In 1997, a young law student named Gregory Todd Lawrence concluded in a 35,000-word analysis that faulty legwork by a state court had plunged a Maryland insurance case into the “dreaded Serbonian bog.The poetic flourish, immortalized in Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” describes a legendary Egyptian marshland “where armies whole have sunk.”Now the challenge facing Lawrence is to avoid slipping into just such a swamp — and perhaps taking AOL Time Warner Inc.‘s legion of shareholders down with him.

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