Posts tagged as:

discovery

April 4 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 4, 2014

  • “Helmet maker not to blame in football player’s injury, jury finds” [L.A. Times]
  • “New Corporate Survey Illustrates Burdens Of Document Preservation And Benefits Of Proposed [Rule 26 Discovery] Reform” [Mark Chenoweth/WLF, Timothy Pratt/Abnormal Use, NJLRA, earlier]
  • Have divorce statistics been misreported? [Kay Hymowitz, Robert VerBruggen]
  • “Intoxicated Man Loses Big at Casino, Wants His Money Back” [Abnormal Use]
  • “SCOTUS Deferred to Executive Agencies. What Happened Next Will Infuriate You!” [Ilya Shapiro, Cato on Peri & Sons Farms v. Rivera]
  • Overtime scheme: Obama doesn’t “worry about being held accountable for the unwelcome consequences” [Steve Chapman] Advice for small business on complying with salaried employee classification [Suzanne Lucas ("Evil HR Lady") at Inc., earlier here and here]
  • Religious liberty, discrimination law and how spurious rights drive out the real [Jacob Sullum] Timely: “Harvard Hosts Conference on Religious Accommodation in the Age of Civil Rights” [TaxProf]

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“In a blistering ruling against Cal Fire, a judge in Plumas County has found the agency guilty of ‘egregious and reprehensible conduct’ in its response to the 2007 Moonlight fire and ordered it to pay more than $30 million in penalties, legal fees and costs to Sierra Pacific Industries and others accused in a Cal Fire lawsuit of causing the fire. … Sierra Pacific, the largest private landowner in California, was blamed by state and federal officials for the blaze, with a key report finding it was started by a spark from the blade of a bulldozer belonging to a company working under contract for Sierra Pacific.” The company has contended that the cause determination was reached in haste and pursued with an eye to extracting legal proceeds for an agency-run settlement fund later found to be illegal. [Sacramento Bee; Robert Hilson, Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists]

January 22 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 22, 2014

  • Reminder: federal panel finally mulling reform of ultra-costly pretrial discovery, now’s the time to send comments [Kyl/WSJ, earlier]
  • Michigan woman convicted of false rape claim had sent man to prison for 10 years in earlier case [ABA Journal]
  • Strickland, key figure in disastrous CPSIA law and then chief at NHTSA, lands at BigLaw’s Venable [AutoNews, Detroit News]
  • A religious accommodation too far? Devout student at secular university asks not to work with female classmates [York U., Ontario; CBC via @amyalkon, also related on Nova Scotia aikido class] Inviting shop clerks to set up “no booze/pork” check lines is a sensitivity too far [Andrew Stuttaford, Secular Right]
  • “Top 2013 Jury Awards: Price-Fixing, Nursing Home Liability, Defamation” [Margaret Cronin Fisk, Bloomberg] Top legal ethics stories of 2013 [Legal Ethics Forum and followup on R v Farooqi & Ors]
  • Liberate history-talk: “Another Battle Against Silly Tour-Guide Regulations” [Ilya Shapiro] Handing out $1,000 fines in Charleston, S.C. [Brian Doherty]
  • “The line between Salon and Granma is getting awfully blurry” [@dandrezner; more about DoNotLink.com]

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“Microsoft is legally obligated to store an average of 60 million pages of documents for every lawsuit brought against it, even though only 88 of those will end up being used in court.” [Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge] The company is one of many that has announced its support for a change in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, proposed in August by the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, which would narrow the scope of obligatory discovery. The burden of discovery “deters companies from defending themselves against meritless suits and slows the process of dispute resolution,” writes Jon Palmer, Microsoft’s assistant general counsel. The proposal would also lay forth clearer standards on document retention so as to curb proliferating litigation over charges of spoliation.

The Washington Legal Foundation likes the proposals too, as does James Beck at Drug and Device Law. Not happy about it: the litigation lobby and some Senate Democrats friendly to their cause. The Judicial Conference is holding hearings that are likely to be more balanced. Comments with the Advisory Committee are due by February 15, 2014.

