Lawsuit of the Day

Your wedding day is supposed to be a special occasion filled with joy and happiness. And for that reason, brides across the country are willing to pay top dollar for the best photographer money can buy, to document the entire experience.

From a bride’s pre-wedding hair and makeup session to her walk down the aisle, someone with a camera will be by her side snapping pictures all the way. And I do mean all the way.

Did you ever think that a picture of you in your skivvies would make its way into your wedding album? This lawyerly bride sure didn’t.

She was blushing alright, but with embarrassment….

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Back in August, we reported that Kurzon Strauss had filed class action lawsuits against Thomas M. Cooley Law School and New York Law School for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and deceptive business practices. And earlier this week, we started to wonder how those cases would be moving forward, because Kurzon Strauss is apparently no more.

That’s right, the law firm that brought us some of the most prolific class action lawsuits of the year has broken up. Breaking up is hard to do, especially when you’ve got major cases like Gomez-Jimenez v. NYLS and MacDonald v. Cooley Law to deal with.

So, what’s a lawyer to do? Apparently the solution is to file fifteen more class action lawsuits against law schools with questionable post-graduate employment data.

Is your law school or alma mater a defendant? Let’s find out….

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Judge Wayne Phillips: He likes clerk butt and he cannot lie?

When I learned about this lawsuit out of Montana (via Morning Docket), I thought it might be from The Onion or an old episode of Ally McBeal. Reports the Billings Gazette: “A lawsuit has been filed against Fergus County District Court Judge E. Wayne Phillips by a female law clerk who alleges that the judge slapped her in the buttocks with a legal file.”

If the clerk’s allegation is true, was Judge Phillips’s action inappropriate? Certainly. Was it rude? Most definitely. But should it spawn a civil lawsuit, as well as possible criminal charges? Absolutely not.

And wait until you hear what the clerk is claiming in damages….

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We’re a little bit late on the draw with the harassment suit filed against Jesse Jackson on Tuesday. We wanted to see the complaint, and at first, the headline “Gay Guy Wishes Black People Weren’t Such D***s to Gays” seemed underwhelming. We all noticed the strange tendency of some otherwise liberal African-American civil rights leaders to get their panties in a bunch when gays and lesbians ask for the same rights everybody else is asking for.

I blame, God. Or at least, the people who claim to be speaking for him.

In any event, what I thought was a run-of-the-mill, he said, she said story of sexual harassment got a lot more interesting. It turns out that alleged victim, Tommy Bennett, also used his harassment complaint to unleash a full on character attack on the private sex life of Reverend Jesse Jackson. You don’t see Jackson — who was the leader of black people according to white people from when they killed Malcolm until Jackson failed to cut Obama’s nuts off — get attacked like this by people who don’t draw paychecks from Rupert Murdoch.

And yeah, I said the Reverend’s sex life.

Let’s go to the complaint, shall we….

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Gregory Berry

Kasowitz Benson comes to bury Berry, not to praise him. The firm has moved to dismiss the $77 million lawsuit filed against it by Gregory S. Berry, the former first-year associate at Kasowitz who claimed that the firm wrongfully terminated his employment due to its inability to handle his “superior legal mind.” Berry also alleged fraud, breach of contract, and a host of other claims.

On Wednesday, Kasowitz Benson filed its motion to dismiss Gregory Berry’s complaint, accompanied by a 22-page memorandum of law. The firm’s brief is fairly straightforward, advancing the arguments you’d expect it to make.

But there are a few fun tidbits here and there. Let’s have a look, shall we?

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Last night we wrote about a high-profile lawsuit: 3M v. Lanny Davis. Yes, that’s right: the maker of Post-its and Scotch tape is going after Lanny J. Davis, the noted D.C. lawyer and lobbyist, along with his client, Porton Capital (a group of private investors).

It’s a strange lawsuit, but the allegations in it aren’t new. Similar suits were filed by 3M in June and July, in New York state court. (And one of them is still pending, despite the filing of an action in D.C. federal court.)

The primary parties, 3M and the Porton Group, have crossed swords before. In fact, they’re litigating against each other right now in merry olde England, before the High Court in London. In the U.K. litigation, 3M is being sued by Porton Capital and by the British government (in the form of Ploughshare Innovations, an entity owned by the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence).

