According to Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau, New York lawyer Marc Bernstein “settled these cases pretty cheap, then took the money and ran.” [NY Daily News, press release] Meanwhile: “Prominent Arkansas plaintiffs securities lawyer Gene Cauley is expected to plead guilty for failing to pay clients $9.3 million in settlement funds he was supposed to be holding as their escrow agent.” [ABA Journal, earlier] According to a report dated February (PDF) from the ABA’s Center for Professional Responsibility, New York is among the states that have adopted payee notification reforms intended to catch this category of fraud at an early stage; Arkansas has not. For more on payee notification, see my 2006 paper with Peter Morin.
ABA Journal: “After stealing more than $1.6 million from at least 46 clients over a six-year period, then-personal injury attorney Steven Bearman reportedly kept working as a Houston lawyer while awaiting trial after his 2006 arrest.” Among other defalcations, “Bearman settled clients’ cases without telling them”, exactly the sort of misconduct that payee notification (having insurers give notice directly to claimants of the timing and amount of settlements) is meant to stop. Texas unfortunately is not one of the dozen states that have enacted the reform (per an ABA compilation, they are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island).
- Business groups have signed off on dreadful ADA Restoration Act aimed at expanding disabled-rights lawsuits, reversing high court decisions that had moderated the law [WSJ; more here and here]
- U.K. man to win damages from rail firms on claim that trauma of Paddington crash turned him into deranged killer [Times Online]
- Patent cases taken on contingency lead to gigantic paydays for D.C.’s Dickstein Shapiro and Wiley Rein [Kim Eisler, Washingtonian; related last year at Eric Goldman’s]
- Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer disbarred after stealing $300K in client funds; per an ABA state-by-state listing, Florida has not enacted payee notification to help prevent/detect such goings-on [Sun-Sentinel; more]
- I’ll pay top dollar for that spot under the bridge: tech firms hope to outbid patent trolls for marginal inventor rights [ABA Journal]
- Enviro-sympathetic analysis of Navy sonar case [Jamison Colburn, Dorf on Law, first and second posts via Adler @ Volokh]
- Obama proposal for youth national service “voluntary”? Well, schools will lose funds if they fail to meet goals [Goldberg, LAT; bad link fixed now]
- Not-so-independent sector: under pressure from Sacramento legislators (Feb. 6, PoL May 30), California foundations pledge to redirect millions toward minority causes [CRC]
- James Lileks on lawyer-friendly Microsoft Minnesota settlement [four years ago on Overlawyered]