- Unsafe at any read: new Ralph Nader novel panned by Chris Hayes, Washington editor of The Nation [Barnes and Noble Review via Suderman, Reason]
- Microsoft says “most, if not all” customer data from T-Mobile Sidekick smartphones has been recovered, but class action lawyers say they’re undeterred [Seattle P-I]
- Sue them all and sort things out later? Lawsuit over Air France Airbus crash off coast of Brazil names long list of aerospace suppliers as defendants [Reuters]
- “No cash for this clunker”: opposition mounts to proposal for Massachusetts public law school [Boston Herald editorial via Legal Blog Watch, earlier link roundup at Point of Law]
- Ralph Lauren experiences Streisand Effect over skinny-model nastygram [Althouse, earlier]
- High-profile L.A. plaintiff’s lawyer Walter Lack speaks under questioning about role in Nicaraguan banana-worker suit against Dole [Recorder, earlier, background] And: “Dole on a Roll: Court Declines to Enforce $97M Judgment” [WSJ Law Blog, Bloomberg]
- Miller-Jenkins lesbian custody case, much meddled in by conservative religious groups, recalls the ways divorced dads get cut out of their kids’ lives [Glenn Sacks/Ned Holstein via Amy Alkon, background]
- Daniel Kalder speculates on why the New York Times editorially “purred with approval” of the new FTC blogger regulations in such an “impressively superficial” way [Guardian Books Blog]. More on FTC’s semi-backtracking on the controversy: Media Bistro “Galleycat”, Publisher’s Weekly, Galleysmith. And having been hoping for ages to get a link some day from blogging legend Jason Kottke, this one will go in the souvenir file [Kottke.org]
- Woman who escaped first WTC bombing broke her ankle ten days later. Should New York’s Port Authority pay her $500,000? [Hochfelder]
- Former New York congressman and Pace Law School dean Richard Ottinger and wife rebuffed in what court deems SLAPP suit against commenter who criticized them on online forum; commenter says legal fees have cost him two years’ income [White Plains Journal-News, Westchester County; earlier] Amici in Massachusetts case endorse anti-SLAPP protection for staff of media and advocacy organizations [Citizen Media Law] “Canadian Court Rejects Defamation Liability for Hyperlinks” [same]
- “Chuck Yeager Tries Again to Stretch Right of Publicity” [OnPoint News, earlier]
- And naturally the advocates are demanding more regulation rather than less: “[Restaurant] Calorie Postings Don’t Change Habits, Study Finds” [NYT] More: Ryan Sager, Jacob Sullum.
- Famed L.A. lawyers Thomas Girardi and Walter Lack might get off with wrist-slaps over Nicaraguan banana suit scandal [The Recorder, Cal Civil Justice, earlier]
- Ralph Lauren lawyers: don’t you dare reproduce our skinny-model photo in the course of criticizing our use of skinny models [BoingBoing; and welcome Ron Coleman, Popehat readers; more at Citizen Media Law and an update at BoingBoing] Copyright expert/author Bill Patry is guestblogging at Volokh Conspiracy [intro, first post, earlier]
- Profile of John Edwards aide who played key role in Rielle Hunter affair [Ben Smith, Politico]
- Blind lawyer’s “call girl bilked my credit card” claim includes ADA claim against credit card company (but judge rejects it) [ABA Journal, Above the Law]
- Federal judge rejects lenient plea deal for two judges in Luzerne County, Pa. judicial scandal [ABA Journal, Scott Greenfield] More: allegations of extensive abuses including “rampant case-fixing and payoffs” [Hank Grezlak and Leo Strupczewski, Legal Intelligencer] Charges of impropriety in handling defamation case handed down against Wilkes-Barre newspaper [Strupczewski, same] Improprieties in that libel case denied [ABA Journal] Should juvenile convictions by Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. be vacated? [ABA Journal]
- Law and a banana: Page-one Wall Street Journal treatment of fruit pesticide litigation fraud [yesterday’s paper, PoL] Further: Cal. Civil Justice (“trained like a parrot”, “super lawyer”), L.A. Times and more, earlier.
- “Can it be true that some Girl Scout camps FORBID climbing trees?” [Skenazy, Free Range Kids]
- Katy Perry (U.S. pop singer) vs. Katie Perry (Australian fashion designer) trademark lawsuit [Bryan Quigley, Institute for Legal Reform] Suit has now been dropped [Katie Perry website, h/t @lenejohansen]
- Emergency room blogger White Coat wraps up his malpractice-suit saga [collected posts]
- “Automated shakedown racket sends legal threats, demands cash” [BoingBoing; copyright infringement demand letters]
- More coverage of New Mexico baseball-hit-into-stands liability ruling [Hochfelder/PoL, Stossel, earlier]
- Do not anger Texas criminal defense law blogger Mark Bennett. Just don’t [Popehat]
- Is it OK if Boulder County prosecutor Tweets the murder trial while in progress? [Colorado Daily]
- Pierce O’Donnell terms his gigantic Katrina/New Orleans lawsuit a “crapshoot” [Hiltzik, L.A. Times]
- Massachusetts hospital not responsible for third-party injuries from just-released colonoscopy patient’s auto accident [Ronald Miller]
- Controversial “citizen suit” provision was removed from environment bill as one of the compromises to obtain House passage [Global Climate Law Blog and more, earlier] More: Coyote.
