May 2002 archives


May 10-12 — Lawyers say taxpayers owe $41 million to smuggled illegals’ survivors. Two Yuma, Ariz. lawyers have filed wrongful death claims with the federal government’s Fish and Wildlife Service demanding $3.75 million each for the families of eleven illegal immigrants who died in May 2001 while being smuggled through a desolate section of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in southern Arizona near the Mexican border. The suit charges the government with failing to authorize the placement of water stations intended for use by unlawful visitors, though it knew smugglers of immigrants were active in the desert area. “It’s absolutely untrue that anyone ever proposed to put stations where the aliens perished,” said Tom Bauer, spokesman for the Fish and Wildlife Service regional office in Albuquerque. (Hernán Rozemberg, “Families sue U.S. over Mexican migrants who died in desert”, Arizona Republic, May 9; David J. Cieslak, “Families of migrants who died last year file claim against U.S. government”, Tucson Citizen, May 8). Update May 21, 2004: judge allows further time for plaintiffs to prove case. (DURABLE LINK)

May 10-12 — “Judge allows powwow lawsuit”. It’s sensitivity vs. sensitivity: in Minnesota state court a group of female drummers are pursuing a sex discrimination law over their exclusion from the ritual drumming at a Native American powwow held annually at the University of St. Thomas. “Larry Smallwood, part of the Little Otter Singers drum group from the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation in central Minnesota, said women singing around a drum is a ‘cultural no-no.'” However, a judge denied the university’s motion to throw out the case, ruling (among other things) that “the school failed to show that drumming is protected speech under the First Amendment”. (Hannah Allam, St. Paul Pioneer Press, May 7). (DURABLE LINK)

May 10-12 — Updates. More developments in stories familiar to longtime readers:

* In a case arising under San Francisco’s pioneering ordinance banning discrimination on the basis of height and weight, “Jennifer Portnick, a 240-pound San Francisco aerobics instructor rejected by Jazzercise because of her size, has reached an agreement under which the firm will drop its requirement that instructors look fit.” (see Feb. 27) (Elizabeth Fernandez, “Exercising her right to work”, San Francisco Chronicle, May 7).

* Blackford High School in Hartford City, Ind., has relented and is going to allow Rob Mahon to attend its prom after all despite the positive results on his blood test for nicotine (he is 18 and it is legal for him to smoke) (“School Reverses Prom Ban For 18-Year-Old Smoker”, IndyChannel, Apr. 26)(see Apr. 26)(via WhatTheHeck.com)

* In the acrimonious litigation between the members of classical music’s Audubon Quartet (see Nov. 13, 2001 and links from there), “Estranged violinist David Ehrlich, who won a $611,000 judgment against his former quartet colleagues over his sudden dismissal two years ago, has filed motions in court that could force Clyde ‘Tom’ Shaw and his wife, Doris Lederer, to sell their Blacksburg home in order to pay their court-imposed debt.” (Kevin Miller, “Spurned violinist seeks house”, Roanoke Times, May 9; documents, defendant Shaw’s site)(& see letter to editor, Jun. 14, recommending website critical of defendants)(Update Dec. 4, 2005). (DURABLE LINK)

May 9 — The rewards of growing mold together.Toxic mold” claims are among the fastest-growing source of lawsuits and claims against property insurance companies. Now various government agencies in Texas are investigating suspected unsavory practices in the thriving business that has sprung up of assisting homeowners to file such claims. After first moving the homeowner into a rental, some dishonest adjusters proceed to “put wet towels in the house, spray down the draperies, hose down furniture — anything to increase moisture. They close the windows and crank up the heat. It’s called ‘cooking’ the house, and it’s a recipe for sprouting mold and bilking insurance companies out of thousands of dollars.” The scams sometimes are unbeknownst to homeowners and at other times go on with their collusion. Alan Bligh, president of the Better Business Bureau in the Coastal Bend area of Texas, calls the practice “fairly widespread”, saying there are both legitimate and dishonest firms operating locally within the “mold remediation” business, which has mushroomed in short order from two or three companies to about 100. Insurance companies that delay paying mold claims or subject them to too much scrutiny can face punitive damages from angry jurors. (Laura Elder, “‘Cooked’ houses burn insurers”, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, May 5)(via CALA Houston). See also Mike Vallante, “Calm the mold hysteria”, Houston Chronicle, Apr. 26. (DURABLE LINK)

May 9 — House bill would cut off municipal gun suits. A proposed “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act” would defend interstate commerce in guns from lawsuits brought on behalf of hostile local jurisdictions. As of mid-April the bill had 215 co-sponsors in the House. “When 219 members co-sponsor it the bill would likely be voted on by the full House. Four more co-sponsors would help bring the battle between the gun banners and the firearms industry to a swift and honorable conclusion.” (Tanya Metaksa, “Stop the War Against the Gun Industry”, FrontPage, Apr. 16; H. Sterling Burnett, National Center for Policy Analysis, “Congress should stop lawsuits against legal firearms, Apr. 18; “House GOP seeks to end handgun suits”, AP/Washington Times, Apr. 19). (DURABLE LINK)

May 9 — “‘Little’ done for firm, Rendell says”. It’s commonplace for politicians on leaving office to step into remunerative partnerships at big law firms, even when (especially when?) those law firms do a lot of business with the public entities associated with the politicians. What has raised eyebrows in the case of former Philadelphia mayor and Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Ed Rendell is his superior candor: he freely admits that he has done “very little work” to justify the $250,000 he draws annually from the prominent Philadelphia law firm of Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll. (Tom Infield and Thomas Fitzgerald, Philadelphia Inquirer, Apr. 23). (DURABLE LINK)

May 8 — Zoo asserts animals’ “medical privacy”. The Washington Post had asked to see the medical records of a beloved giraffe after its death, but no go: “The Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo has taken the position that viewing animal medical records would violate the animal’s right to privacy and be an intrusion into the zookeeper-animal relationship.” On the other hand, the zoo does allow curious visitors to view the matings and other intimate habits of reclusive creatures through its PandaCam, ElephantCam and Naked Mole-Rat Cam. (James V. Grimaldi, “National Zoo Cites Privacy Concerns in Its Refusal to Release Animal’s Medical Records”, Washington Post, May 6). (DURABLE LINK)

