Posts Tagged ‘baseball’

Where’s his Mother’s Day present?

More entrepreneurial lawyering in California:

A Los Angeles psychologist who was denied a tote bag during a Mother’s Day giveaway at an Angel game is suing the baseball team, alleging sex and age discrimination.

Michael Cohn’s class-action claim in Orange County Superior Court alleges that thousands of males and fans under 18 were “treated unequally” at a “Family Sunday” promotion last May and are entitled to $4,000 each in damages.

(Dave McKibben, “L.A. Psychologist Who Didn’t Get Tote Bag at Mother’s Day Angel Game Files Lawsuit”, Los Angeles Times, May 11). Cohn’s attorney is Alfred Rava, who (as the L.A. Times really should have found out by Googling Overlawyered, if not its own archives) was among the key figures in the 2003 spree by which owners of San Diego nightspots were hit up for handsome cash settlements for having held “Ladies’ Night” promotions. The Unruh Act, California’s distinctively liberal civil rights statute, allows complainants to demand $4,000 a pop for such misdeeds, and it’s no defense to suggest that the customer’s primary reason for getting involved in the underlying transaction may have been to set up the $4,000 entitlement. More: “Lex Icon” wishes to make clear that he’s not the kind of lawyer who files cases like this (May 13).

Litigious animal rightsers

San Antonio:

An animal rights group has filed a lawsuit on behalf of seven chimpanzees and two monkeys, claiming the primates are not properly cared for at a Leon Springs sanctuary.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants a state district judge in Bexar County to appoint a guardian to oversee more than $235,000 provided for the animals’ care at Primarily Primates.

(“PETA Sues Local Primate Sanctuary “, KSAT, May 8)(via Strange in San Antonio).

Meanwhile, Dan McLaughlin at Baseball Crank reports (Apr. 19) on a Ninth Circuit decision (PDF) which “permitted an animal rights activist’s qui tam suit to go forward under the False Claims Act against a cancer researcher, principally on the theory that the researcher misrepresented the efficacy of his research.” McLaughlin does not pass judgment on whether the research project in question was a good use of public funds:

But I do know that allowing animal rights zealots an opening to use private litigation to harass medical researchers is a horrifying development. You will note, if you review the allegations on pages 6-7 of the slip opinion, that there are no allegations of the kind of things the False Claims Act is intended to protect against, i.e., personal enrichment, bill padding, and/or cost overruns by government contractors. Instead, there are a series of charges mainly relating to the medical merits of the research – a subject that will often be difficult for a judge without medical expertise to resolve on a motion to dismiss (where you assume the truth of the plaintiff’s allegations) or even on summary judgment (where the defendant only wins if it can show that there are no material factual disputes). Result: protracted and expensive litigation whenever anti-animal-research fanatics can gin up a factual dispute and hire an expert to bicker over anything said in a research application, with the attendant chilling effect on life-saving research. Indeed, from the docket numbers on the caption it appears that this particular case has already dragged on for five years just on the dispute over the legal merits.

Of course, harassment via legal process may compare favorably with some of the ways animal rights zealots have been known to harass researchers.

Baseball: Anaheim vs. the Angels

As the city’s $100 million lawsuit unfolded in court, a “dispute that a year or so ago seemed goofy — Arte Moreno’s decision to rename his baseball team the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — has lost its humor content.” (Dana Parsons, “Can Angels Name Spat Have a Winner?”, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 15)(more).

“Lawsuit blames oil companies for hurricane damage”

The AP reports that a “lawsuit seeks what attorneys say could be billions of dollars from a long list of oil companies for damages to wetlands that allegedly would have softened Hurricane Katrina’s blow.” Attorneys from the New Orleans firm of St. Martin & Williams are seeking class-action status on behalf of all persons and entities in Louisiana that suffered injury from Katrina’s wind and storm surge. They’re naming as defendants 11 oil and gas companies including Shell Oil, ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP Corp. whose activities they say depleted marshlands, including by building and neglecting pipeline canals. (AP/Shreveport Times, Sept. 17; “Class-action suit filed against oil companies”,, Sept. 15).

Meanwhile, environmental litigation over the years aimed at slowing levee and flood-control projects could come under Senate scrutiny, despite peals of protest from the Sierra Club, Sen. Chuck Schumer and others (Dan Eggen, “Senate Panel Investigating Challenges to Levees”, Washington Post, Sept. 17; Jerry Mitchell, “Senate panel investigates levee lawsuits”, Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Sept. 17). See Sept. 9, Sept. 14 (& Baseball Crank).

