Overlawyered » legal extortion http://overlawyered.com Chronicling the high cost of our legal system Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:00:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 California: Lawyer’s nastygram threat is free speech, not extortion http://overlawyered.com/2013/07/california-lawyers-nastygram-threat-free-speech-extortion/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=california-lawyers-nastygram-threat-free-speech-extortion http://overlawyered.com/2013/07/california-lawyers-nastygram-threat-free-speech-extortion/#comments Wed, 17 Jul 2013 17:58:14 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=39982 In a menacing letter that included the draft of a complaint, well-known entertainment lawyer Martin Singer informed his target that “I have deliberately left blank spaces in portions of the complaint dealing with your using company resources to arrange sexual liaisons with older men such as ‘Uncle Jerry,’ Judge ——, a/k/a ‘Dad’ (see enclosed photo), […]

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In a menacing letter that included the draft of a complaint, well-known entertainment lawyer Martin Singer informed his target that “I have deliberately left blank spaces in portions of the complaint dealing with your using company resources to arrange sexual liaisons with older men such as ‘Uncle Jerry,’ Judge ——, a/k/a ‘Dad’ (see enclosed photo), and many others. When the complaint is filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court, there will be no blanks in the pleading.” Now California appeals court judge Steven Suzukawa has ruled that the threatened disclosure was appropriately related to the financial dispute at issue and did not constitute extortion as a matter of law. [Hollywood Reporter, earlier]

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California: Lawyer’s nastygram threat is free speech, not extortion is a post from Overlawyered - Chronicling the high cost of our legal system

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August 10 roundup http://overlawyered.com/2010/08/august-10-roundup-3/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=august-10-roundup-3 http://overlawyered.com/2010/08/august-10-roundup-3/#comments Tue, 10 Aug 2010 12:12:46 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=18808 Oregon 7-year-old gets apology, she can go on running her lemonade stand after all [Skenazy, Josh Blackman] “Judicial recusals and politics make a bad mix” [Bainbridge] Sypher guilty in extortion trial [Above the Law and followup, earlier] “Chevron’s Explosive Filing on Collusion Between Plaintiffs and the Ecuadorian Court-Appointed Expert” [Roger Alford, Opinio Juris and more, […]

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  • Oregon 7-year-old gets apology, she can go on running her lemonade stand after all [Skenazy, Josh Blackman]
  • “Judicial recusals and politics make a bad mix” [Bainbridge]
  • Sypher guilty in extortion trial [Above the Law and followup, earlier]
  • “Chevron’s Explosive Filing on Collusion Between Plaintiffs and the Ecuadorian Court-Appointed Expert” [Roger Alford, Opinio Juris and more, Alison Frankel/American Lawyer, Anderson, Volokh, ShopFloor]
  • Meet author of “How to Sue Your Doctor … and Win!” [Media Matters via Popehat]
  • FBI writes to Wikipedia demanding removal of representation of its official seal [Ron Coleman]
  • “Kagan’s Confirmation Could Be High-Water Mark for Big Government” [Shapiro, Cato]
  • “Righthaven’s lawsuits are ‘the McDonald’s coffee cases of copyright litigation’” [Las Vegas Sun via Romenesko]
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    Annals of rape allegations http://overlawyered.com/2010/08/annals-of-rape-allegations/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=annals-of-rape-allegations http://overlawyered.com/2010/08/annals-of-rape-allegations/#comments Tue, 03 Aug 2010 10:27:27 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=18751 “A Louisville police detective testified Monday that she was surprised to see television reporters outside the police station when Karen Sypher arrived to file a rape report last year against University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino.” [USA Today, more] A year ago Sypher’s lawyer wrote Pitino a letter demanding $10 million on threat of […]

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    “A Louisville police detective testified Monday that she was surprised to see television reporters outside the police station when Karen Sypher arrived to file a rape report last year against University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino.” [USA Today, more] A year ago Sypher’s lawyer wrote Pitino a letter demanding $10 million on threat of suit. Sypher is now on trial for alleged extortion and her then lawyer has given testimony for the prosecution. [ABA Journal]

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    Client, lawyer charged with extortion over settlement talks http://overlawyered.com/2010/04/client-lawyer-charged-with-extortion-over-settlement-talks/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=client-lawyer-charged-with-extortion-over-settlement-talks http://overlawyered.com/2010/04/client-lawyer-charged-with-extortion-over-settlement-talks/#comments Fri, 16 Apr 2010 15:42:24 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=16969 The lawyer is a prominent figure in Orange County, Calif. politics. As usual, the tricky part comes in distinguishing between actual extortion and the way lawyers are often known to behave in ordinary, garden-variety settlement talks [Newport Beach Daily Pilot via ABA Journal] Tweet Tags: California, legal extortion

