- Speaking of prostitutes and politicians, Deborah Jeane Palfrey has come to recognize that Montgomery Blair Sibley (Oct. 29; May 4; etc.) may not be the best lawyer for her. [WTOP via BLT]
- Update: Nearly two years later, trial court gets around to upholding $2 million verdict in lawn-mower death we covered Jun. 16 and Aug. 18, 2006. [Roanoke Times (quoting me); opinion at On Point]
- In other lawn mower news, check out Jim Beck’s perceptive comment on a Third Circuit lawn-mower liability decision.
- Update: Willie Gary wins his child-support dispute. [Gary v. Gowins (Ga.); Atl. Journal-Const.; via ABA Journal; earlier: Nov. 2]
- Tobacco-lawyer Mike Ciresi drops out of Minnesota senate race. [WCCO]
- Belfast court quashes libel ruling against restaurant critic. [AFP/Breitbart]
- Trial-lawyer-blogger happy: jury returned $1.25 million med-mal verdict for death of totally disabled person suffering from end-stage renal disease, pulmonary hypertension, oxygen dependent lung disease, and obesity, after rejecting businessperson from jury “for cause” because he was head of local Chamber of Commerce. [Day]
- Car-keying anti-military attorney Jay Grodner faced the law in January; here’s the transcript. [Blackfive]
- Anonymous blog post not reliable evidence of factual allegations. [In re Pfizer, Inc. Sec. Litig., 2008 WL 540120 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 28, 2008) via Roberts, who also reports on fee reduction in same post]
- Clinton’s nutty mortgage plan. [B&MI (quoting me)]
- A supposed DC cabbie’s take on DC v. Heller. [DC Cabbie blog]
Howie Mandel’s stunningly successful Deal Or No Deal television game show had an amusing little side-show.
Viewers were invited to play the “Lucky Case Game” by choosing which of six on-screen gold briefcases was the lucky case. Viewers submitted their choice on the Internet for free or through a text message that cost 99 cents. At the end of the program, the winning briefcase was revealed, and the winners were entered into a random drawing. The winner of that drawing received a prize of as much as $10,000.
One enterprising Georgia lawyer claims that this amounts to illegal gambling and has filed a class action lawsuit to obtain refunds of the 99 cent text message fees (plus attorneys fees, of course):
When a Forsyth County couple sent 99-cent text messages trying to win a prize on the NBC game show “Deal or No Deal,” they engaged in illegal gambling and should get their money back, a lawyer told the Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday.
So should all other Georgians who sent text messages in the show’s “Lucky Case Game” and lost, lawyer Jerry Buchanan said. A judge hearing the case has estimated the bounty could reach tens of millions of dollars.
The case has been report to the state Supreme Court for the answers to two questions:
1. Does Georgia law allow losers of an illegal lottery to recover the money they lost?
2. And, if so, may the losers recover that money from the lottery’s promoter or organizer?
No mention of the third question.
(Atlanta Journal & Constitution, ajc.com, Feb. 27)
Since the suit was filed, the game has stopped.
Once again, the combination of contingency fees and law enforcement spells trouble: an article by Tresa Baldas in the National Law Journal reports that controversy is mounting over the activities of private firms that go after noncustodial parents’ child support obligations in exchange for a percentage share of the bounty (“Suits collecting around child support collectors”, Sept. 17, no free link). “Critics of the industry — many of them lawyers — claim that private collectors of child support are engaging in predatory practices, such as charging excessive contingency fees as high as 50%, and using aggressive collection tactics that run afoul of federal laws.” The private agencies escape the scrutiny of federal debt collection laws and have been operating effectively without regulation, but state lawmakers are now moving to fill the gap, with 13 states having passed laws intended to protect the services’ clients (if not always their adversaries) by capping fees, prohibiting the agencies from collaring state-directed payments, and giving clients more leeway to withdraw from contracts.
- 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]
NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s lawsuits against out-of-state gun dealers continue in New York City, thanks to Judge Weinstein (see Aug. 27, and links therein), but it’s not all rosy for the mayor. As we previously reported, some of the gun dealers targeted by Bloomberg’s sting are fighting back, and one of them won a victory last month:
Questioning the legality of tactics used by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to sue gun dealers, a federal judge in Atlanta has allowed a defamation suit by a Smyrna, Ga., gun shop against Bloomberg and other New York City officials to go forward.
Although the judge dismissed the Smyrna gun seller’s negligence claims against New York officials, he declared that six of 13 potentially defamatory statements were actionable and cleared the way for a tortious interference with business claim.
Bloomberg, accompanied by other New York public officials, announced the results of the sting — and the accompanying suit — in May 2006 at a news conference. According to court records in the case, Bloomberg called the gun dealers “a group of bad apples who routinely ignore federal regulations,” and Feinblatt said that the targeted gun dealers had “New Yorkers’ blood on their hands.” Forrester ruled that both of those statements are vulnerable to liability claims.
