Posts Tagged ‘sanctions’

The trials of Nancy Raynor, cont’d

Following up on our earlier reports here and here: a Pennsylvania appellate court “has temporarily halted the imposition of a $1 million fine against Philadelphia attorney Nancy Raynor, who received the sanction after one of her witnesses during a medical malpractice trial disclosed information that had been ruled inadmissible by Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Paul Panepinto.” [Penn Record] The judge “has defended his action in an opinion in which he accused Raynor of violating a court order as part of a trial strategy.” [Chris Mondics, Philadelphia Inquirer] Three witnesses — the most recent a trial technician who testified at a March 4 hearing — have now backed up Raynor’s account of not having sought to elicit the reference to a plaintiff’s smoking habit, which the judge had barred. “In addition to [Joseph] Chapman, two other witnesses, an emergency room doctor who is a client of Raynor’s and an insurance adjuster, have testified that they heard Raynor advising [Dr. John] Kelly that smoking testimony was precluded.” [Mondics/Inquirer, March 6, follow-up]

“Lawyer’s personal assets, bank accounts at risk as opponents seek to collect $1M sanction”

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.

Intellectual property roundup

  • 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]

Mistaking a dead claimant for a live one

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.

“Lawyer sanctioned $1M for allowing smoking reference in med-mal trial”

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]

Judge moves to sanction pattern of deposition objections

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.

Banking and finance roundup

Pastor uses copyright takedown against critics, told to pay fees

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.