May 8 — Mayor Bloomberg goes to bat for liability reform. “Having made little headway so far in his efforts to get the State Legislature to pass the bills he is seeking to limit damages against the city, the mayor has now turned his sights on the City Council. Mr. Bloomberg said that he would submit two bills to the Council tomorrow to make the city less vulnerable to slip-and-fall lawsuits. ‘All too often, people file tort claims for the same reason they file lottery tickets,’ he complained at a news conference in City Hall.” (Michael Cooper, “Mayor Fights to Reduce Damage Awards”, New York Times, May 7 (reg)). See Steven Malanga, “Tort City”, City Journal, Spring 2001; “Tort Trauma”, Summer 2001. (DURABLE LINK)

May 8 — Blumenthal sues own client. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, whose never-ceasing quest for turf and publicity frequently earns him mentions in this space, has filed suit against a body called the Connecticut Siting Council in an attempt to stall construction of an underwater cable line that would supply electric power to New York’s Long Island. There’s just one problem: the Council is a unit of the state government and thus is among his own clients, being in fact “represented in court by members of Blumenthal’s office.” (Thomas Scheffey, “Can Connecticut AG Sue His ‘Client’?”, Connecticut Law Tribune, April 30). (DURABLE LINK)

May 7 — “Crime and Punitives”. The Supreme Court’s jurisprudence in civil punitive damage cases like BMW v. Gore — where it limited a state court’s multi-million-dollar punitive award over a new car’s undisclosed paint touch-up — turns out to have various organic connections with the course of its jurisprudence on arguably excessive criminal sentences, like those handed out under California’s “three-strikes” law. Why? “Because, when it comes to punishment, the Court should try to be consistent — even across the line dividing criminal law from civil law and the line dividing the Eighth Amendment from the due process clause. This isn’t just my opinion; it’s the Court’s.” (Evan Schultz, Legal Times, Apr. 19). (DURABLE LINK)

May 7 — “Big government ruined my long weekend”. A couple goes off for a brief getaway to the mountains, then realizes that the wife has left behind her prescription medication. Think they can convince a standby doctor to authorize four pills so that she can make it through the weekend? Forget it: “Between the War on Drugs and the liability climate, doctors are scared to death to make this kind of accommodation.” (Jim Henley, Unqualified Offerings blog, Apr. 6). (DURABLE LINK)

May 7 — “Reno owes the public answers”. If former attorney general Janet Reno is going to present herself to the voters of Florida as a candidate for governor, the least she can do is answer questions — raised anew by a PBS “Frontline” documentary last month — about whether her prosecution as Dade County district attorney of the sensational Country Walk ritual-child-abuse case resulted in the imprisonment of innocent defendants (editorial, St. Petersburg Times, Apr. 28; PBS/WGBH, “The Child Terror“; Dorothy Rabinowitz, “The Pursuit of Justice in Dade County”, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 28, 1996, reprinted at McGill University site; Rael Jean Isaac, “Janet Reno and her Record as a So-Called Champion of Children”, Independent Women’s Forum, Apr. 27, 2000). (DURABLE LINK)

May 6 — Fearing ethnic profiling charges, bureau ignored flight school warning. “An F.B.I. agent in Phoenix told counterterrorism officials at the bureau’s headquarters last July that he had detected an alarming pattern of Arab men with possible ties to terrorism taking aviation-related training, and urged a nationwide review of the trend, according to F.B.I. officials. The agent’s recommendation was not acted upon before Sept. 11, however … F.B.I. officials said there was reluctance at the time to mount such a major review because of a concern that the bureau would be criticized for ethnic profiling of foreigners.” (James Risen, “F.B.I. Told of Worry Over Flight Lessons Before Sept. 11″, New York Times, May 4; Kausfiles, “Hit Parade”, scroll to May 5). (DURABLE LINK)

May 6 — ReplayTV copyright fight. Television networks are suing the maker of the ReplayTV device, arguing, among other things, that their copyright is infringed by the device’s power to let users skip commercials during playback. To Steven den Beste, this is a bit like demanding that scissors be banned “because they might be used to clip articles out of magazines.” (U.S.S. Clueless, May 4; Christopher Stern, “Privacy Fight Centers on Ad-Zapper”, Washington Post, May 4). (DURABLE LINK)

May 6 — “Unharmed woman awarded $104,000″. “A woman who believes she was poisoned by a chemical spill in 1993 has been awarded [C]$104,000 by a Manitoba court, even though the judge acknowledged the woman is likely mistaken in her belief.” Lynette Mary Sant, 55, reported being exposed to fumes from a broken bottle of the chemical phenol. “Medical tests found no evidence of liver, kidney or nervous system damage.” When Sant was examined at a clinic, “it was found that while she exhibited symptoms when exposed to phenol, she also exhibited symptoms when exposed to distilled water.” (Francine Dubé, National Post, Apr. 26). (DURABLE LINK)

May 3-5 — Australian roundup: taxpayers pay for schoolyard fight. “A young man involved in a schoolyard punch-up with another student seven years ago was awarded more than [A]$1 million in damages yesterday because the teachers failed to provide adequate playground supervision.” At Narrandera High School, according to the record of the case, 13-year-old David Michael Griffin “and another student, Joshua Ferguson, met for an ‘arranged fight’ next to the basketball court, in the schoolgrounds, at lunchtime on March 1, 1995. Mr Griffin threw the first punches and Mr Ferguson hit back, knocking him to the ground.” (Ellen Connolly, “Former student wins $1m over injuries”, Sydney Morning Herald, May 1). “An entrepreneur schoolboy trying to save up for a skateboard by selling flowers has fallen foul of local laws by failing to take out a A$5 million ($2.70 million) public liability insurance policy.” (“Law Puts Schoolboy Flower Seller Out of Business”, Reuters, Apr. 23). And a dispute over team standings in the Australian soccer league may proceed to litigation (Michael Cockerill, “Con-undrum: who is in the finals?”, Sydney Morning Herald, Apr. 7). Plus: coverage of medical liability insurance crisis (“Health Under Threat”, news.com.au, May 3 and other dates) (DURABLE LINK)

