The notoriously litigious inmate has sued the records book for calling him the world’s most litigious guy; he also “objects to the names Guinness intends to call him”, including: “Johnny Sue-nami,” “Sue-per-man” and the “Patrick Ewing of suing.” He is currently an inmate at a federal facility in Kentucky. [Spokane Spokesman-Review, KOMO] (& welcome ABA Journal readers).
Ultralitigious inmate Jonathan Lee Riches has filed a motion attempting to insert himself into the Bernard Madoff legal quagmire, but a federal court has rebuffed his efforts. That may make Riches the only person in the country not to have a legitimate legal grievance against Madoff [NYT DealBook via Christopher Fountain]
The federal judges in the Northern District of Georgia decided to place curbs on the famously litigious inmate who’s filed more than 1,000 lawsuits nationwide naming celebrities and politicians as members of hallucinatory cabals against him. In March the judges enjoined him from filing more suits without permission in the district, which he can do only if he agrees to be prosecuted for false statements. (Miami Daily Business Review, Jun. 12, also with some discussion of Jack Thompson and of a few other Florida litigants who’ve had their acts shut down after filing (e.g.) 18, 20 and 60+ meritless or inappropriate actions.)
The order in the Northern District of Georgia has not prevented Riches from continuing to file lawsuits against celebrities and public figures elsewhere, as in the federal District of South Carolina. (Rachel Barron, “Vinod Khosla Slapped With $43M Lawsuit”, Greentech Media, Jun. 20).
We’ve covered the litigious inmate fantasist before, but this is still a striking statistic: “Thirty-nine percent of the 491 cases filed so far this month in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia have been filed by one man: Jonathan Lee Riches. …Some of Riches’ prior complaints have been dismissed, including a $662 trillion suit filed in the Northern District last summer against Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. The suit alleged that Vick was attempting to ‘kidnap’ Riches’ mind and to force him to lose weight, and demanded that the $662 trillion be delivered — in ‘British gold’ shipped via truck — to the front gates of the prison where Riches is incarcerated.” (Janet L. Conley, “Inmate’s Frequent Filings Take On Targets Ranging From Spitzer to Van Halen”, Fulton County Daily Report, Mar. 25).
A guestblogger will be joining us momentarily, and I’ll be posting less over the holidays. Meanwhile, my pipeline is still backed up with items from the past year that deserve a more serious treatment than a hurried roundup mention permits. Here are four of them:
- More docs moving to Texas? Watch out, they must be quacks! After the New York Times reported that doctors seemed to be showing fresh interest in practicing in Texas since its enactment of litigation reforms, our frequent sparring partner Eric Turkewitz of New York Personal Injury Law Blog quickly countered by noting that disciplinary actions in the state are way up, and — quite a jump here — concluded with a suggestion that the newly arriving docs must be causing quality problems. Among bloggers who took this idea and ran with it: Phillip Martin of Burnt Orange Report. Then Prof. Childs had to spoil the fun by asking whether the doctors being disciplined were in fact newcomers to the state and found that, to judge by an initial sampling, no, they’re not. And the medical blogs then knocked the remaining props out from under the reform-made-care-worse theory by linking to coverage documenting how the increase in disciplinary actions reflected the Texas medical board’s concerted recent effort to get tough on doctors — too tough, said many critics. In other words, the Texas medical profession was doing exactly what many skeptics demanded it do — submit to stricter oversight in exchange for liability reform — and now that very submission was being cited as if it proved that standards of care were slipping.
- Uninjured car owners can sue GM over seatbacks. No class members claim to have been injured, but Maryland appeals court allows class action over cost of replacing allegedly weak seatbacks in GM cars. [DLA Piper; opinion, PDF; Maryland Courts Watcher]
- The litigious stylings of Jonathan Lee Riches. We mostly ignore litigants who file handwritten pleadings from prison cells complaining of obviously hallucinated events, but there’s no getting around it: the South Carolina convict has become a pop culture phenomenon with his scores of lawsuits against sports figures, President Bush, Perez Hilton, William Lerach and Elvis Presley over a host of imagined legal injuries. Some of the coverage: The Smoking Gun, Dreadnaught, Deadspin, Justia, Above the Law. He even has several Facebook fan groups.
- Taxpayers and vaccine-compensation lawyers. Under the federally enacted vaccine-compensation program, notes Kathleen Seidel, “a petitioner who brings a claim in good faith is entitled to reimbursement for reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, regardless of whether the claim is successful.” (Forget about loser-pays; this ensures that taxpayer-defendants can win but pay the other side’s fees anyway.) What sorts of bills do you think attorneys file for reimbursement under those circumstances? Yep, very optimistic bills, in which they expect taxpayers to shell out for their attendance at “advocacy group meetings, and attendance at a conference of trial lawyers representing autism plaintiffs”. In this case, HHS successfully appealed (PDF) an order that it pay the fees. Seidel’s Neurodiversity blog offers a remarkable trove of insight into litigation relating to autism causation theories, vaccines and thimerosal, and this post is no exception. (Updated to include links.)
More stories that shouldn’t get away in another post to come.