Beyond Borat, bringing barristers bounteous business. [WSJ Law Blog]
Rev. Jeremiah Cummings of Orlando wants $50 million from Lionsgate for his unflattering portrayal on screen, saying Bill Maher and his filmmaking team did not level with him about the kind of movie they were making. However, as Matthew Heller notes, similar remorse suits over Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat” mostly flopped, with eight of nine thrown out before the discovery stage.
“The ten ‘Borat’ remorse cases filed against the makers of the hit mockumentary turned out to be an almost total washout for plaintiffs,” notes OnPoint News, which has a handy table of case results.
The “Borat” star, per AFP, “has sold Fox film studios a comedy, ‘Accidentes,’ about an ambulance-chaser-turned-hero, which he will produce and possibly star in, Variety magazine said Tuesday. The film is about a personal injury lawyer who becomes a hero among Los Angeles Hispanics for successfully defending a worker against a wealthy employer, but who in the process becomes the enemy of the city’s elite.” And see Defamer Australia with related graphic: “El Mejor Abogado”.
Jackpot justice of another kind
A man on the nickel slot machines wins over $1M despite the maximum payout of $2,500. The casino blames computer error. The story shows a picture of the stoic gambler in front of the cordoned-off slot machine.
Etiquette expert pranked in ‘Borat’ sues
Yes, another ‘Borat’ suit, here. As the story points out, why wait so long? Come on, folks, jump on the bandwagon!
Wrong doctor sued, pays out of pocket due to Med-Mal policy deductible
Sue the wrong doctor and drag out the litigation process, all to the detriment of the defendant. The story notes that courts rarely find suits are frivolous because “there’s almost always some grounds for a suit to be filed.” (Update: Jan. 6).
Here’s a Hollywood-themed edition of our irregularly-scheduled roundups:
- When Sacha Baron Cohen accepted his Golden Globe award for Borat, he famously thanked all the Americans who hadn’t sued him “so far.” Subtract one person from that list; a New Yorker identifying himself as John Doe, who clever people quickly outed as businessman Jeffrey Lemerond, has now filed a lawsuit, claiming that he was humiliated by his appearance in the film. (Has anybody ever tried compiling a list of people who claimed they wanted privacy but filed lawsuits which exposed their secrets to a wide audience?) The Smoking Gun has the complaint. (Previous Borat suits: Dec. 2005, Nov. 9, 2006,Nov. 22, 2006)
- A Beverly Hills store has settled its lawsuit against Us Weekly for refusing to give it free publicity. (Previously: Sep. 12, 2006, Sep. 22, 2006)
- Carol Burnett’s lawsuit against the Family Guy gets tossed. (AP) On Point has details and the judge’s opinion. (Previously: Mar. 21.)
- Two for the price of one: A couple of weeks ago, attorney Debra Opri sued her former client, Anna Nicole Smith-impregnator Larry Birkhead, for unpaid legal fees. Opri was last seen on Overlawyered sending exceedingly large bills to Birkhead, including thousands of dollars in cell phone charges.
Now, Birkhead is suing Opri for conversion, fraud and malpractice. He claims that she took at least $650,000 of money owed to him for various appearance fees and has refused to return it; he also claims that Opri told him she was going to represent him for free in exchange for the publicity she’d receive, and then turned around and billed him hundreds of thousands of dollars. No, I’m sure this won’t turn into (yet another) media circus. (AP, TMZ.)
- Judd Apatow, director of the movie Knocked Up, is being sued for copyright infringment by a Canadian author who claims he stole her book for his screenplay.
A few months in, Eckler says she’s worn out by the litigation. “Here’s what it comes down to: 1) Being a writer, especially a Canadian one, without access to an unlimited bank account, sucks. 2) Copyright infringement is highly technical and difficult to prove. 3) Universal/Apatow know they have resources I do not have, and that every time they simply do not return my lawyer’s phone call, it costs me money.
She also complains about her treatment at the hands of her first lawyer, who was referred to her by Apatow’s lawyer. (WSJ law blog; commentators at Volokh seem skeptical of the merits of her claims.)
- Eleven year old boy, Dominic Kay, who directed a 15-minute movie starring Kevin Bacon, settles lawsuit against his neighbor, who helped finance the movie. “Kanter met Kay when her son played with him on a soccer team.” (L.A. Times)
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.” [NorthJersey.com]
- 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.
Apparently the long-running show was sued very little, if at all, by victims of its hidden-camera stunts. Was that because, as host Allen Funt maintained, the show’s spirit was genial rather than sadistic, in contrast to more recent shows? Or because its liability releases (presumably proffered to the victims after the embarrassing stunt had been sprung) were more likely to be upheld? Or just because people then weren’t as primed to sue? (Ann Althouse, Jan. 20).
About to fly away for the Martin Luther King Day weekend; Walter will approve comments, but there may be delays. I leave you with:
- Judge Senter channels Hugo Chavez: $2.5M in punitive damages in Mississippi for noting that an uncovered storm surge was responsible for the destruction of a $225k house. [Point of Law; Insurance Coverage Blog; Chicago Trib]
- Public Citizen calls medical malpractice crisis a “hoax.” Are they right? [Point of Law]
- Mass torts and multiple misjoinders. [Point of Law; Drug and Device Law Blog]
- Sasha Baron Cohen isn’t exactly sympathetic to the Borat litigation plaintiffs. [LA Times]
- “High-profile trial looms large for controversial class-action leader” [DC Examiner]
- Still more on warning labels. [Mass Tort Litigation Blog]
- New Jersey Dem wants voting rights for idiots. No, really. [CNN/Reuters]
- I found this tale of a Supreme Court argument poignant [WSJ Law Blog]
- Harris County courthouse “rocket docket”: delay people with lengthy metal-detector lines, then throw them in jail when they’re late for court. [Kirkendall]
- Different kind of rocket PSA: Don’t explode fireworks in your hand. [GruntDoc; Unbounded Medicine (gory)]
This one threatened on behalf of villagers from Glod, Romania, (a stand-in for Kazakhstan in the movie) who say they weren’t paid or given releases for their participation in the film, an assertion denied by the studio. The Los Angeles Times gives a largely sympathetic platform to their lawyer, Ed Fagan, without managing to mention the disciplinary trouble he found himself in (Nov. 26; Aug. 27, 2005 and links therein). Fagan shamelessly admits that he will simultaneously file suits in California, Florida, and Germany; international judge-shopping at its finest. (Bojan Pancevski, “Villagers to sue `Borat’”, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 19).