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Miller Barondess Files Lawsuit Against Numerous Law Firms for Aiding and Abetting Billion Dollar Ponzi Scheme

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LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Michael Goldberg, in his role as Trustee of the Woodbridge Liquidation Trust (the “Trust”), filed a lawsuit today in Los Angeles Superior Court against numerous law firms and lawyers including Sidley Austin LLP, Neal Sullivan, Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP, S. Lee Terry, Jr., Halloran & Sage LLP, Richard Roberts, Balcomb & Green, P.C., Lawrence Green, Rome McGuigan, P.C., Brian Courtney, Bailey Cavalieri LLC, Thomas Geyer, Robinson & Cole LLP, Shant Chalian, Jon H. Freis, Finn Dixon & Herling LLP, Reed Balmer, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP, and Ted Handel (the “Law Firm Defendants”). The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $500 million.

This lawsuit arises out of a five-year $1.3 billion Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Robert Shapiro (“Shapiro”) and his now-defunct investment firm, Woodbridge Group of Companies (“Woodbridge”). Shapiro recently pleaded guilty to defrauding investors and was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison.

As outlined in the Complaint, Woodbridge marketed and sold promissory notes and other offerings as “low-risk,” high yield investments supposedly backed by real-estate loans to independent third-party borrowers. But, in fact, there were very few loans to independent borrowers. Woodbridge typically made its loans to entities that were secretly controlled by Shapiro and that had no income and made no payments on the mortgages.

Shapiro caused Woodbridge to take money from new investors and used it to pay old investors: a classic Ponzi scheme. Shapiro also lined his own pockets, taking millions of dollars of investor money and spending it on himself personally.

The scheme targeted retirees and retirement account funds. Many investors lost a substantial portion of their life savings. The Trust was created pursuant to a bankruptcy court approved plan to assist investors in recovering their losses. Thousands of investors have assigned their claims to the Trust, and the Trust is bringing the claims on behalf of the investors.

The conduct challenged in the Complaint includes knowingly and/or negligently preparing loan documents and investment agreements chock-full of false statements and concealing and manipulating material facts; designing securities products meant to deceive and evade regulators; preparing legal “opinion” memoranda meant to comfort investors and lead them to falsely believe their investments were not securities subject to securities laws and regulations; and assisting in the creation of Shapiro-controlled third-party “borrowers,” all while being paid millions in legal fees by Shapiro and Woodbridge.

The claims filed against the Law Firm Defendants include (1) aiding and abetting securities fraud; (2) aiding and abetting fraud; (3) aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty; (4) negligent misrepresentation; (5) professional negligence; (6) aiding and abetting conversion; (7) actual fraudulent transfer; and (8) constructive fraudulent transfer. These claims go to the heart of the fraud that occurred here; and will be determined by a judge and jury.

The Trust is represented by Skip Miller and a team at Miller Barondess, LLP in Los Angeles. Per Miller, who is lead counsel, “We’re trying to pick up the pieces for these people and help them recover their massive—and tragic—losses. We look forward to facing the Defendants in a court of law and holding them responsible for the devastating losses they helped cause.”

About Miller Barondess, LLP:

Miller Barondess, LLP is a 40-lawyer firm in Los Angeles handling high-stakes litigation and trial work. Skip Miller is among the top trial lawyers in the nation, representing clients from celebrities to Fortune 500 companies to government in litigation matters. The firm’s attorneys hail from top law schools and aggressively and effectively litigate for their clients. For more information, please visit www.millerbarondess.com.

CASE NO. 19STCV42900

Contacts

Skip Miller

Miller Barondess, LLP

smiller@millerbarondess.com
Office: 310-552-5251

Cell: 310-738-2457

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Business Wire

Shortages of Low-Skill, Middle-Skill, and High-Skill Workers Causing Revenue Declines and Other Headaches for Employers, TrueBlue’s Latest Study Finds

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TACOMA, Wash.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–While there has been a lot of discourse around the shortage of high-skill workers in the U.S., a new study by staffing giant TrueBlue shows a significant percentage of employers are also struggling with deficits in low-skill and middle-skill workers – and dealing with a host of business challenges as a result.

According to TrueBlue’s nationwide survey, which included nearly 1,500 managers (HR, operational, and business), skills shortages are widening across skills categories:

  • 32% of managers can’t find workers to fill low-skill positions (generally classified as those that may or may not require a high school diploma and require little to no experience)
  • 46% can’t find workers for middle-skill jobs (typically require some experience and continuing education such as college courses, an apprenticeship or certification, but don’t necessarily require a four-year college degree)
  • 35% can’t find workers for high-skill jobs (typically require a four-year degree or higher and specialized experience)

Low unemployment coupled with globalization, accelerated technology advancement, and evolving work models are creating talent deficits across all skill levels within organizations,” said Patrick Beharelle, CEO of TrueBlue. “The skills supply is not keeping up with demand, which is fueling a greater intensity in an already competitive labor market and adversely impacting productivity, service quality, and revenue growth for businesses.”

Impact of Talent Shortages on Businesses

The top three business challenges managers are experiencing due to prolonged job vacancies within their organizations include:

  • Quality – More than a third of managers (35%) reported that extended job vacancies have caused lower product or service quality.
  • Turnover – 25% have seen higher employee turnover.
  • Revenue – 23% said their companies experienced a decline in revenue.

To address talent shortages and minimize associated business impact, 2 in 5 companies (41 percent) reported that they plan to raise compensation for entry-level workers and nearly half (46 percent) plan to train and hire the long-term unemployed in the coming year.

Survey Methodology

This SurveyMonkey survey was conducted online in the U.S. by TrueBlue between September 23 and October 15, 2019. It included 1,499 managers (HR, operations and general). The survey was across regions, industries, and company sizes.

