U.S. District Judge William Smith in Providence vacated a $388 million award to Uniloc, a Singapore-based company, ruling that the jury “lacked a grasp of the issues before it and reached a finding without a legally sufficient basis.” [Bloomberg]
- Pants litigation still not over; Roy Pearson takes wrongful termination suit to D.C. Circuit [NLJ, FindLaw “Injured”, my WSJ piece two years ago]
- Microsoft wins stay of “alter Word or stop selling it” ruling [Bloomberg, earlier] More: WSJ Law Blog, Legal Ethics Forum, American Lawyer]
- Masry & Vititoe, law firm of Erin Brockovich fame, files for bankruptcy (she’s no longer with them) [NLJ, background]
- One blogger turns thumbs down on Google Books settlement [Patrick at Popehat] “Laundering orphan works legislation through a class action lawsuit”? [James Grimmelmann, ACS Blog via Mass Tort Lit] Much more: Lynn Chu/Writer’s Reps (who, I should note, has represented my literary interests on matters unrelated to this); WSJ Law Blog; Pasquale/ConcurOp; Kennerly.
- Dire lesson for lawyers in how not to do social media marketing [Mark Bennett/Defending People, Scott Greenfield, Patrick at Popehat, Carolyn Elefant/Legal Blog Watch]
- Tab-divider scam? For a million bucks? Against a big, sophisticated law firm? [ABA Journal, WSJ Law Blog]
- Lawyer who filed “splashy-dolphin” slip-fall action against Chicago-area zoo is heard from [On Point News, earlier]
- Turnabout fair play? “A Doctor’s Plan for Legal Industry Reform” [Richard Rafal, WSJ]
- Long Island man fails badly in bid to make his estranged wife compensate him for kidney he gave her [NYLJ, earlier]
- McDonald’s denies negligence in case of nude photos on customer’s left-behind cellphone [Heller/OnPoint News, earlier]
- Role of union corruption in NYC crane collapses. Best tidbit: strippers offered apprenticeships [New York Times]
- Because the Big Three need another millstone around their necks: states moving to entrench auto dealers’ nontermination/buyout rights yet further [Detroit Free Press via Mataconis, background]
- Microsoft claims former employee “applied for a job at the company under false pretenses and then used his role at Microsoft to gain access to confidential data related to patent litigation he is now waging” [Seattle P-I, Andrew Nusca/ZDNet]
- Settlement ends lawsuit by Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. against Mississippi’s Farese law firm and Ocala, Fla. attorney Bruce Kaster arising from leak of disparaging employee affidavit to press [Patsy Brumfield, NEMDJ, ABA Journal]
- Mule drivers at historic tourism park must register for antiterror biometrics as transportation workers [Ken @ Popehat]
- Lawyers advise defendant on trial for murder to go off his antipsychotic medication so he’ll come off as madder to the jury [nine years ago on Overlawyered]
Not quite gone yet.
Which firm will be the first to file a class action against Microsoft over the New Year’s Eve Zune crash? Apparently every 30 gigabyte Zune in America is stuck on a loading screen, refusing to play music due to some bizarre Y2K-like programming error.
This would be a posterchild case of the sort that many advocates say is the merit of the class action. Millions (well, perhaps thousands – the Zune is also a good illustration of Microsoft’s inability to get things right the first time, or the second) of people have been injured, or at least inconvenienced, in some small fashion, all suffering the same injury, none of them able to obtain legal assistance due to small damages in each individual case, against a heavily lawyered, deep pocket defendant.
A settlement, if such an action is filed, would also illustrate the problems inherent in the form, with a few lawyers and an individual named class representative getting a bonanza of millions spread among a few people, while class “members” receive coupons good for one free download, assuming they’re willing to take the time to fill out a form and mail it to a Post Office box in Oregon.
All of this assumes that the problem, reported this morning, hasn’t already been fixed. Personally, if I owned a Zune, and Microsoft irrevocably “bricked” it, I would emulate my hero Mitchell Berns and get a default judgment in small claims court over my lunch hour, when Microsoft inevitably failed to appear.
Still, whether the inconvenience is permanent, or just one day’s duration, the Zune case is a perfect class action. I predict that in some plaintiffs’ firm, somewhere, an associate attorney’s New Year’s has already been ruined. Maybe I should upset my wife and do it myself tomorrow. Does anyone here own a 30 gigabyte Zune, and are you willing to be a class representative?
Thanks to Kip Esquire for the notion.
Class-actioneers Michael Hausfeld and Stanley Chesley, already in line to collect $10.5 million in fees under Microsoft’s settlement of one of its antitrust cases filed in federal court, “say they are entitled to share in $50 million for helping lay the groundwork for the state claims [filed by other law firms].” Hausfeld and Chesley say many lawyers who filed state claims were happy to rely on the work they did in advancing the federal case, but “‘Memories are short and gratitude fleeting when attorneys’ fees are at issue.’ … In a reply brief, the law firms of Milberg, Weiss and Lieff, Cabraser, and Kirby, McInerney & Squire argue that assistance provided by Hausfeld and Chesley ‘was spotty and sometimes non-existent.’ ‘To put it most charitably, rather than being a resource to various state court counsel throughout these proceedings, Hausfeld-Chesley looked out for their own clients (and fees) in their own cases, which of course is completely proper,’ the lawyers in the state cases replied. ‘Such behavior, however, does not give rise to an entitlement for fees for other plaintiffs in other cases.'” (James Rowley, “Legal-fee fight erupts over Microsoft case”, Bloomberg/Seattle Times, Jan. 7)