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Cleveland

Music rights organization BMI has sued a Cleveland bar seeking up to $1.5 million over one night’s performance by a cover band that allegedly performed ten well-known songs without paying license fees, including “Bad Moon Rising,” “You Really Got Me,” and “Some Kind of Wonderful” [OnStage]

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Lawyers roundup

by Walter Olson on March 4, 2013

  • Feds investigating prominent Texas attorney and many-time Overlawyered mentionee Mikal Watts [MySanAntonio via PoL]
  • Florida high court: lawyers not privileged to defame parties during informal witness questioning [Delmonico v. Traynor]
  • Client’s story: not only did attorney try to kill me, he also gave me bad advice [Lowering the Bar]
  • Some lawyers for city of Cleveland seek union representation, following municipal attorneys in S.F., D.C. and Houston [Cleveland Plain Dealer]
  • Watch what you say about lawyers, part CLXXVI [NYLJ, "shakedown"]
  • Former ATLA president Barry Nace fights disciplinary proceeding in W.V. [Chamber-backed WV Record]
  • Minnesota lawyer who billed client for time he spent having sex with her won’t be allowed to practice for more than a year [TheLawNet, earlier on this candidate for "ultimate Overlawyered story"]
  • Should she take the job offer from an apparently unethical attorney? If she has to ask… [Elie Mystal, Above the Law]

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Food roundup

by Walter Olson on January 8, 2013

  • New thinner-isn’t-healthier study should give pause [Paul Campos, NYT]
  • Inspectors order Minnesota soda shop to yank candy cigarettes, bubble gum cigars [Daily Caller]
  • Cleveland might have its own version of Pike Place or Reading Terminal Market, if not for… [Nick Gillespie]
  • Regulators took it down: “San Francisco’s Libertarian Food Market Is Closing” [Baylen Linnekin]
  • How brutal is vegetarianism to animals? [Mike Archer via Tyler Cowen]
  • Crazy: S.F. mulls zoning ban on new restaurants to protect existing ones [Linnekin] How Chicago suppresses food trucks [Katherine Mangu-Ward]
  • Federal calorie labeling rules will burden restaurants [Wash. Times]

I’ll be discussing Schools for Misrule today at Syracuse University College of Law, tomorrow in Cleveland at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at 4 p.m., and Thursday in Pittsburgh at noon at Pitt Law with critical commentary from Prof. Peter Oh. Federalist Society student chapters are sponsoring the events, which are open to the public. Come out and introduce yourself!

Thanks to my hosts over the past two weeks at Fordham (where I debated Prof. Zephyr Teachout), Brooklyn Law School, and Yale (where Prof. John Fabian Witt contributed generous comments).

Why not book me to speak at your own city or campus? You can contact me directly at editor – at – overlawyered – dot – com, call the Cato Institute at 202-789-5269, or, if you’re a Federalist Society chapter, through the Society’s home office.

Ohio TV station WOIO is re-enacting highlights of a local corruption trial with puppets. More: Lowering the Bar (“I think that all court proceedings should be reported in this way, but would settle for either puppet coverage of arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court or a full reenactment of the Rod Blagojevich trial.”)

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“An 8-year-old Cleveland Heights boy was taken from his family and placed in foster care last month after county case workers said his mother wasn’t doing enough to control his weight.” Lawyers for the mother of the >200-lb. boy “think the county has overreached in this case by arguing that medical conditions the boy is at risk for — but doesn’t yet have — pose an imminent danger to his health.” The county claims that the mother has ignored doctor’s orders, which she denies. [Rachel Dissell, Cleveland Plain Dealer; see correction on weight in comments]

P.S. As several press accounts note, the issue has been building for a while, notably this summer when Harvard researchers published a piece in JAMA calling for wider removal of obese children from homes.

