Archive for June, 2007

NBA Games Soon to Be Settled Via Lawsuit

A “slam dunk” story for the day after the NBA Draft:

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban isn’t shy about using multiple avenues to promote himself and his team. In what is likely an attempt to keep his name in the news, Cuban is suing Golden State Warriors head coach Don Nelson, who used to coach the Mavericks, for knowing the Mavericks personnel a little too well. This “inside” knowledge, claims Cuban, helped the eighth-seeded Warriors beat the #1 seed Mavericks in the first round of the NBA playoffs this year.

From the story:

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban believes Golden State’s sizzling shooting alone didn’t sink his basketball team in the most stunning playoff defeat in NBA history.

That’s according to Don Nelson’s attorney, John O’Connor, who said Cuban is suing Nelson, claiming the Warriors beat the Mavs in the first round because the Warriors’ coach — and former coach of the Mavs — had “confidential information and he [Cuban] wants to enjoin Don from coaching against the Mavericks.”…

According to the story, when Nelson left the Mavericks, he signed a “non-compete” agreement with Cuban, which Nelson claims ended when he took the job with Golden State. Cuban contends that this agreement is still in effect, which should prohibit Nelson from being able to coach another team.

I’ve often wondered how this actually affects sports teams – for instance, when a baseball player is traded mid-season to a competitor. Does it do his new team any good to have his inside knowledge of how the other team works? Isn’t it an advantage to know all the signals and shifts the other team can make, not to mention the personnel tendencies?

It’s still up in the air, however, which is a more embarrassing move for a franchise: Cuban’s lawsuit, or drafting a Chinese guy who may be lying about his age, refuses to work out against a human being, and has the Chinese government saying he will never play for your team. But I’m not bitter.

Speeding Into Court

I smell class action:

Frequent N.H. Speeder Wants Limit Raised

DOVER, N.H. – A man with a penchant for speedy driving has come up with an unusual tactic for beating speeding tickets — raise the limit. So far this year, Larry Lemay has been ticketed four times for speeding.

Rather than slow down, Lemay is suing the state Department of Transportation to study traffic and speed limits across New Hampshire, to see whether limits could be raised. … Lemay said he believes many speed limits are set intentionally low so the state can cash in on drivers.

I’m not sure exactly what this lawsuit is meant to accomplish. So he wins, and a judge orders the state to do a “study” that it doesn’t want to do? Want three guesses as to what the study is going to say?

On the other hand, I might have to give him a call to see if I can file an amicus brief. I have a lot of parking tickets that I think violate my right to park on the sidewalk.

Somewhat off-topic thought

Isn’t it a tad ironic for the woman who hired Amanda Marcotte to be complaining about Ann Coulter’s level of discourse?

Of course, there’s a difference: Ann Coulter is to politics what pro wrestling is to sports, and intentionally acts the part of a clown. (It wasn’t always so: at her best as an attorney for the Center for Individual Rights in the 1990s, Coulter successfully litigated against a whites-only scholarship in Alabama on behalf of an African-American, Jessie Thompkins, who was ineligible for the scholarship because of his race.) In contrast, Marcotte was explicitly chosen by the Edwards campaign to speak for it and the level of political discourse it wanted to produce.

And then there’s John Edwards himself, and his level of discourse in the courtroom, where attorneys are ostensibly officers of the court with an obligation to be truthful. Of course, truth and fairness wouldn’t have made John Edwards millions.

Update: my cousin Garance Franke-Ruta has a different take at the Guardian website that takes two Coulter attacks on Edwards out of context, and I’m not sure where “look like a cross between a Robert Palmer back-up dancer and an Edward Gorey drawing” fits on the Edwardsian scale of political discourse.

Failed an Exam? See You in Court

27-year old former nursing student Nicholas Perrino is suing Columbia University to overturn an “F” he received after missing an exam:

Nicholas Perrino was kicked out of the Ivy League institution’s School of Nursing for missing an exam, and now he is suing to get back in.

Perrino is asking a judge to remove the “F” from his transcript, reinstate him at the school and reimburse tuition costs for classes he has already taken.

Presumably, legal action against universities by disgruntled students is fairly common. However, two of Perrino’s statements deserve scrutiny.

First, he claims he “told his instructors” he would be missing the exam. That is far different than getting permission to miss the exam. Had his instructors granted his request, he likely would have said so in the court documents. The more likely scenario is that on the way out the door, he e-mailed his professor to say “sorry, I have an emergency and can’t make the exam,” or something similar.

Secondly, he complains that “it’s not like (he) killed someone.” Actually, there’s a much less compelling case against him had he actually killed someone and not missed the exam. If he ran over someone with his car and the professors flunked him as a result, he may actually have a case. But by missing an exam, he gave them every reason to fail him.