May 3-5 — Update: Defend yourself in print and we’ll sue (cont’d). In a decision deplored alike by business groups and the ACLU, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday by a 4-3 vote (PDF format) that that companies can be sued for false advertising over policy statements made in “issue ads”. The Nike Corporation had bought ads defending its record on the use of so-called sweatshop labor and was promptly sued by activists whose “private attorney general” action claimed that the ads violated the state’s fair advertising law (see Feb. 13). “What [Thursday’s] decision means,” says Deborah La Fetra of the Pacific Legal Foundation, “is that one side of the debate gets full free speech protection, but a corporation trying to defend itself is subject to strict liability.” (Mike McKee, The Recorder, May 3). UCLA free speech specialist Eugene Volokh, whose already-indispensable new blog it seems we are beginning to quote daily, has the perfect instant analysis complete with a hypothetical on speech by abortion clinics that may help drive home why this new decision is anything but “progressive” (May 2). (DURABLE LINK)

May 3-5 — “It’s No Laughing Matter”. The Chicago Tribune finds harassment law trainers continuing to warn management against tolerating an atmosphere of joking in the workplace: “once a disgruntled employee files a lawsuit, ‘they’ll remember every inappropriate joke (ever) told,’ said Malcolm Kushner, who teaches harassment classes to attorneys in Santa Cruz, Calif. ‘Even if they laughed at it (at the time), it looks horrible to a jury.'” (T. Shawn Taylor, Chicago Tribune, Apr. 28). (DURABLE LINK)

May 1-2 — What big teeth you have, Sen. Edwards. In this week’s New Yorker, Nicholas Lemann profiles ambitious trial lawyer/Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who is itching to run for President “as a trial lawyer”. (“The Newcomer”, May 6, not online.) Noteworthy line: “Throughout much of the South, trial lawyers are, in effect, the left: an influential group that, instead of converting populist sentiment into redistributionist legislation, converts it into big rewards for a small number of people who have stories of having been screwed by powerful, uncaring figures.” Mickey Kaus nails Edwards’ demagogic “us against them” populism as exactly the sort of thing you’d expect from one who chose his route to the top: “Trial lawyers like Edwards, Lemann notes, specialize in a theatrical form of scapegoating, taking complicated disasters and finding a ‘villain’ with deep pockets.” (Kausfiles, “Hit Parade: The pretty ShrumPuppet”, scroll to Apr. 30; InstaPundit, Apr. 30).

An analysis by Roll Call finds that Edwards (D-N.C.) “has relied almost entirely on his trial lawyer friends” to underwrite his $1.39 million war chest. “Of that total, $1.19 million — 86 percent — came from lawyers, their employees or their family members, …. No other Congressional leader or potential presidential contender has such a heavy reliance on a single industry for their leadership PAC. Edwards … makes a point of stressing that he won’t take money from PACs or registered lobbyists”, but conveniently trial lawyers don’t need to couch their donations in either of those forms. (Paul Kane, “Trial Lawyers Fuel Edwards’ Efforts”, Roll Call, Apr. 25; see Ribstone Pippin blog, Apr. 28) (& welcome Andrew Sullivan readers). (DURABLE LINK)

May 1-2 — Ad model sues tobacco company. “An Arkansas man who said he worked as a model in cigarette ads in the late 1970s sued R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. yesterday, saying he experienced years of emotional distress from enticing people to smoke. Raymond Leopard of Little Rock seeks at least $65 million in damages in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court … The suit said Mr. Leopard worked as the ‘Winston Man’ from 1978 to 1980, pictured in Winston cigarette ads in popular magazines. The suit said he never smoked Winstons. … ‘His reputation has been forever tarnished and his personal credibility diminished,’ the suit said.” (“Former tobacco model sues Reynolds over ‘reputation'”, Washington Times, Apr. 30). (DURABLE LINK)

May 1-2 — “Injudicious conduct”. National Law Journal‘s annual roundup of bad behavior on the bench includes cases mentioned previously in this space (Amundson, Couwenberg) plus a bunch of others (Gail Diane Cox, National Law Journal, Apr. 23). (DURABLE LINK)

May 1-2 — “Don’t sue for Israel”. Following legal threats, a small Texas automotive exporter has apologized for apparently having refused to do business with Israeli firms and citizens. When the story circulated last week, our friend James Taranto at the WSJ/OpinionJournal’s “Best of the Web” audibly hoped that the exporter would get in trouble under the odd “antiboycott” law that makes it a federal offense, inter alia, for an American company to engage in “actual refusal to do business with or in Israel”. (“Best of the Web”, Apr. 25; W. Gardner Selby, “Texan’s fax causes international fuss”, San Antonio Express-News, Apr. 30). But Sasha Volokh points out the inconsistency of the antiboycott law with the principle of free association, connects that theme nicely with the Boy Scouts v. Dale case and hate speech litigation, and adds a bunch of useful links (“Don’t sue for Israel”, Volokh brothers blog, Apr. 28). (DURABLE LINK)


May 20-21 — “Next tobacco” watch: gambling. “One of the first state attorneys general to sue the tobacco industry told a problem gambling conference Thursday that the gaming business will be the next target for lawyers seeking compensation for addicts. As gambling continues to expand in Connecticut and across the country, ‘somebody is going to sue somebody,’ former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger told participants at the New England Conference on Problem Gambling.” Harshbarger, who now heads the private group Common Cause, said “there is a dramatic public health cost, there is a dramatic social cost” to the wagering habit. “In Canada, Harshbarger’s prediction is already reality. Last week, a judge allowed a class-action lawsuit against Loto-Quebec to go forward. The lawsuit seeks hundreds of millions of dollars in damages on behalf of people addicted to video lottery terminals.” (see June 20, 2001) (Rick Green, “Problem-Gambler Suits: Activist Foresees Damage Claims”, Hartford Courant, May 17) (see May 31, Jun. 28-30). (DURABLE LINK)

May 20-21 — “A Fence Too Far”. “Whether you believe that this country should be tightening copyright protections online or loosening them, you should oppose the Hollywood- and record industry-endorsed bill introduced in March by Sen. Ernest Hollings of South Carolina,” argues commentator Roger Parloff. “While the draft legislation, known as the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act, pursues plausible goals, it seeks to achieve them by authorizing mammoth government intrusion into the design of computer hardware and software.” Although Parloff considered Napster illegal and views the DMCA as constitutional and sensible, he draws the line at the latest: “The prospect of gumming up the works of the globe’s most exuberant engine of technological innovation and prosperity by subjecting it to bureaucratic notice-and-comment rule-making is unthinkable. … If controlling digital property requires government intervention on this scale, then there should be no such control.” (American Lawyer, May 15). For more critiques of the Hollings bill, see many items and links on InstaPundit. (DURABLE LINK)