- “I was shocked at the number of cases the neurologist, radiologists, and especially the neurosurgeon had against them.” [ER Stories with a first-person lawsuit tale]
- I liked Dole Food better when it was a victim of the litigation system rather than an aggressor [L.A. Business Journal, NLJ, L.A. Times “The Envelope” on company’s suit against Swedish documentary filmmaker; underlying banana-worker pesticide litigation scandal; CJAC]
- Virginia Postrel on kidney donation, altruism, and policy [The Atlantic]
- Grown kids appear in court to exonerate dad who spent nearly 20 years in prison on false charges of abusing them [The Columbian, Wash., via Obscure Store] More: Coyote.
California Civil Justice Blog calls attention to some further details on that remarkable litigation claiming mass injury from pesticides which led presiding Judge Victoria Chaney to remark, “… if you took all the bad cases I’ve read and put them together, they don’t even come close to what’s happened here.” (earlier coverage: Mar. 30, Apr. 23, Apr. 27).
Nicaraguan lawmakers got the ball rolling with a legislated assumption that anyone who worked on a banana farm got poisoned. Nicaraguan judges, lawyers, and heavy-handed client “recruiters” rolled the ball into perhaps 10,000 class action plaintiffs. Some California lawyers took over and pitched it into an L.A. courtroom.
CCJB also catches lead attorney Juan Dominguez making what in retrospect might seem an incautious boast on his website: “I oversee the legal work by all lawyers [in the pesticide case] both here in the United States and in Central America.”
And attorneys were the brains of the operation, according to Judge Victoria Chaney (transcript, PDF, courtesy American Lawyer). Ben Hallman of American Lawyer calls it “the most egregious plaintiffs lawyer extortion and fraud allegations we’ve seen this side of criminal indictment”:
After several days of testimony on defense allegations of Dominguez’s misconduct [Los Angeles plaintiff’s lawyer Juan Dominguez], Chaney tossed the tort cases before her. “I find that there is and was a pervasive conspiracy to defraud American and Nicaraguan courts, to defraud the defendants, to extort money from not just these defendants — but all manufacturers of DBCP and all growers or operators of plantations in Nicaragua between 1970 and 1980,” she said from the bench. Her ruling puts in doubt $2 billion in pending judgments Dominguez won in dozens of similar suits. Chaney also said she would refer the matter to state bar associations and to prosecutorial agencies. …
The court testimony that led to Chaney’s ruling detailed how a group of Nicaraguan lawyers, in apparent collusion with local officials, judges and lab technicians, rounded up 10,000 men whom they coached to claim sterility — and to blame that sterility on Dole’s chemicals.
When Dole attempted to investigate the claims, its representatives were harassed and some plaintiff’s lawyers even put out a bounty seeking the identity of witnesses. Chaney said that she did not suspect a Sacramento law firm that also represented the plaintiffs of being involved with the fraud. I’ve started a new tag to collect our coverage of the scandal.
Explosive testimony in a Los Angeles courtroom after a judge begins digging into indications of possible fraud in lawsuits by Nicaraguans against Dole Food alleging toxic harms from banana pesticides (L.A. Times via Cal Biz Lit, WSJ law blog; earlier at Overlawyered). The fraud went on for decades, a Dole lawyer charged, and included recruiting and coaching poor Nicaraguan men to pose as having been rendered sterile, even if they had children and had never worked on banana plantations. A California jury had awarded millions of dollars in one of a string of cases that drew controversy over the competence of stateside courts in evaluating claims over injuries that took place in foreign countries. According to the L.A. Times, one lawyer representing the plaintiff’s side in the litigation expressed regret over the actions of a co-counsel and said “all parties were in a nightmare situation.” Bloomberg:
Most of the employment records of Dole workers in Nicaragua were destroyed in the aftermath of the Sandinista revolution, opening the door to the fraudulent claims, Edelman said at the hearing.
Nicaraguan witnesses for Dole whose faces were hidden and whose voices were distorted to prevent identification, said in videotaped statements shown in court that they feared retribution if it became known they provided information to company investigators.
“They even would set fire to my house, even with my family in there,” one witness said. “These people don’t care.”
The cases of thousands more plaintiffs from poor banana-growing countries are waiting for trial in Los Angeles; Dow Chemical is also a defendant, because it manufactured the pesticide. [Update Apr. 24: judge tosses two consolidated lawsuits against Dole]
For another dramatic episode in which poor Latin American plaintiffs have surfaced in U.S. courts with hard-to-disprove claims, see the case of purportedly illegitimate Guatemalan children left fatherless by international air crashes (Nov. 29, 2000).