Repeat that, please.


A Laguna Beach resident who claims he is hard of hearing has filed two lawsuits on behalf of more than 3 million California residents who purchased a DVD that was advertised as having closed captioning but lacked that element on the movie's special features.


In one suit, filed against Universal Pictures and two of its subsidiaries, Russ Boltz claims that at least two of the studio's movies, "The Bourne Supremacy" and "Seabiscuit," were marked with grids that said, "Captions: English," but did not include captioning in special features, such as actor interviews, outtakes and director comments. Most of the DVDs had closed captioning for the main feature, however.


He said other DVD makers have issued a disclaimer on their packages: "Bonus Materials Not Rated or Captioned."


Boltz filed a similar suit against Sony Pictures Entertainment and several of its subsidiaries, including Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. In that case, he claims that the DVD packages for "Spider-Man," "xXx," "Die Another Day", "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde" and "Barbershop" are labeled with a "CC," a "Q" or the phrase, "closed captioning for the hard of hearing" but do not provide that service on their special features.


Boltz said the "inability to understand uncaptioned features creates feelings of frustration and anger among people who are hard of hearing and isolates them from their friends and family without hearing loss when they watch DVDs together," according to the suit.


Both suits were filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, where Boltz has a year-old suit alleging similar claims against Walt Disney Co. and its subsidiaries, including Buena Vista Home Entertainment.


Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures and Harry Shulman, a lawyer for Boltz at Mills Law Firm in San Rafael, declined to comment. A call to Universal Pictures, a division of General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal, was not returned.


Legal Chairs
UCLA School of Law has created the first endowed chair in the city of Los Angeles to be established by a gift from a law firm rather than an individual lawyer.


Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker LLP, based in Los Angeles, gave $1 million to the school to establish the chair, which should be filled by the spring.


"I've just appointed a committee," said Michael Schill, dean of the UCLA School of Law. "That committee will start looking at faculty here, as well as faculty in other schools, to determine who would be the best recipient of the chair."


The Paul Hastings Endowed Chair in Corporate and Securities Law is one of the first gifts raised as part of a new campaign at UCLA law school designed to target private funding, Schill said.


In addition to the gift by Paul Hastings, UCLA School of Law received a donation from one of its first alumni, Arthur Greenberg, and his wife, Audrey Greenberg. To recognize that gift, the amount of which is confidential, UCLA dedicated its student lounge last week to Greenberg, a founding partner of Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman Machtinger & Kinsella LLP.


Vying For Vioxx
A team of plaintiff's lawyers assigned to sue Merck & Co. on behalf of Vioxx consumers in California has added two more lawyers in preparation for a June trial.


Brian Kabateck, a partner at Kabateck Brown Kellner LLP, and Brian Panish, a partner at Panish Shea & Boyle LLP, joined a nine-lawyer committee designed to oversee more than 1,600 lawsuits filed by California residents who claim they suffered strokes or heart attacks from taking Vioxx.


"We added to the original plaintiff's executive committee because we were getting a lot more filings," said James O'Callahan, a partner at Girardi and Keese, lead law firm on the committee.


Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney recently set a trial date of June 21 for the California cases.


Comings & Goings
Latham & Watkins LLP has named 30 associates to partner, including four in its Los Angeles office .Los Angeles-based Quateman & Zidell LLP has changed its name and relocated. Following the recent departure of name partner Steven Zidell, Quateman LLP is moving into larger offices at 1801 Century Park East Luce Forward Hamilton & Scripps LLP, based in San Diego, has named one new associate to partner in Los Angeles.


*Staff reporter Amanda Bronstad can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 225, or at abronstad@labusinessjournal.com .

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.