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    The lawyer is a prominent figure in Orange County, Calif. politics. As usual, the tricky part comes in distinguishing between actual extortion and the way lawyers are often known to behave in ordinary, garden-variety settlement talks [Newport Beach Daily Pilot via ABA Journal]

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    Update: lawyer’s baseless demand letter amounted to extortion http://overlawyered.com/2009/09/update-lawyers-baseless-demand-letter-amounted-to-extortion/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=update-lawyers-baseless-demand-letter-amounted-to-extortion http://overlawyered.com/2009/09/update-lawyers-baseless-demand-letter-amounted-to-extortion/#comments Fri, 18 Sep 2009 18:30:36 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=13730 Updating our March 2008 coverage: The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled last month that an attorney could properly be convicted of extortion for sending a demand letter threatening patently baseless litigation. The lawyer had sent the letter (which included a demand for monetary payment) to a hair salon threatening litigation over its purportedly discriminatory setting […]

    Update: lawyer’s baseless demand letter amounted to extortion is a post from Overlawyered - Chronicling the high cost of our legal system

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    Updating our March 2008 coverage: The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled last month that an attorney could properly be convicted of extortion for sending a demand letter threatening patently baseless litigation. The lawyer had sent the letter (which included a demand for monetary payment) to a hair salon threatening litigation over its purportedly discriminatory setting of different rates for men’s and women’s haircuts. A crucial element in the decision was that the lawyer did not in fact have a client in hand with a potential complaint as an actual customer of the salon. [Eugene Volokh, Above the Law; State v. Hynes, PDF] “Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Baker said Hynes sent letters to at least 19 salons in the state.” [Concord Monitor 2008 coverage]

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    Deceased Austin lawyer probed over demand letters to restaurants http://overlawyered.com/2009/08/deceased-austin-lawyer-probed-over-demand-letters-to-restaurants/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=deceased-austin-lawyer-probed-over-demand-letters-to-restaurants http://overlawyered.com/2009/08/deceased-austin-lawyer-probed-over-demand-letters-to-restaurants/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2009 04:11:30 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=13221 Prominent Austin, Texas lawyer and judicial candidate Mina Brees, who died Aug. 7, is the target of a probe by the state’s attorney general after sending scores of letters to Houston and Dallas area restaurants advising them that their business name registrations had expired and that they could buy them back by dealing with her […]

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    Prominent Austin, Texas lawyer and judicial candidate Mina Brees, who died Aug. 7, is the target of a probe by the state’s attorney general after sending scores of letters to Houston and Dallas area restaurants advising them that their business name registrations had expired and that they could buy them back by dealing with her at a cost of $20,000 or $25,000 each. The letters informed them that a client, Chicksports Inc., had taken possession of the names, but did not mention that she herself was the president of Chicksports or that it operated from the address of her solo-practice law firm. The Texas Restaurant Association had advised its members not to pay and said under state law lapses in name registrations do not deprive restaurants of their legal rights to their distinctive names. Brees had been on strained terms with a famous son, NFL quarterback Drew Brees. [Mike Tolson, Houston Chronicle/KHOU, Austin American-Statesman, more Houston Chronicle, Tex Parte, DeadSpin] Per the Austin American-Statesman, “Brees received the Austin Bar Association’s 2005 professionalism award for legal ethics and professionalism.”

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    Beaumont justice and the silicosis mass torts http://overlawyered.com/2009/05/beaumont-justice-and-the-silicosis-mass-torts/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=beaumont-justice-and-the-silicosis-mass-torts http://overlawyered.com/2009/05/beaumont-justice-and-the-silicosis-mass-torts/#comments Sun, 03 May 2009 09:14:42 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=10908 “The first time we ever lost a case in trial, it was 2001. We tried it in Beaumont, Texas, and lost $7.5 million. . . . The judge sat there through the trial reading a newspaper. At one point an objection was made, the bailiff taps him on the shoulder and says ‘judge, objection is […]

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    “The first time we ever lost a case in trial, it was 2001. We tried it in Beaumont, Texas, and lost $7.5 million. . . . The judge sat there through the trial reading a newspaper. At one point an objection was made, the bailiff taps him on the shoulder and says ‘judge, objection is being made.’ He looks at our lawyer and says ‘overruled.’ The plaintiffs’ lawyer raises his hand and says ‘no, judge, it was me.’ He says ‘sustained’ and goes back to reading the paper.” …

    [U.S. Silica CEO John A.] Ulizio shares a memo that plaintiffs’ lawyer Joe Gibson sent to silica defendants in 2004 with a blunt offer: Settle our 9,000 cases for $900 million, or pay $1.5 billion in pretrial discovery alone, plus an even bigger verdict. “That’s the genius of the economics of litigation from the plaintiffs’ perspective. Sue a lot of people, sue on behalf of a lot of plaintiffs, get into an adverse jurisdiction, and then don’t make too big of a demand, so you can settle it for a relatively small percentage of the cost of defending the case,” Mr. Ulizio says.

