Posts Tagged ‘Coughlin Stoia’

“Judge Tosses Boeing Suit After ‘Confidential Witness’ Recants”

Daniel Fisher at Forbes explains:

…The rise of the “confidential witness” can be traced to the Public Securities Litigation Reform Act and subsequent Supreme Court rulings, under which class-action lawyers are required to do more than just point out the obvious, that a stock price fell. They need to state “particularized facts” giving a strong inference that somebody in management, not just a faceless corporate entity, did something he or she knew was fraudulent.

To get over this hurdle, class-action lawyers frequently call upon nameless “confidential witnesses” who apparently are willing to speak with plaintiff lawyers but live in fear of their identities being revealed to anyone else.

Funny thing is, the testimony of these confidential witnesses on eventually reaching the light of day keeps not backing up the propositions the lawyers said it did. The newest embarrassment afflicts Robbins Geller, a successor law firm to Bill Lerach’s Coughlin Stoia. More: ABA Journal; City of Livonia Employees Retirement System v. Boeing.

The Milberg Weiss Four after prison

All four have completed their sentences and don’t seem to have it so bad, judging by a March 19 Bloomberg story. William Lerach is going to teach at a law school and work for a “progressive think-tank.” And for the Milberg law firm itself? “Over the past couple of years, while everybody has been laying off lawyers and cutting pay, we’ve been giving lawyers raises and extra bonuses.”

CPSIA chronicles, October 19

More background reading on the Draconian consumer product safety law:

  • Fear of losing even more high-quality German toy suppliers [Kathy + Matt Take Milwaukee]
  • Mattel will pay $13 million to 20 plaintiff’s firms TheTown2to resolve class action over toy recalls; claimed value of settlement to class (vouchers, etc.) is something like $37 million [National Law Journal, Coughlin Stoia release; earlier] Note also Rick Woldenberg’s March analysis of one recall (recall of 436,000 units premised on two cans of bad paint).
  • New law “has added several new tasks [to the CPSC], many of which most charitably can be described as marginal in the overall pursuit of product safety that will divert staff and financial resources from more important safety issues.” [attorney Michael Brown, quoted at Handmade Toy Alliance Blog]
  • Alarmist reporting on Boston’s WBZ affords a glimpse of MaryHadLamb2“the scary people behind the law” [Woldenberg]
  • Effort to help move blogger Kevin Drum up the CPSIA learning curve [Coyote]
  • “The “Resale Round-up,” launched by the CPSC, finally limits the power of these merchants of death who recklessly barter second-hand toys to unsuspecting civilians at low prices…. The only question now is how did any of us survive this long?” [David Harsanyi, Denver Post]
  • Among its other effects, the statute “will boost opportunities for mass-tort suits” [Crain’s Chicago Business]
  • Law’s “continuing disaster for small business” illustrates MaryHadLamb3difference between crony capitalism and the real kind [James DeLong, The American, with kind words for a certain “indispensable” website that’s covered the law]

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGES from Ethel Everett, illustrator, Nursery Rhymes (1900), courtesy

“Lerach Costs Former Firm $45 Million in Fees”

Class action impresario Bill Lerach’s old Lerach Coughlin firm, now renamed Coughlin Stoia, continues to prosper mightily despite the imprisonment of its former principal, but federal judge James Rosenbaum in Minnesota has now knocked $45 million off a $110 million fee request in a settlement of a class action against UnitedHealth, saying the firm would probably not have been selected as lead counsel had Lerach “timely and fully” disclosed to the court his status as a target of federal investigation. The lead plaintiff in the case was CALPERS, the California public employee pension fund that has long enjoyed cozy relations with politicians, unions and prominent class-actioneers. [Dan Levine, The Recorder/]

“Thank goodness for especially greedy lawyers in high-profile lawsuits”

David Giacalone figures that at least the jaw-dropper fee cases serve one useful purpose: they remind judges, the public and the legal profession itself “that we really do have a ban on unreasonable fees and expense charges — we [lawyers] can’t agree on them, charge them, or collect them”. With discussion of the Coughlin Stoia/Coke, Lawrence v. Miller, and certain lawyers’ willingness to bill two clients full freight for the same hour on the clock. (f/k/a, Nov. 21).

November 26 roundup

  • Businesswoman takes to her blog to criticize the business practices of a video-production firm, and then the lawsuit arrives [Inc. magazine via MediaBloggers; Vision Media Television v. Leslie Richard/Oko Box]
  • Litigious Minneapolis strip club owner “sued a one-time housemate for, among other things, not returning some pillows and a coat rack.” [Star-Tribune via Obscure Store]
  • Really now, says judge to Coughlin Stoia class-actioneers, $1,365.95/night in travel expenses is a bit rich in this Coke settlement [Krauss, PoL]
  • L.A. attorney Terry Christensen sentenced to three years in Pellicano wiretap scandal [AP/Variety] Did L.A. Times skew coverage toward Pellicano defense? [Patterico, more]
  • New Louisiana lawyer-ad rules: would they restrain lawyers from blogging or posting on Facebook/Twitter? [Coleman, Ribstein vs. O’Keefe vs. Greenfield]
  • Electing public defenders is bad idea to start with, and things get particularly dicey when the local cops throw their support to one candidate [Balko, Reason “Hit and Run”; Jacksonville, Fla.]
  • Online carpooling service? Great idea until the bus authorities get you closed down [Save PickUpPal in Ontario via Coyote; Canada]
  • Horizon Blue Cross agrees to settle suit over coverage of eating disorders, will pay $1.18 million to some policyholders to cover extended bulimia and anorexia treatments, and $2.45 million to class action lawyers led by Bruce Nagel of Roseland, N.J. [NJLJ]

Coughlin Stoia, AmLaw Daily and Prof. John Coffee, cont’d

Yesterday, updating a Tuesday post, I expressed some annoyance that AmLaw Daily’s coverage of the $688 million Enron fee award extensively quoted Columbia lawprof Jack Coffee in support of the fee’s fairness — even casting him as a “frequent class action critic” whose praise for the fee was more credible because “unlikely” — without informing readers that Prof. Coffee had in fact been hired by the plaintiff’s lawyers to support their fee application, a role he has served in earlier cases as well. Now the publication has “updated [the post] with new information” reflecting that relationship. Journalism professor Mark Obbie of Syracuse’s Carnegie Legal Reporting Program is kind enough to credit my criticism with making a difference.

Enron: class action lawyers set to get $688 million

Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins, formerly of Bill Lerach fame, and other law firms sued to pin the blame on banks, auditors, and other outside deep-pocket third parties, as well as on directors; defendants collectively paid $7.2 billion. Giving the plaintiff’s lawyers $688 million of that is very “fair and reasonable” and involves no “windfall”, per U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon. (Bloomberg, Sept. 8).

More: OK, so maybe Brian Baxter of AmLaw Daily is just pursuing a reasonable news angle when he quotes the Coughlin Stoia lawyers doing a little victory lap and waving to the crowd. But if he’s going to quote Prof. John Coffee at such length as his big authority in support of the fee’s fairness, shouldn’t he go beyond identifying Coffee as “a professor at Columbia Law School and frequent class action critic” to spell out a little more explicitly that, you know, Coffee was hired by the plaintiff’s lawyers in this case to defend their fee request? Doesn’t that make it less surprising that Patrick Coughlin “welcomes the positive feedback” from these supposedly “unlikely legal circles” to support his case? (more background, yet more).

Update Thurs. a.m.: by yesterday evening American Lawyer had substantially “updated [the post] with new information” to reflect the Coffee relationship, and Prof. Obbie is kind enough to give me some credit for that happening.