  • “Venue matters.” Enough to double value of med-mal case if filed in Baltimore city rather than suburbs? [Ron Miller] Mark Behrens and Cary Silverman on litigation tourism in Pennsylvania [TortsProf]
  • “Maybe [depositions] are like what some people say about war — vast periods of boredom interrupted by brief moments of terror.” [Steve McConnell, Drug and Device Law, also see Max Kennerly]
  • Centrality of procedure in American legal thinking dates back to Legal Realists and before [Paul McMahon, U.Penn. J. of Int'l Law/SSRN via Mass Tort Prof]
  • Company sues to challenge CPSC’s dissemination of unproven allegations about it in new public database: should judicial proceeding keep its name confidential? [Fair Warning]
  • Thesis of new Jerry Mashaw book: administrative state in U.S. long predated Progressive Era [Law and Liberty: Joseph Postell, Mike Rappaport] Relatedly, hallmark of administrative state said to be “prerogative,” i.e., power to make binding rules without new legislation [Michael Greve]
  • Lorax standing humor: even the Ninth Circuit might not have been able to help [Howard Wasserman, Prawfs]
  • “Formalism and Deference in Administrative Law” [panel at Federalist Society National Lawyers' Convention with Philip Hamburger, Kristin Hickman, Thomas Merrill, and Jide Okechuku Nzelibe, moderated by Jennifer Walker Elrod]

The vote was 325 to 91, with Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Mel Watt (D-N.C.) leading the opposition. Timothy Lee discusses in the Washington Post. While I haven’t tried to get into the details, the general drift looks quite good to me. One major provision requires those filing suits to plead with some specificity what the infringement is; another provides for losing parties to compensate prevailing parties toward the cost of the litigation in more cases; yet another attempts to forestall expensive discovery in cases destined to fail on other grounds. Readers who recall my first book, The Litigation Explosion, will recall that I recommended procedural reform as the most promising way to address the incentives to overlitigiousness in our legal system and in particular identified lack of fee shifting, anything-goes pleadings, and wide-open discovery as among the system’s key deficits. So, yes, developments like this make me feel I was on the right track.

Equal time dept.: Richard Epstein takes a different view.

– against patent trolls. But Kevin O’Connor, CEO of a startup named FindTheBest, went ahead and did so [Joe Mullin, Ars Technica] Exploding and escalating-on-response demands, threats of criminal prosecution, demands for “sequestration” (removal from service) of his company’s computers to prevent evidence spoliation, and promises of burdensome discovery are all part of the story.

Procedure roundup

by Walter Olson on September 12, 2013

The deposition-extracted tidbits were enough to bring down Deen’s culinary empire, but that doesn’t mean they were actually relevant to anyone’s legal case against her: “U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore Jr. ruled Monday that [Lisa] Jackson, who is white, has no standing to sue them [Deen and her brother] for race discrimination.” [USA Today]

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More coverage for the Frank Buckley-edited new book on overlegalization, The American Disease [Richard Reinsch/Library of Law and Liberty, Alejandro Chafuen/Forbes] Here’s Buckley in the National Post:

If litigation rates are four times smaller in Canada than the United States, this should not occasion surprise: Subsidize something and you get more of it; penalize it and you get less of it.

Differences in legal ethics matter, too. In America, more than elsewhere, lawyers are encouraged to advance their client’s interests without regard to the interests of justice in the particular case or broader social concerns. American lawyers’ professional culture is unique in permitting and implicitly encouraging them to assert novel theories of recovery, coach witnesses, and wear down their opponents through burdensome pretrial discovery.

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“…for evidence in murder, divorce cases.” [Bob Sullivan, NBC News]

December 7 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 7, 2012

  • Georgia: “Twiggs County Landgrabber Loses, Must Pay $100K in Fees” [Lowering the Bar]
  • “Major California Rule Change For Depositions Takes Place In 2013″ [Cal Biz Lit] Discovery cost control explored at IAALS conference [Prawfs]
  • Gift idea! “Lego version of the Eighth Circle of Hell (where false counselors and perjurers suffered)” [John Steele, Legal Ethics Forum; Flavorwire]
  • “Don’t Worry About the Voting Rights Act: If the Supreme Court strikes down part of it, black and Hispanic voters will be just fine.” [Eric Posner and Nicholas Stephanopoulos, Slate, via @andrewmgrossman]
  • “Why did Congress hold hearings this week promoting crackpot [anti-vaccination] views? [Phil Plait, Slate]
  • “Debunking a Progressive Constitutional Myth; or, How Corporations Became People, Too” [John Fabian Witt, Balkinization]
  • “Federal ‘protection’ of American poker players turning into confiscation” [Point of Law]

Ted’s successful 7th Circuit objection in June in a Sears shareholder class action (Easterbrook: “The only goal of this suit appears to be fees for the plaintiffs’ lawyers”), which raised widespread discussion, is just one in a string of wins for his Center for Class Action Fairness in recent months. In a settlement involving complaints against Classmates.com, the judge agreed with the arguments of CCAF client (and George Mason lawprof) Michael Krauss, rapped class counsel’s knuckles with a $100,000 sanction for discovery tactics that amounted to harassment (see section III-D), and ordered a better deal for class members [PoL] And in yet another noteworthy case: “The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected a settlement of a class action over potentially leaky Volkswagen sunroofs that would have paid the lawyers who negotiated it $9.2 million in fees and the majority of car owners nothing.” [Daniel Fisher/Forbes, Ted at PoL, earlier]

