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Donald Trump

June 26 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 26, 2014

  • Court slaps “nightmare” Sacramento litigant Raj Singh with sanctions [KXTV, auto-plays, earlier]
  • Child overprotection: “I don’t think they even drink liquid soap, the gateway drug for sunscreen.” [Lenore Skenazy, Free-Range Kids]
  • Three-fer: personal injury, qui tam lawsuits against guardrail maker coordinated by disappointed patent litigant [Insurance Journal]
  • Donald Trump hit with sanctions in lawsuit for not disclosing insurance policy [South Florida Business Journal, our Trump coverage]
  • On AirBnB and sharing services, it’s lefty economist Dean Baker (con) vs. David Henderson (pro). Go David! [EconLib] London black cabs seek level playing field with Uber. Good idea, let’s deregulate ‘em both [Matthew Feeney, Cato]
  • Waffle House chairman claims attorneys committed extortion in ex-housekeeper’s sex lawsuit [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
  • “Tenth Circuit Says No to ‘Death by Discovery’ in Dispute over Agreement to Arbitrate in Class Action” [Lars Fuller, Class Action Blawg on Howard v. Ferrellgas Partners LP]

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  • New Obama “pay-for-performance” scheme for higher ed would drastically increase federal power over university sector [D.C. Examiner editorial] Don’t expect new moves to curb the escalating cost of college [Neal McCluskey, Cato]
  • Funniest IRB (institutional review board) anecdote in a while [via Tyler Cowen, earlier]
  • Will colleges start awarding admissions preferences to applicants who say they’re gay? [John Rosenberg, Discriminations]
  • “8 Cringeworthy Allegations From The New Lawsuit Against Donald Trump” [Business Insider]
  • Judge rules student can proceed with suit against Morgan State over attack by brain-eating cannibal, because what could be more reasonably foreseeable than that? [Baltimore Sun, Daily Caller]
  • Dartmouth, USC: Office of Civil Rights, following “blueprint,” suggests colleges’ procedures not extreme enough in campus sex cases [KC Johnson/Minding the Campus, earlier]
  • NCAA concussion suit seeks class action status [ESPN]

April 17 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 17, 2013

  • “The Consortium has hired Arnold & Porter, and they can threaten whomever they want, the facts be damned.” [Popehat]
  • Former Social Security administrators: NPR’s just imagining things, pay no attention to that report on the growth of the disability program [NADR.org, earlier] Ronald Reagan got rolled on the SSDI disability program, and we’re all paying the price [Avik Roy]
  • Katrina qui tam: “Jury returns verdict for the Rigsby sisters against State Farm” [Freeland, earlier]
  • Probate dispute had become cause celebre in Connecticut: “Judge Rules In Favor Of Caretaker In Smoron Farm Case” [Hartford Courant]
  • Judge’s text message complains of “‘docket from hell,’ filled with tatted-up… gap tooth skank hoes” [Above the Law]
  • “FTC Clarifies Obligations of Product Reviewers, But Does Not Ease Concerns” [DMLP]
  • “Trump Dismisses ‘Spawn of Orangutan’ Lawsuit” [Lowering the Bar, earlier]
  • If you’re one of those who occasionally send me links from the Alex Jones site InfoWars, now you know why I never use ‘em [Dave Weigel]

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Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on March 11, 2013

  • “Crime to Create a ‘Hostile Environment’ That ‘Substantially Interferes’ with Person’s ‘Psychological Well-Being’ Based on Race, Religion, Sex, Etc.?” [Volokh] “Minnesota Bill to Ban K-12 Speech That Denies Fellow Students a ‘Supportive Environment’” [same]
  • Blogger dropped as defendant in “pink slime” defamation litigation, but suit against ABC and others continues [Bettina Siegel/Lunch Tray] Suit against ABC based in part on state food-disparagement statute occasionally criticized in this space [Reuters] Dearborn residents: are you sure you want to patronize a restaurant that deploys lawyers to suppress criticism? [Paul Alan Levy, earlier]
  • Libya arrests foreigners accused of distributing Christian literature, charge could carry death penalty [Guardian]
  • Sometimes it seems NYT editors are First Amendment absolutists about everything except political speech First Amendment was meant to protect [SmarterTimes]
  • Global Wildlife Center of Folsom, Louisiana sues a satirical website and then menaces Ken of Popehat;
  • Long piece on Naffe/O’Keefe backstory of Kimberlin/Patterico legal/media war [Chris Faraone, Boston Phoenix, earlier]
  • Update: following outcry, publishing company drops suit against Canadian librarian [CBC, earlier] Also from Canada: Nanaimo, British Columbia: “Mayor ensures ‘Koruption’ stickers never seen again” [Beschizza, BoingBoing] Voltaire wept: Bruce Bawer on the Canada Supreme Court’s “hate speech” decision [Front Page mag, earlier]
  • “Donald Trump, paper tiger?” [Paul Alan Levy]

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Donald Trump v. Bill Maher

by Walter Olson on February 7, 2013

The best headline is at the ABA Journal: “Trump suit says he’s not ape spawn, seeks to collect on Maher’s ‘unconditional offer’”. Eugene Volokh writes that while Maher’s “orangutan” swipe was clearly a joke, the prospect of sanctions over a Trump court action isn’t. More: Lowering the Bar.

P.S. Someone in the Volokh comments section brings up the McDonald’s hot coffee case, provoking the usual misplaced condescension along lines paralleling the trial bar’s strenuous advocacy efforts on the issue. I do appreciate, though, the suggestion that I trademark the epithet “the goober at Overlawyered.”

