- “Sources: Trial lawyers expect tax break from Treasury Department” [Legal NewsLine, PoL, earlier; measure would reportedly replicate contents of bill that didn’t pass Congress]
- No doubt totally unrelated: eight Dem Senate candidates journey to Vancouver for AAJ fundraiser [The Hill, David Freddoso, ShopFloor, more]
- Report: elderly man jailed after making “bomb” joke about carry-on at airport [NBCNewYork]
- New York debt collection law firm files 80,000 actions a year, critics say errors and lack of documentation inevitable [NYT]
- Kimberly-Clark: quit letting asbestos plaintiffs forum-shop against us [SE Texas Record] How a new asbestos defendant can get “passed around” among claimants [Global Tort, scroll] Prosperity of one Cleveland asbestos law firm I’d never heard of [Briefcase]
- North Carolina court of appeals: employee rushing to bathroom after getting off work not acting within scope of employment [Matthews v. Food Lion, PDF]
- “Curse of the greedy copyright holders” [Woodlief, WSJ, via de Rugy, NRO; TechDirt]
- Update: “Ninth Circuit suspends Walter Lack, reprimands Thomas Girardi” [famed California lawyers tripped up in Dole suit; Legal Ethics Forum, PoL, earlier]
- German law firm demands that Wikipedia remove true information about now-paroled murderers [EFF] More: Eugene Volokh.
- “Class Actions: Some Plaintiffs’ Lawyers Fed Up, Too?” [California Civil Justice]
- Drop that Irish coffee and back away: “F.D.A. Says It May Ban Alcoholic Drinks With Caffeine” [NYT]
- Profile of L.A. tort lawyers Walter Lack and Thomas Girardi, now in hot water following Nicaraguan banana-pesticide scandal [The Recorder; my earlier outing on “Erin Brockovich” case]
- Federalist Society panel on federalism and preemption [BLT]
- Confidence in the courts? PriceWaterhouseCoopers would rather face Satyam securities fraud lawsuits in India than in U.S. [Hartley]
- Allegation: Scruggs continuing to wheel and deal behind bars [Freeland]
- Not much that will be new to longtime readers here: “Ten ridiculous lawsuits against Big Business” [Biz Insider] P.S.: Legal Blog Watch had more lists back in June.
- Woman who escaped first WTC bombing broke her ankle ten days later. Should New York’s Port Authority pay her $500,000? [Hochfelder]
- Former New York congressman and Pace Law School dean Richard Ottinger and wife rebuffed in what court deems SLAPP suit against commenter who criticized them on online forum; commenter says legal fees have cost him two years’ income [White Plains Journal-News, Westchester County; earlier] Amici in Massachusetts case endorse anti-SLAPP protection for staff of media and advocacy organizations [Citizen Media Law] “Canadian Court Rejects Defamation Liability for Hyperlinks” [same]
- “Chuck Yeager Tries Again to Stretch Right of Publicity” [OnPoint News, earlier]
- And naturally the advocates are demanding more regulation rather than less: “[Restaurant] Calorie Postings Don’t Change Habits, Study Finds” [NYT] More: Ryan Sager, Jacob Sullum.
- Famed L.A. lawyers Thomas Girardi and Walter Lack might get off with wrist-slaps over Nicaraguan banana suit scandal [The Recorder, Cal Civil Justice, earlier]
- Ralph Lauren lawyers: don’t you dare reproduce our skinny-model photo in the course of criticizing our use of skinny models [BoingBoing; and welcome Ron Coleman, Popehat readers; more at Citizen Media Law and an update at BoingBoing] Copyright expert/author Bill Patry is guestblogging at Volokh Conspiracy [intro, first post, earlier]
- Profile of John Edwards aide who played key role in Rielle Hunter affair [Ben Smith, Politico]
- Blind lawyer’s “call girl bilked my credit card” claim includes ADA claim against credit card company (but judge rejects it) [ABA Journal, Above the Law]
- Those who saw only the earliest version of our Friday post on Lee Rohn, the Virgin Islands attorney whose name came up in National Enquirer coverage, will want to check out the updated version, which notes Rohn’s categorical denial of the Enquirer story’s veracity and other important additions. Commenters have been adding to the picture as well;
- Ted must be feeling prescient regarding his speculations about an Edwards-contributor refund class action now that Warren Buffett has weighed in on the idea [Kaus]. And in fact the Edwards campaign does seem to be refunding some contributions in interesting ways, if one account pans out (bundlers! Thomas Girardi! John O’Quinn!) [DBKP, more, yet more]
- Edwards moneyman and perennial Overlawyered mentionee Fred Baron will be at the Democratic convention in Denver, and there’s little chance his name will fade from the news right away since he’s been a key backer of Sen. Biden as well [Matthew Mosk, WaPo]
Thomas Girardi, of Girardi & Keese, and Walter Lack, of Engstrom Lipscomb & Lack, are among California’s highest-profile plaintiff’s lawyers, often working closely together on litigation; perhaps their best-known case was the “Erin Brockovich” action against Pacific Gas & Electric, which I covered here and again here (highlight: the chartered Mediterranean cruise to which Girardi and Lack invited the three arbitrators soon after winning their split of $133 million in fees). Now both men are in a spot of bother with the Ninth Circuit, where a special master, senior circuit judge A. Wallace Tashima, has recommended hundreds of thousands of dollars in sanctions against them and where a three-judge panel (Kozinski, Reinhardt, Berzon) has just moved to appoint a special prosecutor to recommend further discipline in the case.