    Kim Strassel has a must-read account of how U.S. Silica beat a mass-tort fraud attempting to steal its solvency—and did so almost entirely by the luck of the MDL draw, as a different judge might have refused to conduct the hearings that exposed the wrongdoing. (See also Michael Krauss at Point of Law.)

    Note that that $900 million proposal for 9000 bogus cases works out to $100,000/case—which is exactly what the Vioxx litigation settled for.

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    “Sued for seeking a ZIPcode?” http://overlawyered.com/2009/04/sued-for-seeking-a-zipcode/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sued-for-seeking-a-zipcode http://overlawyered.com/2009/04/sued-for-seeking-a-zipcode/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2009 12:22:07 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=10383 Overlawyered readers may remember the problem of FACTA lawsuits when a poorly drafted federal law led to attorneys seeking $1000 for every occasion when a credit-card slip showed an expiration date. Stroock & Stroock’s Daniel A. Rozansky and Scott M. Pearson have an op-ed in today’s San Francisco Chronicle discussing problems with a similar California […]

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    Overlawyered readers may remember the problem of FACTA lawsuits when a poorly drafted federal law led to attorneys seeking $1000 for every occasion when a credit-card slip showed an expiration date.

    Stroock & Stroock’s Daniel A. Rozansky and Scott M. Pearson have an op-ed in today’s San Francisco Chronicle discussing problems with a similar California law. California prohibits businesses from requesting or requiring “personal identification information” while accepting a credit-card payment; this includes address and phone number, but doesn’t specify what else. Entrepreneurial trial lawyers are asking courts to hold that it includes harmless information like ZIP codes: since the statute provides for $1000/violation damages in the absence of a showing of harm without a cap, extortionate lawsuits are easy to create–and a further drag on the already-suffering California economy.

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    Tyna Marie Robertson back in the news http://overlawyered.com/2008/12/tyna-marie-robertson-back-in-the-news/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tyna-marie-robertson-back-in-the-news http://overlawyered.com/2008/12/tyna-marie-robertson-back-in-the-news/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2008 04:06:36 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=8006 Readers may remember the episode in which Michael Flatley, impresario of the “Riverdance” and “Lord of the Dance” Irish extravaganzas, was falsely accused of rape by a woman who then demanded money. After the California Supreme Court, in a pioneering ruling, found that Flatley could countersue for extortion, he obtained a large default judgment against […]

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    Readers may remember the episode in which Michael Flatley, impresario of the “Riverdance” and “Lord of the Dance” Irish extravaganzas, was falsely accused of rape by a woman who then demanded money. After the California Supreme Court, in a pioneering ruling, found that Flatley could countersue for extortion, he obtained a large default judgment against Tyna Marie Robertson, who, as noted in a news report we quoted at the time, “had dated other wealthy and well-known men through the years — relationships that sometimes ended in litigation”.

    Now Robertson is back in the news leveling bizarre charges against another of her former paramours, Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher. Lowering the Bar has details (Dec. 14).

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    A question about the AutoAdmit litigation http://overlawyered.com/2008/08/a-question-about-the-autoadmit-litigation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-question-about-the-autoadmit-litigation http://overlawyered.com/2008/08/a-question-about-the-autoadmit-litigation/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2008 13:36:38 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=7384 The WSJ Law Blog reports that the two Yale Law women suing AutoAdmit/XOXOHTH posters are “seeking to resolve their claims against these defendants” without amending the complaint to name their identities, obtained over the course of a variety of subpoenas.  Thus, the recent amended complaint named only a single AutoAdmit poster, Matthew C. Ryan, who […]

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    The WSJ Law Blog reports that the two Yale Law women suing AutoAdmit/XOXOHTH posters are “seeking to resolve their claims against these defendants” without amending the complaint to name their identities, obtained over the course of a variety of subpoenas.  Thus, the recent amended complaint named only a single AutoAdmit poster, Matthew C. Ryan, who had apparently refused to settle–perhaps because while Ryan’s comments were obnoxious, they were not legally actionable.

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it historically the case that someone who says “Pay me money or I will file a lawsuit and issue press releases that reveal private facts you find to be embarrassing” guilty of blackmail or extortion in other contexts?  What distinguishes this case–especially when the underlying allegations are so legally flimsy?

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