“Four Pittsburgh firefighters are suing seven companies that manufacture fire trucks or sirens, claiming they’ve lost hearing due to the blaring sirens. … They contend the manufacturers should have insulated the sirens to protect their hearing and/or provided warnings about their use.” [Claims Journal]
It might be more accurate to identify the protagonist in this little tale as a class action law firm, rather than as a California “fan”:
Fred Weiss is the only plaintiff named in the class-action suit. In it, he claims he suffered “actual harm” because he was “subjected to the aggravation that necessarily accompanies the invasion of privacy caused by unsolicited text message calls, but also because consumers have to pay their cell phone service providers for the receipt of such wireless calls.” Weiss is bringing the suit under a federal law that prohibits unsolicited texts. …
The terms and conditions of the text program said the Pens would send no more than three messages per week for those who chose to subscribe. In his first week as a subscriber, Weiss claims the Pens sent him five texts. In the second week, Weiss says he got four.
The Edelson class-action firm of Chicago is one we have met before. [DeadSpin]
The kids were playing on swings and were fine while the father ran errands and took a shower at the gym, but police charged him with child endangerment. [Free-Range Kids; Chartiers Valley Patch (suburban Pittsburgh)]
Also via Free-Range Kids: more on play date and birthday party liability waivers [Today Moms; earlier here, etc.]
I’ll be discussing Schools for Misrule today at Syracuse University College of Law, tomorrow in Cleveland at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at 4 p.m., and Thursday in Pittsburgh at noon at Pitt Law with critical commentary from Prof. Peter Oh. Federalist Society student chapters are sponsoring the events, which are open to the public. Come out and introduce yourself!
Thanks to my hosts over the past two weeks at Fordham (where I debated Prof. Zephyr Teachout), Brooklyn Law School, and Yale (where Prof. John Fabian Witt contributed generous comments).
Why not book me to speak at your own city or campus? You can contact me directly at editor – at – overlawyered – dot – com, call the Cato Institute at 202-789-5269, or, if you’re a Federalist Society chapter, through the Society’s home office.
A park-bench ad — and really, what better way to select a lawyer for an important matter? — advertises “Injury Law Group, LLC — Successful, Greedy, Attorneys — We Won’t Let You Settle Cheap.” [@mattniemi] The sponsors appear to be this Pittsburgh-based lawyer network.
Cleveland federal judge Donald Nugent has dismissed a disabled-access lawsuit by Bonnie Kramer against a real estate management company and allowed a counterclaim to go forward against Kramer and her lawyers “alleging abuse of process, fraud, civil conspiracy to commit fraud, spoliation and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations violations”. Kramer, a self-styled “tester”, has been plaintiff in more than 100 actions under the ADA. [Andrew Longstreth, American Lawyer] More on “Disabled Patriots of America” group: Charlie Deitch, Pittsburgh City Paper.
Former state Superior Court judge Michael Joyce, of Erie, “was sentenced this afternoon to nearly four years in prison.” Joyce’s bogus claims of neck and back pain after a rear-ending had netted him $440,000 in settlements; “the judge filed his claims on judicial letterhead, [Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian] Trabold said, and referred to himself as a judge 115 times in the letters.”
Reading from the weekend:
- At the American Spectator, Quin Hillyer says his co-thinkers “need to really get up in arms about” changing the law, and has kind words for a certain website that is “the single best place to track all its devastation”. At The New Criterion, Roger Kimball finds that the threat to vintage children’s books provides a good instance of the dangers of “safety”. And commentator Hugh Hewitt is back with another column, “The Congress Should Fix CPSIA Now“.
- Numerous disparaging things have been said of the “mommy bloggers” who’ve done so much to raise alarms about this law. Because, as one of Deputy Headmistress’s commenters points out, it’s already been decided that this law is needed to “protect the children”, and it’s not as if mere mothers might have anything special to contribute about that.
