Posts Tagged ‘Fred Baron’

June 11 roundup

Updating earlier stories:

  • The Judge Pearson consumer fraud suit starts today. It’s exceedingly silly, but ATLA’s attack on Judge Pearson is hypocritical: the only difference between this consumer fraud suit and the consumer fraud suits ATLA supports is that it’s an African-American pro se going against a shallow pocket instead of a well-funded bunch of millionaires going against a deep pocket. The Fisher blog @ WaPo notes a publicity-stunt settlement offer. [via TaxProf blog]
  • Wesley Snipes playing the race card in his tax evasion prosecution would have more resonance if his white co-defendant weren’t still in jail while he’s out on bail. [Tax Prof; earlier, Nov. 22]
  • “Party mom host set for Virginia jail term” for daring to ensure high school students didn’t drink and drive by providing a safe haven for underage drinking. Earlier: June 2005. [WaPo]
  • Sorry, schadenfreude fans: Fred Baron settles with Baron & Budd. [Texas Lawyer; earlier Sep. 4]
  • Blackmail-through-civil discovery lawyer Ted Roberts (Mar. 19 and links therein) seeks new trial. [Texas Lawyer]
  • Second Circuit doesn’t quite yet decide Ehrenfeld v. Bin Mahfouz libel tourism suit (Oct. 2003). [Bashman roundup of links]
  • NFL drops claims to trademarking “The Big Game” as a euphemism for the trademarked “Super Bowl” (Jan. 31) [Lattman]
  • More on the Supreme Court’s “fake mental retardation to get out of the death penalty” decision, Atkins v. Virginia (Feb. 2005; Sep. 2003). [LA Times]
  • What does Overlawyered favorite Rex deGeorge (Sep. 2004) have to do with The Apprentice? [Real Estalker]

Eating their own: Fred Baron v. Baron & Budd

Apparently there is no honor among thievesplaintiffs’ attorneys. The Texas Shark Watch Blog tells us that John Edwards’ money-man, Fred Baron, has sued his former law firm:

Never one to overlook any conceivable cause of action, Baron alleges in his petition filed in Dallas state district court breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy to breach fiduciary duty, tortious interference, conspiracy to tortious interference, fraud or alternatively negligent misrepresentation, conspiracy to fraud, fraudulent transfer, conversion, legal malpractice, negligence, unjust enrichment, and alternatively promissory estoppel or quantum meruit.

The blog has much more about plaintiffs’ bar involvement in Texas politics, including the use of over a million dollars of trial-lawyer money to support the independent-Republican candidacy of Carole Strayhorn, presumably to split the Republican vote and unseat a governor who has done much for reform. Efforts by trial lawyers to supplant reform-friendly Republican legislators with their own stalking-horse candidates in Republican primaries were unsuccessful, however.

Trial lawyer “Wikiality”

Stephen Colbert jokingly called Wikipedia’s strange notions of reality “wikiality”; his suggestions for edits to the Wikipedia articles about elephants caused the Wikipedia servers to crash and the article to be “protected.”

But Wikipedia in general suffers from a severe bias; articles about controversial topics reward persistence over accuracy. Wikiality is especially a problem in articles criticizing the plaintiffs’ bar. Articles on Fred Baron, ATLA, and John Edwards’s legal career have been sanitized into hagiographies; articles on medical malpractice and tort reform have been rewritten to emphasize the anti-reform position, deleting pro-reform statistics, arguments, and evidence.

Riding on lawyer money into Congress?

Yes, it’s fairly common for trial lawyers to be a candidate’s major backers, but sometimes it gets ridiculous. In the race among seven candidates to succeed retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Nussle in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, the contender who leads by a healthy margin in fundraising is 48-year-old Waterloo lawyer Bruce Braley, a Democrat who is a former president of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association and currently sits on the board of ATLA. He’s raised $305,629 through September:

Braley’s fundraising prowess has turned heads already. And so has the source of his money. Of the $253,000 in individual donations itemized on campaign finance reports, $227,000, or 90 percent, comes from lawyers. It’s a wide base, too. Donors from more than three dozen states have given money.

Of the $23,250 in political action committee money he’s received, half came from attorney-related committees, including $10,000 from the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, or ATLA….

“People who know me think I would make a very good representative,” he says….

One law firm that has been a prime target for conservatives also is a generous donor to Braley. Fifteen lawyers associated with the Baron & Budd firm in Dallas, one of the leaders in litigating asbestos and other toxic substance claims, gave $15,000 to the campaign.

In all, 85 percent of Braley’s donations have come from outside the district. (Ed Tibbetts, “In a seven-horse race, it’s all about the purse”, Quad City Times, Nov. 14).