About TrueBlue

TrueBlue (NYSE: TBI) is a global leader in specialized workforce solutions that help clients achieve business growth and improve productivity. In 2018, the company connected approximately 730,000 people with work. TrueBlue’s PeopleReady segment offers on-demand industrial staffing services, PeopleManagement offers contingent and productivity-based, on-site industrial staffing and driver staffing services, and PeopleScout offers recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) and managed service provider (MSP) solutions to a wide variety of industries. Learn more at www.trueblue.com.

Contacts

Jennifer Grasz

Vice President, Corporate Communications

jgrasz@trueblue.com
(312) 840-6327

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Business Wire

Law Firm of Estey & Bomberger Reports: Uber Says Nearly 6,000 Rapes, Sexual Assaults Occurred in Two-year Period

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SAN DIEGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The law firm of Estey & Bomberger reported today that Uber’s long-awaited sexual assault report was released Dec. 5, with the ride-hailing company admitting that 5,981* passengers and drivers were raped or sexually assaulted between 2017-2018.

“I applaud Uber for releasing the data that acknowledges there is a problem with sexual assaults occurring in rideshare. While we believe these assaults were preventable, Uber’s report represents a tremendous step for ride-hailing safety,” said Estey & Bomberger attorney Mike Bomberger. “I think there are many positive measures Uber is taking. However, Uber still has an obligation to help the victims who have been raped and assaulted and facing a lifetime of emotional pain. They will need ongoing therapy.”

Estey & Bomberger represents more than 100 ride-hailing sexual assault victims.

“It’s important to remember when reading this report that only one in three women report their sexual assault,” Bomberger said. “Therefore, the number of women who have been sexually assaulted is certainly much higher than reported here.”

Bomberger reiterated his call for all ride-hailing trips to be digitally recorded.

“We’re pleased that Uber is now testing cameras in Texas. That’s the real solution to this problem – if drivers know they’re being recorded they won’t rape and assault,” Bomberger said.

Estey & Bomberger is asking Lyft and Uber sexual assault victims, along with former employees of the ride-sharing firms, to contact its office by calling 866-964-1708 or emailing info@lyftsexualassaultlawyers.com.

*statistic courtesy NPR “Uber Received Nearly 6,000 U.S. Sexual Assault Claims in Past 2 Years,” Dec. 5, 2019.

Contacts

for Estey & Bomberger

Ed Vasquez, 408-420-6558

ed@ejvcommunications.com

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Business Wire

Best’s Market Segment Report: AM Best Maintains Global Reinsurance Market Outlook at Stable

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OLDWICK, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AM Best has maintained a market segment outlook of stable on the global reinsurance industry for 2020, citing a stabilized pricing environment — albeit at levels below long-term adequacy — the continuing alignment between traditional and third-party capital and ongoing stability in the global life reinsurance segment.

A new Best’s Market Segment Report, titled, “Market Segment Outlook: Global Reinsurance,” states that although rates in the non-life reinsurance market have improved modestly, pricing has not kept adequate pace with the changing risk dynamics, as illustrated by loss development from events such as hurricanes Irma and Maria and Typhoon Jebi, and potential losses from more-recent events (e.g., Hurricane Dorian). Property catastrophe pricing still is being driven by the availability of third-party capital; however, the increasing interdependence between traditional capacity and third-party capital through joint ventures, retrocession and direct ownership should serve to more closely align return objectives for the market overall. Third-party capital also represents a benefit in the form of stabilized earnings of rated balance sheets, due to tail risk being assumed by this capital.

Overall market conditions are improving, but AM Best remains concerned about insufficient rate adequacy relating to certain U.S. casualty lines, a steady decline in the benefit of favorable reserve releases and the pervasive low interest rate environment. The collective effect of these factors requires underwriting discipline, and failure to react to these pressures could adversely affect the segment.

The report outlines other factors that are driving the stable market segment outlook, including:

  • AM Best believes alternative third-party capital will hold the line on future return expectations following the recent heavy catastrophe loss years;
  • A decline in capital consumption and earnings volatility, due in part to the increased utilization of third-party capital in retrocessionaire programs;
  • Greater emphasis on underwriting discipline due to pressure on interest rates and potential slower economic growth globally;
  • Improving pricing momentum driven by higher loss costs, coupled with lower loss reserve redundancies;
  • Increased demand for non-life reinsurance due to primary companies’ recent loss experience, as well as new risk transfer opportunities and mergers and acquisitions;
  • Stable operating performance among life reinsurers, which continue to maintain defensible market positions and offer services beyond risk transfer that create hurdles for new entrants.

To access the full copy of the overall global reinsurance briefing, please visit http://www3.ambest.com/bestweek/purchase.asp?record_code=292334.

Separate briefings on the non-life and life reinsurance segments can be viewed at:

To view a video with AM Best Associate Director Scott Mangan about the global reinsurance market segment outlook, please visit http://www.ambest.com/v.asp?v=globalreoutlook1219.

AM Best is a global credit rating agency, news publisher and data provider specializing in the insurance industry. The company does business in more than 100 countries. Headquartered in Oldwick, NJ, AM Best has offices in cities around the world, including London, Amsterdam, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Mexico City. For more information, visit www.ambest.com.

Copyright © 2019 by A.M. Best Company, Inc. and/or its affiliates.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Contacts

Robert DeRose
Senior Director
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5435
robert.derose@ambest.com

Greg Carter
Managing Director
+44 20 7397 0288
greg.carter@ambest.com

Michael Porcelli, FSA
Director
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5548
michael.porcelli@ambest.com

Christopher Sharkey
Manager, Public Relations
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5159
christopher.sharkey@ambest.com

Jim Peavy
Director, Public Relations
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5644
james.peavy@ambest.com

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