Posts Tagged ‘NYC’

Watch what you say about lawyers: Marina Tylo, Paul Revere III, Jones Day

Lawyer/blogger Andrew Lavoott Bluestone, in his New York Attorney Malpractice Blog, noted and quoted a case in which Brooklyn lawyer Marina Tylo was (unsuccessfully) sued by a client for “serving a summons before buying the index number,” that being the wrong order in which to do things in New York. Tylo has proceeded to sue Bluestone for $10 million and several blogs have already 1) mentioned the strong privilege that attaches to fair reports of court proceedings and 2) suggested that Tylo will before long be well acquainted with the phrase “Streisand effect“. Coverage: Scott Greenfield, Eric Turkewitz, Mike Cernovich (more), Citizen Media Law Project, Ambrogi/Legal Blog Watch.

In March Peter Robbins, a retired homicide detective who blogs for Cape Cod Today as the Robbins Report, ran an item criticizing the law offices of Paul Revere III (yes, a descendant of you-know-who) and various local residents he represents, for having filed a procedural action seeking to stop the dredging of Barnstable harbor on environmental grounds. Robbins opines (to quote the post in its current form):

In my opinion this, NIMBY, frivolous, malicious action is doing nothing but stalling the inevitable and costing us the taxpayers unnecessary time and money. Millway Beach and Blish Point were pretty much created by past dredging. Perhaps if the town didn’t have to waste its time with foolish actions such as these, they would have been able to concentrate on the real issues and the bulkhead could have been saved. Who knows?

Robbins mocked the lawyer as “Paul (the dredge isn’t coming) Revere III” and, in the original version of the post — now altered — described one of the local abutters filing the dredge action, Joseph Dugas, as “infamous” with an added, unprintable opinion-based expletive. Now Revere and Dugas have sued Robbins and an anonymous third party who posted further hostile comments about the two. (James Kinsella, “Defamation suit filed against CC Today blogger, commenter”, Cape Cod Today, Aug. 29). Robbins is being represented by our very own Overlawyered guestblogger and Boston-area lawyer Peter Morin, who wrote in a response, “This matter is a textbook example of the justification for an anti-SLAPP statute that protects the right of individuals to comment on matters of significant public concern.” David Ardia at Citizens Media Law Project has an analysis which mentions Massachusetts’s existing anti-SLAPP provisions, and Dan Kennedy at Media Nation (via Ambrogi) takes a look at the case, observing that it’s hard to evaluate the merits of the defamation claim since we don’t know exactly how the blog post read before the publisher made deletions to it at the demand of the plaintiffs.

Finally, Chicago’s BlockShopper is a site that reports on real estate transactions in in-town neighborhoods, often with descriptions of the professionals buying and selling the homes and condos, a practice that has now drawn a lawsuit from the giant international law firm Jones Day. “The suit alleges trademark infringement and unfair trade practices, based on Blockshopper’s use of the firm’s [Jones Day’s] service marks, links to its site and use of lawyers’ photos from its site.” Although BlockShopper removed all references to Jones Day, “the law firm continues to seek an injunction shutting down the site”. Unauthorized use of photographs and service marks presumably might give rise to valid claims, but the reference to “links to its site” may suggest a broader sweep, and in negotiations Jones Day is reportedly trying to extract a commitment from the site not to conduct journalism about its member lawyers’ real estate transactions at all. (R. David Donoghue, Chicago IP Litigation Blog, more; Ambrogi, Legal Blog Watch; Citizen Media Law Project).

“Hit-and-run driver claims city didn’t take care of his Bentley after crash”

“A Coney Island businessman is suing the city for damaging the Bentley he was driving when he killed a Brooklyn dad in a hit-and-run accident. Harry Shasho, who pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, says the NYPD failed to safeguard the battered black 2005 Bentley GT luxury sedan that was impounded as evidence of the fatal crash. He’s asking for at least $190,000.” However, Shasho “denied filing a lawsuit” when contacted by a Daily News reporter. (John Marzulli, New York Daily News, Aug. 24).

I’m going to take a wild guess here and speculate that Shasho’s auto insurer will turn out to have been a force in the decision to sue. Under most property insurance policies, after paying a loss the insurer reserves the right to go after third parties it thinks it can be blamed, and the policyholder must up to a reasonable point cooperate in such lawsuits (which may be filed in the policyholder’s name). The insurer needn’t and probably won’t take into its calculations the effect of such a suit on its policyholder’s reputation, which in this case for Shasho include being called “shameless” and worse in the comments section at Gothamist. Such insurer-prompted suits on behalf of wrongdoers are fairly common, and should be kept analytically distinct from the (also fairly common) situations where the wrongdoer himself decides to sue and is the one to pocket any proceeds.

In NYC: gun rights discussion at NYCLU Tues. evening

For readers in the New York City area: Tomorrow evening (Tues.) I’m going to be one of three persons discussing the Constitution’s Second Amendment, and the Supreme Court’s Heller decision recognizing that it protects an individual and not merely a “collective” right, at a monthly meeting of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Details here. Also offering their views will be NYCLU’s Arthur Eisenberg, a proponent of the collective-rights view, and Damon Root of Reason magazine, who discusses the event here. There will even be pizza and refreshments.

