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Israel

With encouragement from both Congress and an active plaintiff’s bar, victims and survivors have been suing various foreign entities in U.S. courts charging complicity, sometimes indirect and roundabout, with participants in international terrorism. But a suit against Bank of China over a Palestinian Islamic Jihad attack suggests that “when it comes to battling global terror, civil suits by American citizens often do more harm than good.” Both the United States and Israel have reportedly negotiated with the Chinese institution to develop ways of combating illicit money transfers, but privately directed damages litigation tends to deter cooperation and perpetuate mistrust, and is hard to call off even when it has begun doing real harm to diplomacy. Even when lawsuits against some of the more obvious bad actors succeed, “the U.S. government has for years blocked financial judgments awarded to American plaintiffs against Iran and other foreign governments. Why? Such judgments are seen as conflicting with American foreign policy interests.” [James Loeffler and Moria Paz, Slate]

Earlier on lawsuits over terrorism: suing U.S. government over Kenya, Tanzania embassy bombings; Ted Frank 2007 essay; everybody “except the guys who did it“; Egyptian hotel forum-shopping; Tanzania gem smuggling; 9/11 suits and more.

“A federal judge has thrown out a libel lawsuit a son of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas filed last year against Foreign Policy magazine, charging that a commentary the journal published leveled unfounded allegations of corruption. … The piece was written by Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.” [Josh Gerstein/Politico, McClatchy]

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  • We’re worth it: lawyers in credit card case want judge to award them $720 million [Alison Frankel, Reuters] Johnson & Johnson will fight $181 million payday for private lawyers in Arkansas Risperdal case [Legal NewsLine]
  • British Columbia, Canada: “Lawyer Ordered To Pay Costs Personally For ‘Shoddy Piece Of Counsel Work’” [Erik Magraken] Ontario client questions lawyer’s fee [Law Times]
  • Sixth Circuit: attorneys fees statute not intended to cover dry cleaning and mini-blinds [Legal Ethics Forum]
  • Indiana lawmaker goes back to drawing board on loser-pays bill [Indiana Law Blog]
  • ‘Shocked’ by $3M legal fee in fatal car-crash case, judge tells lawyers to pay plaintiff lawyer $50K [ABA Journal]
  • Seth Katsuya Endo, “Should Evidence of Settlement Negotiations Affect Attorneys’ Fees Awards?” [SSRN via Legal Ethics Forum] /li>
  • In Israel, more of a discretionary loser-pays arrangement [Eisenberg et al, SSRN via @tedfrank]
  • British cabbie beats ticket, recovers only some of his legal costs. Still better than he’d do here, right? [Daily Mail]
  • Turnaround guru Wilbur Ross: current structure of bankruptcy fees encourages lawyer “hyperactivity” [Reuters]

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April 4 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 4, 2012

  • N.Y. Times editorial flays Stand Your Ground, but dodges its (non)-application to Martin/Zimmerman case; Washington Post blasts same law, doesn’t seem to realize Florida homicide rate has gone down not up; chronology as of Sunday’s evidence [Frances Robles, Miami Herald] On the disputed facts of the case, it would be nice if NYT corrected its misreporting [Tom Maguire, more, yet more]
  • Lawprof Michael Dorf vs. Jeffrey Toobin on president’s power not to enforce a statute [New Yorker letter]
  • Israeli law bans underweight models [AP/Houston Chronicle]
  • Is price-fixing OK? Depends on whether the government is helping arrange it [Mark Perry]
  • Minnesota man arrested, jailed for neglecting to put siding on his house [KSTP via Alkon]
  • Once lionized in press, former Ohio AG Dann now fights suspension of law license [Sue Reisinger, Corp Counsel, earlier]
  • How California is that? “Killer got $30,000 in unemployment while in jail, officials say” [LAT]

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After the Olympia Food Co-op in Washington removed products from Israel from its shelves, it was sued by several members who claimed that it had violated its bylaws. “A motion filed by attorneys with Davis Wright Tremaine in Seattle and by attorneys with the Center for Constitutional Rights asserts that the lawsuit is a ‘Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation,’” banned under a Washington statute; one of the attorneys who filed the suit says “it is ‘absolutely, positively not’ a SLAPP suit.” [The Olympian, more here and here]

A new way to harass authors whose controversial message one disapproves of? The lawsuit, which demands $5 million, claims that the former President’s 2006 volume “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” contains “numerous false and knowingly misleading statements intended to promote the author’s agenda of anti-Israel propaganda and to deceive the reading public instead of presenting accurate information as advertised.” Sanctions, please! [Washington Post "Political Bookworm"]

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September 9 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 9, 2010

  • “Bullying Busybody for Senate: How Connecticut’s attorney general beat Craigslist into submission” [Sullum, Harper] Blumenthal’s Senate campaign sputtering despite huge advantages [Jack Fowler, NRO] Lloyd Grove interview with challenger Linda McMahon [Daily Beast]
  • “How Much Does Defensive Medicine Cost? One Study Says $46 Billion” [WSJ Health Blog, NY Times] Plus: a cardiologist’s comment;
  • “Man sues over parking ticket, says it disclosed too much info” [Obscure Store, suburban Chicago Daily Herald]
  • New allegations emerge in much-discussed “rape by deception” case in Israel [FrumForum, earlier, an academic comments]
  • A Connecticut village turns down money from Hartford and tackles a historic preservation project on its own [me at Cato]
  • NY Governor signs bill giving housekeepers, nannies new powers to sue employers for overtime, vacations [Workplace Prof] Plus: Hans in comments wonders whether the duty to avoid “hostile environment” harassment will collide with the right of free speech on sexual matters taken for granted (heretofore, at least) in a home environment.
  • “Lawyers sue Facebook for letting kids like advertisements” [Gryphon, PoL]
  • Per his foes, Gilded Age NYC trial lawyer William Howe used onion-scented handkerchief to summon tears at command [five years ago at Overlawyered]

