- Bulgarians employ “decoy lawyers” to get around corruption in official bureaus [Cowen, MargRev]
- Forum-shopping vol. MMMCCXII: Taiwan company claims Apple broke California unfair-practices law so of course it sues in Texarkana [AppleInsider]
- “U.S. produces far too many lawyers for society to absorb” and one reason is that law schools want warm seats on chairs [Greenfield]
- Second Circuit: lawyers can’t buy their way out of sanctions for filing meritless lawsuit [Krauss, PoL]
- Some reasons furor over free speech in Canada is relevant this side of the border [Bernstein @ Volokh]
- We’re quoted on the subject of those websites that offer “point-and-click access to trial lawyers” [Business First of Columbus]
- Tight lid kept on study of disposable diapers’ environmental impact since findings were … inconvenient [Times Online (U.K.) via Stuttaford]
- Judge backs Kentucky’s bid to seize domains of online gambling sites, implications for everyone else [Balko, “Hit and Run”; earlier here and here]
- Net present value of a J.D. degree $470,000? [TaxProf Blog] #
- Lawyer busted after sending identical twin sister to cover court appearance [Stumblng Tumblr] #
- MoFo analysis of some bailout & crisis legal issues, thanks @stevematthews [JDSupra] #
- Follow my old friends at libertarian magazine Reason on Twitter [@reasonmag]#
- “Law school is not such a leap” for licensed Nevada prostitute’s next career move — hey, we didn’t say that, Robert Ambrogi at Law.com did [Legal Blog Watch, Bitter Lawyer]
- Today’s representative class-action plaintiff: “For five years, her diet consisted almost exclusively of Chicken-of-the-Sea tuna…” [PoL]
- Prolific California disabled-access filer Jarek Molski ordered to pay fees for “scorched-earth” tactics in one case, but wins a second [Metropolitan News-Enterprise via Bashman]
- Another sperm donor surprised by legal obligation to pay child support [Santa Fe, N.M. Reporter; earlier]
- “Lawyer Fees Jumped 50% After Bankruptcy Law Change” [ABA Journal]
- “Whatever it takes to win a case”, and checking out jurors’ Facebook profiles is the least of it [NLJ]
- High-profile U.K. attorney Nick Freeman registers his nickname “Mr. Loophole” [Times Online a while back]
- When can a plaintiff claiming sexual assault sue anonymously? Courts will apply mushy balancing test [NYLJ]
- Hold on to your hats, looks like Geoffrey Fieger is online [Fieger Time]
- Two topics of recent interest on the site — cremation and service monkeys — together in one post [The Urn Garden]
- Please don’t tell us an aggressive stance by music copyright holders is going to kill Pandora radio, one of the bright stars of the Internet [WaPo, more]
- “Citizens in Chains: The High Cost of Prisoner Lawsuits to California Taxpayers” [CALA, PDF]
- Navajo plaintiffs: spraying artificial snow on our sacred mountain is spiritually injurious [Volokh]
- Remember those anti-poverty non-profit groups that were going to represent the culmination of John Edwards’ life work, aside from running for you-know-what? Him neither [Silverstein, Harper’s via Folo]
- Toxic tort class action in Saudi Arabia proves unsuccessful [Arab News]
- Fending off patent trolls has been expensive for high-tech Massachusetts firm Cognex [NLJ]
- Arizona law professor’s creative denials in paternity suit have furnished faculty-lounge chuckles for years [Caron/TaxProf, Jack J. Rappeport]
- New at Point of Law: big ruckus over proposal to compel accounting projections of lawsuit exposure; guestblogger Peggy Little on Connecticut vs. Countrywide, the ABA in judicial selection and more; cy pres litigation slush funds assailed as constitutionally dubious; Trial Lawyers Inc. series tackles the state of Ohio; MBIA mulls suing hedge fund that’s sniped at its stock; more on med-mal “loss of a chance”; and much more.
(Updated from July 30 post with new dates.) I’m going outside the Beltway, and may be in your neighborhood, to speak at a variety of Federalist Society chapters:
- September 3, Loyola Law School, New Orleans (obesity litigation)
- September 4, LSU Law School (obesity litigation)
- October 13, Ave Maria Law School (Is Overlawyering Overtaking Democracy?)
