We recently asked for your views on Ward v. Arm & Hammer, the civil action brought by a pro se prisoner against a leading baking soda manufacturer. If you don’t remember what the case was about, here’s the caption:
The District Court didn’t think highly of the case. And neither did you:
“Thanks to Ted Frank’s coverage, I learned that 28 U.S.C. 1915, the federal law covering prisoners seeking to file a case as a poor person, does not prevent a legally frivolous suit from being appealed in forma pauperis, unless the district court judge certifies that the appeal is not being taken in good faith, or the prisoner has had three prior suits that failed to state a valid claim, or were found to be frivolous or malicious.”
* All may not be genetically sound with Suri babies of holoprosencephaly sufferers. (But does genetic perfection really exist?) And once again, wordplay gets us out of the woods of potential litigation by a crazy actor midget. [Overlawyered]
* Jack Abramoff has been hitting the books in the prison law library and will represent himself in two lawsuits filed against him by Indian tribes. I think “kitchen duty and carpentry” is prison-speak for “shower activities.” [Law.com]
* Off-ensive or just off-menu? Not brought to you by the people who brought you this refreshing drink. [Vivir Latino via Racialicious]
* Remember when we used to de-contract words (e.g., “does not” for “doesn’t”) to inch our way towards the minimum word requirement? [FN1] Apparently, this is the only way law school is not like high school. [PrawfsBlawg]
[FN1] Enough already! law professors lament. And yes, smart aleck, footnotes do count toward the word limit.
* Running with Scissors writer Augusten Burroughs is being sued for libel, not for his part in the adaptation of his memoir into the abysmally bad film version. [Vanity Fair]
* Any future husband of mine should be so lucky as to take on “Q” as their last name, or our combined last name. But for the record, could it be that “Buday” is pronounced “booty”? [ACLU of Southern California via PrawfsBlawg]
Remember this great lawsuit, which we wrote about last week? In case you don’t, here’s a quick recap: Summary: Pro se litigant George Allen Ward is suing Arm & Hammer and its corporate parent, Church & Dwight, for $425 million. His theory of liability: failure to warn. The company failed to warn him that if he cooked up THEIR PRODUCT, baking soda, with cocaine, he might end up serving a 200-month prison sentence on crack cocaine charges. You can read the full pleading here.
Opinion among ATL commenters was deeply divided. Some found the lawsuit almost offensive in its frivolousness, while others viewed it as presenting a colorable claim.
What do you think? We’d like to know (because commenters aren’t always representative of our entire readership). Time for a quick poll:
* Solitary confinement, cruel and unusual? Cruel, perhaps, but not that unusual. [St. Petersburg Times via How Appealing]
* Florida and California decide to take a little break on the whole lethal injection thing. [CNN]
* New Jersey Legislature does what New Jersey’s Supreme Court told them to. [FindLaw]
* Mariah Carey is concerned that people might be confused and think that she is someone who uses sex to make money….oh, wait a minute… [FOX News]
* Global warming is such a nuisance. [Jurist]
Remember the Best Notice of Appeal Ever? We’ve finally found a filing that tops it.
Pro se litigants, plaintiffs’ lawyers, and law professors all share the ability to “think outside the box.” They come up with novel and creative theories of liability — ones that courts have never entertained before.
Some are crazy. Some are brilliant. And some fall somewhere in between. Consider this civil complaint:
Summary: Pro se litigant George Allen Ward is suing Arm & Hammer and its corporate parent, Church & Dwight, for $425 million. His theory of liability: failure to warn. The company failed to warn him that if he cooked up THEIR PRODUCT, baking soda, with cocaine, he might end up serving a 200-month prison sentence on crack cocaine charges.
Ward argues that Arm & Hammer should add one of these warnings to boxes of baking soda:
“The use of this product with illegal drugs is punishable by law and is prohibited.”
“The use of this product with illegal drugs is punishable by enhanced penalties by the laws of the United States of America.”
This is just the beginning; the whole complaint is genius. It’s strangely compelling, and it gets better with every page. Also, we think it might fly in the Ninth Circuit.
We reprint the rest of the pleading after the jump. Enjoy!
* Congrats to Troy Smith on winning the Heisman. As always, there’s a legal connection, which this time involves Ohio State, the Heisman, Archie Griffin, and Woody Hayes. [WSJ Law Blog]
* All Christmas trees have been removed from the Seattle airport, after a rabbi threatened to sue unless an eight-foot menorah was put up. [King5.com]
* Finally, Cedar Point is standing up for students’ rights, by lobbying the government for longer summer vacations. [Associated Press]
* Wish they all could be California… prisons? Unlikely. [New York Times]
* The Williams sisters are in court. No word yet on how they were served. [CNN]
* In the 7th grade, we abided by the “one best friend” law, so we could totally pledge our loyalty to just one dog who also definitely wouldn’t steal our boyfriend. [New York Times]
* German Chancellor Angela Merkel admits to an incident of youthful “corruption,” but would you have rather she bartered sexual favors for her driver’s license? We’re letting this slide too. [The Times]
* We hear freshmen housed in state school dorms are joining the lawsuit. [Los Angeles Times]
* Since all of my disposable income after rent, I-Pod upgrades and therapy goes to clothes, I for one can say that status is one of the more noble causes a person can embrace. I mean, honestly, without fashion, 90% of third world kids would be unemployed. [University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog]
* Honor among greedy bastards: Corporate greedy bastards deserve their obscene paychecks, says greedy bastard M&A lawyer Martin Lipton. [Reuters]
[Ed. note: Please note that this post is signed by Stella Q. Some of us were very happy to receive obscene paychecks courtesy of Mr. Lipton. (And if Wachtell Lipton's midyear bonuses are any indication, year-end bonuses at the firm will be especially obscene this year.)]
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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