Playground safety mats

New York City has spent large sums installing black rubber safety mats beneath the equipment on its 1,000 playgrounds, but the mats get hot in the summer, and some kids are suffering burns which have resulted in lawsuits. It would cost $100 million to replace the mats, and it’s not clear with what, since loose pea gravel or wood shavings might harbor discarded syringes and the like. The founder of a group called NYC Park Advocates has the perfect cost-and-convenience-no-object answer: “Playgrounds should be designed with canopies.” And: “The city should be pressuring the manufacturers to come up with a solution.” Or the kids could wear shoes. (Sewell Chan, New York Times “City Room”, Jul. 21).

Cops: lawyer funneled brothel profits through good-government fund

Really, we couldn’t make it up: after raiding the Hot Lap Dance Club on W. 38th St. in Manhattan as a front for prostitution, police arrested lawyer Louis Posner and 22 others as part of the enterprise, which allegedly skimmed earnings from girls who entertained customers in private rooms for fees as high as $5,000. “Posner, once known as the king of nuisance lawsuits, brought a landmark $16 million suit against his then-4-year-old son’s nursery school in 1992 for letting the child run out of his classroom.” (New York Daily News first, second, third, fourth story). Posner, who more recently has concentrated on such areas of practice as taxes, trusts and estates, is reviled by several sources in the New York Daily News’s coverage for hitting on the girls himself, to their frequent disgust. Incomparable detail: cops claim Posner funneled the brothel profits through a political activist group called Voter March, which he set up after the disputed Bush-Gore election in 2000. (ABA Journal, New York Times). Fair labor practices angle: “The pair [of interviewed dancers] estimated that 120 women worked there. Some were Americans who operated as independent contractors and paid $80 a night in ‘house fees;’ others were Russians who worked to pay off debts to their handlers.” And we can’t leave this out: “The club last made news in March when it was sued by a securities trader who claimed he was seriously injured when a lap-dancing stripper swiveled and slammed him in the face with her shoe.” More: Above the Law, New York Observer.

Great moments in expert witness work

Philadelphia and New York City prosecutors say Richard Gottfried (who is not the New York state assemblyman of the same name) wrongfully obtained hundreds of thousands in court-appointed work as a sentencing expert for indigent criminal defendants, in the process collecting money for work never performed. Gottfried, who allegedly invented degrees for himself, knows a bit about sentencing from the other side: he’s an ex-convict whom authorities say had been involved earlier in mail fraud and a real estate scam. (AP/Washington Post; Bronx D.A. Robert Johnson release, Jul. 8; Philadelphia DA Lynne Abraham case listing, Mar. 13, 2006).

Sued wrong party, wrist duly slapped

Brooklyn, N.Y. attorney Regina Felton held a judgment against an outfit named United Equities Corp. which she tried to enforce against an entity named United Equities Inc. Attorneys for the latter informed her repeatedly that despite the coincidence of names the two businesses had no connection to each other. Citing the New York courts’ definition of frivolous conduct, trial judge Arthur M. Schack ruled that Felton’s continued refusal to withdraw the action even after it was “crystal clear” that it was mistaken was “completely without merit in law” and “ignored UEI’s good faith attempts to resolve this matter without resort to lengthy and costly proceeding”. Nonetheless, he granted UEI only about half the $25,000 in attorneys’ fees it sought and “declined to add sanctions, calling the $13,287.50 in costs a ‘sufficient penalty.'” Maybe UEI would have been better off settling her demand for $10,000 at the outset. (Mark Fass, “Lawyer Ordered to Pay Fees After Pursuing ‘Frivolous’ Suit”, New York Law Journal, Jul. 9). Felton, whom New York law blogger Andrew Bluestone describes as “well known” (Sept. 27, 2007; more at Feb. 14, 2007) won notice a couple of years ago when she unsuccessfully argued before the Tax Court that she did not “consider herself” an employee of the law offices of Regina Felton, PC. (RothCPA, Sept. 18, 2006).

February 19 roundup

  • Raising ticket revenue seems more important to NYC authorities than actually recovering stolen cars [Arnold Diaz/MyFoxNY video via Coyote]
  • Subpoena your Facebook page? They just might [Beck/Herrmann]
  • Rhode Island nightclub fire deep pockets, cont’d: concert sponsor Clear Channel agrees to pay Station victims $22 million, adding to other big settlements [ProJo; earlier]
  • Manhattan federal judge says “madness” of hard-fought commercial suit “presents a cautionary tale about the potential for advocates to obscure the issues and impose needless burdens on busy courts” [NYLJ]
  • Wooing Edwards and his voters? Hillary and Obama both tacking left on economics [Reuters/WaPo, WSJ, Chapman/Reason, WaPo editorial]
  • Sad: if you tell your employer that you’re away for 144 days on jury duty, you actually need to be, like, away on jury duty [ABA Journal]
  • New at Point of Law: Florida “three-strikes” keeps the doctor away; court dismisses alien-hiring RICO suit against Tyson (and more); Novak on telecom FISA immunity; fortunes in asbestos law; Ted on Avandia and Vioxx litigation; new Levy/Mellor book nominates Supreme Court’s twelve worst decisions; and much more;
  • U.K.: “Lawyers forced to repay millions taken from sick miners’ compensation” [Times Online]
  • Outside law firm defends Seattle against police-misconduct claims: is critics’ beef that they bill a lot, or that they’re pretty good at beating suits? [Post-Intelligencer]
  • Cincinnati NAACP is campaigning against red-light cameras [Enquirer]
  • Omit a peripheral defendant, get sued for legal malpractice [six years ago on Overlawyered]