May 20-21 — “Trial Lawyers Go to War Against Arbitration”. Trial lawyers keep trying to kill arbitration as an alternative to the lucrative litigation process, and Stephen J. Ware, professor of law at Samford University, blows the whistle on them in a series of new Cato Institute publications (“Arbitration Under Assault: Trial Lawyers Lead the Charge”, Cato Institute Policy Analysis #433, Apr. 18; news release; “Trial Lawyers Go to War Against Arbitration”, Cato Daily Commentary, May 3). Ware also rebuts the Nader-founded litigation lobby Public Citizen, which recently “released a study claiming that it costs significantly more to resolve disputes through arbitration than through the court system”. (“Public Citizen Arbitration Study Contains Errors, Half-Truths and Exaggerations, Scholar Says”, Cato news release, May 3; “Arbitration costs are so high, many victims are unable to pursue complaints, new Public Citizen report reveals”, Public Citizen news release and link to study, May 1). It might be noted, incidentally, that the same profession that does so much sniping at arbitration when conducted by anyone else is perfectly free to get its clients to enter binding arbitration agreements: “Lawyers can include arbitration clauses in retainer agreements for fee disputes and malpractice claims so long as the client consents after receiving full disclosure, an American Bar Association ethics panel concluded”. (“ABA Panel OKs Arbitration Clauses in Retainers Based on Informed Consent”, New Jersey Law Journal, Apr. 16). We hope the lawyer members of ATLA and similar groups will show the sincerity of their opposition to arbitration by pledging never to make their own clients sign such an arbitration agreement. (DURABLE LINK)

May 20-21 — “The Trials of John Edwards”. The prospective White House run of trial lawyer/Senator John Edwards might be just what’s needed to politically energize the nation’s doctors at last — in opposition to Edwards, that is (Radley Balko, “Malpractice Suits Driving Out Doctors”, FoxNews.com, May 9). In National Review Online, Byron York takes issue with Edwards’ rough handling of Fifth Circuit judicial nominee Charles Pickering: “Edwards’s performance was almost a parody of the bad-guy trial lawyer. In an aggressive cross-examination, Edwards relied on misleading questions, misrepresented premises, and unfounded conclusions as he tried to force Pickering to admit wrongdoing. Although Edwards’s style was extraordinarily smooth and polished, it was precisely the kind of exhibition that reinforces the worst images of trial lawyers — whether they are running for president or not.” (“The Trials of John Edwards”, May 6). See also Eric Dyer, “Conservative detractors taking swipes at Edwards”, Greensboro (N.C.) News-Record, May 12; Joshua Green, “John Edwards, Esq.”, Washington Monthly, Oct. 2001; Ned Martle, “Starting Gun”, New York, May 28, 2001. (DURABLE LINK)

May 17-19 — Flowers, perfume in airline cabins not OK? “The Canadian Transportation Agency has issued a landmark ruling that could affect what passengers are allowed to take on airplanes, including pets, flowers and even the perfume they wear. The CTA ruled that allergies can be considered a disability and said it will investigate seven complaints against Air Canada by passengers who had allergic reactions to dogs, cats, flowers and paint.” The agency’s mandate includes the removal of “undue obstacles” for disabled travelers. (Paul Waldie, “Allerge ruling nothing to sneeze at”, Globe and Mail, May 14). For more on anti-scent policies in Canada, see Apr. 24, 2000. (DURABLE LINK)

May 17-19 — Charged $16,000 for brief he copied from book. The Iowa Supreme Court has given a six-month license suspension to attorney William J. Lane for claiming to have spent 80 hours writing a brief which the court found he had in fact mostly copied from Barbara Lindemann’s and Paul Grossman’s “Employment Discrimination Law,” a standard 1996 treatise. Lane, of Sioux City, had submitted an overall $122,000 fee bill to the court for representing a client in an Americans with Disabilities Act case, including $16,000 for writing the brief in question. “Lane plagiarized from a treatise and submitted his plagiarized work to the court as his own,” the court said. “This plagiarism constituted, among other things, a misrepresentation to the court.” Lane’s overall fee award in the case was reduced by about five-sixths, to $20,000. (Mike Glover, “Lawyer’s License Suspended for Plagiarizing Treatise”, AP/Law.com, Apr. 4). (DURABLE LINK)

May 17-19 — Ob/gyns warn of withdrawal. “On May 6, most of the obstetricians in Las Vegas adopted a policy of rejecting newly pregnant women as patients, even if the woman was an existing patient.” (Wendy McElroy, “Lawsuits Fueling Health Care Crisis”, Fox News, May 14). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has issued a “Red Alert” warning that shortages of liability insurance may soon leave many areas of the country, particularly rural areas, without adequate obstetric services. (Ed Susman, “Obstetricians issue alert on insurance”, UPI Science News, May 6; Marilyn Elias, “Obstetricians dwindle amid high malpractice costs”, USA Today, May 6). And at medical weblog MedPundit, Sydney Smith offers a rebuttal to an op-ed piece in which the president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America blames the malpractice crisis on “negligence of bad doctors and the bad business decisions of insurance companies”. (MedPundit, May 15; Leo V. Boyle, “It’s not patients’ fault when insurance earnings dip”, Akron Beacon Journal, Apr. 14) (DURABLE LINK)

May 16 — TV’s lawyer dramas: why they hit home. “What many of these shows do best is attack the legal system for being obsessed with achieving correct legal results even if the outcomes are morally wrong. … The greater cynicism and resentment [in jokes about lawyers] is reserved for the moral lapses and legal hair-splittings, the way in which the demands of lawyering furnish a license to engage in dishonest behavior. ‘Lawyers go into court and deny what they know to be true,’ said William Finkelstein, another former lawyer and executive producer of ‘L.A. Law,’ who produced and wrote [a reunion show for the series that aired May 12]. ‘Whenever anyone does that, it doesn’t square with our vision of public morality, and on television we try to get underneath that, or reject it entirely.'” (Thane Rosenbaum, “Where Lawyers With a Conscience Get to Win Cases”, New York Times, May 12)(reg). Meanwhile, the American Bar Association is the latest establishment law group to conduct a public survey finding that lawyers are poorly regarded by the public, a phenomenon it chooses to blame — you guessed it — on negative media portrayals rather than anything real about today’s legal system that the media might be picking up on. (Mary P. Gallagher, “ABA Survey Finds Lawyers Among Lowest-Regarded U.S. Professions”, New Jersey Law Journal, May 7). (DURABLE LINK)

