former executives from American International Group Inc. and Stamford-based General Re Corp.

The five had been convicted in a $500 million fraud case. But the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday sent the case back to U.S. District Court in Hartford, Conn., for another trial.

Prosecutors had alleged the executives were part of a fraud in which New York-based AIG paid Stamford-based Gen Re in a secret deal to take out reinsurance policies with AIG in 2000 and 2001.

The appeals court found that the trial judge abused his discretion by admitting stock-price data during the trial. It says the judge also gave improper instructions to the jury.

All five executives had been sentenced to prison.

A Georgia insurance company that paid a wrongful death claim on behalf of a former Utah State University fraternity has settled the lawsuit it brought against four of the fraternity's members.

The Herald Journal of Logan reports that attorneys for RSUI Inc. told a 1st District Court judge the company had resolved a dispute with the four men. Court records show attorneys met with the judge April 20 — one day before a planned hearing.

RSUI sought $50,000 each from Sigma Nu pledge Chad Burton and chapter officers Cody Littlewood, Colton Hansen and Mitchell Alm as compensation for a settlement payment to the parents of Michael Starks.

Starks died Nov. 21, 2008, from alcohol poisoning after a fraternity event.

At the time, RSUI was the insurer for the fraternity and its members, including pledges. RSUI attorneys have acknowledged that both the company and the four defendants would have been jointly liable to Starks' parents, George and Jane Starks of Salt Lake City. The company claims it paid the full amount of a settlement with the Starks, although those terms have not been made public.

Court: Insurance rates can reflect credit scores

  Insurance  -   POSTED: 2010/07/12 16:28

Insurance companies can use a person's credit report to determine rates, the Michigan Supreme Court said Thursday in declaring that state regulators exceeded their authority when they banned the practice as discriminatory.

The decision ends a legal battle between insurance companies and Gov. Jennifer Granholm's administration that has reached three courts since 2005.

The industry says people with strong credit reports make fewer claims and deserve lower rates than people with weak credit reports. The Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, said Michigan law allows companies to offer people with good credit lower rates.

"It is difficult to see how offering discounts to some insureds on the basis of good insurance scores is inconsistent with the (law's) general purpose of availability and affordability of insurance for all consumers," Justice Maura Corrigan wrote in the majority opinion.

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