- October 14 (new date!), University of Michigan Law School (debate with Professor Steven Croley)
- October 15, DePaul University Law School (class action settlements)
- October 16, University of Chicago Law School (class action settlements and Grand Theft Auto)
- October 16, Chicago-Kent College of Law (obesity litigation)
- October 21, Florida State University College of Law (TBD)
- October 22, University of Florida Levin College of Law (TBD)
- October 23, Stetson University College of Law (TBD)
Please do suggest my name to your local Federalist Society chapter (or ACS chapter or what-have-you) if you wish me to speak at your law school. (And if your law school is in the Chicago or New Orleans metropolitan areas, now’s a good time to free-ride off of what your neighbors have already scheduled and help save the Federalist Society money. Otherwise I’ll just use the free time to visit local casinos.)
The WSJ Law Blog reports that the two Yale Law women suing AutoAdmit/XOXOHTH posters are “seeking to resolve their claims against these defendants” without amending the complaint to name their identities, obtained over the course of a variety of subpoenas. Thus, the recent amended complaint named only a single AutoAdmit poster, Matthew C. Ryan, who had apparently refused to settle–perhaps because while Ryan’s comments were obnoxious, they were not legally actionable.
Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it historically the case that someone who says “Pay me money or I will file a lawsuit and issue press releases that reveal private facts you find to be embarrassing” guilty of blackmail or extortion in other contexts? What distinguishes this case–especially when the underlying allegations are so legally flimsy?
Readers may recall the landmark case in which laptop maker Toshiba agreed to a notional $2 billion settlement (and a very crisp and real $147 million in plaintiff’s legal fees) to resolve charges that its laptops could under certain extreme conditions result in loss of user data, although no real-world customer appeared to have experienced the problem. Copycat lawsuits followed against other laptop makers, the supposed glitch being by no means unique to Toshiba, and at last report (May 11, 2001 and Aug. 14, 2004) Compaq had enjoyed much success in beating suits of this sort filed by Texas lawyers.
Apparently its luck didn’t hold up forever, though, because in May Judge Tom Lucas of the Cleveland County, Oklahoma District Court approved a nominal $640 million settlement of laptop glitch claims against Compaq and its parent, Hewlett-Packard, with $40 million in attorneys’ fees to various attorneys, including Reaud, Morgan & Quinn, the Beaumont, Texas firm of Wayne Reaud. (Tom Blakey, “Local court OKs $640M class settlement in computer lawsuit”, Norman Transcript, May 16)(settlement website).
According to a paper by Anthony Caso for the Washington Legal Foundation (PDF), the change in fortunes owed much to some successful forum-shopping. It seems plaintiffs in the first rounds had attempted to form a nationwide class action on the premise that the consumer law of Texas, Compaq’s home state, could properly be applied to the claims of customers in all 50 states. The Texas courts, however, wound up rejecting that premise.
…instead of taking no for an answer from the Texas Supreme Court – the final arbiter of Texas law, the class action attorneys convinced an Oklahoma court to rule that the case should be a nationwide class action, and that class action status could be premised on the idea that Texas consumer law applied to all of the claims. Ignoring the ruling of the Texas Supreme Court, the Oklahoma courts agreed with this argument and certified the case as a nationwide class action.
Unfortunately for all of us, the United States Supreme Court declined to review the case.
And the $40 million in fees? Reaud & co. would have nothing but the best talent in to bless the fees, per the Norman Transcript account:
Testimony at the April 29 hearing in Cleveland County District Court included that of Arthur R. Miller, a renowned legal scholar and commentator on civil litigation, copyright and privacy laws. Miller, a professor to the faculty of the New York University School of Law and the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, estimated the coupon redemption rate would be as high as 30 percent — more than double the average redemption rate in settlement cases.
And if actual coupon redemptions come in far below a 30 percent rate — not that we’re necessarily ever going to find out — Prof. Miller’s reputation will suffer, right?
More: Beck & Herrmann call attention to an automotive class action case (Masquat v. DaimlerChrysler, alleging defect in rack and pinion steering systems) that also took advantage of Oklahoma’s willingness to apply manufacturer’s-home-state law to fuel nationwide class actions. They write that because of that distinctive handling of choice of law, “class action plaintiffs’ counsel now gravitate to Oklahoma as moths to light.”