Ernst v. Merck opening statements

Fortune has the best coverage of the Thursday opening statements, and notes the contrast between the opening statements of plaintiff’s attorney Mark Lanier, which was illustrated by pictures of a steamroller and a shell game, and Merck attorney David C. Kiernan, which the magazine seems to think made a mistake in respecting the intelligence of the jury by relying on the science behind the case instead of folksy name-calling. “If the company hoped to win points with the public for erring on the side of safety—its stated public rationale for having pulled the drug—the wager may have been naïve.” And if plaintiffs’ attorneys succeed in punishing Merck for taking safety measures, it’s bound to reduce safety in the future. Meanwhile, the New York Times publishes a puff piece on the plaintiff widow fed to the newspaper by the attorneys, barely acknowledging that her husband died of an arhythmia rather than a blood clot, and then failing to note that Roger Ernst was just one of 200,000 victims a year of fatal atherosclerosis (except in the small print of a photo of the coroner’s certificate), and thus was not “healthy and fit” regardless of whether he was a triathlete. The Times reveals a rogues’ gallery of plaintiffs’ lawyers helping out Lanier, without giving any indication of their unseemly background: Benedict Morelli (Nov. 23, 2003) and Fred Baron’s wife, Lisa Blue of Baron & Budd (Jul. 15, 2004; Jun. 17, 2004 and links therein). (Roger Parloff, “Stark Choices at the First Vioxx Trial”, Fortune, Jul. 15; Alex Berenson, “Contrary Tales of Vioxx Role in Texan’s Death”, New York Times, Jul. 15; Alex Berenson, “Jury Is Selected for Case Involving the Drug Vioxx”, New York Times, Jul. 14; Alex Berenson, “In First of Many Vioxx Cases, a Texas Widow Prepares to Take the Stand”, New York Times, Jul. 13; previous Overlawyered coverage: Jul. 1, Jul. 11 (includes my disclaimer), POL Jul. 15). Plaintiffs’ attorney Daniel Keller is liveblogging the trial, albeit not in the most objective fashion. Further coverage: Jul. 29, Aug. 19 ($253 million jury verdict).

Supported by a Reid

New Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) is sounding conciliatory toward the Republican majority on some issues, but not on litigation reform, where he’s hinting at a Daschle-like line of hard-core resistance. Reid appears to have plenty of friends in the Litigation Lobby: reports that of his top seven contributors, five are casino companies that operate in his home state of Nevada, while the other two are plaintiffs’ law firms SimmonsCooper (Madison County, Ill.) and Baron & Budd (Dallas) (more). The increasingly invaluable Madison County Record has more, quoting unnamed sources who tell it that Reid “has long been a regular on the SimmonsCooper corporate jet”. (“Follow the Leader: East Alton Clout”, Nov. 21). Update Dec. 7: more on Madison County Record.

Asbestos: new at Point of Law

Over at Point of Law, which has an entire category devoted to asbestos litigation, there are several new posts on the subject. Ted Frank reports on a potentially major turnaround in Madison County, Ill. handling of asbestos suits, occasioned by the arrival of a new judge. Guest blogger Michael DeBow links to a substantial Houston Chronicle article on the crisis. As for me, I’ve got posts on how an Australian court has approved a claim for psychological injury from asbestos, on how Dallas tort czar Fred Baron is allegedly retired from the asbestos business (well, sort of), and on the “rocket docket” operation of court schedules in, again, Madison County.

The Men Behind Edwards

Our editor, Walter Olson, has covered this territory before, but it’s worth revisiting as Kerry and Edwards make their way across key states in their bus caravan campaign. The report on the men behind John Edwards at EdwardsWatch makes for interesting reading.:

According to published reports, Edwards received $4.65 million from 3,220 lawyers, 29 paralegals, 17 legal assistants and 555 people with the same address as a personal injury attorney contributor (such as a spouse or close relative). The $4.65 million represents 63% of the total money raised by Edwards. Over one-third of those contributors gave the maximum $2,000..

His biggest contributors include patron, friend, campaign finance director, and asbestos-litigator extraordinaire Fred Baron, Silicon Valley litigator William Lerach (see also this), and the mysterious Stephen Bing.

He also has close ties to the law firms Girardi and Keese and Chitwood and Harley. And that’s just the tip of the special interest iceberg.

Other tidbits from the EdwardsWatch site include the discount air travel Edwards gets from his trial lawyer friends and the money he’s gotten from every state trial lawyers association in the country. Has there ever been a candidate so beholden to one special interest?

More: See also details at Rantburg and Edwards’ PAC donors from

Capped in Canada

Pain and suffering awards — not just in suits against doctors, but in suits generally — top out at $280,000 (U.S. $210,000) in our northern neighbor’s courtrooms. More details at Point of Law (Olson, Krauss, Krauss). Also discussed there this week: a new report on the incidence of medical errors (Krauss, Olson). And Jim Copland, the site’s managing editor, dares tort czar Fred Baron to substantiate his claim that drug, insurance and chemical companies “have spent over $200 million over the last five years in ad campaigns that make trial lawyers look like villains”.

Baron & Budd

Ramesh Ponnuru at National Review Online (“Robber Baron?”, Jul. 15) thinks the Department of Justice would be warranted in opening a RICO probe of the Dallas-based firm based on the contents of a detailed statement attached by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) to a report of the Senate Judiciary Committee, exploring at length the allegations concerning Baron & Budd’s practices in asbestos litigation (PDF) (see pp. 81-184 and specifically 86-137). For much more, see Jun. 17 and the many links from there.