May 16 — Catharine MacKinnon, call your office. Latest case illustrating how sexual harassment law can be turned to purposes rather remote from those one associates with feminism: “In a federal lawsuit brimming with biblical references, a Tennessee administrative law judge charges that her supervisors have created a hostile work environment for women and that she has been the victim of discrimination because of her religious beliefs.” The lawsuit by a judge, 45, against her employer, the Tennessee Department of State, charges that co-workers circulated sexually explicit jokes in email and that “her religious belief that homosexuality is a sin puts her at odds with someone in her office”. “‘The plaintiff is a Bible-believing Christian who holds to the orthodox belief that the Bible is absolutely true; the Bible contains no mistakes; and the Bible has no contradictions or inconsistencies,’ her suit states, before listing citations from Psalms, Proverbs, John and Revelations. Biblical references aside, the suit is also filled with language often found in federal discrimination cases.” The judge charges that she was assigned a heavier workload and drew poorer evaluations than she deserved, and that “when she posted notices on department bulletin boards about the National Day of Prayer last year, they were taken down without her permission”. (Rob Johnson, “Judge files bias suit against state office”, The Tennessean, May 7). (DURABLE LINK)

May 16 — Annals of zero tolerance: steak knives, finger “guns”. The Washington Times has an overview of zero tolerance controversies which mentions this site (Valerie Richardson, “Zero tolerance takes toll on pupils”, May 13). In Leesburg, Ga., 18-year old Lee County High School senior Chet Maine “was expelled three weeks before graduation after school officials found two steak knives in the bed of his pickup truck. … Maine claimed the knives were left over from a weekend camping trip he had taken with friends. But the county school said it was bound by a state zero-tolerance policy for weapons in school.” (AP/WTLV (Fla.), May 8). In Colorado, “Dry Creek Elementary school has disciplined seven boys for playing a game of ‘army and aliens’ in which they used their fingers as imaginary weapons and pretended to shoot creatures in the background. … And, in an Orwellian touch, at least one student was interrogated by school officials who asked whether his family had real guns at home.” (“Zero common sense” (editorial), Denver Post, May 15; Robert Sanchez, “Zero tolerance turns into 100 percent trouble”, Rocky Mountain News, May 14; “Overreacting to gun games” (editorial), May 15; Mike Littwin, “Not to point fingers, but schools really need to get a grip”, May 16). At Mellon Middle School in Mt. Lebanon, Pa., 11-year-old Becca Johnson was suspended for drawing stick-figure doodles of teachers with arrows through their heads, in a moment of frustration after she had done badly on a test; the same week, “a 17-year-old in Fayette County, Ga., was suspended and arrested when school officials found a machete he used in his part-time landscaping business in the back of his truck, which he’d driven to school.” (Dean Schabner, “Zero for conduct”, ABCNews.com, May 8). (DURABLE LINK)

May 14-15 — Officious intermeddlers, pet division. Animal-rights lawyers are looking for the perfect chimp case to establish their right to file legal actions on behalf of animals; U. of Chicago law prof and frequent New Republic contributor Cass Sunstein, like Harvard’s Larry Tribe (see Apr. 29), seems on board with the plan. The article’s scariest bit appears toward the end, where the executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund says the fund is getting involved in “custody battles over pets” such as cats and dogs: “the fund has been submitting legal briefs to the courts, suggesting that judges look at the case in terms of the animal’s interest.” Just what divorce law needs: an influx of ideologically motivated outside lawyers filing new paperwork to which spouses will have to pay their lawyers to respond, and perhaps urging judges to impose “remedies” over the objections of both human parties. And how long before they start asking the judge to subtract a suitable fee from the marital estate to compensate them for their animal-advocacy efforts? (Amanda Onion, “Fighting for Moe: Activists Pursuing Legal Status for Animals One Case at a Time”, ABC News.com, May 13). P.S. Or could “custody battles over pets” refer to something other than family law cases? The ALDF website doesn’t seem to mention any cases fitting that description. (DURABLE LINK)

May 14-15 — New York Times endorses liability reform! With respect to lawsuits against City Hall, at least. Well, it’s a start (“Slip, Fall, Collect” (editorial), May 13 (reg)). (DURABLE LINK)

May 14-15 — “Tilting the Playing Field”. While on the subject of pleasing if belated developments at the Times, the paper has now officially taken note of the devastation visited by the federal government’s Title IX on “smaller” men’s collegiate sports such as track and field, wrestling, and diving (Bill Pennington, “More Men’s Teams Benched, As Colleges Level the Field,” New York Times, May 9 (reg)) (our take on Title IX). See also Kathryn Lopez, “Benched at Bowling Green”, National Review Online, May 10) (men’s sports at Bowling Green State U.) In a new book entitled Tilting the Playing Field, Jessica Gavora not only recounts the sad history of quota-mongering in collegiate sports participation but warns that feminist litigators are rapidly pushing the mandates of Title IX into academic areas. Perhaps most alarming is the prospect of an assault on numerical imbalances in the hard sciences: “to get the numbers right, universities likely will end up having to discourage men from pursuing scientific and engineering careers.” (Nick Schulz, “Feminism vs. Sports and Science”, TechCentralStation, May 10). (DURABLE LINK)

May 14-15 — The mystery of the transgenic corn. In March a federal judge approved the settlement of a class action lawsuit filed after the disclosure that genetically modified corn had found its way into products on grocery shelves in violation of an EPA permit which gave it the green light only for use as animal feed. The food companies “will attach $6 million in coupons, each good for a dollar off, to packages of their products. … The Chicago law firm of Krislov and Associates will receive $2.4 million for filing the class action lawsuit on behalf of consumers who said they suffered allergic reactions from eating food products that contained the genetically modified corn.” Too bad the case settled, since we would have looked forward to hearing the expert testimony about those claimed allergic reactions (Mike Robinson, “Judge Approves $9M Settlement in Engineered-Corn Suit”, AP/Law.com, Mar. 8). (DURABLE LINK)

May 13 — “Friends Don’t Let Friends Plead Guilty”. This slogan, for a lawyer who defended accused drunk drivers, made for “one of the most effective ads I’ve seen”, though “I’m not sure I agree with the sentiment, either as an ethical matter or a pragmatic matter”. (Eugene Volokh, Volokh brothers blog, May 10). (& see letter to the editor, Jun. 14 (pointing out website of L.A. law firm that has trademarked this phrase)). (DURABLE LINK)

