Posts Tagged ‘Utah’

April 2 roundup

  • Illinois Justice Robert R. Thomas libel ruling award reduced to $4 million, but otherwise upheld by trial judge. “Essentially, the chief justice is still taking advantage of the system he dominates by trying to grab a personal windfall just because an opinion column in a newspaper speculated about politics on the bench.” (earlier) [Chicago Tribune; update from Lattman with opinion]
  • Alabama woman claims Starbucks coffee caused burns when she spilled on herself, sues. But I thought only Albuquerque McDonald’s coffee could cause burns? [Birmingham News (h/t P.E.)]
  • Update: Amway claims jurors in Utah case based $19.25 million award (Mar. 21) on number of P&G lawyers sitting at the table and engaged in improper averaging to reach nonunanimous result. [Salt Lake Tribune]

  • Copyright claimed in hedge-fund advertising brochure posted by blog [DealBreaker; Reuters]
  • N.D. Cal. federal judge: National Environmental Policy Act can be used to make speculative global-warming arguments against overseas government investment. [AP/Forbes]
  • Honor among thieves? Law firms turn on Milberg Weiss [press release]
  • Lawyer-to-the-stars Marty Singer (Dec. 9, Jan. 27, 2006) was also paid $25k from Senator Harry Reid’s campaign fund in failed attempt to squash AP coverage of fishy land deal. [WaPo]
  • Consumer World head has an idea that is so good, it must be mandated. [Kazman @ CEI Open Market]
  • This date in Overlawyered. 2001: NY legislature refuses to act on accident fraud. 2002: Roger Parloff on 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund. 2004: Reparations claims against the British over 19th century actions. 2006: $1M for the first fifteen minutes of unlawful detention, $1M/year thereafter.

February 9 roundup

Multi-billion dollar (and down) extortion edition:

  • Merrill Lynch and CSFB appeal extortionate Enron class-action certification. [Point of Law; AEI (Feb. 9); WLF brief]
  • More on the extortionate and lawless $500 billion Wal-Mart class certification. [Point of Law]
  • Mississippi Supreme Court rejects extortionate medical monitoring class actions. [Behrens @ WLF]
  • Lawyer Daniel Hynes tries to extort $2000 from New Hampshire bar holding Ladies’ Night. [Foster’s Daily Democrat (h/t B.C.)]
  • Colorado Civil Justice League stops legislative attempt at giveaway to local trial lawyers. [Point of Law]
  • Wisconsin court: family can be sued for babysitter’s car accident when returning home from dropping off child. [AP/Insurance Journal]
  • Fox seeks to dismiss Borat suit on anti-SLAPP grounds. [Hollywood Reporter Esq. via WSJ Law Blog]

  • Passaic County jury: $28M for “wrongful birth.” []
  • Former AG (and Dem) Griffin Bell: “Judicial Leadership Emerging In Asbestos And Silica Mass Torts” [WLF]
  • Utah legislature considering med-mal reform for ERs. “Neurosurgeons in this town have to pay over $90,000 a year just for the privilege of getting out of bed on a Friday night to drain the blood from the brain of a victim of a drunk driver crash. And they say, I’m not gonna do it. Because the patients are sicker. The procedures are sometimes more invasive and more risky with more complications. Why take that risk if they don’t have to?” [KCPW via Kevin MD; Provo Herald]

  • A little-read blog promoting a soon-to-be-pulped fictional account of tort reform is really begging for a link from us, what with three out of the last five posts making amateurish (and often false) personal attacks on this site’s authors or soliciting others to also fling poo. No dice.

January 24 roundup

The heartbreak of small fonts

It seems Wal-Mart was supposed to use 10-point type for its “While Supplies Last” disclaimer when advertising its Early Bird specials in Utah, but instead used 7-point type. So naturally Matthew Howell, an attorney with the Provo law firm of Fillmore Spencer, has filed a would-be class action lawsuit against the giant retailer, on behalf of named clients Brandon and Tonya Barker. (Grace Leong, “Couple files suit over Wal-Mart early-bird deals”, Provo Daily Herald, Apr. 21).

