Posts Tagged ‘Maine’

“Acoustic radiation”

Some opponents of wind turbine farms in Maine say they’re concerned not just about audible noise but “low-frequency noise, so soft you can’t hear it,” from the installations, which they claim is linked to a wide array of health problems, not to mention “the strobe effect created by the sun setting behind the spinning blades, which some say can lead to seizures”. On an anti-turbine website, a New York doctor describes “acoustic radiation” as a mix of “audible sound, infrasound and vibration, in a pulsating character, that appear to trigger serious reported health problems in those families living near wind turbine installations.” State officials in Maine, on the other hand, would prefer to keep the focus on sound levels loud enough to actually be noticed:

The state’s chief medical officer has her doubts about turbine-related health effects. When it comes to potential hazards, “If anything, there’s evidence to put a moratorium on fossil fuels not on wind turbines,” Dr. Dora Ann Mills said Friday.

[Kathryn Skelton, Lewiston Sun-Journal] (& Solicitr, UK)

Lawyer’s theft explained by irrational desire to save more

John Duncan, once a prominent attorney with the Maine firm of Verrill Dana, was disbarred and faces prison after theft and embezzlement from the law firm, overbilling of clients and tax evasion. “His lawyer, Toby Dilworth, said Duncan had an ‘irrational’ desire to save more, to provide his family with greater financial security,” though over the period in question Duncan’s household had more than a million dollars in assets and an annual income topping a quarter million. (Martha Neil, “Ex-Chair of Prominent Maine Firm Gets 2 Years in Tax Case”, ABA Journal, Sept. 5).

“No matter how psychotic, that voice is still worthy of being heard.”

Thus Helen Bailey, an attorney with the government-funded Disability Rights Center in Augusta, Maine. But things didn’t work out so well in the case of violent schizophrenic William Bruce, who was released from Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta against the recommendations of his doctors but after urgings from patient advocates. Two months later he murdered his mother. The young Bruce, now penitent, is not really on board any more with the corps of public interest lawyers that had swung into action on his behalf:

“They helped me immensely with getting out of the hospital, so I was very happy,” he said. He later added, “The advocates didn’t protect me from myself, unfortunately.” …

While William believes patients deserve some protection, he said he understands his father’s fight to strengthen commitment and treatment laws. That fight took another turn last month, when Ms. Bailey and another attorney filed a lawsuit that could undermine portions of a law Joe [the father] supported. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Maine, is directed at the law which makes it easier for hospitals to compel patients to take medication.

“There are times when people should be committed,” William said. “Institutions can really help. Medicine can help.”

“None of this would have happened if I had been medicated.”

(Elizabeth Bernstein and Nathan Koppel, “A Death in the Family”, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 16). The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, whose heated response to the article is presumably expected any day now, can be found here.

More: A group called Treatment Advocacy Center is gathering horror stories about “experiences with federally funded Protection & Advocacy attorneys”.

Defamation liability for print-on-demand services?

In a Maine federal case, the court ruled in effect that the book producer occupied a legal status more akin to that of a copy shop than to that of a traditional book publisher. As to the underlying dispute, Eric Goldman writes, “From my outsider’s perspective, it seems obvious that the Sandler and Calcagni families are locked in a cataclysmic downward spiral that will make some lawyers rich and will leave a lot of other people very unhappy for many years.” (Technology & Marketing Law Blog, Jul. 18).

Update: “Gentle Wind drops lawsuit against couple”

The Kittery, Me.-based Gentle Wind Project “has agreed to drop a defamation lawsuit against two former members who wrote articles comparing the self-styled spiritual healing group to a ‘mind control cult.'” (see Aug. 30, 2004). Last year a federal court threw out the group’s lawsuit against Jim Bergin and Judy Garvey, a married couple from Blue Hill, Me. (see Jan. 19, 2006), but the family of project director John Miller refiled the action in state court. Miller “claimed that he could communicate with the ‘spirit world’ [and] said he received designs for ‘healing instruments’ that resembled cards and hockey pucks, and could cure physical and emotional damage caused by illnesses ranging from alcoholism to paralysis.” (Gregory D. Kesich, Portland Press-Herald, Nov. 10).

Sued over blog posts

USA Today has a survey of cases filed against bloggers and commenters. A religious broadcaster and publisher has sued over a description of its president as “a shark” who comes from a “family of nincompoops.” And an ad agency that produced a tourism campaign for the state of Maine filed, but soon dropped, a suit against a critic who ridiculed the ads as a waste of money. (Laura Parker, “Courts are asked to crack down on bloggers, websites”, Oct. 3). More: Sacha Pfeiffer, “In court, blogs can come back to dog the writers”, Boston Globe, Sept. 28.

Watch what you tell your hairdresser, cont’d

The official recruitment of cosmetologists as informants (and as intermediaries steering customers to approved “domestic-violence” programs) continues, with programs reported in Florida, Idaho, Oklahoma, Virginia, Ohio and Maine, as well as Nevada and Connecticut (see Mar. 16 and Mar. 29, 2000). It’s not just black eyes or lacerations that the salon employees are supposed to be on the lookout for, either. A customer’s protestation that “he would not like that”, as a reason to turn down a new hairstyle, might be a sign of “controlling behavior” that needs watching. (“Salons join effort to stop violence”, Bangor Daily News, Jun. 15) (via van Bakel).

Poland Spring fracas, cont’d

Boston Business Journal has a feature article catching up on the torrid fight between attorney Jan Schlichtmann (A Civil Action) and a squad of class-actioneers led by Thomas Sobol of Hagens Berman, over whether lawyers in pursuit of settlement fees sold out the interests of clients following lawsuits against Nestle’s bottled-water operation (Sheri Qualters, “‘Civil Action’ lawyer tangles with litigators”, May 19). Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly also has a big article which will however rotate off their online “Feature” page soon. Earlier coverage: Mar. 25, Mar. 20, etc.

Dept. of Intimidating the Little Guy: Maine Board of Tourism

Lance Dutson of the Maine Web Report had the temerity to note that an expensive advertising agency published a phone-sex number instead of the correct line for the Maine Office of Tourism. For this, and other criticisms, Warren Kremer Paino Advertising is suing Dutson for millions. The plaintiff’s lawyer is Portland attorney Alfred Frawley III, who alleges that an opinion that a state agency is “pissing away” money is legally actionable. Dutson has numerous links for this ludicrous lawsuit. Greenberg Traurig is once again stepping up to protect free speech in defense, in conjunction with the Media Bloggers Association. (via Lattman)

Update: Maine jury hammers Hagens Berman

Seattle’s best-known plaintiff’s firm gets a huge black eye and is told to pay $10.8 million : “The jury unanimously found Wednesday that lawyers from Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP violated their duty of loyalty to three small water bottlers that in 2003 were close to settling a claim with Nestle Waters North America, the owner of Poland Spring Water Co.” For more about the case, see Mar. 20 and links from there. “Jurors will return to federal court next week to settle the issue of punitive damages.” (“Jury awards more than $10 million in water bottlers’ lawsuit”, AP/Boston Globe, Mar. 23; Vanesso Ho and Mike Lewis, “Seattle law firm told to pay $10.8 million”, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Mar.24; Lattman, Mar. 24).