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July 28 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 28, 2011

  • Wild hypotheticals were grist for complaint: “Widener law professor cleared of harassment charges” [NLJ, earlier here, here, here]
  • Ninth Circuit: Facebook didn’t breach user’s right to accommodation of mental disability [Volokh]
  • House Judiciary hearing on litigation and economic prosperity [Wajert]
  • “University of Michigan to stop worrying about lawsuits, start releasing orphan works” [Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing]
  • PBS airs “The Story Behind Wacky Warning Labels” [Bob Dorigo Jones]
  • Fifth Circuit “candy cane” religion-in-schools case controversial among conservatives [David Upham, NR Bench Memos]
  • Great moments in public records law [Cleveland Plain Dealer, earlier related]

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What is a photocopier?

by Walter Olson on March 21, 2011

The question comes up during a deposition, and nearly ten pages of court transcript follow. [Cleveland Plain Dealer] And: Lowering the Bar has some significant background on the case.

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August 5 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 5, 2010

  • Wouldn’t it be nice if Congress lifted the ban on Internet gambling [Steve Chapman]
  • Design of New Orleans shotgun houses is an adaptation to tax laws [Candy Chang]
  • Lawyer-enriching Costco class action settlement draws an objection from a blogger often linked in this space [Amy Alkon]
  • “Fourth Circuit slaps down N.C. attorney general’s suit against TVA” [Wood/PoL, Jackson]
  • South Carolina jury’s $2.375 million award based on premise that Nissan should have followed European, not U.S. crashworthiness standards [Abnormal Use]
  • City of Cleveland won’t take no for answer in dumb lawsuit against mortgage lenders [Funnell]
  • Charles H. Green at TrustMatters hosts Blawg Review #275;
  • Duke lacrosse fiasco: Nifong’s media and law-school enablers [three years ago at Overlawyered]

April 4 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 4, 2010

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Russ Bensing reports on the Ohio criminal-law scene.

Cleveland federal judge Donald Nugent has dismissed a disabled-access lawsuit by Bonnie Kramer against a real estate management company and allowed a counterclaim to go forward against Kramer and her lawyers “alleging abuse of process, fraud, civil conspiracy to commit fraud, spoliation and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations violations”. Kramer, a self-styled “tester”, has been plaintiff in more than 100 actions under the ADA. [Andrew Longstreth, American Lawyer] More on “Disabled Patriots of America” group: Charlie Deitch, Pittsburgh City Paper.

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Night-shift security guard Theodore Rongers had argued that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, his hospital employer “had a duty to reasonably accommodate the side effect of his heart medication by permitting him to sleep during his shift”. [Ohio Employer's Law Blog; Rongers v. University Hospitals of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Ct. of Appeals, May 7 (PDF)] I discussed sleeping guards who were more successful in saving their jobs in my book The Excuse Factory (Google Books, limited search), published a decade ago and excerpted at the time in Washington Monthly (see also).

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City governments, sometimes in league with private counsel working on contingency fee, “have started suing banks and mortgage companies to recoup their costs” on such services as “fire departments, police, code enforcement or even demolition” in blighted neighborhoods. “The lawsuits were filed in recent months under different theories, in state and federal court. Cleveland and Buffalo filed suits under public nuisance laws. Minneapolis’ suit was brought on consumer fraud grounds, while Baltimore took the unusual approach of filing suit in federal court under alleged Fair Housing Act violations.” Bank of New York says it was included in Buffalo’s suit against 39 lenders even though it neither originated nor purchased loans, but merely acted as trustee. (Julie Kay, “Empty Homes Spur Cities’ Suits”, National Law Journal, May 9).

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Do as we say, not as we do?

Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann is leading a group of 18 state Attorneys General seeking a ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court that employees can not be retaliated against by their bosses for filing a sexual harassment complaint.

The case comes at an ironic moment for Dann, as his office is investigating claims by two 26-year-old women who work at the Attorney General’s office that they were sexually harassed on and off the job by their boss, Anthony Gutierrez, a close friend of Dann’s who shared a Columbus condominium with him.