Lawyer discipline systems

“Not getting any better,” in the opinion of HALT, the consumer-protection group that looks out for the interests of legal clients. The group has issued a report card rating each of the 50 state lawyer grievance systems, updating a similar effort four years ago. Worst state: Utah. Worst big state: California, ranked #46. Best state: Connecticut. Best big state: Pennsylvania (yes, really). (David Giacalone, Mar. 8).

The wages of unconstitutionality

A local columnist reminisces:

Salt Lake City attorney Brian Barnard used to sift through state and local statutes passed decades earlier and since declared unconstitutional, then find a plaintiff to fight them in court.

The laws were normally declared unconstitutional through agreement with government lawyers and the court. Barnard then would be paid attorney fees by the state.

But former Attorney General David Wilkinson disliked the idea of paying Barnard attorney fees, so for a time during his 1980s tenure, he would fight the claim of unconstitutionality. That would require Barnard to file more briefs, adding hours to his work and eventually giving him a fatter paycheck when the attorney’s fees came due.

One time, however, Wilkinson was so late in approving Barnard’s attorney fees that the civil rights attorney persuaded a judge to garnishee Wilkinson’s state salary to satisfy the payment. Wilkinson approved the payment right away.

(Paul Rolly, “Attorney steps on some toes”, Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 9) (via State of the Beehive).

First things first

Not long after some 1,000 firefighters sat down for eight hours of training, the whispering began: “What are we doing here?”

As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded on national television for firefighters – his own are exhausted after working around the clock for a week – a battalion of highly trained men and women sat idle Sunday in a muggy Sheraton Hotel conference room in Atlanta. . . .

The firefighters, several of whom are from Utah, were told to bring backpacks, sleeping bags, first-aid kits and Meals Ready to Eat. They were told to prepare for “austere conditions.” Many of them came with awkward fire gear and expected to wade in floodwaters, sift through rubble and save lives.

“They’ve got people here who are search-and-rescue certified, paramedics, haz-mat certified,” said a Texas firefighter. “We’re sitting in here having a sexual-harassment class while there are still [victims] in Louisiana who haven’t been contacted yet.”

How much fear of litigation do you need to let a city burn to ensure no one accuses you of failing to protect against sexual harassment? We might be hearing more stories like this, except FEMA, again with its priorities straight, has told firefighters not to talk to reporters. (Lisa Rosetta, “Frustrated: Fire crews to hand out fliers for FEMA”, Salt Lake Tribune, Sep. 6 (via Instapundit)).

Kids’ do-not-email registries

New laws that went into effect in Michigan and Utah at the beginning of the month could open up substantial and surprising areas of civil and criminal liability for entities that put out email newsletters, critics say. The laws authorize parents, guardians and others to enroll minors’ email addresses in new do-not-mail registries; after 30 days’ listing, it becomes illegal for anyone to send material unsuitable to minors to such addresses even at the account holder’s request. Among material that has in various contexts been tagged as unsuitable to minors are sites such as and discussions of various controversial public issues. (Declan McCullagh, “Why ribaldry could earn you prison time”,, Jun. 27). According to one commentator, an email may be unlawful if it merely contains a link to a third party site (such as a newspaper’s or magazine’s website) which in turn displays advertising for beer, wine, betting or other products and services that are off limits to minors. (Paul Collins, “New Michigan and Utah Child Protection Registry Laws”,, Jun. 29). Already, libertarian feminist author and commentator Wendy McElroy has suspended publication of her email newsletter, citing fear of liability under the new laws (“Suspension of Emailed Ifeminist Newsletter”, History News Network/Liberty & Power, Jul. 13)(via Tom Palmer). It is contemplated that maintainers of email newsletters that wish to retain the right to discuss or link to liquor/gambling/off-color content will purchase match/purge services on a monthly basis from the registrars of the do-not-mail lists, but such cross-checking will require the payment of fees as well as raising troubling privacy questions. For details of how entrepreneurial Utah law firms have seized on earlier anti-spam legislation to generate mass litigation against legitimate businesses in that state, see my Reason Online article, “You May Already Be a Loser”, Dec. 8, 2003.