May 13 — “The Tort Mess”. “It’s even worse than you think.” Cover story in Forbes tours some of the best-known lawsuit disaster areas including Mississippi medical practice, asbestos litigation, condo construction-defect suits (Michael Freedman, Forbes, May 13). Plus: opinion pieces on similar themes (Alex F. Rubalcava, “The Cost of Legal Extortion””, Harvard Crimson, Apr. 17; Pejman Yousefzadeh, “Delay No Longer”, TechCentralStation, Apr. 8). (DURABLE LINK)

May 13 — Bush’s big mistake on mental health coverage. Commentators have given the president pretty much a free pass on his call for forcing health insurance plans to cover mental-health services at some rate that reflects “parity” with therapy for physical illness. Potential critics may hold their tongues for fear of being charged with ignorance about mental illness or animus toward those it affects. But the “Bush plan is vintage Clinton: Give Washington the credit for doing good, but send the private sector the bill, and let someone else worry about the consequences.” (Steve Chapman, “Delusions on mental-health treatment”, Chicago Tribune, May 9). (DURABLE LINK)


May 31-June 2 — Welcome Fox News viewers/readers. Our editor is interviewed on air and quoted in print in this piece on the quest to make casinos and lottery operators the next Big Tobacco (Alisyn Camerota, “Trial Lawyers Target Gambling”, Fox News, May 31) (see May 20-21). (DURABLE LINK)

May 31-June 2 — “After stabbing son, mom sues doctors”. Pennsylvania: “Janice Taylor, who stabbed her 4-year-old son two dozen times outside their Lake Ariel home in 2000, is suing her doctors for not adequately responding to her psychosis as she neared the end of a pregnancy.” (Scranton Times Tribune, May 29). (via WSJ OpinionJournal “Best of the Web“, May 30). (DURABLE LINK)

May 31-June 2 — Activist judges north of the border. In the United States judicial activism has been falling into gradual disrepute for a quarter century, but in Canada many highly placed jurists seem eager to boogie like it’s 1975: the Ontario Court of Appeal has just struck down as unconstitutional one of the central planks in welfare reform, the principle that recipients with live-in boyfriends should not draw benefits accorded to single mothers. It’s only the latest in a long string of decisions in which judges seem to be writing their own preferences into law, according to columnist Christina Blizzard. Earlier this year the Supreme Court of Canada struck down as unconstitutional a Conservative government’s repeal of a law authorizing unionization of workers on family farms, although the effect of the repeal would only have been to revert to the state of the law as of a couple of years previously. Next up: a challenge to another plank of welfare reform, a lifetime ban on payment of benefits to persons caught cheating the system. Paging Mickey Kaus — they need you up there! (Christina Blizzard, “Disorder in the court”, Toronto Sun/Canoe, May 18). On U.S. judicial activism, see John Leo, “Running away with the law”, U.S. News/Jewish World Report, May 13. (& see letter to the editor, Jun. 14). (DURABLE LINK)

May 31-June 2 — Folk medicine meets child abuse reporting. The Vietnamese and Hmong folk remedy cao gio, or coining, “involves the rubbing of warm oils or gels across a person’s skin with a coin, spoon or other flat object. It leaves bright red marks or bruises, but many Asian families believe the marks represent bad blood rising out of the body and allow improved circulation and healing.” The lesions are typically not of medical significance, according to many Western medical observers, but they sometimes lead school and social service workers to report suspected child abuse, in part owing to the influence of laws mandating that possible instances of abuse be reported even if borderline. In Omaha, following such reports, police swooped down and removed ten children from their parents; following an outcry, charges against the parents were dropped and the children were returned to their homes. (Omaha World-Herald coverage including Joe Dejka, “Asian couples work to get children back”, May 3; Jeremy Olson, “Asian remedy raises few alarms elsewhere”, May 3; Joseph Morton, “2nd coining case dropped; Asian family expresses relief”, May 14; Karyn Spencer and Angie Brunkow, “Officials not sanctioning all ‘coining'”, May 17). (DURABLE LINK)

May 30 — “Oxy Morons”. “Last fall,” reports Forbes, North Carolina law firm Lutzel & Associates “sent a letter soliciting users of [time-release pain medication] Oxycontin and several other drugs. Claiming that the Food & Drug Administration had ‘banned’ the medications, the letter advised them to ‘stop using’ the drugs immediately.” But in fact Oxycontin was neither banned nor threatened with removal, and for a patient suffering pain suddenly to discontinue its use without a doctor’s recommendation can result in medically serious consequences as well as needless agony. (Ian Zack, “Oxy Morons”, Forbes.com, Apr. 29). Despite vigorous efforts by some plaintiff’s lawyers to stoke mass tort litigation over the drug (see Apr. 10 and links from there), the National Law Journal reports that drugmaker Purdue Pharma has “had a string of confidence-building victories in early litigation.” (Bob Van Voris, “OxyContin Maker Not Yet Feeling Much Pain”, National Law Journal, April 30). (DURABLE LINK)

May 30 — “Privileged chambers”. Earlier this year the Albany Times Union ran a five-day editorial series (“Unequal Justice” — scroll down to find it) on judicial misconduct in New York state. It concluded that discipline is generally lax when Empire State judges behave badly and that it can take years to remove a jurist from the bench even after charges of serious misconduct (“Privileged chambers”, Feb. 3; “Justice denied”, Feb. 4; “Conduct unbecoming”, Feb. 5; “Starving the watchdog”, Feb. 6; “The need for reform”, Feb. 7). (DURABLE LINK)

May 29 — Our editor interviewed. John Hawkins at Right Wing News interviewed our editor by email about this site and our ideas on legal reform, and publishes the results this morning (“An Interview with Walter Olson“). Earlier interviewees in the series include Glenn Reynolds of InstaPundit, Wendy McElroy of iFeminists and FoxNews.com, and Australian journalist Tim Blair. Update: nice things said about this by Protein Wisdom, VodkaPundit, and Eve Tushnet.

