Progressive clergy in Washington, D.C. sue Coca-Cola over community obesity [Caitlin Dewey/Washington Post, in a lengthy, uncritical piece that never addresses the issue of standing]
- Per The Economist, long-awaited Justice Department rules decreeing ADA accessibility for websites (earlier here, here, etc.) expected any day now, “in June. For example, each picture must have text describing it, so that screen-reader programs can tell blind people what is there.” Individual enforcement actions, as against Peapod, aren’t waiting [DoJ press release] Settlement with MOOC firm signals DOJ plans to deal with online education providers [Cooley] Contributor believes it’s a snap to include online captioning in all online Harvard and MIT courses, so what’re they waiting for? [Time]
- Rest of the Economist article is of interest too, especially on ADA filing mills in Florida and elsewhere;
- In Sheehan v. San Francisco, Ninth Circuit created right to ADA accommodation in confrontations with law enforcers, SCOTUS reversed on other (qualified immunity) grounds [Mark Pulliam, City Journal; Richard Re, Prawfs]
- Commemorations of 25th anniversary of the ADA — here’s what I had to say about the 20th — include plans “to hold [various Chicago institutions] publicly accountable for their commitments” to, inter alia, “increase civic engagement around disability issues” [Michael Waterstone, Prawfs]
- Sacramento: “Squeeze Inn owner joins fight against costly ADA lawsuits” [KCRA]
- Spread of fake service dog paraphernalia alarms groups that work with actual service dogs [BBC]
- Intended class-action plaintiff sues McDonald’s over new style Coca-Cola Freestyle dispensers, saying touchscreen format unfair to disabled users [BigClassAction.com]
She talked about her new book The Up Side of Down, on failure, which has many policy implications (and quotes me on “blamestorming”); her examples included Hollywood production cost overruns, New Coke, L.A.’s healthy school lunch program, and (in the book) Avenue Q. Arnold Kling contributed very illuminating comments, and my Cato colleague Dalibor Rohac moderated. More here (including audio podcast version) and at Arnold Kling’s site.
- Speaking of patients who act against medical advice and sue anyway: doctor who advised against home birth is cleared by Ohio jury in $13 million suit [Plain Dealer and earlier via KevinMD]
- UK: “A feud over a 4ft-wide strip of land has seen neighbours rack up £300,000 in lawyers’ bills, and left one family effectively homeless.” [Telegraph]
- Last of the Scruggs judicial bribery defendants without a plea deal, Dickie’s son Zack, takes one [Folo]
- By reader acclaim: securities trader sues over injury from lap dancer’s attentions [AP/NY Sun]
- Amid the talk of FISA and retroactive telecom immunity, it would be nice to hear more about the actual lawsuits [Obbie]
- Australian worker loses suit over firing despite a doctor’s note vouching that stress of worrying about upcoming football game made it medically necessary for him to take day off to go see it [Stumblng Tumblr]
- Megan McArdle and Tyler Cowen toss around the question of federal FDA pre-emption of drug liability suits, as raised by Medtronic;
- Should Coughlin Stoia have bought those stolen Coke documents? For one lawprof, question’s a real head-scratcher [David McGowan (San Diego), Legal Ethics Forum] And WSJ news side is oddly unskeptical of trial lawyers’ line that the affair just proves their power to go on fishing expeditions should never have been curtailed [Jones/Slater]
- Dashboard-cam caught Tennessee cops red-handed planting marijuana on suspect, or so Jonathan Turley suggests — but could it be a little more complicated than that? [WSMV, AP/WATE] (& Greenfield)
- “Heck Baptists don’t even sue you for disagreeing with them,” though no doubt there are exceptions [Instapundit; NYT on Danish cartoons; Ezra Levant with more on those Canadian speech tribunals]
- Bestselling authors who sue their critics [four years ago on Overlawyered]
Do they often do business this way? The law firm of Coughlin Stoia, known as Lerach Coughlin before the departure of now-disgraced Bill Lerach, has been vying for lead counsel status in a shareholder class action against Coca-Cola. Now Roger Parloff at Fortune “Legal Pad” (Feb. 28) reports that a special master on the case has recommended that the firm be disqualified for “extremely troubling” conduct which it then defended after exposure using “pretextual” arguments. It seems two former Coke executives approached the law firm of Milberg Weiss (predecessor before its split of Coughlin Stoia), one of them in possession of more than 3,000 company documents he’d taken on departure, many stamped “confidential”. The law firm then agreed to pay the execs at least $75,000 to serve as “consultants”, part of the deal consisting of access to the documents, which it then used in its complaint.
