The rules for class actions seeking injunctive relief against unlawful conduct are looser in key respects than those for actions in which monetary relief is the object, in part because the consequences for absent class members are less serious. But what happens when shrewd counsel institute an action that is injunctive on its face, but actually crafted to tee up an entitlement to class damages? The Montana Supreme Court approved such a maneuver in a case now called Allstate Insurance Co. v. Jacobsen; now Cato has filed a brief seeking certiorari review of that decision, which raises important issues of class action fairness and practicality leading on from such recent high court decisions as Wal-Mart v. Dukes and Comcast v. Behrend. Read a summary here and the full brief here. More: Legal NewsLine (on Washington Legal Foundation brief).
Step 2: Sue golf course because balls land constantly on your property. Step 3: Lose lawsuit. [Ravalli, Mont., Republic]
“The president of the Florence Park District says he’s disappointed in a system that allows a man riding a motorized bicycle on a winter night on a trail that doesn’t allow motorized vehicles to receive an insurance settlement. Half of the settlement came from a Florence bar because snow was pushed onto the trail when the bar parking lot was plowed.” [AP]
Citing text messages she sent her boyfriend shortly before the incident, Montana prosecutors contend that Justine Winter’s crash at 85 mph into an oncoming vehicle was a deliberate suicide attempt. Winter, who faces trial on homicide charges in the deaths of Erin Thompson, the woman she ran into, and Thompson’s 13-year-old son, has now sued Thompson’s estate as well as the construction company that built the interstate overpass where the accident occurred. [Daily Inter Lake, Siouxsie Law]
A Montana jury decided that the aluminum baseball bat manufactured by “Louisville Slugger” maker Hillerich & Bradsby was not a defective product, but that the company should have warned of the dangers from its hitting balls at a higher speed, and awarded a family $850,000 for the 2003 death of their son at a baseball game. [Helena Independent Record, AP] Early commentary: Russell Jackson (doubting that a warning would actually have altered the behavior of those in the game) and Eugene Volokh (before verdict). Earlier here. More: Jim Copland discusses on CNN; Above the Law.
And soon Bridget Kevane, a professor of Latin American and Latino literature at Montana State in Bozeman, found herself fighting a child endangerment rap. [Free Range Kids via Amy Alkon; Judith Warner, NYT]
A high-profile federal environmental prosecution has struck out following charges of prosecutorial misconduct as well as disputes over the quality of the evidence [Montana's News Station, Van Voris/Bloomberg] Carter Wood and others have been blogging the case at Point of Law, and a joint blog effort of the University of Montana’s law and journalism schools has given the case extensive coverage. See also Kirk Hartley.
For years controversy has raged over a Las Vegas businessman and resort owner’s efforts to trademark the phrase, widely used as a description of Montana. (Missoula writer William Kittredge says he remembers coming up with the phrase himself.) Now, per TTA Blog, Montana Sen. Max Baucus has again included language in an appropriation bill to direct that (for the time being) no funds be expended by the PTO to register such a trademark.
Found here and there on the web, some matters on topic, some not:
This will have to be a short microblog, due to impending depositions, but it’s better than no microblog at all.
The Montana governor now claims he was just making up all those stories about using underhanded tactics to make sure his candidate won the U.S. Senate race, but his audience at the trial lawyers’ convention seemed to lap it up at the time. (Kirk Johnson, “Montana Officials Chastise Governor Over Boasts in Speech to Lawyers’ Group”, New York Times, Sept. 12; Rusty Shackleford, MT Pundit, Sept. 8; Robert Struckman, “Gov. Schweitzer’s Tampering Comments Spark Controversy”, New West Network, Sept. 10; Charles S. Johnson, “Schweitzer catches heat over July speech”, Helena Independent Record, Sept. 11; Jennifer McKee, “Bit of truth found in Gov. Schweitzer’s joke”, Missoulian, Sept. 12; speech).
It started as a joke, but Bozeman, Mont. attorney Christopher Gillette is going through with the ambitious aquarium installation, whose saltwater inhabitants will include venomous fish as well as sharks. [Bozeman Daily Chronicle; AP/El Paso Times] In the 1980s the now well-known law firm of Bickel & Brewer adopted the snake exhibit at the Dallas Zoo. (Mark Donald, “Rambo Justice”, Dallas Observer, Mar. 19, 1998).