July 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 20, 2012

  • Congress, HUD face off on “disparate impact” in housing and housing finance [WSJ edit, Clegg/NRO] Wells Fargo says it didn’t base loans on race but will pay $175 million to end federal probe [Reuters]
  • Maryland vs. Virginia: if only there were a government that was consistent about favoring liberty [John Walters, Maryland Public Policy Institute]
  • British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal levies $3000 against husband-and-wife owners of bed-and-breakfast who canceled reservation of gay couple based on religious objections [Religion Clause, The Province] UK: “‘Gay flatmate wanted’ ads break equality laws” [Telegraph] See our earlier coverage of the Ninth Circuit Roommate.com case here and here.
  • “Lifeguard fired for saving drowning person — outside his designated zone.” [NBC Miami via @commongood]
  • “Do you want to be informed about the constant, infuriating corporate welfare for professional sports owners? Follow FieldOfSchemes.com” [Matt Welch]
  • Negligent entrustment lawsuit against parents who let 33 year old daughter drive car yields $1.2 million in Tennessee [Knoxville News]
  • Pretrial and discovery: “New York state bar recommends federal litigation reforms” [Reuters]

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June 1 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 1, 2012

  • Most embarrassing lawsuit Hall of Fame (plaintiff’s decedent division) [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, cardiology med-mal; more]
  • Latest twist in ongoing speech-chilling saga worthy of attention from PEN: attorney Aaron Walker is charged in Rockville, Md. after a court interprets his blogging about an adversary as a violation of a peace order [Hans Bader and more, Eugene Volokh, Scott Greenfield with comments from Maryland lawyer Bruce Godfrey, Patterico, Popehat, and many others; earlier here, here, and here.] And Ken at Popehat, in a perhaps not unrelated development, puts out a call for a pro bono criminal lawyer to protect a blogger in M.D. Fla. and M.D. Tenn.
  • California lament: Facebook must pay hefty bribe to be allowed to hire more employees [Coyote]
  • “The burdens of e-discovery” [Ted Frank/PoL]
  • Strangest judicial campaign video of the year? [Jim Foley, candidate for Washington Court of Appeals, Olympia; Above the Law, followup]
  • Massive wave of disability claims among returning vets [AP]
  • We keep loading up company compliance/ethics folk with new regulatory responsibilities. How’s that working out? [Compliance Week]

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May 7 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 7, 2012

  • NY lawyer sanctioned $10K for behavior at deposition [Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal]
  • Obvious dangers and the W.V. frat-house rear-launched bottle rocket case [Popehat, earlier here, here]
  • Review of Liberty’s Refuge, new book on freedom of assembly by Washington U. lawprof John Inazu [Anthony Deardurff, Liberty Law]
  • If forfeiture and asset freeze can be deployed in a copyright enforcement case, where will they strike next? [Timothy Lee, Cato]
  • Hard-hitting Kim Strassel column on Al “Crucify Them” Armendariz [WSJ, earlier] Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson: “If you want to live by the precautionary principle, then crawl up in a ball and live in a cave.” [Coyote] Washington Post on the case for the Keystone pipeline [Adler]
  • Losing two looks like carelessness: second Durham County D.A. removed from office for misconduct [Volokh, KC Johnson]
  • Why won’t the Eighth Circuit recognize fraudulent misjoinder? [Beck]

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March 27 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 27, 2012

  • NYC: “Lawsuit Blames Apple’s Glass Doors for Plaintiff’s Broken Nose” [Lowering the Bar, CBS New York]
  • Some who pushed enhanced punishment for Dharun Ravi may now be doubting they really want it [Scott Greenfield, earlier here, etc.]
  • NYT editorial on FMLA state immunity is as bad as anyone had a right to expect [Whelan]
  • “Pleading, Discovery, and the Federal Rules: Exploring the Foundations of Modern Procedure” [Martin Redish, FedSoc "Engage"] Summary of important ’09 Redish book Wholesale Justice calling into question constitutionality of class actions [Trask]
  • Would trial-by-DVD be so very wrong? [James Grimmelmann, Prawfs]
  • Contested memorabilia: lawsuits filed over estate of gay rights pioneer Franklin Kameny [MetroWeekly]
  • Feds’ “distracted driving” guidance could impair usefulness of car navigation systems [Cunningham/CNet, earlier]

Reducing discovery costs

by Walter Olson on March 13, 2012

Famed Texas lawyer Stephen Susman has a bunch of ideas. [Dan Fisher, Forbes](& Miller)

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