May 28-29 — The scandal of the Phoenix memo. It warned FBI higher-ups that Islamic radicals including followers of Osama bin Laden were training at American flight schools. So why wasn’t it followed up? FBI director Robert Mueller told Senators May 8 that it would have been a “monumental undertaking” to investigate the 20,000 or so students at domestic flight schools. “What a load of nonsense,” writes Christopher Caldwell. “Any small-town newspaper reporter could have narrowed down that 20,000 to under a hundred in an afternoon, just by focusing on names like … oh, I don’t know … try Mohamed, Walid, Marwan, and Hamza. Couldn’t the entire FBI have done the same?

“As it turns out, no. And the reason is, whoever got Williams’s memo would understand that there is one commonsensical way to implement it: Look for Arabs. And given congressional pressure on racial profiling and the president’s own outrageous pandering on the subject during the 2000 election campaign, Williams’s lead was something no agent with an instinct for self-preservation would want to touch with a barge pole.” (Christopher Caldwell, “Low Profile”, Weekly Standard, May 24) (via WSJ Best of the Web, May 24). See also John Fund, “Willful Ignorance”, WSJ OpinionJournal.com, May 22; “Key Lawmaker: Probe of FBI Warrant Will Look at ‘Racial Profiling’ Concerns”, AP/Fox News, May 26). Update: perfect Mark Steyn column (“Stop frisking crippled nuns”, The Spectator, May 25). (DURABLE LINK)

May 28-29 — “Rocketing liability rates squeeze medical schools”. “The University of Nevada School of Medicine in Reno could be forced to close if it can’t find affordable liability insurance by June 30. In West Virginia, Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine in Huntington has cut its pathology program and is trimming resident class size. Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Hershey is cutting faculty salaries, which will make it hard to land top researchers. ‘The sudden, very large increase in expenses that were not anticipated or budgeted is creating a great deal of anxiety,’ says Jordan J. Cohen, MD, president of the Assn. of American Medical Colleges.” (Myrle Croasdale, American Medical News, May 20). (DURABLE LINK)

May 28-29 — “Barbed wire might hurt burglars, pensioner warned”. In Northampton, England, 94-year-old Ruby Barber has finally gotten permission from the borough council to put barbed wire on her garden walls after suffering four break-ins to her bungalow over the past year and a half. The council granted permission “as long as she uses warning signs and agrees to take full responsibility if a would-be intruder is injured“. Her son Burt, who lives nearby, said: “It is bordering on the ridiculous to say that if they hurt themselves getting in here I am responsible. The Queen has got it all around Buckingham Palace and if it is good enough for her it is good enough for my mother. She is the Queen to me.” (Ananova, May 24). (DURABLE LINK)

May 28-29 — Must-know-Spanish rules defended. Recently it was reported that a Miami social services agency was requiring an Anglo worker to learn Spanish on pain of losing her job. Some commentators were upset, but Eugene Volokh, of the Volokhii, argues that “speaking a foreign language is a valuable skill, and … employers may legally discriminate against employees who lack this skill”. (Volokh blog, May 8, May 11; Jim Boulet Jr., “Mandatory Spanish”, National Review Online, May 10, and running commentary by Boulet at English First site). And the factual background of the case turns out to be considerably less simple than first reports indicated; not only does the county deny that failure to learn Spanish was the reason for the worker’s firing, but it seems she held herself out as having “proficiency” in that language when she accepted the job (Jay Weaver, “Poor work, not language barrier, got employee fired, court says”, Miami Herald, May 11). (DURABLE LINK)

May 28-29 — Goodbye, Wendell Barry. Eve Tushnet administers a well-deserved thrashing to the overrated localist (“Hayseeds and Straw Men”, Eve Tushnet blog, May 27) (DURABLE LINK)

May 27 — McArdle on food as next-tobacco. “If you can’t be held responsible for what you put in your mouth, what are you responsible for?” (Megan McArdle, “Can We Sue Our Own Fat Asses Off?”, Salon, May 24). See also Duncan Campbell, “Junk food firms fear being eaten alive by fat litigants”, The Guardian, May 24; Jacob Sullum, “Food Fight”, Reason Online, May 10 (& see Jun. 3-4). (DURABLE LINK)

May 27 — “Lawsuit stifles Internet critics”. The Richmond Times-Dispatch and Long Island Business News have new stories out on the PetsWarehouse case (in which a pet store owner has sued aquatic plants hobbyists on charges of online defamation based on their postings on mailing lists and websites — see Aug. 6, 2001 & May 22, 2002). Both interview several parties, including defendant Dan Resler (a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University), plaintiff Robert Novak, and (in the Richmond paper) free-speech law commentator Rodney Smolla. A key factor working to defendants’ disadvantage: liberal jurisdictional rules which allow a plaintiff to file an Internet libel case in his local court (in this case the Eastern District of New York) and force defendants who live in distant states to shoulder the cost of litigating there from a distance. (Gordon Hickey, “Online speech not free”, Richmond Times-Dispatch, May 26). In Long Island Business News, owner Novak is quoted as being aware of this cost asymmetry: “‘It’s only five miles for me,’ he said. ‘All these people have to come here at their own expense.'” (Ken Schachter, Long Island Business News, “PetsWarehouse.com founder dries out aquarists in courts”, May 24-30). More on Internet jurisdiction: Carl S. Kaplan, “A Libel Suit May Establish E-Jurisdiction”, New York Times, May 27 (reg). Update Oct. 4-6: Novak sues Google and other defendants. Further update: Oct. 5, 2003. (DURABLE LINK)

May 24-26 — Nader credibility watch. In France, the litigation advocate called fast-food restaurants “weapons of mass destruction”. (“Ralph Nader met en garde les Français contre les ‘fast food'”, Yahoo/AFP, May 17; via Matt Welch, May 18; see comments at Tim Blair blog, May 26). More on Nader’s credibility or lack thereof: Matt Welch, “Speaking Lies To Power”, Reason, May; Thomas Oliphant, Boston Globe, Apr. 21. (DURABLE LINK)

May 24-26 — “Counseling center may face closure”. Chickasha, Okla.: “The largest civil verdict in Grady County history may mean the county’s largest mental health center will have to close for financial reasons, officials said Wednesday. A $1.5 million jury verdict awarded last week against Chisholm Trail Counseling Service was a bittersweet victory for the family of James Phillips, who committed suicide a few hours after being interviewed and released by one of the agency’s counselors.” (Penny Owen, The Oklahoman, May 23). (DURABLE LINK)

