Posts Tagged ‘Baltimore’

September 21 roundup

  • Facing four harassment claims, embattled Philadelphia housing chief files his own suit for $600K+ [Inquirer]
  • “Ohio State Abuses Trademark Law to Suppress a Fan Magazine and Website” [Paul Alan Levy, CL&P]
  • “Judge Dismisses Baltimore Blight Suit Against Wells Fargo, Will Allow Refiling” [ABA Journal]
  • Trial lawyer taking behind-the-scenes hand in Louisiana politics [OpenSecrets via Tapscott]
  • “Are hedge funds abusing bankruptcy?” [Felix Salmon and WSJ]
  • North Carolina alienation-of-affection law strikes again: “’Mistress Ordered to Pay $5.8 Million’ to Wronged Wife” [Volokh, Althouse]
  • “Lawyers take a haircut on a contingency fee in Colorado” [Legal Ethics Forum]
  • ADA lawsuits close another beloved eatery [Stockton, Calif.; six years ago on Overlawyered]

Baltimore vs. Wells Fargo, cont’d

The city is trying to keep alive its litigation blaming urban decay on mortgage lenders. The Baltimore Sun quotes the tart response of Andrew L. Sandler, an attorney representing the bank, who notes that plaintiff’s attorney John Relman has filed a similar action in Memphis:

“One year, they file a suit saying that the lender didn’t make enough loans in minority communities: redlining. The next year, they file a suit saying that they made too many loans in minority communities: reverse red-lining,” Sandler said. “This is just a commercial enterprise for these lawyers. … The same lawyers have been shopping the same complaint to various municipalities for two years.”

(cross-posted from Point of Law).

New at Point of Law

Things you’re missing if you’re not reading my other site:

ATRA’s “Judicial Hellholes 2008”

The American Tort Reform Association is out with its annual ranking of the jurisdictions where it thinks civil defendants are farthest from being assured a fair trial, and they are:

  1. West Virginia
  2. South Florida
  3. Cook County, Ill.
  4. Atlantic County, NJ
  5. Montgomery and Macon Counties, Ala.
  6. Los Angeles County, CA
  7. Clark County (Las Vegas), Nev.

The list reflects the views of big-company managers and lawyers as to tort lawsuits; a poll of, say, doctors might result in different nominations (Brooklyn, Bronx, Long Island*, Philadelphia) and one of class-action or patent-infringement defendants would likely produce yet other lists.

ATRA has a supplementary “Watch List”, nicknamed by some of us “Heckholes”, of toasty but not quite infernal jurisdictions, on which it places the Rio Grande Valley and Gulf Coast of Texas, Madison County, Ill., Baltimore, Md., and St. Louis city and county and Jackson County, Mo. It also offers side essays on notable scandals among high-rolling lawyers, trial lawyer-AG alliances, and pro-plaintiff’s-bar lobbying efforts.

Some coverage of the report: Pero, ShopFloor (with this and this on AG alliances), Ambrogi, Genova, CalBizLit (“We’re Number 6! We’re Number 6!), TortsProf, Miller (Baltimore), and Turkewitz (cross-posted from Point of Law; also note this recent post).

* Commenter VMS makes a case that Long Island does not belong on such a list.

“Innovative” city suits against foreclosing lenders

City governments, sometimes in league with private counsel working on contingency fee, “have started suing banks and mortgage companies to recoup their costs” on such services as “fire departments, police, code enforcement or even demolition” in blighted neighborhoods. “The lawsuits were filed in recent months under different theories, in state and federal court. Cleveland and Buffalo filed suits under public nuisance laws. Minneapolis’ suit was brought on consumer fraud grounds, while Baltimore took the unusual approach of filing suit in federal court under alleged Fair Housing Act violations.” Bank of New York says it was included in Buffalo’s suit against 39 lenders even though it neither originated nor purchased loans, but merely acted as trustee. (Julie Kay, “Empty Homes Spur Cities’ Suits”, National Law Journal, May 9).

Purina vs. “Chow, Baby”

“Three years ago, Purina sent a cease-and-desist letter to Chow, Baby!, a Baltimore area pet supply shop and Web site owned by Robin McDonald, asserting that its use of the ‘Chow, Baby!’ name was likely to cause confusion with Purina’s CHOW trademarks and would dilute the distinctive quality of those marks. … According to the dictionary, ‘chow’ is defined as food, a meaning that dates back to 1860.” (Carolyn Elefant, Legal Blog Watch, May 2). More from Ron Coleman:

But companies such as Purina are not interested in discussing the matter. Brand management isn’t a seminar. They are interesting in executing and maintaining a policy of complete domination of not only their brand equity space, but a comfortable semiotic buffer all around that space to the full extent that they can get away with it. Judges simply do not award fees or otherwise penalize brand owners for overreaching under the Lanham Act, though the Act empowers them to do so (the exceptions are notable and hence reportable). For this reason it is worth it to Purina and companies like it — it is a rational economic and corporate choice — to litigate these cases at the small risk of actually getting to a final adverse judgment regarding a trademark they have no right to anyway, as weighed against the much higher possibility that the other side will surrender $10,000, $25,000 or even $100,000 worth of fees into the process — dollars that are orders of magnitude more significant to the defendant (or declaratory judgment plaintiff) than for a corporation that probably has counsel on a retainer anyway.

The right to be poisoned, cont’d

Another case, this time from Brooklyn, about how it’s terribly discriminatory and wrong and just plain mean for a landlord not to want to rent to a family with small kids on the grounds that old lead paint, dangerous to small kids, can be found on the premises. (Andy Newman, “Couple’s Suit Accuses Real Estate Firm of Bias Against Children”, New York Times, Apr. 25). For a similar case from Baltimore, see Nov. 30, 2000.

“Beat a woman to a pulp, demand $10 million in damages”

That’s Carter Wood’s hard-to-improve-on headline over an item on how two youths involved on the perpetrator side of a sensationally vicious attack onboard a Maryland bus are now suing over being barred from the bus system. (“Teen ‘Ringleader’ In Bus Beating Sentenced To Juvy Jail; Boys To Sue MTA, Schools”, WBAL, Apr. 24; Point of Law, Apr. 24; Jeff Quinton, Inside Charm City, Apr. 23; Malkin, Apr. 23).