It’s difficult to envision Columbia not having some sort of written policy on unexcused absences for student exams. The fact that Perrino is representing himself may be an indication of how he feels about his chances in court.

Prisoner Rights Update: Swedish Edition

Whereas some might think prison is a place to teach inmates valuable lessons (“don’t stab people,” etc.), it appears more Swedish prisoners are learning the value of a good lawyer:

Court Upholds Prisoners’ Right to Porn

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) — Convicted sex offenders in Sweden are free to read pornography in their cells following a court ruling that has angered the prison service.

The Supreme Administrative Court in Stockholm last week ruled that the Swedish Prison and Probation Service had no right to deny a rape convict access to his porn magazines.

Prison officials had argued that reading porn would interfere with the man’s rehabilitation program. They also said the magazines posed a security problem for staff and other inmates because they could increase the risk of the man relapsing into criminal behavior.

On the bright side, he’ll be blind when he’s finally released.

Woman Deems Starburst “Dangerously Chewy”

Next time you feel like living on the edge, there’s no need to go sky diving or ski jumping. Simply bite into a Starburst fruit chew, cross your fingers, and hang on for dear life…

Michigan Woman Claims Starburst Candies Are Dangerously Chewy in Lawsuit

Starburst Fruit Chews are exactly as their name would indicate: chewy. But one Michigan woman says the candies are so chewy, they should come with a warning label.

Victoria McArthur, of Romero, Mich., is suing Starbursts’ parent company, Mars Inc., for more than $25,000 for “permanent personal injuries” she claims she sustained after biting into one of their yellow candy in 2005.

I think we need to take whatever steps necessary to keep this woman away from jawbreakers.

Large Payment Awarded After 30 Years of Divorce

British businessman Dennis North’s wife Jean left him 30 years ago after she began seeing another man. Their split became official in 1981, when they signed an agreement that granted Jean their house and income from rents on their various properties.

North went on to be a wildly successful businessman, while his ex-wife never worked. However, a judge has just ordered North to pay Jean a large lump-sum payment because she has “fallen on hard times” due to a number of money-losing investments:

Mr North, 70, has been ordered by a court to hand her another £202,000.

The order follows a series of big-money divorce cases which have swung the law against husbands and resulted in huge payments to ex-wives even after short childless marriages. The North case now threatens to make husbands pay large sums even decades after a split.

Existing English law gives ex-spouses who are receiving maintenance payments the ability to request a lump-sum payment instead. Jean’s attorneys believe she is entitled to this money, and state their case by responding to the odd “cherry” reference:

But Deborah Bangay, QC, for Mrs North, said: “This was not a second bite at the cherry but it is what are her reasonable needs. The court was entitled to take into account the obvious wealth of the former husband.”

She said it was not Mrs North’s fault that her investments had gone wrong. The district judge’s award had been at the “bottom end of the spectrum”.

So, to recap: This woman destroys her marriage, never gets a job, lives well beyond her means, loses a ton of money in bad investments, then gets a large cash payment for her trouble? Think there’s a line of people willing to be her investment advisor?

More twisted justifications for Pearson’s pants-suit

As I have repeatedly noted, the only reason the Chungs can be said to have been vindicated is that Judge Roy Pearson is more delusional and less sinister than the typical trial-lawyer extortionist. Had Judge Pearson accepted the $12,000 settlement the Chungs felt forced to offer between the expense of litigation and the small risk of Pearson mounting a case that successfully resulted in the giant fines imposed by DC consumer-fraud law, Pearson would have had a five-digit profit, and the Chungs would be out tens of thousands of dollars in litigation and settlement expense without any hope of recoupment. As Michael Greve demonstrates in “Harm-Less Lawsuits”, this is more than hypothetical: in consumer-fraud lawsuits alone, billions of dollars have been extracted from innocent defendants.

DMI’s Kia Franklin’s defense of her claim that the travesty of justice we have seen in Pearson shows that the system works? “Now, had Pearson collected the $12,000 settlement, we would have a whole new hypothetical and a whole new set of questions about the terms of the settlement (Would we have known the settlement amount? Would they have been able to publicize this? What were the lawyers’ strategies?) and the consequences thereof. So we can’t prematurely say that it would pay off for him.” Franklin goes on to deny that trial lawyer abuse even exists—a perhaps necessary position for her to take, given that the top of any list of abusers would include the indicted law firm Milberg Weiss, which funds her fellowship, in part from the successful extortion of billions of dollars using the same in terrorem tactics as Pearson.

As Peter Nordberg notes in the Overlawyered comments, “If [Pearson] is indeed representative, there should be thousands of cases just like it, and we may as well get to discussing those.” And indeed we should.