November 2 roundup

  • Curlin gets 400 new owners, as the Kentucky fen-phen plaintiffs ripped off by their attorneys get the right to seize Shirley Cunningham Jr. and William Gallion’s 20% share of the Preakness Stakes winner. [AP/NYT; earlier]
  • As Lerach pleads guilty, LA Times editorial defends class action abuses, incorrectly says that the PSLRA fixed everything and that Lerach didn’t act illegally after it was passed. [LA Times]
  • That $10.9 million verdict against the Westboro Baptist Church was “not about the money.” [Reuters] Really, now, this case imposing bankrupting damages for a protest on a public sidewalk is appalling. Granted: Phelps is bigoted scum, and rude bigoted scum at that. But Albert Snyder’s claimed physical injury is that the protest exacerbated his diabetes: what sort of junk science is that? NB that Snyder was not even aware of the protest at the funeral until he watched it on television. Why not liability for the news program? Even those happy to see the anti-gay bigotry of the WBC punished should take pause: Snyder testified at length that the protest upset him particularly because his son was not gay.
  • Overlawyered favorite Willie Gary (Apr. 29, Oct. 2004), on the hook for $28,000/month in child support for love child. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
  • Deep-pocket search in Great White fire case. [Childs]
  • Lawsuit over which school 9-year-old can play football for. [Tulsa World (via TMQ G. Easterbrook)] Worse, the judge rewarded the plaintiff by second-guessing the league decision. [Tulsa World]
  • It only takes ten months of legal proceedings for Cal-Berkeley to evict trespassers squatting on university property. [SF Gate]
  • Don’t hold your breath: who’s watching the trial lawyers? [Examiner]


  • But Albert Snyder’s claimed physical injury is that the protest exacerbated his diabetes: what sort of junk science is that?

    American Diabetes Association – Stress

    Stress Can Aggravate Diabetes

    Living with Diabetes – Diabetes and Stress

    Even those happy to see the anti-gay bigotry of the WBC punished should take pause: Snyder testified at length that the protest upset him particularly because his son was not gay.

    So if the son had deep religious conivictions against being gay, you are saying that it is acceptable to label him both at the protest and on a website that he was gay? In other words, you are trying to defend Westboro attack on the Marine’s character as holding one belief and doing another is acceptable? Sorry, but Westboro doesn’t get a pass on labeling this kid a hypocrite without any knowledge of the kid whatsoever. They don’t get a pass impugning the character of this young man by saying he was a hypocrite and that he deserved to die. The only reason they said the things they did – the gay comments, the attack on the character of the young man, and the joy they said they took in his death – was to hurt someone else.

    The Westboro members know that their words cross the moral and legal line as they carry cameras to document any physical attacks on them. In other words, they know the words they spout were “fighting words.”

    Maybe now Phelps and his crew will take their iPhones and stay home.

  • Are there really that many gainfully non-productive people in california?
    Unless they have substantial water stores in those trees, a tight perimiter should fix the problem in 3 to 5 days when they start falling out of the trees from dehydration.

  • Gitar, there’s not a scientist in the world that legitimately distinguish between the stress caused by seeing Fred Phelps protest on television and the stress caused by, say, having your son die in a war, and say the former is worth $2.9 million in “compensatory” damages. I stand by my statement, as abhorrent as I find Phelps’ tactics, strategy, and message. Phelps is a clown. Attacking Phelps for speaking his idiocy endangers all of us who might have an unpopular opinion some day.

  • As a recently diagnosed diabetic, I can tell you that one of the things my doctor pounded into me was that stress can aggravate your diabetes. I don’t necessarily think that the level of influence is worth the money paid, however as someone who’s had to deal with Phelps and his psycho family, this is one time I don’t object to the injustice.


  • Re: the Jenks football player.

    A family that will sell a house at a loss and file lawsuits becuase of disagreements with the coach? And sue to have another district place the kid on the team?

    The parents are nuts.

    When we wonder why the public schools are such as mess – this is why. What sort of school can be run when every decision is subject to legal action by parents.

  • When I was guestblogging I touched on the story of the mean-spirited protest / anti-gay bigotry. I was not aware that the issue was even in trial, or even so close to verdict. And, I even expressed sympathy to some degree given my military affiliation. The compensatory damages are more than enough for the father.

    But, I wonder from a public policy standpoint if enriching an aggrieved father to the tune of $11M is the right thing to do. Should the church’s behavior be discouraged? I say, yes. Should the father and his family never have to work again, which is the signal of the verdict? No. The punitive damages (if even collectable given the financial state of the so-called “church”) should be donated to the USMC, or perhaps a charitable organization. Such damages should not go to him, especially if he claims “it’s not about the money.”

  • As the assets of the church and the Phelpses are under $1M, the punitive damages are largely imaginary once the fictional compensatory damages are taken into account. The jury might as well have awarded a kajillion dollars.

    If we countenance injustice against the despicable and unpopular (as America increasingly seems to be doing in a number of scapegoating criminal trials), we have little protection for ourselves in situations where we are unpopular. Where monetary damages are involved, and the courts yield to the shrugs over injustice, we give incentive to trial lawyers to create more injustice.

    I have a great deal of respect for those who sacrificed their lives to our country and our freedom, but part of that freedom is the freedom from governments and courts declaring that certain matters are blasphemous upon pain of bankrupting damages.

  • As a servicemember myself, I have to agree with Ted Frank.

    Phelp’s church is odious, and I can understand a slight amount of compensation but 11 mil? And $2.9 of this was in direct compensation, which is more than ten times what the Army pays in life insurance for soldiers killed in wartime. So a funeral protest is 10 times worse than the actual death? (I discuss this a little more on my site here, last item down) This is a classic example of a jury trying to do the right thing, but losing all sense of proportionality and killing us with their good intentions. I think the fact that the church can’t pay is rather irrelevant – next time it will be a church than can pay, or the suit will go after third parties to make up the difference.

  • I certainly agree that the verdict against Phelps is unjust.


    Being that I expect unjust results from the current legal system, anyway, it’s nice to see them target a deserving scumbag, for once.