(“Dann Defends Woman Amid Own Office’s Sexual Harassment Flap”, Fox8 Cleveland, Apr. 16; Mark Rollenhagen and Reginald Fields, “Employee in Ohio attorney general’s office files police report”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Apr. 19). Amid talk of a cover-up, Dann has also denied a request from the Columbus Dispatch under the state’s public records law “to review three months’ worth of e-mail messages between him and his then-scheduler, Jessica Utovich,” both of whose names turn up as possible witnesses in colorful text messages offered as evidence in the claims. “Dann in the past has said e-mails are public records and also has sought troves of messages from public offices when he was a state senator and the Democratic candidate for Ohio’s top legal office.” (James Nash, “Dann won’t release e-mails”, DispatchPolitics (Columbus Dispatch), Apr. 13; Julie Carr Smyth, “Sexual complaint probe at top cop’s office intensifies”, AP/Akron Beacon Journal, Apr. 18; Mark Naymik, “Dann has habit of hiring his friends; some have proved to be embarrassments”, Openers (Cleveland Plain Dealer blog), Apr. 12; Reginald Fields, “Dann employee files complaint with police”, Openers, Apr. 18).

After initial resistance, Dann did release some information that raised reportorial eyebrows:

In a surprising reversal, Attorney General Marc Dann’s office released 12 pages of notes that detail allegations of repeated sexual harassment and possibly an attempt to destroy text messages that may document the incidents. …

Dann’s Equal Employment Opportunity officer, Angela Smedlund, interviewed Cindy Stankoski and Vanessa Stout on March 31 about problems they had had with their boss, Anthony Gutierrez, who is Dann’s friend and former roommate.

Smedlund’s notes reveal the following:

Stankoski agreed to go out for drinks with Gutierrez last Sept. 10, but said she soon “felt tipsy and trapped.” She agreed to go to an apartment Gutierrez shared with Dann and Communications Director Leo Jennings III. She called and text-messaged friends that night.

In the margin, Smedlund wrote: “Leo & Tony destroyed texts Tony admitted to Charlie.” The notes do not identify Charlie’s last name.

Jennings and Gutierrez are now both on paid administrative leave.

(Laura A. Bischoff, “Dann’s office unveils documents detailing harassment report”, Lebanon, Oh. Western-Star, Apr. 16; Rollenhagen/Fields, “Reports show Dann was aware of Gutierrez’s history of troubles”, Cleveland Plain Dealer/Youngstown Vindicator, Apr. 18; Bertram de Souza, “Will Dann survive the crisis?”, StirFry (Youngstown Vindicator), Apr. 17). Perhaps unfortunately in retrospect, the noisily anti-business Dann had been lionized in the New York Times after his election as a possible “next Eliot Spitzer“.

More: Above the Law, John Phillips (“Other key words are pajamas, condo, inappropriate text messages, Hawaiian pizza, booze, passing out in a bedroom, unbuttoned pants upon waking up, and nothing on but his underwear.”), Law and More. Update: Dann’s emails with scheduler released (Dispatch via Genova)

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March 25 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 25, 2008

  • Speaking of patients who act against medical advice and sue anyway: doctor who advised against home birth is cleared by Ohio jury in $13 million suit [Plain Dealer and earlier via KevinMD]
  • UK: “A feud over a 4ft-wide strip of land has seen neighbours rack up £300,000 in lawyers’ bills, and left one family effectively homeless.” [Telegraph]
  • Last of the Scruggs judicial bribery defendants without a plea deal, Dickie’s son Zack, takes one [Folo]
  • By reader acclaim: securities trader sues over injury from lap dancer’s attentions [AP/NY Sun]
  • Amid the talk of FISA and retroactive telecom immunity, it would be nice to hear more about the actual lawsuits [Obbie]
  • Australian worker loses suit over firing despite a doctor’s note vouching that stress of worrying about upcoming football game made it medically necessary for him to take day off to go see it [Stumblng Tumblr]
  • Megan McArdle and Tyler Cowen toss around the question of federal FDA pre-emption of drug liability suits, as raised by Medtronic;
  • Should Coughlin Stoia have bought those stolen Coke documents? For one lawprof, question’s a real head-scratcher [David McGowan (San Diego), Legal Ethics Forum] And WSJ news side is oddly unskeptical of trial lawyers’ line that the affair just proves their power to go on fishing expeditions should never have been curtailed [Jones/Slater]
  • Dashboard-cam caught Tennessee cops red-handed planting marijuana on suspect, or so Jonathan Turley suggests — but could it be a little more complicated than that? [WSMV, AP/WATE] (& Greenfield)
  • “Heck Baptists don’t even sue you for disagreeing with them,” though no doubt there are exceptions [Instapundit; NYT on Danish cartoons; Ezra Levant with more on those Canadian speech tribunals]
  • Bestselling authors who sue their critics [four years ago on Overlawyered]

