NPR covers a story we had in March following a $1.5 million jury award. The law firm of Boies, Schiller & Flexner says it is ginning up a campaign of product liability suits to demand that power tool makers be punished for not adopting the finger-protection technology. If that isn’t enough, Consumer Product Safety Commission Chair Inez Tenenbaum says her agency may step in. What about leaving the decision to people who actually buy and use power saws, many of whom have said they have no wish to buy the expensive feature? Alas, that’s not how either the politics or the law work these days.
Bankrupt SCO Group Inc., much loathed for its (sometimes successful) efforts to extract copyright royalties from users of the open-source Linux system, has suffered another humiliating defeat in a Utah federal courtroom. The court proceedings determined, among other things, that SCO didn’t in fact own the copyrights it claimed to own, and had breached its fiduciary duty under an earlier agreement with Novell. (Ars Technica, Information Week, GrokLaw). At the height of SCO’s notoriety, the high-profile law firm of Boies, Schiller & Flexner was pursuing its anti-Linux claims on contingency. Earlier here, here, and here. [Update Sept. 18, 2009: in dramatic reversal, 10th Circuit, McConnell writing, reinstates SCO’s suit; Boies firm still representing SCO. See WSJ Law Blog, 8/25/09]
In other news, progress is being made on a scheme of “defense patent aggregation”; an outfit called the RPX Corp., with subscriptions from large technology-using companies, aims to buy up (presumably lower-value) patents to keep them out of the hands of trolls (WSJ Law Blog).
Mel Weiss — yes, that Melvyn Weiss, of Milberg Weiss, the one who ran a corrupt but lucrative kickback scheme premised on systematic lies to judges over decades, then stonewalled its disclosure through years of investigation — “deserves recognition as ‘one of the greatest humanitarians of our time,’ according to a sentencing memo his lawyer filed Friday.” (Ben Hallman, “Urging Leniency, Big Names Go to Bat for Mel Weiss”, American Lawyer, May 28).
Included were more than 240 supportive letters filed by friends and well-wishers of the famously piratical class-actioneer. It’s hard to read the WSJ law blog’s excerpts from these letters without shedding a tear of admiration:
“Donald Kempf, the former chief legal officer at Morgan Stanley says that after an unexpected on-the-street encounter, Weiss offered to help Kempf find a certain kind of watch. “And he did.”
According to a letter submitted by a friend and art dealer in Sun Valley, Idaho, in a “spontaneous” gesture while in Vienna, Weiss bought the art dealer’s wife an expensive pair of boots.
(WSJ law blog, May 27). The roster (PDF) of character vouchers and pleaders for leniency includes many names familiar to readers of this site, including Stephen Susman, Benedict Morelli (president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association), David Boies, Stan Chesley, Edward Labaton, and Christopher Seeger; the list is headed by lawprof and frequent Milberg Weiss expert witness Arthur Miller. We commented in February on the similar batch of letters on behalf of Weiss’s felonious collaborator Bill Lerach.