Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland’

“Gun Liability Control”

The Wall Street Journal editorial page celebrates the likelihood that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act will pass, which would end the gun-control-through-litigation movement.

State legislatures have been rolling back firearm laws because the restrictions were both ineffectual and unpopular. Gun-controllers have responded by avoiding legislatures and going to court, teaming with trial lawyers and big city mayors to file lawsuits blaming gun makers for murder. Companies have been hit with at least 25 major lawsuits, from the likes of Boston, Atlanta, St. Louis, Chicago and Cleveland. A couple of the larger suits (New York and Washington, D.C.) are sitting in front of highly creative judges and could drag on for years.

Which seems to be part of the point. The plaintiffs have asked judges to impose the sort of “remedies” that Congress has refused to impose, such as trigger locks or tougher restrictions on gun sales. Some mayors no doubt also hope for a big payday. But short of that, the gun-control lobby’s goal seems to be keep the suits going long enough to drain profit from the low-margin gun industry.

(Wall Street Journal, Jul. 27 ($)). Democratic Senator John D. Rockefeller IV yesterday became the sixtieth co-sponsor. Still, the Journal may be celebrating prematurely. Last term, the legislation was scuttled by the attachment of clever poison-pill amendments that caused the most fervent guns-rights advocates to withdraw support for the bill, so the fact that the current bill has supermajority support surprisingly doesn’t mean that it’s out of the woods yet. For more, see our ongoing coverage.

Update: Larry Klayman and respectability

Litigious gadfly Larry Klayman (Apr. 16-17, 2002), having cut a rare publicity swath filing mostly long-shot legal actions against both the Clinton and Bush administrations, is now setting up a Florida office on behalf of a more conventional-seeming law firm, Cleveland, Ohio-based Walter & Haverfield. (Jessica M. Walker, “Ohio Firm Taps Judicial Watch’s Klayman for Miami Launch”, Daily Business Review, Jul. 15). For more on Klayman, see Jacob Weisberg, “Nut Watch”, Slate, Jun. 6, 1998 (sues own mother), Curmudgeonly Clerk, Sept. 23, 2003 (similar). But at least Alan Keyes admires him (Timothy Noah, “Larry Klayman for Attorney General”, Slate, Jan. 24, 2000).

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).

Belated Geoffrey Fieger Report: Wills v. Dillard’s

Jameel Talley had been fired from the local police department, but the mayor of North Randall (pop. 893 and dropping) “sent what he called a ‘second chance’ letter to Maple Heights, saying Talley should not have been fired. The mayor said he ‘erred in judgment’ and ‘recommends 100 percent (that) Talley continue his career in law enforcement.'” So Maple Heights hired him for their police department, where Talley had a spotless record, and the local Dillard’s hired him for off-duty work as a security guard.

Unfortunately, Talley had been fired from North Randall for shooting at a shoplifting suspect.

And, unfortunately again, 41-year-old Guy Wills, under the influence of drugs, decided to shoplift a leather jacket at Dillard’s, and then resist arrest from the much larger Talley. So Talley smashed him upside down into the concrete floor. Unfortunately again, Wills checked himself out of the hospital, got sick at the police station, refused treatment or a trip to the emergency room–and then fell into a coma, and when he woke up, he was dead. Shortly after the incident, Dillard’s shut down the store. Talley was convicted of voluntary manslaughter for excessive force, and sentenced to three years. And Dillard’s, as the deep pocket, was sued. (NewsNet5: Jan. 18 (featuring the great line “Dillard’s attorney, who’s [sic] name is unknown at this time”), June 23, 2003; Nov. 14, 2002; “Dillard’s to close Raleigh Springs store”, Memphis Business Journal, Jan. 27, 2003).

The attorney was none other than Geoffrey Fieger (Oct. 11 and Aug. 31 and lots of links therein), but the trial wasn’t going so well, so he adopted what seems to be a standard tactic: deliberately try to alienate the judge, and then loudly complain about prejudice.

[Judge Nancy Margaret] Russo leveled a litany of legal wrongs against Fieger, including: insulting and berating lawyers and calling them liars; making faces after she ruled against him; repeatedly interrupting testimony; entering objections loudly; and threatening an insurance adjuster with the loss of his job.

“He has been nothing but bullying, loud, obnoxious and unprofessional,” Russo said. “I have tried for three weeks to rein him in. I have done my best.”

The final straw came Thursday after attorney Larry Zukerman accused Fieger of accosting him and threatening to have his client — former Dillard’s store manager Frank Monaco — arrested for obstruction of justice.

Russo threatened Fieger with contempt, and Fieger responded by pulling himself off the case and asking for a mistrial. For some reason, Russo rewarded the antics with exactly what Fieger wanted, and now Fieger gets to start all over with another judge, and a second bite at correcting whatever problems he saw with the first trial. (James F. McCarty, “Lawyer quits case on judge’s threat”, Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Jan. 29; James F. McCarty, “Mistrial in wrongful-death case of shoplifter”, Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Feb. 1). And shame on our Cleveland readers for not letting us know about this one sooner.

“I did considerable research before I sued a seven-year-old.”

That’s a quote from attorney Judson Hawkins, who’s representing Mary Ellen Michaels in her lawsuit against a seven-year-old boy whose bike she collided with while rollerblading, the boy’s grandmother and parents (“who were a thousand miles away at the time”). The Ohio courts have dismissed her complaint, but Michaels vows to appeal to the state supreme court if necessary. (“Suing a 7-Year-Old”, Cleveland Scene, Feb. 9).

Ohio AG: Attorneys that challenged election results should be sanctioned

“Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to sanction four lawyers who handled a legal challenge, later withdrawn, to last year’s presidential election in Ohio.” The challenge focused on the long lines faced by voters, a claimed shortage of voting machines in African-American neighborhoods, and potential fraud. The AG’s motion calls the election challenge “meritless” and claims it was done for “partisan political purposes.” The motion continues, “A contest proceeding is not a toy for idle hands. It is not to be used to make a political point, or to be used as a discovery tool, or used to inconvenience or harass public officials, or to be used as a publicity gimmick. [It] is a wholly inappropriate forum to address the localized problems of long lines, shortages of machines, failing to receive notice of the proper voting precinct or casting of provisional ballots.” (Reginald Fields, “Attorney general’s call to punish lawyer is reply to election challenge,” Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Jan. 19; Editorial, “Blaming the messengers,” N.Y. Times, Feb. 3). See also earlier posts (Dec. 20; Dec. 15.)

Should have taken the Happy Meal

John Gregg of Shaker Heights, Ohio wasn’t satisfied with the $30,000 that an arbitrator awarded him for supposedly slipping on soap and water in the men’s room of a McDonald’s restaurant. He insisted on a jury trial instead, but as the trial date approached the restaurant chain investigated the case further and found that Gregg, “who had a 2002 arson conviction connected to burning a relative’s car for insurance money,” wasn’t telling the strict truth when he said he didn’t know the customer who was serving as his key witness in the claim. In fact, the man had worked with Gregg at a construction firm and the two had both collected payments from Geico two years earlier after claiming that their cars had collided with each other. Calling his actions “fraudulent”, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Timothy J. McGinty found Gregg in contempt of court, “ordered him jailed for 30 days and fined him $250.” (Jim Nichols, “Pass up $30,000, go directly to jail”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Dec. 17; “Outcome of McDonald’s suit should be modeled” (editorial), Richmond, Ind., Palladium-Item, Dec. 22).