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“A Palestinian man has been convicted of rape after having consensual sex with a woman who had believed him to be a fellow Jew.” [Guardian] Rape by deception is a crime in many although not all jurisdictions, with impersonation of a woman’s husband or lover being one classic fact pattern giving rise to charges; two years ago, in a debate over such a law in Massachusetts, critics expressed unease about which other sorts of misrepresentations might be reached as well [CBS News]

As for the civil-law side, a few years back (to quote from the manuscript of my forthcoming book Schools for Misrule):

a Northwestern law professor, building on the undeniable fact that many persons behave badly on the dating market, proposed as a remedy the development of a new tort of “sexual fraud,” which would allow lawsuits for cash damages against persons who use lies or insincerity to get others to sleep with them (“Of course I’m not married.”) It was one of the year’s most widely hailed and talked-about articles.

More: Max Fisher, Atlantic Wire (rounding up reactions); Eugene Volokh (including link to discussion of Massachusetts bill). And: comments from Andrew Sullivan’s readers.

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May 26 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 26, 2010

  • Oh dear: Elena Kagan praised as “my judicial hero” Aharon Barak, ultra-activist Israeli jurist flayed by Posner as lawless [Stuart Taylor, Jr./Newsweek] Kagan and executive power [Root, Reason]
  • More on efforts to get feds to redesign hot dogs and other choking-risk foods [NYT, earlier]
  • Amid brouhaha over Rand Paul views, Chicago firefighter-test case provides reminder of how discrimination law actually plays out in courts today [Tabarrok, MargRev]
  • So please, Ken, tell us what you really think of this Mr. Francis (“Girls Gone Wild”) and his nastygrams [Popehat]
  • More on SEIU’s tactic of sending mob to banker’s home in suburban Maryland [Volokh and more, earlier]
  • “Intensive Parenting Enforced: Parents Criminal Liability for Children Skipping School” [Gaia Bernstein, ConcurOp on a California bill]
  • Julian Ku unimpressed with United Nations officials’ claims that Arizona immigration statute violates international civil rights law [Opinio Juris] Plus, a complaint to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights [Kopel, Volokh] Ilya Shapiro analyzes statute’s constitutionality [Cato]
  • Bill moving through Congress would force states, localities to accept unionization, arbitration for public safety workforces [Fox, Jottings] And here comes the giant federal bailout of union pension funds [Megan McArdle]

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December 15 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 15, 2009

  • “Truck drivers with positive drug tests should not file lawsuits … period.” [Jon Hyman, Ohio Employer's Law]
  • Tiger Woods hires a Hollywood law firm famous for its nastygrams to the press [Bronstad, NLJ; earlier on Lavely & Singer]
  • “Mom Who Let Kids Play Outside Threatened by Cops” [Aliso Viejo, Calif.; Free-Range Kids]
  • When you’re embarking on the business of not raising pigs, best to start small and ramp up from there [Coyote, U.K.]
  • Harvey Silverglate, author of Three Felonies a Day, guestblogging at Volokh Conspiracy on, inter alia, “honest services fraud“;
  • If you’re uneasy about the FTC’s claims to regulate blogger freebies and other entanglements of commerce with online speech, wait till the agency gets the beefed-up enforcement powers it’s seeking [WSJ editorial]
  • Replaying a discussion familiar in this country, Israel wonders whether it’s got too many lawyers [Jerusalem Post]
  • “Wrongful Death Suit Filed Against O’Quinn Estate Over Fatal Car Crash” [Texas Lawyer]

From the Federalist Society, which is among the sponsors of the D.C. event tomorrow, along with the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression and other groups:

Lawfare is the use of the law and legal institutions to achieve military, political or strategic objectives. In recent years, lawfare has come to include libel litigation aimed at suppressing public dialogue about radical Islam and terrorism. Parties with financial means have been filing lawsuits, in American courts and abroad, against people who speak out against or write critically about radical Islam. Defendants include authors, researchers, journalists, politicians, and human rights advocacy groups.

“Libel Tourism,” is a form of forum shopping, where plaintiffs bring actions against American citizens in foreign jurisdictions that lack the free speech protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution. As a result New York State has passed the Libel Terrorism Protection Act, and the U.S. government is considering the Free Speech Protection Act, both of which operate to nullify said foreign libel judgments.

Our conference will address these fundamental issues: What does freedom of speech truly mean? Is U.S. legislation prohibiting the enforcement of foreign libel judgments necessary? What should be the role of the European Union and the United Nations in addressing these issues?

Some further reading: Brooke Goldstein/Family Security Matters, Aaron Eitan Meyer/New Majority.

“International human rights law” — what could sound more cuddly and humanitarian? Who could disapprove of such a thing? That’s one reason it’s so popular at almost every law school nowadays following years of generous support by the Ford Foundation, Soros, and other donors. In practice, as is now clear, it often tends to furnish a set of handy weapons for carrying on “lawfare” — warfare by means of courtroom action against one’s adversaries, particularly in the courts of third countries. (Anne Herzberg, “Lawfare against Israel”, WSJ, Nov. 5). For the closely related issue of laws empowering private attorneys and litigants to pursue foreign entities over alleged terrorist support whether or not such actions advance U.S. diplomatic goals, see Sept. 12, 2007.