The imbroglio arose from a pesticide toxic tort which resulted in a Nicaraguan court’s $489 million judgment against defendants including Shell Oil, Dow Chemical and Dole Food, which plaintiffs had sought to enforce in this country. Amid mounting evidence that many of the various American and Nicaraguan lawyers involved had not been entirely (as they say) candid with the tribunal on a variety of points, the court has been trying to sort out who knew what when. “In his 65-page report, Tashima said Lack had a personal role in asserting repeatedly that a writ of execution made by the Nicaraguan judge to enforce the judgment in America was corrected to name Dole Food Co. and Shell Chemical Co. Girardi, meanwhile, allegedly allowed the misstatements to continue on his behalf without becoming directly involved.” (Evan Hill, “9th Circuit Taps Special Prosecutor for Toxic-Tort Case”, The Recorder, Jun. 10; latest order and March special master’s report from Judge Tashima, both PDF, via California Appellate Report). We understand that changes to California ethics rules have put a crimp in Girardi and Lack’s former practice of throwing luxurious events for judges, but even aside from that, we don’t think judges Tashima, Kozinski, Reinhardt and Berzon would probably have been making any plans to attend.
Aides to candidates Clinton and Obama feverishly work an AAJ/ATLA trial lawyers’ conclave down Puerto Rico way, sensing that the money behind the flagging John Edwards candidacy may be “looking for a new candidate to get behind”. It’s “a testament to the crucial role played by the legal profession in Democratic fundraising. Trial lawyers have proved to be the financial mainstay for Edwards’s two presidential bids, as well as for the Democratic Party in general.” Quotes longtime Overlawyered favorites Fred Baron, Thomas Girardi and Robert Montgomery (Matthew Mosk, “Top Candidates’ Teams Look to the Lawyers”, Washington Post, Jan. 28).
Our editor, Walter Olson, has covered this territory before, but it’s worth revisiting as Kerry and Edwards make their way across key states in their bus caravan campaign. The report on the men behind John Edwards at EdwardsWatch makes for interesting reading.:
According to published reports, Edwards received $4.65 million from 3,220 lawyers, 29 paralegals, 17 legal assistants and 555 people with the same address as a personal injury attorney contributor (such as a spouse or close relative). The $4.65 million represents 63% of the total money raised by Edwards. Over one-third of those contributors gave the maximum $2,000..
His biggest contributors include patron, friend, campaign finance director, and asbestos-litigator extraordinaire Fred Baron, Silicon Valley litigator William Lerach (see also this), and the mysterious Stephen Bing.
Other tidbits from the EdwardsWatch site include the discount air travel Edwards gets from his trial lawyer friends and the money he’s gotten from every state trial lawyers association in the country. Has there ever been a candidate so beholden to one special interest?
“The latest settlement in litigation over California’s energy crisis includes tens of millions of dollars in attorney fees to be shared by a handful of politically savvy plaintiffs’ firms. … Besides Lieff Cabraser, private firms that will collect a share of the fees include Kiesel, Boucher & Larson of Beverly Hills, Calif., and Girardi & Keese; Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack; and O’Donnell & Shaeffer, all of Los Angeles. ” (Jeff Chorney, “Powerful Payday”, The Recorder, Jul. 8).