P.P.S. Disgruntled beauty pageant contestant ordered to pay Trump $5 million.

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Donald Trump, bully-ionaire

by Walter Olson on September 9, 2011

An appeals court has upheld the dismissal of Donald Trump’s long-running defamation suit against author Timothy O’Brien, whose 2005 book, citing anonymous sources, had “reported the real estate maven/TV personality’s net worth was only a fraction of public claims.” [WSJ Deal Journal; earlier here]

May 12 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 12, 2011

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It’s practically a meme: last week I pointed out at Cato at Liberty that the real estate tycoon liked to use lawyers to push others around, and now Peter Stone of the Center for Public Integrity quotes me in the course of an article documenting Trump’s very frequent resort to litigation in his business and public affairs.

“If he’s taken seriously as a candidate it’s going to be appropriate to look at his record of litigation,” conservative legal scholar Walter Olson of the Cato Institute told iWatch News . He said a big question will be “how consistent is [Trump’s record] with the Republican idea that litigation should be a last resort and not a weapon for tactical advantage.”

Atlantic Wire and Ben Smith at Politico discuss.

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At Cato at Liberty, I recall a couple of the tycoon’s ventures into the use of defamation litigation to intimidate critics — Reason #1,001 for thoughtful voters to stay well away from him.

P.S. And here’s Radley Balko with Reason #1,002.

Wealthy and aggressive individuals wielding defamation lawsuits never seldom sometimes, but apparently not in this case, prosper in efforts to silence their critics. [NY Post, Bloomberg, WSJ Law Blog] Trump vows an appeal against New York Times-affiliated author Timothy O’Brien — not to run up anyone’s legal costs further, you understand, but from a disinterested sense of justice. Earlier coverage here, here, here, and here. More: American Lawyer.

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In many if not most cases, lawsuits that are held up to scorn on this site are filed by people who, in their heart of hearts and however misguidedly, believe in the justice of their cause.   Those people can and should be criticized when their cause is misguided, or when it camouflages some other agenda, or when their only real impact is the introduction of unjustified costs, frictions, and obstacles in to the path of valuable and legitimate economic or creative activity (not to mention the unjustified enrichment of a small class of my fellow attorneys). 

Worse than these, though, in many ways, are wealthy and/or powerful egotists who use the legal system on a whim, as their personal payback mechanism or as a means of venting their pettiest grievances.   At the risk of fatally lowering the tone of Overlawyered and of prematurely ending my tenure as a guestblogger, I note the latest example, a tiff between two deeply unpleasant but inescapable self-anointed celebrities: Rosie O’Donnell and Donald Trump (MSNBC, "Trump to Rosie O’Donnell: You’re sued!", Dec. 21).

Earlier this afternoon Trump announced he is filing suit against the TV talk show host. ‘She says things that come to her mouth, she’s not smart, she’s crude, she’s ignorant and to be honest I look forward to suing Rosie,’ he told our cameras. ‘I’m gonna sue her and I look forward to it.  She’s really very dangerous for the show.’

Trump declined to elaborate on the details of his proposed legal filings, but added O’Donnell will understand his reasoning.  ‘Rosie will find out what we’re suing her for.  She knows what we’re suing her for,’ he said adding the lawsuit is already in the works.  ‘It’s something I look very forward to,’ he added.

If ever there was a case for "loser pays," this is it.   Trouble is, with relentlessly meaningless suits like this one gumming up the works, we’re all the losers.

Of Related Interest: The scurrilous Los Angeles gossip site, Defamer, has the Trump video from which I have drawn the post title (Dec. 20).   Not that I would recommend watching it, of course.

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Evan Schaeffer was very excited by the fact that ATLA made its Trial magazine attack on reform freely available on line, so I clicked over to see what the fuss was. The first story I looked at was Justinian Lane’s “Corporate wolves in victims’ clothing,” which featured, among various baseless assertions and screeds about high executive salaries, the following strawman:

And the next time someone brings up Stella Liebeck and the McDonald’s coffee case, ask why a $2 million lawsuit over third-degree burns to a woman’s genitals is frivolous, but a $5 billion lawsuit over Donald Trump’s ego isn’t.

Fascinating. What fictional reformer supports Donald Trump’s lawsuit? Certainly not the main author of this site, who has repeatedly scoffed at it. Where’s the hypocrisy? (More on Stella Liebeck and the McDonald’s coffee case, which was frivolous, but is hardly the only reason for supporting reform.) Needless to say, I’m not impressed. Lane’s claim that proposed reforms wouldn’t affect Trump’s case is absolutely false; reforms such as anti-SLAPP laws, loser-pays, procedural streamlining, and limiting forum-shopping would all cabin the ability of a Trump to attempt to use litigation to intimidate critics.

Lane asks why reformers argue that “the king’s-ransom salaries ‘earned’ by corporate executives aren’t passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices, but that the costs of the tort system are.” There’s a difference, of course: a consumer can object to high CEO salaries by refusing to invest in a corporation’s stock or to purchase its products or services. But a consumer who buys a car can’t opt out of the huge expenses trial attorneys have added to every motor vehicle in America—$500 for every vehicle sold in America. Tom LaSorda, the CEO of Chrysler, doesn’t make $500 for every vehicle, even if one finds his salary objectionable for some reason. But as long as Lane is criticizing the “hypocrisy” of reformers, one wonders if he’ll turn the same searching eye complaining about high salaries to the multi-millionaire trial attorneys he lauds who, unlike the executives, make their money by destroying wealth and jobs rather than creating wealth and jobs.

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