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January 15 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 15, 2008

  • Client’s suit against Houston tort lawyer George Fleming alleges that cost of echocardiograms done on other prospective clients was deducted as expenses from her fen-phen settlement [Texas Lawyer]
  • Preparing to administer bar exam, New York Board of Law Examiners isn’t taking any chances, will require hopefuls to sign liability waivers [ABA Journal]
  • Thanks to Steven Erickson for guestblogging last week, check out his blogging elsewhere [Crime & Consequences, e.g.]
  • “Freedom of speech” regarded as Yankee concept at Canadian tribunal? [Steyn @ NRO Corner; reactions]
  • Court rules Dan Rather suit against CBS can go to discovery [NYMag; earlier here, here]
  • Served seventeen years in prison on conviction for murdering his parents, till doubts on his guilt grew too loud to ignore [Martin Tankleff case]
  • Orin Kerr and commenters discuss Gomez v. Pueblo County, the recent case where inmate sued jail for (among other things) making it too easy for him to escape [Volokh]
  • New at Point of Law: Cleveland’s suit against subprime lending is even worse than Baltimore’s; Massachusetts takes our advice and adopts payee notification; law firm websites often promote medical misinformation; lawyer for skier suing 8-year-old boy wants court to stop family from talking to the press; Ted rounds up developments in Vioxx litigation once and then again; guess where you’ll find a handsome statue of Adam Smith; and much more;
  • Good news for “resourceful cuckolds” as courts let stand $750,000 alienation of affection award to wronged Mississippi husband [The Line Is Here; ABCNews.com]
  • Kimball County, Nebraska cops don’t know whether that $69,040 in cash they seized from a car is going to be traceable to drug traffickers, but plan to keep it in any case [Omaha World-Herald via The Line Is Here]
  • Hunter falls out of tree, and Geoffrey Fieger finds someone for him to sue [seven years ago on Overlawyered]

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December 5 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 5, 2007

  • Fear of “retribution” and “legal action” among reasons docs don’t report hazardous colleagues and conditions [WaPo on new Annals of Internal Medicine study]
  • Judge rips Milberg for high Chiron fee proposal, questions Skadden’s conflict [The Recorder]
  • Felony murder rule is an American exception with results that can be hard to defend [Liptak, NYT]
  • UK: “Man broke girlfriend’s leg in damages fraud” [Times Online]
  • Often driven by defensive medicine, CAT scans may pose their own risks to patients who undergo them [Newsday on NEJM study]
  • Commentator is glad post offices are lawyering up their Operation Santa gift programs [McDonough, CalLaw LegalPad; earlier; possibly related]
  • Quebec judge nixes suit by Concordia University mass murderer against former colleagues [Canadian Press]
  • Update on Kennewick man and Indian-remains legislation [WashTimes; earlier]
  • Magic of compound interest? Uncollected 1977 award for victim of Evel Knievel attack said to have mounted by now to $100 million [AP/Yahoo]
  • School discipline now a heavily lawyer-driven affair [Charleston Post & Courier courtesy Common Good]
  • Complaint: Cleveland housing authority should have done more renovations to accommodate extremely obese tenant [four years ago on Overlawyered]

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