More importantly, the judge denied Bloomberg’s request to transfer the case to New York, where it would have been heard by Judge Weinstein. (Bloomberg is attempting to get the decision reversed, but for now, the suit against him is active.)
In other gun-related litigation, it seems that Gary, Indiana’s lawsuit against gun manufacturers may continue, despite the fact that Congress passed a law explicitly banning such lawsuits; as in New York City’s war on gun manufacturers, activist judges seem to want to interpret away Congress’s words. (Last week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Manhattan in an appeal of Judge Weinstein’s ruling allowing the city’s lawsuit to proceed. (Earlier: Nov. 2005)
TB-flying Atlanta lawyer Andrew Speaker tells his side of the story. (Meredith Hobbs, “Bad Image Lingers for Atlanta Lawyer With TB”, Fulton County Daily Report, Sept. 13).
Video resumes have been achieving a certain popularity lately among some job seekers, even beyond fields such as graphics and Web work where skill in video editing and presentation itself counts as a job qualification. Novices are finding it easier to get into the act as online job bazaars such as Jobster, CareerBuilder and Vault begin to offer ways of creating and disseminating video resumes.
Many labor and employment attorneys, however, are warning employers that video resumes open up too many liability issues to be comfortably accepted:
“Just don’t even deal with them,” said Dennis Brown, an attorney in the San Jose, Calif., office of Littler Mendelson whose firm recently advised employers about the dangers of video resumés in a seminar. “My advice to my clients who have asked me about video resumes — and I have had a lot of clients ask lately — is do not accept, do not review video resumes.”
Brown’s main concern with video resumes is that they reveal information about a person’s race, sex, disability, age — all details that could wind up in a discrimination lawsuit…. “This is one of those instances where a little bit of unnecessary knowledge is dangerous.” …
Labor and employment attorney Darlene Smith can’t fathom why employers — knowing the risks of video resumes — would willingly open themselves up to lawsuits. “Actually, I’m dead set against it, to be honest,” said Smith of the Washington office of Boston’s Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo. “You definitely, definitely increase your exposure…so why even put yourself in a position to be sued?”
And similarly from Cheryl Behymer of Fisher & Phillips in Atlanta: “You’re opening yourself up to a potential that someone could claim, ‘Well, the reason I didn’t get hired is because you could see my gray hair and you could see that I’m over 40.'”
As for the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it may come as a relief to learn from an EEOC staff attorney that the agency does not consider video resumes a legal violation in themselves. However, it’s “concerned” that they “could contribute to hiring discrimination”, says the attorney. Other EEOC “concerns”, per the NLJ’s Tresa Baldas: “video resumes could also lead to the exclusion of people who are not tech-savvy, or minority applicants who may not have access to broadband-equipped computers or video cameras.” (“Employers told to stay away from video resumes”, National Law Journal, Jun. 4, not online).
David Giacalone has some thoughts on now-notorious Atlanta personal injury lawyer Andrew J. Speaker, who doesn’t seem to have lived up very well to the Lakoff-prescribed billing of “public protection attorney” (Jun. 1). But see: Elizabeth Whelan, in the New York Post, thinks the pillorying of Speaker’s decision to fly home has been overdone (“Free Andrew! Hysteria and the TB Case”, Jun. 2). Updates: Jul. 8 (some passengers sue Speaker), Dec. 2 (no one flying with him caught TB).
Because if your insurer wasn’t willing to pay for damages to your car incurred after your family member led police on a high-speed chase, why was it willing to collect the premiums in the first place? (Beth Warren, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Apr. 6).
A team of doctors at North Fulton Medical Center worked on Josh Coleman’s back surgery in 2003. Dr. Frank Puhalovich had a minor role: “he was only in the operating room for about 10 minutes making sure a technician properly hooked up a monitor that tracks nerve impulses along the spinal [cord] through electrodes attached to Coleman’s head and feet.” But after Puhalovich left, during surgery, the alarm went off: attorneys blame the surgeons’ failure to respond to the alarm in a timely fashion for Coleman’s paralysis. Coleman sued everyone involved, and all the doctors settled, except Puhalovich. So Coleman proceeded to trial against Puhalovich, blamed him also, and a jury awarded $11.7 million. The press coverage gives no indication what the theory of liability is against Puhalovich.
Joshua Coleman, sitting in a wheelchair next to his attorneys, Bill Stone and David Boone, smiled as the verdict was announced after the two-week civil trial.
“Josh is high as a kite right now,” Stone said. “He’s going to have a great weekend.”
(Beth Warren, “Paralyzed man awarded $11.7 million”, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mar. 24).
Update: Kevin, MD post with clever title Shotgun yields a jackpot.