Update: “Maris family, Anheuser-Busch settle lawsuit”

The beer giant agreed to pay at least $120 million in a confidential settlement to settle a defamation suit and other litigation arising from its termination of a beer distributorship held by the family of baseball great Roger Maris. (AP/Orlando Sentinel, Aug. 24; Tiffany Pakkala, “Maris deal taps Busch for $120m”, Gainesville Sun, Aug. 25). The dispute took the form of several distinct legal actions; in 2001 a Gainesville, Fla. jury awarded the Maris family $50 million following a three-month trial at which celebrated attorney Willie Gary, representing the family, was charged with repeated misconduct (see Apr. 1-2, 2002). However, a judge later threw out ethics charges against Gary (Jan. 5 and Jan. 7, 2004). In the latest round, Gary was again representing the family, this time in a defamation suit against the brewing company; a jury was preparing to return its verdict when the parties settled. (Gregory Cancelada, “Maris family, Anheuser-Busch square off in defamation suit”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch/San Jose Mercury News, Aug. 22).

Corey Romagnano v. Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District

Santa Susana Park prohibits rock-climbing, and has even partially fenced off a 100-foot rock face there. Nonetheless, 13-year-old Corey Romagnano climbed it anyway, and is in a coma after suffering skull fractures from falling off the cliff. The resulting lawsuit is especially critical of the park district for situating a baseball field beneath the cliff because it “made the hillside even more dangerous and attractive to children who would want to watch the game or activities.”

“We have all kinds of parks and open space — 5,000 acres worth. The open space is available for use by the public and we can’t protect everyone from everything. You can’t eliminate risk of injury,” said Larry Peterson, the park district’s general manager.

(Angie Valencia-Martinez, “District sued over boy’s fall from park cliff”, LA Daily News, Jun. 25 (via Common Good Society Watch)).

Update: staking the Shinnecocks

On the day the Shinnecock Indian tribe filed the first of an expected series of lawsuits laying claim to wide swaths of the Hamptons (see Jun. 13), the tribe disclosed that its courtroom offensive was being underwritten by wealthy Detroit casino investors Marian Ilitch, who with her husband Michael founded Little Caesars Pizza and since then has gone on to purchase baseball’s Detroit Tigers as well as the city’s Red Wings hockey team, and real estate developer Michael Malik. “Gateway Funding Associates, a company backed by [Ilitch and Malik], signed an agreement with the tribe more than a year ago to pay for the lawsuit and other ‘economic development’ initiatives in exchange for a part of any future proceeds, said Tom Shields, a spokesman for Gateway.” Champerty has been defined as the practice of aiding in a lawsuit in return for a share in the benefits being sued over; it was illegal at common law but “the prohibitions have been greatly relaxed in modern times” and in some cases abolished. (Katie Thomas, “Shinnecocks launch legal claim to Hamptons land”, Newsday, Jun. 16; “Lawsuit backers invest in casinos” (sidebar), Jun. 16; James Langton, “Native American tribe lays claim to the Hamptons”, Sunday Telegraph (U.K.), Jun. 19).

Update: Bonds ball

“The fan who originally gloved and then fought to keep Barry Bonds’ 73rd home run baseball may still owe his former attorney more than what the ball fetched at auction, a California appeal court ruled May 24.” Attorney Martin Triano says Alex Popov owes him $473,530; lawyers for Patrick Hayashi, the other disputant in the squabble, agreed to roll back their fees so that he would not come out behind on the episode. (Warren Lutz, “Bonds’ Ball Litigant Strikes Out in Fee Fight”, The Recorder, May 31). See Jul. 1 and Jul. 12, 2003 and Jan. 3, 2004. And independent filmmaker Michael Wranovics has made a documentary about the whole episode entitled “Up For Grabs” which won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Los Angeles Film Festival and has been getting good critical reviews (Clint O’Connor, “A record-breaking hit brings out the base instincts in sports fans”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 27; Glenn Whipp, “Big hit, comedy of errors”, Long Beach Press-Telegram, May 12; “Film Listings: Ongoing”, San Francisco Bay Guardian, May 4-May 10; Neil Davis, “You gotta catch ‘Up For Grabs'”, Stanford Daily, May 9).