- Significant if true: Ninth Circuit may have finally decided that judges should stop micromanaging Forest Service timber sales [Lands Council v. McNair, Adler @ Volokh]
- GMU lawprof/former Specter aide whose law review output grabbed big chunks of others’ work without attribution doesn’t belong on the federal bench, though he may have a future at Harvard Law [Liptak, NYT; WSJ law blog]
- Update on gift card class actions (earlier) filed by Madison County, Ill.’s mother-daughter team of Armettia Peach and Ashley Peach [MC Record; more background here and here]
- If you regard demand letters from attorneys as menacing and aggressive, maybe you’re one of those “lawyer-haters” with cockamamie notions of loser-pays [Greenfield, and again]
- Just wait till Public Citizen goes after those “charities” that spend more on telemarketing than they raise by it — oh, wait a minute [LA Times via Postrel]
- U.K.: nursery schools urged to report as “racist” incidents in which pre-schoolers say “yuk” about spicy foreign foods [BBC, Telegraph, Taranto; the author speaks, via Michael Winter, USA Today]
- Blawg Review #167 creatively assigns each of 50+ blog posts to its own “state”, though it took some doing to associate us with “Maryland” [Jonathan Frieden, E-Commerce Law]
- I will NOT go around saying Miami-Dade judges are being paid off… I will NOT go around saying Miami-Dade judges are being paid off… [Daily Business Review, earlier]
- “‘I’m thinking of getting disability.’ … This individual figured that [it] was tantamount to a career choice”. [physician blogger Edwin Leap]
- Federal judge: asking employee to get coffee not an intrinsically sexist act [Legal Intelligencer]
- Kilt-clad Montgomery Blair Sibley, at press conference, adds certain je ne sais quoi to tawdry Larry Sinclair sideshow [Sydney Morning Herald]
- Remind us why Florida Gov. Crist is supposed to be an acceptable veep pick? [PoL]. Also at Point of Law: Hill’s FISA compromise may end pending telecom-privacy suits; interesting Second Circuit reverse-preference case on New Haven firefighters.
- Virginia bar authorities shaken by charges that Woodbridge attorney Stephen T. Conrad pocketed $3.4 million in injury settlements at clients’ expense [Va. Lawyers Weekly; case of Christiansburg, Va. lawyer Gerard Marks ties in with first links here]
- U.K.: Local government instructs staff that term “brainstorming” might be insensitive to persons with epilepsy, use “thought showers” instead [Telegraph; Tunbridge Wells, Kent]
- Big personal injury law firm in Australia, Keddies Lawyers, denies accusations of client overcharging and document falsification [SMH]
- Will this be on the bar exam? Massachusetts law school dean eyes war crime trials culminating in hanging for high officials of Bush Administration [Ambrogi and more, Michael Krauss and I at PoL]
- “Just another cash grab”? New Kabateck Brown Kellner “click-fraud” class actions against Google AdWords, CitySearch [Kincaid, TechCrunch/WaPo]
- Former Rep. Bob Barr, this year’s Libertarian presidential candidate, is no stranger to the role of plaintiff in politically fraught litigation [six years ago on Overlawyered, and represented by Larry Klayman to boot]
- “I believe it’s frivolous; I believe it’s ridiculous, and I believe it’s asinine”: Little Rock police union votes lopsidedly not to join federal “don/doff” wage-hour lawsuit asking pay for time spent on uniform changes [Arkansas Democrat Gazette courtesy U.S. Chamber]
- Must-read Roger Parloff piece on furor over law professors’ selling of ethics opinions [Fortune; background links @ PoL]
- Too rough on judge-bribing Mississippi lawyers? Like Rep. Conyers at House Judiciary, but maybe not for same reasons, we welcome renewed attention to Paul Minor case [Clarion-Ledger]
- American Airlines backs off its plan to put Logan skycaps on salary-only following loss in tip litigation [Boston Globe; earlier]
- U.K.: Infamous Yorkshire Ripper makes legal bid for freedom, civil liberties lawyer says his human rights have been breached [Independent]
- In long-running campaign to overturn Feres immunity for Army docs, latest claim is that military knowingly withholds needed therapy so as to return soldiers to front faster [New York Rep. Maurice Hinchey on CBS; a different view from Happy Hospitalist via KevinMD]
- Profs. Alan Dershowitz and Robert Blakey hired to back claim that Russian government can invoke U.S. RICO law in its own courts to sue Bank of New York for $22 billion [WSJ law blog, earlier @ PoL]
- Minnesota Supreme Court declines to ban spanking by parents [Star-Tribune, Pioneer Press]
- Following that very odd $112 million award (knocked down from $1 billion) to Louisiana family in Exxon v. Grefer, it’s the oil firm’s turn to offer payouts to local neighbors suffering common ailments [Times-Picayune, UPI]
- AG Jerry Brown “has been suing, or threatening to sue, just about anyone who doesn’t immediately adhere” to his vision of building California cities up rather than out [Dan Walters/syndicated]
- Virginia high school principal ruled entitled to disability for his compulsion to sexually harass women [eight years ago on Overlawyered]