- Tab Turner’s Pearsonesque $2 billion lawsuit over Ford Explorer SUVs proceeds in California state court in Sacramento. [Sacramento Bee; earlier, June 18]
- West Va. judge holds hearing over YouTube videos disclosing plaintiff depositions. [AP/Insurance Journal; earlier, August 4]
- On Point has the complaint from Leroy Greer’s suit against 1-800-Flowers for failing to do enough to keep his wife ignorant of his flower purchases for his mistress.
- Movable Type appears to have swallowed several comments from earlier this month (including at least one comment from me). Apologies to everyone affected.
The Ford Explorer is a sport utility vehicle. Judge Roy Pearson, excited by the $67 million he anticipates receiving for his pants, is bringing a lawsuit in California claiming that every California Explorer owner is entitled a total of $2 billion from Ford because the Explorer is allegedly prone to rolling over, using the California version of the law that Pearson is bringing his pants-suit over. Note that the damages are not for an actual rollover, just damages because of the “fraud” that the vehicle might roll over, though at least some models of the Explorer are in fact less dangerous than an average SUV in rollovers, and safer than the average vehicle in other types of accidents. (IIHS reports that the average fatality rate for mid-sized 2-door SUVs is 63 per million vehicles, and the average fatality rate for the 2-door Ford Explorer is 49 per million vehicles—and that latter number includes crashes caused by defective Firestone tires. Note that this is publicly available information: where is the fraud?)
Oh, sorry, it’s not Roy Pearson, it’s Arkansas attorney Tab Turner who is bringing the lawsuit. [Hudson Sangree, “SUV rollovers put Ford’s future in judge’s hands”, Sacramento Bee, May 24; official class notice from Sacramento County Court]
But because ATLA and Kia Franklin have condemned Roy Pearson’s lawsuit as a frivolous abuse of justice, I am sure that they will have no compunction against issuing the same criticism against millionaire trial lawyer Tab Turner for bringing a much larger and socially harmful lawsuit that might bankrupt Ford on the same bogus “consumer fraud” legal theory that Pearson used. Of course, there’s a difference between Pearson and Turner: Turner is asking for more money, and his claim has less factual basis.
We told you the continuing Paul Minor imbroglio in Mississippi (Mar. 16 and many other posts) was going to be worth watching:
[In recent weeks] four former fundraising aides to [former Sen. John] Edwards have spoken voluntarily to FBI agents.
Democrats familiar with the investigation said that neither the current or past Edwards campaigns nor any of his staffers appear to be targets of the investigation, which is trying to determine whether Minor reimbursed his children for $8,000 in contributions to Edwards, an illegal practice known as “conduiting.” …
Trial lawyers are a fixture of Democratic politics and fundraising, particularly in the South, but some also have a reputation in Democratic political circles for a freewheeling approach to campaign finance law. Within Edwards’ 2004 campaign, staffers referred to those flamboyant personalities by an acronym: They called them “DFTLs,” which according to former staffers was short for “dirty (expletive) trial lawyers.”
“No current staffer for John Edwards for President uses that kind of language to talk about our donors,” said Kate Bedingfield, campaign spokeswoman.
(Ben Smith, The Politico, Mar. 21). I mentioned Minor’s prominence among Edwards’ presidential donors in this 2004 W$J piece. And as Ted noted on Jun. 24 of last year the Federal Election Commission has fined the law firm of prominent Arkansas plaintiff’s attorney Tab Turner, as well as the Edwards 2004 presidential campaign itself, over Turner’s having unlawfully funneled money to the campaign in the guise of contributions by employees at his firm (see Apr. 28-29, 2003).
The Federal Election Commission has fined an Arkansas law firm for making illegal contributions to John Edwards’ 2004 presidential campaign. Tab Turner solicited four $2,000 contributions from his co-workers at Little Rock law firm Turner & Associates in January 2003 and illegally reimbursed them for their contributions using a company credit card, according to the FEC. He also used a company credit card to make an illegal campaign contribution in his own name and to pay for various campaign expenses. Federal law prohibits donors from making contributions in others’ names and prohibits direct corporate contributions to a federal candidate. Edwards for President also agreed to pay a $9,500 fine, and called the commission’s announcement “old news,” reported the AP.
We covered the laundering story Apr. 28, 2003.
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Clarifying note by W.O. [editor], Jan. 25, 2014: This archival post has drawn reader interest in light of more recent straw-donor enforcement controversies. It is worth noting that while the Edwards campaign paid only a $9,500 civil fine for accepting the illegal contributions, the lawyer and law firm that arranged the donations paid a larger fine of $50,000, several times the size of the original contributions, in a civil (not criminal) penalty.
I’ve got an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal arguing that the scariest thing about John Edwards (see Feb. 19 and many other links on this site) is the “tightly organized fund-raising and electoral machine” he has constructed most of whose key backers “are drawn from the tiny handful of tort lawyers even more successful than he”. In particular, four of the most powerful men behind Edwards — Fred Baron, John O’Quinn, Tab Turner, and Paul Minor — personify in various ways some of the most objectionable features of today’s personal-injury litigation scene. (Walter Olson, “Edwards & Co.”, Jul. 12, paid subscribers only)(free OpinionJournal.com version).
Reviewing Adam Penenberg’s newly published book Tragic Indifference: One Man’s Battle with the Auto Industry Over the Dangers of SUVs, which recounts the Firestone tire/Ford Explorer imbroglio mostly from the standpoint of plaintiff’s attorney Tab Turner, FindLaw reviewer Matt Herrington (Oct. 10) writes that the book “provides an interesting view of the interrelationships between the plaintiffs’ bar, the expert and consumer advocacy industries, and corporate America” but is “painfully, almost comically, one sided”: “anyone who helps the plaintiffs is a hero” while “anyone who raises any obstacle to their quest for justice must be evil”. The result? “Even bad behavior, if it helps the plaintiffs, is depicted as heroism. For example, Penenberg describes how two experts who make their livings as critics of the auto industry obtained a purportedly ‘suppressed’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study of uncertain provenance; they believe the study contradicted NHTSA’s public statements. But they got the study ‘through the mail’ — it was not an official document, it had no provenance — it was not, and here is the key point, admissible evidence. This technicality is resolved through trickery that is at least unethical, and likely illegal too. Penenberg reports that one of the experts ‘stashed the analysis in one of the [NHTSA] dockets concerning rollovers and then went off for lunch. When he returned, [he] informed a clerk he needed a certified copy of the report, and described where to find it. A couple hours later [he] got it back complete with NHTSA’s official seal and tied with a blue ribbon.’
“That’s not a cute story. Not even close. It’s a story of an ethical violation, a lie to the government, and a confidentiality breach.”