- Can EPA use subregulatory guidance to dodge judicial review of formal notice-and-comment rulemaking? Appeals court says no [Allison Wood, WLF]
- “Outhouse blues: Salisbury Twp. tells 77-year-old to install $20,000 septic system he doesn’t want” [Lancaster (Pennsylvania) Online]
- Denying attorney fee in oil spill case, Texas judge questions authenticity of client signature [ABA Journal, Chamber-backed Southeast Texas Record]
- Why “climate justice” campaigns fail both the environment and the poor [Chris Foreman, The Breakthrough]
- Does the Yale Alumni Magazine often side with plaintiffs who sue to muzzle critics? [Neela Banerjee on Michael Mann lawsuit against National Review, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Mark Steyn, etc.]
- Anti-science, anti-humanity: Milan animal rights action trashes years of psychiatric research [Nature]
- Parody Tom-Friedman-bot must be at it again: “best place to start” response to Boston attack “is with a carbon tax” [Tim Blair] Too darn hot: “Dems warn climate change could drive women to ‘transactional sex'” [The Hill]
- Some California lawmakers seek to curb shakedown lawsuits under notorious Prop 65 chemical-labeling law [Sacramento Bee; Gov. Brown proposes reform]
- Remember those class actions against tech manufacturers for allegedly misstating the capacity of hard drives? Another one just settled, with buyers in for coupons and discounts, lawyers for $1.78 million [The Register, Cho v. Seagate Technologies settlement website]
- Watch what you say about lawyers, cont’d: Erie, Pa. paper thus far has fended off libel suit by Pittsburgh attorney over coverage of his run-ins with authorities over client treatment [Post-Gazette via Ambrogi]
- New at Point of Law: suicide risk of anticonvulsants?; Ohio AG Dann rebuked on foreclosure activism; simultaneous asbestosis and silicosis happens all the time at some law firms; Bush nominates an ATLA/AAJ member to a federal judgeship; and much more.
- Has a prominent investor with close ties to President Bush set up shop as an East Texas patent troll? [Troll Tracker, The Recorder]
- Embattled Tom Lakin and Lakin Law Firm, once high on the Madison County heap, fight to overturn $3.7 million legal-malpractice judgment [MC Record]
- Brent Coon suing former colleagues at Beaumont’s Provost Umphrey over division of billions in tobacco-fee booty [Texas Lawyer]
- UK judge criticizes “barking mad” human rights rules after prisoner refuses to leave his “comfy” jail cell to attend hearing [Times Online, Telegraph]
- “Six years after Enron, executives face greater risks—but investors are no safer.” [Gelinas/City Journal]
- United Farm Workers union threatens to sue over unflattering coverage [two years ago on Overlawyered]
It has long been noted that lawyers can (when judges let them) employ the process of jury selection to plant themes, factoids and manipulative images favorable to their cause before a trial even gets under way. Which brings us to the just-begun Galveston trial of lawsuits against BP over a deadly 2005 explosion at its Texas City, Tex. refinery:
As Brent Coon, an attorney representing four of the five workers whose lawsuits are set to be tried, talked to potential jurors, he displayed a picture of Enron’s logo on two large screens behind him.
Jim Galbraith, one of BP’s attorneys, objected to the oil company being compared to what happened at Enron, which went bankrupt in 2001. Galbraith accused Coon of arguing his case before the trial had begun.
“We are not trying to say BP is Enron. But Enron did have a major case with a lot of publicity and did a lot of things wrong,” Coon said before state District Judge Susan Criss ordered the Enron logo off the screens. …
Galbraith later objected when Coon showed the jury pool of more than 200 people a well-known photograph of major tobacco company CEOs raising their hands in 1994 just before they testified to Congress that nicotine wasn’t addictive when internal documents showed the companies knew the opposite was true.
“He’s still arguing his case,” Galbraith said.
Criss later told Coon he couldn’t show any more of these images. …
Just to confirm for those who may be wondering, BP, long known as British Petroleum, is not a tobacco company and has no particular connection to Enron other than being in the energy business. Maybe BP should have used its side of juror selection to flash large images of scandal-plagued or widely disliked Texas plaintiff’s attorneys who are not Brent Coon. (Juan A. Lozano, “BP Objects to Enron Comparisons”, AP/Forbes.com, Aug. 31).
- Google beats Perfect 10 in Ninth Circuit appeal over copyright suit over thumbnail images. (Earlier: Feb. 06, Jul. 05, Nov. 04.) [LA Times; WaPo; Bashman; Perfect 10 v. Amazon (9th Cir. 2007)]
- Judge thinks better over Brent Coon’s attempt to intimidate local press through subpoenas. Earlier: Apr. 24. [WSJ Law Blog]
- US Supreme Court throws out punitive damages ruling in Buell-Wilson case, lets rest of decision stand. Earlier: Jan. 4 and links therein. Beck and Herrmann also discussed the case in March in the context of a larger discussion of the appropriateness of issuing punitive damages against a company that relied on government safety standards in good faith. [LA Times; AP].
- Big LA Times piece on the still-pending Extreme Makeover suit, where a family seeks to hold ABC responsible for an intra-household dispute over the spoils of a reality show. Earlier: Mar. 4, Aug. 12, 2005. [LA Times]
- KFC may have won on trans-fats litigation, as David reported May 3, but they capitulate to Jerry Brown’s pursuit of Lockyer’s equally bogus acrylamide suit over the naturally-occurring chemical in potatoes (Oct. 05, Aug. 05, Aug. 05, May 05, Apr. 04, etc.). KFC will pay a nuisance settlement of $341,000 and will add a meaningless warning in California stores. (Tim Reiterman, “KFC to tell customers of chemical in potatoes”, LA Times Apr. 25).
- McDonald’s sued over hot coffee. Again. One of the allegations is that McDonald’s failed to secure the lid, which is a legitimate negligence suit, but there’s also a bogus “failure to warn me that coffee is hot” count. [Southeast Texas Record; and a Southeast Texas Record op-ed that plainly read Overlawyered on the subject]
It’s really important to make sure things have gone off the record and that the deposition transcript isn’t still running, especially if you’re going to threaten bodily harm (Kelly-Moore Paint Co. motion for sanctions against Eric Birge of Brent Coon & Associates in a Texas asbestos case (PDF))(courtesy Evan Schaeffer, who comments).