Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

“So, Probably I’ll Sue Her, Because It Would Be Fun”

In many if not most cases, lawsuits that are held up to scorn on this site are filed by people who, in their heart of hearts and however misguidedly, believe in the justice of their cause.   Those people can and should be criticized when their cause is misguided, or when it camouflages some other agenda, or when their only real impact is the introduction of unjustified costs, frictions, and obstacles in to the path of valuable and legitimate economic or creative activity (not to mention the unjustified enrichment of a small class of my fellow attorneys). 

Worse than these, though, in many ways, are wealthy and/or powerful egotists who use the legal system on a whim, as their personal payback mechanism or as a means of venting their pettiest grievances.   At the risk of fatally lowering the tone of Overlawyered and of prematurely ending my tenure as a guestblogger, I note the latest example, a tiff between two deeply unpleasant but inescapable self-anointed celebrities: Rosie O’Donnell and Donald Trump (MSNBC, "Trump to Rosie O’Donnell: You’re sued!", Dec. 21).

Earlier this afternoon Trump announced he is filing suit against the TV talk show host. ‘She says things that come to her mouth, she’s not smart, she’s crude, she’s ignorant and to be honest I look forward to suing Rosie,’ he told our cameras. ‘I’m gonna sue her and I look forward to it.  She’s really very dangerous for the show.’

Trump declined to elaborate on the details of his proposed legal filings, but added O’Donnell will understand his reasoning.  ‘Rosie will find out what we’re suing her for.  She knows what we’re suing her for,’ he said adding the lawsuit is already in the works.  ‘It’s something I look very forward to,’ he added.

If ever there was a case for "loser pays," this is it.   Trouble is, with relentlessly meaningless suits like this one gumming up the works, we’re all the losers.

Of Related Interest: The scurrilous Los Angeles gossip site, Defamer, has the Trump video from which I have drawn the post title (Dec. 20).   Not that I would recommend watching it, of course.

ATLA’s attack on reform supporters

Evan Schaeffer was very excited by the fact that ATLA made its Trial magazine attack on reform freely available on line, so I clicked over to see what the fuss was. The first story I looked at was Justinian Lane’s “Corporate wolves in victims’ clothing,” which featured, among various baseless assertions and screeds about high executive salaries, the following strawman:

And the next time someone brings up Stella Liebeck and the McDonald’s coffee case, ask why a $2 million lawsuit over third-degree burns to a woman’s genitals is frivolous, but a $5 billion lawsuit over Donald Trump’s ego isn’t.

Fascinating. What fictional reformer supports Donald Trump’s lawsuit? Certainly not the main author of this site, who has repeatedly scoffed at it. Where’s the hypocrisy? (More on Stella Liebeck and the McDonald’s coffee case, which was frivolous, but is hardly the only reason for supporting reform.) Needless to say, I’m not impressed. Lane’s claim that proposed reforms wouldn’t affect Trump’s case is absolutely false; reforms such as anti-SLAPP laws, loser-pays, procedural streamlining, and limiting forum-shopping would all cabin the ability of a Trump to attempt to use litigation to intimidate critics.

Lane asks why reformers argue that “the king’s-ransom salaries ‘earned’ by corporate executives aren’t passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices, but that the costs of the tort system are.” There’s a difference, of course: a consumer can object to high CEO salaries by refusing to invest in a corporation’s stock or to purchase its products or services. But a consumer who buys a car can’t opt out of the huge expenses trial attorneys have added to every motor vehicle in America—$500 for every vehicle sold in America. Tom LaSorda, the CEO of Chrysler, doesn’t make $500 for every vehicle, even if one finds his salary objectionable for some reason. But as long as Lane is criticizing the “hypocrisy” of reformers, one wonders if he’ll turn the same searching eye complaining about high salaries to the multi-millionaire trial attorneys he lauds who, unlike the executives, make their money by destroying wealth and jobs rather than creating wealth and jobs.

Update: Trump decamps to Camden

Caesar’s forum-shopping dept.: Donald Trump has filed his $5 billion defamation suit against author and New York Times reporter Timothy O’Brien (see Jan. 25, Feb. 12) not in the courts of some boringly obvious place like, say, Manhattan, but in Camden, New Jersey, which happens to be “where his golf buddy, George Norcross II, the state’s behind-the-scenes political kingmaker, holds court. In 2001, Norcross, an exec at Commerce Bank, was caught on tape boasting of having engineered a judgeship for a political foe ‘just to get rid of him.’ Norcross’s claim to control the New Jersey courts was only bluster, his longtime lawyer, William Tambussi, said at the time. Tambussi has also been retained by Trump in his suit.” (Geoffrey Gray, “Intelligencer: Trump’s Jersey Trump Card”, New York, Mar. 13).

“Trump sues author who questioned his billions”

Real estate mogul and television personality Donald Trump has sued Warner Books and New York Times reporter Timothy O’Brien for $5 billion, saying O’Brien’s new book about Trump maliciously portrays him as being worth no more than $250 million when the accurate figure would be upwards of $2 billion. (Claudia Parsons, Reuters/Washington Post, Jan. 24; Greg Levine, “Trump Sues Over Bio Book; Launches Travel Web Site”, Forbes, Jan. 24; Gina Serpe, “Trump’s Billion-Dollar Defaming Claim”, EOnline, Jan. 24).

Update: “Apprentice” suit settles

Donald Trump’s reality show The Apprentice has settled a discrimination suit brought by a disabled attorney in February (see Feb. 10). The producers will pay out no money, but “the online application for potential Apprentice contestants has been changed to encourage the disabled to apply”. (Charlie Amter, “‘Apprentice’ Discrimination Suit Settled”, EOnline, Mar. 9)(via George Lenard).