Posts Tagged ‘not about the money’

Washington, D.C.: “Court orders man to stop smoking in his own home”

Lawyers Brendan and Nessa Coppinger moved into their row house in Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Hill neighborhood last September. They have now gotten a judge to agree to a temporary restraining order prohibiting their neighbor, Edwin Gray, from smoking or allowing anyone to smoke on his property. The Coppingers say the smoke is getting onto their premises through openings between the connected structures and “is harming them and their children”; they also want cash damages. The Gray family has owned the house next door for 50 years. [AP/ABC13 via ABA Journal; Washington Post]

Benjamin Freed at Washingtonian was kind enough to quote me at length making several points about this and similar litigation: 1) it would have been thrown out over most of the course of legal history because courts insisted that nuisance and similar claims (in this case couched as “negligence, nuisance, and trespassing”) exceed a de minimis standard and, in a claim for damages, required proof of actual harm going well beyond “you hit me with a molecule and that could kill me”; 2) smoking is uniquely disapproved nowadays which means some courts are willing to entertain de minimis claims that they would not for other common neighborhood nuisances; 3) if carcinogenic smoke drifting across property lines is to be stopped, both backyard grills and barbecues and common fireplaces are in trouble, at least if courts behaved logically — a very big if, of course. (It should be noted that the lawsuit includes some claims — such as that an unrepaired chimney at the Grays’ is contributing to the smoke problem — that might fit more readily into traditional legal categories.)

The temporary court order, incidentally, also bars the Gray family from allowing any smoking of now-legal marijuana in their house, which prompts this additional thought:

“It does make you wonder why conservative opponents of marijuana would bother to fight legalization in DC when instead they can let it go through and get rich suing over it,” Olson says.

Whole thing here.

Not About the Money Watch II: Yelp user sued after slamming law firm

“A Texas law firm has sued a former client over a negative Yelp review, posted after the firm sued the client for attorney fees.” Joseph Browning of Austin had comprehensively denounced the firm as “disorganized, deceptive, manipulative and largely disrespected,” “selfish and incapable of showing empathy towards their clients,” and one that “will take everything you’ve got,” in a review that the law firm described as defamatory and “blatantly false.” [ABA Journal]:

The new suit, [attorney Kirk] Fulk said, “is not about the money. I would be shocked and amazed if [the firm’s name partners] even got their filing fees back from Mr. Browning. It’s purely a matter of principle and personality. They don’t want their names slandered.”

Not About the Money Watch I: “Jury hits tobacco company R.J. Reynolds with $23B verdict”

“If we don’t get a dime, that’s OK, if we can make a difference and save some lives,” said longtime Overlawyered favorite Willie Gary, one of the lawyers representing a woman awarded $23 billion-with-a-b in punitive damages by a Florida jury for the lung cancer death of her husband, a longtime smoker. [USA Today] I’ve covered earlier stages in the long-running Florida Engle tobacco litigation, which included a $145 billion punitive damage verdict later thrown out, in articles here, here, and here, as well as Overlawyered coverage; more on Willie Gary.

More: Jacob Sullum on the illogical basis of the jury’s decision.

January 4 roundup

  • Report: dead woman’s name robo-signed onto thousands of collection documents [Business Insider] Or was it? [comment, Fredrickson/Collections and Credit Risk (alleging that living daughter shares name of deceased mother)] “Are faked attorney signatures the ‘next huge issue’ in the foreclosure scandal?” [Renee Knake, Legal Ethics Forum]
  • “Major Verdict Threatens to Bankrupt Maker of Exercise Equipment” [Laura Simons, Abnormal Use]
  • Decline in competitiveness of U.S. capital markets owes much to legal and regulatory developments [Bainbridge, related]
  • Deadly Choices, The Panic Virus: Dr. Paul Offit and Seth Mnookin have new books out on vaccine controversy [Orac]
  • No one’s trying to get rich off this,” says lawyer planning suit on behalf of A train subway riders stranded during NYC blizzard [NY Daily News]
  • Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna continues to seek solutions to state’s uniquely exposed litigation position, including fix of joint and several liability [Seattle Times, background here and here]
  • ABA Blawg 100 picks — and a critique;
  • Alabama bar orders lawyer’s law license suspended, but in the mean time he’s been elected judge [four years ago on Overlawyered]

Around the web, September 16

Update: lawprof drops suit against students

Updating our Apr. 29 item: “A law professor who sued two former students for defamation has dropped his suit after the school’s interim dean said there is no evidence he is a racist. Law professor Richard Peltz of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock told Inside Higher Ed that he sued to get his reputation back. ‘This suit was never about money,’ he said. ‘I feel that now with the university’s support, I am on the road to repairing my reputation.'” (Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal, Nov. 17).

October 15 roundup

  • Litigants’ “not about the money” assertions: Mark Obbie has further thoughts on reporters’ uncritical deployment of this cliche, and kind words for our archive of posts on the subject [LawBeat]
  • Lawyer on the other side of that much-circulated “I’m sorry” deposition-dispute letter has his say [Markland and Hanley via Turkewitz and Above the Law]
  • Local authority in England tells gardener to remove barbed wire from wall surrounding his allotment, thieves might get hurt on it and sue [Never Yet Melted, Steyn/NRO Corner]
  • Same-sex marriage in Connecticut through judicial fiat? Jonathan Rauch says no thanks [IGF]
  • Lawyers are back suing despite reform of FACTA, the credit-card-receipt “gotcha” law, but insurance might just dry up [Randy Maniloff at Point of Law]
  • “Racing to the trough” — auto lenders latest to ask bailout though original TARP rationale of liquidity fix seems remote [Naked Capitalism]
  • “To be a green-certified property (pretty important in crunchy Portland) there must be an absolute prohibition on smoking, including outdoor spaces.” [Katherine Mangu-Ward, Reason “Hit and Run”]
  • (Failed) claim in trademark case: “the term ‘electric’ is not commonly used by the general public to describe a source of power for watches” [TTAB via Ron Coleman]