I’d like to make a correction. In my earlier post, I suggested that Milberg Weiss Justice Fellow Kia Franklin thought that Judge Roy Pearson’s $67 million lawsuit over a pair of pants was frivolous. I appear to have been mistaken in attributing such a common-sense view to her. Franklin has a lengthy post protesting that, while she thinks Pearson’s lawsuit is “ridiculous” and “crazy” (she has also called it “obscene”), she does not think it is “frivolous.” We regret the error.
But it is a useful illustration: when those who oppose civil justice reform say they don’t think frivolous litigation is a problem, it is because they define “frivolous litigation” so narrowly that even Roy Pearson’s lawsuit is not frivolous in their eyes. Well, that’s one way to make problems go away, by using doublespeak or narrow technical legal definitions to pretend they don’t exist instead of suggesting that there is a problem with the narrow technical legal definition.
A few other minor points:
1) For some reason, Franklin links to a post I wrote that says that it is inappropriate to judge attorneys by skin color, and criticizing the racism of law firms and clients who say otherwise, and claims that it is evidence that Overlawyered does not care about racial justice. It’s remarkably ironic that my position, taken directly from the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”) is being criticized by a thinktank named after other words of King, and remarkably sad at the same time that King’s ideals have been twisted so that those who fight in his name stand in direct opposition to his dream.
2) Franklin repeats her statistical misrepresentation and falsely claims “it is consistent with the data.” Whether this is because she is being dishonest or because she hasn’t read the Public Citizen study she’s quoting is uncertain. And as we have previously noted, Public Citizen got its math wrong, yet Franklin continues to repeat the false statistic without defending or correcting it.
3) Is Judge Pearson poor? Well, when he filed his suit, he was unemployed, had an empty bank account (according to the court opinion on his divorce) and did not own a car. He is about to be unemployed again. Perhaps it was an exaggeration to call him poor, but he’s certainly not wealthy. The question remains why Franklin and ATLA feel it necessary to criticize someone delusional like Pearson when they are ignoring wealthier and more powerful attorneys like Tab Turner who bring even more ridiculous and crazy and obscene lawsuits that affect more than a single dry cleaner.
4) Still missing from Franklin’s critique of the Pearson suit: whether she thinks the legal system is working with such claims where an immigrant family would have been forced to pay $12,000 in extortion to a more rational attorney, and what (if any) reforms are merited.