- Plenty of continuing coverage out there on the minibike/ATV debacle, including Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (office of local Congressman Mike Doyle, D-Pa., says most members think, dubiously, that ban “can be fixed without new legislation”); Lebanon, Pa. (“Ridiculous… It’s closed an entire market for us”), Waterbury, Ct. (“The government does stupid things sometimes without thinking”), and, slightly less recent, Atlantic City, N.J. (“I would’ve had three sales this weekend, so they stomped us”). Some background: Off-Road (agency guidance in mid-February told dealers to get youth models “off their showfloors and back into holding areas”); Motorcycle USA (“With right-size models being unavailable to families, we may see more kids out on adult ATVs and we know that this leads to crashes”). To which illustrator Meredith Dillman on Twitter adds: “Just wait until someone gets hurt riding a broken bike they couldn’t get replacement parts for.”
- One result of CPSIA is that a much wider range of goods are apt to be subject to recalls, but not to worry, because the CPSC recall process is so easy and straightforward.
A year ago we reported on the indictment of Erie, Pa.-based state appellate judge Michael T. Joyce, whose $440,000 settlement after a rear-ending of his Mercedes-Benz was premised on his having suffered physically disabling injuries, but who in fact was found to have engaged in scuba diving and golf, among other pastimes, during the period in question. According to the indictment, the judge used the proceeds to buy a Harley-Davidson and a share in a Cessna, as well as for other purposes. Today his trial is set to begin. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Tribune-Review, Erie Times-News via Bashman).
Last year (Jun. 25, 2007) a furor broke out when a YouTube video revealed lawyers from the firm speaking frankly about skirting provisions of immigration law that require that a qualified domestic applicant be sought before hiring certain foreign workers. Now the U.S. Department of Labor has “announced that it has begun placing pending permanent labor certification applications filed by [the Pittsburgh-based law firm] into department-supervised recruitment. Supervised recruitment requires the employer to receive advance approval from the labor department for all recruitment efforts to ensure that U.S. workers are fully considered for available positions.” The move will undoubtedly make it harder for the law firm to compete for employer business in the immigration field. (“Recruitment filings by Pittsburgh law firm under U.S. Labor scrutiny”, Pittsburgh Business Times, Jul. 8; ABA Journal links to DoL press release).
Over decades, the class-action titan paid secret kickbacks to pliant “representative” plaintiffs, then systematically falsified the nature of his relations to those plaintiffs the better to deceive judges, opponents, competing class action lawyers, and class members. He and his defenders are now portraying his offenses — even the systematic lying to courts — as minor and victimless. For some indications of why our legal system takes a very different view, see my WSJ op-ed of a year and a half back. Per Peter Lattman’s story/interview in today’s WSJ, “Mr. Lerach has requested, and the judge will recommend, that he be sent to Lompoc, a low-security federal penitentiary in Southern California often called a ‘country-club prison’ or ‘Club Fed.’”
Yesterday’s L.A. Times piece by Molly Selvin takes note of Lerach’s “trademark vitriol — he famously threatened to “destroy” companies that balked at settling”. Selvin also quotes NYU legal ethicist Stephen Gillers expressing concern that the spate of Milberg Weiss prosecutions “has to worry [lawyers] even if they’re doing nothing wrong because the Justice Department has shown its willingness to look into how they do business”. Gillers offers no examples of any Milberg lawyers who have been prosecuted despite “doing nothing wrong”, nor does he explore the question of how lawyers might exploit the impunity they would enjoy if the Justice Department permanently refused to “look into how they do business”. Indeed, if Lerach is right when he says kickbacks to named plaintiffs were industry practice in the class-action biz, it would seem that DoJ should have started “looking into how they do business” long before it did.
With fine understatement, Andrew Perlman at Legal Ethics Forum observes that it would “send the wrong message to students” for Lerach to be permitted to set up teaching legal ethics to law students at the University of Pittsburgh as part of his sentence. And taking a contrarian view, Larry Ribstein (via Bainbridge) says an appropriate comparison for Lerach would be to Michael Milken (Drexel Burnham) or Jeff Skilling (Enron) — but in the good sense.
More: This morning’s New York Times, a paper in whose columns Milberg Weiss long enjoyed cordial if not deferent coverage, buries the Lerach sentencing on an inside page of the business section. The paper’s “Dealbook” blog covers the story here. And The Economist recalls a “shouting match” in 2006 between Lerach and a leading British corporate governance advocate over whether litigation was the best way to address shareholder/manager conflicts. Plus: Charles Cooper, CNet.