August 2002 archives, part 2


August 20 – On the diamond. “Every year, scores of softball leagues play nearly 200,000 organized games in New York City’s parks. Accountants, journalists, and actors have their own leagues, but few are as cutthroat and litigious as the Central Park Lawyers Softball League. …’There were many occasions where I found myself inundated with paperwork,’ [said a former Shea & Gould lawyer who used to serve as commissioner of the league], referring to the softball disputes he used to settle as commissioner. ‘People were filing briefs putting forth arguments, counter-arguments, and counter-counter arguments.'” (Colin Miner, “New Play at Home: ‘Call Me Safe — Or I’ll Sue You’ Lawyers Bunt, Steal, And Argue in Softball”, New York Sun, Aug. 12). (DURABLE LINK)

August 20 – Lord High Private Attorneys General. According to the Civil Justice Association of California, private lawyers in the Golden State have been sending demand letters en masse to small businesses alleging violations of state laws and demanding that attorneys’ fees be forked over as part of the resolution of the complaint. One such set of letters went out to Orange County auto repair shops accused of such misdeeds as failing to provide customers with written estimates; the law allows a private lawyer to bring an enforcement action in such a case even if he does not represent an actual customer of the shop. “Letters were sent to approximately 200 ethnic grocery and retail stores across the state of California in which they allegedly offered to sell or rent videos that violated the anti-pirating statute. According to the letter sent by the plaintiffs’ attorney, stores would be required to pay easily over ‘$10,000 plus restitution.’ The storeowner was then informed a few sentences later, by sending $2,000 ‘in the form of a bank draft or cashier check payable to Brar & Gamulin, LLP’ within 40 days, plus an agreement not to violate the statute again, the lawsuit would be settled.” (“Attorney General Urged to Investigate “Legal Shakedowns” Under State’s Unfair Competition Law”, Civil Justice Association of California, Jul. 11). (DURABLE LINK)

August 19 – “How to Spot a Personal Injury Mill”. In a personal injury mill, medical providers and attorneys conspire to provide unneeded medical services premised on the expectation of obtaining liability-driven compensation. QuackWatch offers eleven danger signs that in combination may indicate that a provider is operating as part of a mill. The exposure of knowing participants to fraud prosecutions is not the only reason for consumers to steer clear of such schemes: “False reports of medical diagnoses or loss of functionality can cause trouble for patients who later apply for a job, apply for insurance, or actually become disabled and apply for disability.” (Stephen Barrett, Charles Bender, and Frank P. Brennan, “Insurance Fraud: How to Spot a Personal Injury Mill”, QuackWatch). (DURABLE LINK)

August 19 – Anti-circumcision suit advances. Some opponents of infant male circumcision, not content with a gradual shift of opinion in their direction among American parents, now seek to enforce their preferences through litigation, even in the face of contrary parental wishes and continuing religious and customary sanction for the practice in many communities. “In July, North Dakota District Judge Cynthia Rothe-Seeger denied a motion for summary judgment by defendants in the Flatt v. Kantak circumcision case, and decided it will proceed to trial on February 3, 2003. The precedent setting decision confirms that a baby who is circumcised can [in this court, at least --ed.] sue his doctor when he reaches age of majority, even if there was parental consent for the circumcision, and even if the results are considered to be ‘normal.'” (“Circumcision case to proceed to trial”, Men’s News Daily, Aug. 1; see Feb. 28, 2001). (DURABLE LINK)

August 19 – Litigation good for the country? Law prof Carl T. Bogus, espousing a view that should win him some admirers among those who violently dislike the viewpoint of this page, has written a whole book entitled “Why Lawsuits Are Good for America.” He’s even dispatched a research assistant armed with a candy thermometer to prove that chain restaurants now furnish caffeinated take-out beverages at more suitably tepid temperatures than they used to, thanks to salutary fear of being hauled to court. But reviewer Michael McMenamin doesn’t find the resulting potion palatable (“Knave of torts”, Reason, Aug.). (DURABLE LINK)

August 16-18 – Wasn’t his fault for laying drunk under truck. West Virginia: “After a night of drinking, Dustin W. Bailey walked out of a Teays Valley bar, crossed the street and ended up underneath an idling tractor- trailer delivering supplies to a pizza restaurant. The truck killed him when the driver pulled forward. Now, nearly two years after the accident, Bailey’s mother … is suing the pizza restaurant, the truck’s driver, the truck’s owner and the bar’s owner because, she says, they all failed to take steps to keep her son alive.” Chief Deputy John Dailey of the sheriff’s department takes issue with the suit’s premises: “If anyone should be blamed for that death, it’s that guy who climbed under the truck.” (Toby Coleman, “Woman files suit over son’s death”, Charleston Daily Mail, Aug. 10). (DURABLE LINK)

August 16-18 – “Warning: …” “Do Not Read This Column While Water-Skiing. Do Not Set Fire To This Column In a Room Filled With Hydrogen”. As usual, one Dave Barry column is worth several treatises on product liability law (“Owners’ manual Step No. 1: Bang head against the wall”, Miami Herald, Jun. 30). (DURABLE LINK)

August 16-18 – “Accident claims salesman is sued over ‘fall'” “A door-to-door salesman for an accident claims firm is being sued after he allegedly fell on the six-year-old son of a potential client.” Salesman Jay Sims, representing a British firm that offers no-win, no-fee representation of injury claims, had been trying to persuade the Stanbury family of Long Eaton, Derbyshire to use the firm’s services. On departing the home he “began to play football with a group of children in the street” with resulting alleged injury to young Yohan Stanbury after which “the family decided to sue Mr Sims, using another no-win, no-fee accident claims firm.” The boy’s father “said he was taking action because Mr Sims’s company, the Accident Group, had refused to accept the incident even took place.” (Nick Britten, Daily Telegraph (U.K.), Aug. 15). (DURABLE LINK)

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“Late filing syndrome”
10.23.08 at 2:31 pm

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