When the consulting agreement came to light more than a year ago, Coughlin Stoia lawyers backed [Greg] Petro’s claim that neither he nor they had thought he was taking Coke documents without authority because, among other things, Petro had been ordered, when terminated, to “clean out his office.” Special Master [Hunter] Hughes found that such a command could not “rationally be construed to authorize Petro to walk off with company documents, any more than it authorized him to take the company’s desk, chairs, and computer.”
Hughes also rejected arguments that the firm was not really buying the documents, just entering into a consulting agreement, and a public-policy style argument that Petro’s conduct should be condoned because he was a whistleblower trying to expose corporate wrongdoing.
In a footnote, Hughes found that public policy arguments weighed in the other direction: “On a very practical level, for the Court to give Plaintiffs’ counsel a pass on this conduct, would simply invite terminated employees, particularly of public companies, to on a wholesale basis remove company documents following their termination in hopes they can sell them should the company be sued.”
- Patent suit by firm called Parallel Processing demands that all Sony PlayStation 3 consoles be impounded and destroyed [ArsTechnica, Slashdot]
- It’s not all going to Edwards: a scorecard on presidential campaigns’ law-firm fundraising [National Law Journal]
- Link roundup on Oregon criminal charges against fanny-swatting 13-year-olds [Right Side of the Rainbow; earlier]
- New at Point of Law: Spitzenfreude is mirth derived from ethical pratfall of NY’s moralist governor; Florida’s insurance fiasco; more on those “medical” bankruptcies; Alabama judge appoints special prosecutor in Dickie Scruggs affair after feds take a pass; and much more;
- One hurdle for court action by survivors of slain Middle East contractors against Blackwater: the four men had signed contracts agreeing not to sue their employer [Henley; W$J]
- Saying swim diaper should suffice, Akron mom and “fair housing” advocates sue condo that barred pre-potty-trained kids from pool [AP/FoxNews.com]
- Not only are those punitive new Virginia traffic laws unpopular, but a judge has just declared them unconstitutional as well [Washington Post; earlier here and here]
- Pepsi settles class actions over minute quantities of benzene that might form when soft drink ingredients combine [Reuters, Food Navigator, Journal-News]
- U.K. considers making it easier for unmarried cohabitators to go to court when their households break up [Times Online]
- Did a securities fraudster use protracted depositions to browbeat his victims? [Salt Lake City Tribune]
- “Victims’ Rights Amendment” to U.S. Constitution, promoted as giving crime victims a fairer shake, is bad idea for lots of reasons [eight years ago on Overlawyered]
- Coca-Cola’s sense of humor doesn’t extend to other artists’ parodies; shuts down movie release over single dream sequence showing Jesus drinking Coke. [Variety via BLT]
- Kevin MD on defensive medicine.
- Slip & fall case: “it would be unreasonable to expect the defendants to constantly clean the floors of their buses” during a snowstorm [McKenzie v. County of Westchester; Turkewitz]
- TV news and dumb lawsuit ideas series (earlier: Sep. 18), American Idol edition: Fox v. Vote for the Worst? [Above the Law]
- Shades of Myspace litigation (Feb. 15 and links therein): phone-chat dating service sued over rape of teenager [On Point]
- Updating Nov. 3 entry: Ninth Circuit vacates and will en banc review ludicrous Reinhardt decision in Smith v. Baldwin [Legal Pad]
For a viral marketing campaign, Coca-Cola pranked its own in-house counsel by sending improvisational actors portraying brand-manager employees to attorneys asking if they could sue Coke Zero for tasting so much like Coca-Cola; the results are on a series of videos on YouTube. So far none of the victim lawyers have sued. (Janet Conley, “Frivolous litigation: How Coke ‘punk’d’ its lawyers”, Daily Report, Mar. 23 (via BLT)).
Perhaps related: Mar. 6.
Let’s just hope no one tells the Kentucky bar about the new Coke Zero campaign, with its reference to a supposed law firm by the name of Covet & Yourminy. (Stuart Elliott, “Can’t Tell Your Cokes Apart? Sue Someone”, New York Times, Mar. 5). The Times misses the chance to mention the similarity of the widely noted AllTel campaign last year (Jul. 6, Aug. 3).