ARCHIVE -- AUGUST 2002
August 20 -- On
the diamond. "Every year, scores of softball leagues play
nearly 200,000 organized games in New York City’s parks. Accountants, journalists,
and actors have their own leagues, but few are as cutthroat and litigious
as the Central Park Lawyers Softball League. ...'There were many occasions
where I found myself inundated with paperwork,' [said a former Shea &
Gould lawyer who used to serve as commissioner of the league], referring
to the softball disputes he used to settle as commissioner. 'People were
filing briefs putting forth arguments, counter-arguments, and counter-counter
arguments.'" (Colin Miner, "New Play at Home: ‘Call Me Safe — Or I’ll Sue
You’ Lawyers Bunt, Steal, And Argue in Softball", New York Sun,
August 20 -- Lord
High Private Attorneys General. According to the Civil
Justice Association of California, private lawyers in the Golden State
have been sending demand letters en masse to small businesses alleging
violations of state laws and demanding that attorneys' fees be forked over
as part of the resolution of the complaint. One such set of letters
went out to Orange County auto repair shops accused of such misdeeds as
failing to provide customers with written estimates; the law allows a private
lawyer to bring an enforcement action in such a case even if he does not
represent an actual customer of the shop. "Letters were sent to approximately
200 ethnic grocery and retail stores across the state of California in
they allegedly offered to sell or rent videos that violated the anti-pirating
statute. According to the letter sent by the plaintiffs’ attorney, stores
would be required to pay easily over '$10,000 plus restitution.'
The storeowner was then informed a few sentences later, by sending $2,000
'in the form of a bank draft or cashier check payable to Brar & Gamulin,
LLP' within 40 days, plus an agreement not to violate the statute again,
the lawsuit would be settled." ("Attorney General Urged to Investigate
"Legal Shakedowns" Under State’s Unfair Competition Law", Civil Justice
Association of California, Jul.
11). (DURABLE LINK)
August 19 -- "How
to Spot a Personal Injury Mill". In a personal injury
mill, medical providers and attorneys conspire to provide unneeded medical
services premised on the expectation of obtaining liability-driven
compensation. QuackWatch offers eleven danger signs that in combination
may indicate that a provider is operating as part of a mill.
The exposure of knowing participants to fraud prosecutions is not the only
reason for consumers to steer clear of such schemes: "False reports of
medical diagnoses or loss of functionality can cause trouble for patients
who later apply for a job, apply for insurance, or actually become disabled
and apply for disability." (Stephen Barrett, Charles Bender, and Frank
P. Brennan, "Insurance Fraud: How to Spot a Personal Injury Mill", QuackWatch).
August 19 -- Anti-circumcision
suit advances. Some
opponents of infant male circumcision, not content with a gradual shift
of opinion in their direction among American parents, now seek to enforce
their preferences through litigation, even in the face of contrary parental
wishes and continuing religious and customary sanction for the practice
in many communities. "In July, North Dakota District Judge Cynthia
Rothe-Seeger denied a motion for summary judgment by defendants in the
Flatt v. Kantak circumcision case, and decided it will proceed to trial
on February 3, 2003. The precedent setting decision confirms that a baby
who is circumcised can [in this court, at least --ed.] sue his doctor
when he reaches age of majority, even if there was parental consent for
the circumcision, and even if the results are considered to be 'normal.'"
("Circumcision case to proceed to trial", Men's News Daily, Aug.
1; see Feb. 28, 2001).
August 19 -- Litigation
good for the country? Law prof Carl T. Bogus, espousing
a view that should win him some admirers among those who violently dislike
the viewpoint of this page, has written a whole book entitled "Why Lawsuits
Are Good for America." He's even dispatched a research assistant
armed with a candy thermometer to prove that chain restaurants now furnish
caffeinated take-out beverages
at more suitably tepid temperatures than they used to, thanks to salutary
fear of being hauled to court. But reviewer Michael McMenamin doesn't
find the resulting potion palatable ("Knave of torts", Reason, Aug.).
August 16-18 --
Wasn't his fault for laying drunk under truck. West Virginia:
"After a night of drinking,
Dustin W. Bailey walked out of a Teays Valley bar, crossed the street and
ended up underneath an idling tractor- trailer delivering supplies to a
pizza restaurant. The truck killed him when the driver pulled forward.
Now, nearly two years after the accident, Bailey's mother ... is suing
the pizza restaurant, the truck's driver, the truck's owner and the bar's
owner because, she says, they all failed to take steps to keep her son
alive." Chief Deputy John Dailey of the sheriff's department takes
issue with the suit's premises: "If anyone should be blamed for that death,
it's that guy who climbed under the truck." (Toby Coleman, "Woman files
suit over son's death", Charleston Daily Mail, Aug.
10). (DURABLE LINK)
August 16-18 --
"Warning: ..." "Do Not Read This Column While Water-Skiing.
Do Not Set Fire To This Column In a Room Filled With Hydrogen". As
usual, one Dave Barry column is worth several treatises on product liability
law ("Owners' manual Step No. 1: Bang head against the wall", Miami Herald,
30). (DURABLE LINK)
August 16-18 --
"Accident claims salesman is sued over 'fall'" "A door-to-door
salesman for an accident claims firm is being sued after he allegedly fell
on the six-year-old son of a potential client." Salesman Jay Sims,
representing a British firm that offers no-win, no-fee representation of
injury claims, had been trying to persuade the Stanbury family of Long
Eaton, Derbyshire to use the firm's services. On departing the home
he "began to play football with a group of children in the street" with
resulting alleged injury to young Yohan Stanbury after which "the family
decided to sue Mr Sims, using another no-win, no-fee accident claims firm."
The boy's father "said he was taking action because Mr Sims's company,
the Accident Group, had refused to accept the incident even took place."
(Nick Britten, Daily Telegraph (U.K.), Aug.
15). (DURABLE LINK)