According to the Wall Street Journal, Porton and Ploughshare allege that 3M failed to diligently develop the BacLite testing technology, “a product already proved and used in Europe as a cheap and quick way of detecting methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA, a hospital infection.” The reason this is so upsetting to Porton and Ploughshare is that they were contractually entitled to receive royalties from 3M’s sales of BacLite. The plaintiffs in the U.K. case claim that 3M abandoned BacLite less than a year after buying it — after botching the BacLite trials, and declaring the testing technology non-viable — “in order to protect a 3M-developed detection product known as Fastman from the less expensive rival posed by BacLite.”

Got that? Okay. Now, some updates to our prior coverage….

UPDATE (9/2/11, 9:30 AM): An update to our updates: a statement from William A. Brewer III, counsel to 3M, has been added below.

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Lanny Davis

Physician, heal thyself? D.C. power broker Lanny Davis, a guru of crisis management, now has a crisis of his own to manage.

Davis has been hit with a federal lawsuit by, oddly enough, one of America’s largest corporations: 3M, the Fortune 100 company and Dow Jones Industrial Average component that’s famous for such products as Post-it Notes and Scotch tape. It’s surprising to see a mega-corporation like 3M going after a high-profile lawyer like Davis.

When you see a large corporation suing a prominent attorney like Davis — who, before launching his own firm last year, was a partner at such firms as McDermott Will & Emery, Orrick, and Patton Boggs — you might expect a malpractice claim. But that’s not the case here….

UPDATE (10:50 AM): Comments from Lanny Davis and his client, the Porton Group, have been added below. They point out that this is 3M’s third bite at the apple — the company previously filed two similar cases in New York state court. (The first suit was withdrawn, while the second still appears to be pending — rather strange, given the D.C. federal court filing.)

UPDATE (5:50 PM): Here is more information about 3M v. Lanny Davis.

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As we mentioned in Morning Docket yesterday, two adult children in Illinois have sued their own mother on the grounds of “bad mothering.” You must be wondering how one qualifies to be a bad enough mother to warrant such a lawsuit. Well, apparently, failing to completely spoil your children will do the trick — especially if your ex-husband, an attorney, has it out for you and is representing the kids.

The lawsuit has since been dismissed, but it was so ridiculous that we thought it deserved its own showcase here on Above the Law. Find out what these snotty little brats alleged against their mother, after the jump….

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Gregory Berry: the $77 million man.

This morning we mentioned a lawsuit filed against litigation powerhouse Kasowitz Benson and two Kasowitz partners by Gregory S. Berry, a former first-year associate at the firm. Berry’s 50-page complaint, filed in New York state court, contains 14 causes of action, including wrongful termination, fraud, and breach of contract. Berry seeks a whopping $77 million in damages — $2.55 million in estimated lost income, and $75 million in punitives.

After working as a software engineer in Silicon Valley for several years, Gregory Berry matriculated at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He graduated from Penn Law in 2010 and was admitted to the New York bar in 2011. He summered at Kasowitz in 2009 and started working at the firm full-time in September 2010. Less than a year later, in May 2011, he was fired.

According to Berry’s complaint, he “immediately began doing superlative work” at Kasowitz. Alas, the law firm was unable to accommodate his “superior legal mind.” After he began seeking greater responsibility in a way that rubbed some colleagues the wrong way, he got canned.

“There’s simply no room in a big law firm for an intelligent, creative lawyer with real-world experience,” Greg Berry told Thomson Reuters News & Insight. “I had to find that out the hard way.”

Let’s have a look at his interesting allegations, plus hear from some tipsters….

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Juliette Youngblood and Morgan Chu

Last month, Juliette Youngblood, an ex-partner at the elite California law firm of Irell & Manella, filed suit against her former firm. In her lawsuit for sex discrimination and wrongful termination, Youngblood advanced a whole host of salacious allegations — including a report of sexual harassment by Morgan Chu, arguably the nation’s #1 intellectual-property litigator.

Irell did not respond to the lawsuit at the time. Now it has, in a blistering 22-page filing that calls Youngblood’s claims “meritless” and “utterly false, complete fabrications manufactured out of whole cloth.”

What does the firm have to say about the specific claims made by Youngblood — such as the allegation that a drunken Morgan Chu made inappropriate and offensive comments to her at a firm happy hour, including remarks about her physical appearance and about “objects entering [Youngblood's] body”?

And what do ATL sources, including readers familiar with both Youngblood and Irell, think of the situation?

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Firm denies claims and moves for arbitration.

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