May 24-26 — Australia’s litigation debate. “Some of Australia’s most famous beaches face closure after a huge damages award to a man paralysed while swimming at Bondi Beach, local authorities have warned.” (BBC, “Closure ‘threat’ to Australia’s beaches”, May 14). Former chief justice of the High Court of Australia Harry Gibbs “said the culture of litigation had been fostered by some lawyers, while some judges seemed to strive to find a reason for finding in favour of an injured plaintiff and award damages in cases where a reasonable and informed person would not have thought the defendant was at fault. He said the deficiencies of the law of negligence had now become apparent. ‘It favours generosity to the plaintiff at the expense (in many cases) of justice to the defendant’.” Gibbs suggested that Australia might want to consider emulating the New Zealand model under which most negligence actions are replaced with a system of no-fault compensation. (“Lawyers blamed for crisis” (editorial), Queensland Courier-Mail, May 16). See Susanna Lobez, “Snails, Consumer Power and the Law”, ABC national radio transcripts, The Law Report, June 1, 1999)

“The latest figures available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that as of June 30, 1999, there were 10,819 barrister and solicitor practices in Australia, an increase of 11 per cent over three years, and these practices generated an income of $7.04 billion, a robust 27 per cent increase over three years. Income from personal injury cases grew still faster, by 31 per cent.” What strikes us as remarkable about these figures is not just the rapid growth in sums redistributed, but that the figures are obtainable at all. Virtually no data is available, reliable or otherwise, on how much money American lawyers receive in the aggregate from personal injury cases. Why not? If the answer that occurs to you is “because our legal profession doesn’t want it to be collected”, you may be on to something. (Paul Sheehan, “Laws made by lawyers — well they would like that, wouldn’t they?”, Sydney Morning Herald, May 6). (DURABLE LINK)

May 22-23 — Convicted hospital rapist sues hospital. “A Sandusky man serving a 10-year sentence for raping a patient at the former Providence Hospital is suing both the hospital and his former attorney for negligence, according to Erie County Common Pleas Court records. Edward Brewer filed suit Monday against Providence Hospital, now part of Firelands Regional Medical Center, for ‘inadequate security in protecting visitors as well as their patients’ which caused him pain and suffering, according to court documents. Brewer, 47, was found guilty in October of raping a 44-year-old acquaintance in her hospital bed in June 1998. … Brewer claims negligence by the hospital, including a poorly trained nursing staff, negatively affected his criminal case, according to the suit.” The suit, which Brewer filed on his own behalf, asks for $2 million in damages; separately, Brewer is suing his former criminal attorney. (Emily S. Achenbaum, “Convicted rapist sues hospital”, Sandusky [Ohio] Register, May 21). Update: court dismisses case, see Mar. 5-7, 2003. (DURABLE LINK)

May 22-23 — Reparations suits “pure hooey”. The “slave-reparation plaintiffs have articulated neither standing nor a cognizable claim. In the final analysis, these cases are not really about pushing the envelope and making new law. Rather, they are part of a strategy to inflict public relations damage in order to coerce political and economic concessions. The federal courts should stand firm against this gathering storm, dismiss the lawsuits and leave the complex issues of social policy they raise to the political process.” (Steven P. Benenson, “Reparations Suits Are Too Little, Too Late”, National Law Journal, May 20). “Any judge not assessing sanctions for the filing of frivolous litigation should be ashamed. … So much for laches, the statute of limitations and all the other legal devices that assure that disputes are resolved in a timely manner. No wonder the world laughs at our love of litigation.” (Norm Pattis, “The Color of Money: It’s Red for Reparations”, Connecticut Law Tribune, Apr. 15).

“The villain Calvera said, ‘Generosity, that was my first mistake,’ as he peered ominously from beneath his mega-sombrero at the gringo gunman in the classic scene from the 1960 film The Magnificent Seven. … Honchos at Aetna Inc., the insurance company named in a recent lawsuit seeking reparations for slavery, must be remembering that quote right about now.” (Gregory Kane, “Generosity goes unnoticed in slavery reparations lawsuit”, Baltimore Sun, Apr. 20). Kane says Aetna has responded to the suit with “infuriating wussiness” and says “what Aetna bigwigs should tell [plaintiff-activist Deadria] Farmer-Paellmann and her lawyers [is]: ‘Get a life!'” (DURABLE LINK)

May 22-23 — PetsWarehouse.com defamation suit, cont’d. Last year we reported on the ongoing litigation filed by Robert Novak, founder and owner of PetsWarehouse.com, against members of an internet discussion list that he said had defamed him and his company (see Aug. 6, 2001; letter to editor from Novak, Aug. 10). Many aquarium enthusiasts, alarmed by the legal action, have at various times posted information on their sites about the suit, sometimes posting banners that solicit donations on the defendants’ behalf. (“$15,000,000 lawsuits suck the life out of online discussions. Please support the APD Defense Fund,” reads one.) According to Katharine Mieszkowski, writing last month in Salon, a number of these site operators have been given reason to regret that they ever took such rash steps. In particular, according to Mieszkowski, Novak has proceeded to add more defendants to the suit, including supporters of the APD Defense Fund who put up its banner solicitations, and the webmaster of a site that had posted information on the case, charging them with violating his PetsWarehouse copyright and engaging in a conspiracy against him. Among evidence of copyright infringement offered in his suit was webmasters’ use of Pets Warehouse as a “metatag”, that is to say, a keyword directed at search engines but not normally seen by ordinary users (more on metatag litigation: Sept. 25, 1999).

A number of defendants have settled out of the case, including a Colorado webmaster who says she spent thousands on her defense and who turned over the rights to her domain to Novak as part of the settlement, having shut it down after being sued. “Other defendants had to run banners on their sites promoting Pets Warehouse.” “According to [defendant Dan] Resler, at one point, the money in the defense fund ran out, and when the defendants had to start paying out of their own funds, they got scared. (Novak is representing himself ‘pro se’ in the case.)” Resler himself agreed to pay $4,150. “Beyond the lawsuit itself, other supporters of the case say they have received cease-and-desist letters for using the words ‘Pets Warehouse’ on their sites.” Among them: the webmaster of a site that “features a banner advertisement that mentions the case with this headline: ‘Pets Warehouse Sues Hobbyists’ and links to the aquarists’ site about the case. ‘I’m just literally reporting that the case exists and linking to another site,’ he says.” (Katharine Mieszkowski, “Free speech and the Internet; a fish story”, Salon, Apr. 4). (DURABLE LINK)