Debra Cassens Weiss at the ABA Journal has more on that curious sanctions order out of the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court in which attorney Nancy Raynor of Malvern, Pennsylvania, could lose everything because a judge found that she “allowed an expert witness to refer to a lung cancer patient’s history of smoking during a May 2012 medical malpractice trial.” Earlier here. More: Philadelphia Inquirer coverage here and here.
- Supreme Court suggests sanctions against patent practitioner over eccentric if not incomprehensible certiorari petition [Will Baude]
- Some copyright and patent owners pursue market-based self-help remedies against infringement [Glenn Lammi/WLF, more]
- DC Comics sues Spain’s Valencia soccer team because its bat logo is too similar to that of Batman [Yahoo]
- Federal judge dings California lawyer $87K, finding suit against online news aggregator to be baseless [ABA Journal]
- “Evidence from opera on the efficacy of copyright” [Michela Giorcelli/Petra Moser, SSRN via Tyler Cowen]
- Go ask Alice: patent litigation takes a hit after SCOTUS ruling [Legal Ethics Forum, Alex Tabarrok]
- Adam Carolla managed to crowdfund defense against patent plaintiff, usual cautions against trying this at home [Above the Law]
For a lawyer to do that once might seem bad luck, to do it 588 times seems rather like carelessness. [Beck on Eleventh Circuit review of Engle tobacco cases in Florida] Excerpt:
The district court displayed the patience of Job – for a long time it tried to get the plaintiffs to do after filing, what Rule 11 requires them to do beforehand, that is, to perform basic investigation of their cases. …
The court held, with remarkable restraint, that counsel’s inability to track down its own clients before the Engel filing deadline “was at least partially a problem of its own making” because they “signed up so many clients.” …
Maybe Engle Cases is an extreme example, but the problem this litigation exemplifies – massive solicitation of would-be plaintiffs, combined with utter disregard of pre-filing obligations such as Rule 11 – is present in just about every mass tort. In Engle Cases, out of the “4500 cases” originally filed, in the end “we are dealing with 29 ? and heading to 26.” The dirty little not-so-secret of mass tort practice is that the great majority (here it looks like more than 99%) of the cases clogging up the courts would be thrown out with little or no discovery if brought individually.
Personally liable in Philadelphia: “A Pennsylvania lawyer has been ordered to pay nearly $1 million in attorney fees for allowing an expert witness to refer to a lung cancer victim’s history of smoking in a May 2012 medical malpractice trial. Defense lawyer Nancy Raynor of Malvern, Pennsylvnia, told the Legal Intelligencer that insurance would not pay the sanction and her personal assets are at risk.” [ABA Journal]
U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett of the Northern District of Iowa, presiding over a product liability case, has asked defense counsel “to show cause as to why he should not be sanctioned for the ‘serious pattern of obstructive conduct’ he displayed” in a client’s deposition, which seemed aimed both at interruption for its own sake and at coaching the witness as to how to answer. “The attorney objected so many times that his name was found, on average, three times per page of deposition transcript.” [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use]
Rather than fine the lawyer, Judge Nelson ordered him to create and write a training video explaining the basis of the sanctions and demonstrating how to comply with the rules during depositions in state and federal court.
- Following public furor, are feds backing off “Operation Choke Point” program discouraging banking services to lawful but disfavored enterprises? [Daily Signal] Or does the choking continue? [Washington Business Journal (Capital One cuts off check-cashing firms)]
- FATCA challenge: “Ontario women sue Ottawa over compliance with new U.S. banking law” [Winnipeg Free Press, earlier]
- Corporate tax inversions: yes, journalist Jonathan Alter really did recommend “McCarthy-era loyalty oaths” [Taranto/WSJ] Obama admininstration was for them (in Delphi case) before it was against them [Bloomberg] And they’re popular with President Obama’s donors even aside from Warren Buffett [same] More: Charles Krauthammer.
- WSJ editorial on sanctions against Robbins Geller in Boeing securities suit. More: Daniel Fisher;
- Profile of Vanguard tax informant David Danon [Philadelphia Inquirer, earlier]
- Some Denver foreclosure lawyers settle overcharge case [Kevin Funnell, earlier]
- Contains real juice: “$35 million will go to groups that provide legal, housing and community development programs.” [AP/The Saratogian on New York’s share of Bank of America settlement; Stephen Bainbridge]
Federal judge Mark Bennett has resorted to what might be called a creative sanction against out-of-state law firm Jones Day following what he considered excessive interruption and witness-coaching during discovery in the case of Security National Bank of Sioux City v. Abbott Laboratories. [Above the Law]
Ken at Popehat has the story on a court’s ruling for fees and costs in Ergun Caner v. Jonathan Autry, filed by a religious leader who had come under criticism for less-than-forthright descriptions of his own past. “The court ruled that Caner (1) pursued the case after Autry took the videos down, (2) demanded, as a condition of settlement, that Autry’s young children sign a non-disparagement agreement, (3) delayed the case, (4) failed to seek discovery, opposed the motion to dismiss on the grounds that he needed to take discovery, but could not articulate what discovery he needed, (5) contradicted himself, (6) made unreasonable legal arguments without any support (like the ‘you must be qualified to criticize’ argument), and most importantly (7) filed the case to silence criticism.” Under the prevailing “American Rule” on fees it’s extremely hard for the victim of a meritless suit to recover attorney’s costs, but this one was extreme enough to be an exception.
Sanctions have a role to play in managing litigation, and are probably under-used in the American courtroom, but this would seem to go too far. Saudi Arabia: “The Ministry of Justice plans to introduce tough new legislation to penalize malicious litigants, which would include fines, prison and lashes.” [Arab News via Crossroads Arabia]
A year and a half ago, as I noted at the time, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) “agreed to pay $9.3 million to settle racketeering and other charges arising from alleged litigation abuse in lawsuits beginning in 2000 over elephant welfare,” while “other defendants in the countersuit, including the Humane Society of the U.S., have declined to settle [with Feld Entertainment/Ringling Bros.] and remain in the litigation.” Now the Humane Society and other groups have agreed to pay more than $15 million, suggesting the ASCPA settlement was not a freak occurrence. [AP/Houston Chronicle, Charles Schelle/Bradenton Herald]