Class Actions

A rather cold fish.

* If you’ve ever wondered what’s being said about Supreme Court justices during the vetting process, we’ve got a great one-liner about Justice Breyer, who’s apparently a “rather cold fish.” Oooh, sick burn. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* The NLJ 350 rankings are here, and this is where we get to see the big picture about the big boys of Biglaw. In 2013, it looks like headcount grew by 3.9 percent, which is good, but not great, all things considered. Meh. [National Law Journal]

* A Wisconsin judge is the latest to give her state’s ban on same-sex marriage the finger, and she did it with flair, noting in her opinion that “traditional” marriages throughout history were polygamous. [Bloomberg]

* The Ed O’Bannon antitrust case against the NCAA is going to trial today before Judge Claudia Wilken. Since it could change college sports forever, here’s everything you need to know about it. [USA Today]

* According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of those employed in the legal sector is at its lowest level since the beginning of 2014, with jobs still being shed. Welcome, graduates! [Am Law Daily]

* UC Irvine Law has finally earned full accreditation from the American Bar Association. We’d like to say nice work and congrats, but we’re pretty sure the ABA would fully accredit a toaster. [Los Angeles Times]

God Hates You, Buffalo

There is a scene in the film Buffalo ’66 in which Christina Ricci’s character tap dances at a bowling alley. She’s wearing a very short lilac dress to go along with her tap shoes and she begins her dance slowly. She ends it slowly too. The whole thing is slow, a Thorazine shuffle committed to celluloid by one of this country’s truly weird film directors. The scene prompted Roger Ebert to remark, “What’s this scene doing in “Buffalo ’66″? Maybe Gallo didn’t have any other movie he could put it in.” What’s this paragraph doing on Above the Law?

This week, the Buffalo Bills managed to be at the center of the sporting universe for the first time since Frank Wycheck lofted that perfectly tight spiral into the arms of Kevin Dyson. Before that, it was the 4 Super Bowl defeats. The point here, if there ever is one, is that the Bills are destined to occupy our collective conscious every few years as the butt of some cosmic joke we have yet to divine the meaning of. This week, the Bills carry on their illustrious history as God’s punchline, closing one lawsuit and preparing for another.

Let’s talk text messages and vagina fungus.

Let’s talk sports…

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Muscle Milk: drink this and you’ll write awesome pro se briefs.

I’m about to share with you an awesome pro se court filing from a law student who drinks Muscle Milk — enough of the stuff to belong to a class action of Muscle Milk consumers. Please try to envision what this submission might look like.

In terms of the student, I’m imagining a real meathead. He belonged to a frat in college. He’s not a great law student, but his family has connections that will help him land a job post-graduation. His bookshelf looks like this.

As for his pro se filing, it’s probably a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury (and Bluebooking errors). The UVA Libel Show would call it a Muscle-Milk-induced “roid rage of shame.”

But no, it’s not; it’s so much better than that. It’s actually a work of genius….

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Nicor Gas claims that all customers recorded heard a ‘warning’ before being recorded, and ‘consented’ by remaining on the line after the warning was given. But under the law, any consent only gave Nicor Gas a right to record, not to divulge or use the recordings. Any ‘consent’ they got from customers that permitted them to record was for the limited purpose of internal quality assurance – not for divulgence to outside parties, and certainly not for use in public court proceedings

Adam Levitt, a lawyer with Grant & Eisenhofer, in a class action filed against Nicor Gas, a natural gas distributor in northern Illinois. Nicor had a plan. They were so proud of using their recordings of customers in their defense. Too bad Illinois has an Eavesdropping Act that prohibits that. D’oh!

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

* The U.S. government has decreased funding to outside counsel for the third year in a row, leaving most Biglaw firms high and dry — except for Curtis Mallet-Prevost. Spend that $8.7M in contract cash wisely. [National Law Journal]

* Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer who brought DOMA down to its knees, is repping clients who want to intervene in the gay marriage case before the Tenth Circuit. Looks like somebody wants to be 2013 and 2014 Lawyer of the Year. [BuzzFeed]

* A judge has granted class action status in the suit challenging Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. Let’s see if David Boies and Ted Olson can take another case to the Supreme Court and win. [Reuters]

* If you’ve been wondering why David Wildstein picked the Friday before the Super Bowl to stab Governor Chris Christie in the back, Lat thinks it might have been “some kind of act of revenge.” [Bergen Record]

* No acquittals this time: George Zimmerman is planning to enter the wonderful world of “celebrity” boxing. He’s set to enter the ring on March 1, and is more than likely to get his ass kicked. [Chicago Tribune]

The law firm of Seyfarth Shaw, known for its labor and employment expertise, just released its tenth annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report. The report details the important trends in workplace litigation going into 2014 and analyzes “1,123 class action rulings on a circuit-by-circuit and state-by-state basis.”

The verdict, in a nutshell, is that the Supreme Court has bent over backward to protect businesses from these suits, but they still come up… and one category of workplace suit is even growing exponentially. Any guesses?

So what are businesses going to face out there this year?

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Judge Kozinski: turning over a new LEAF?

That’s right, plaintiffs’ counsel sat down to the negotiating table and cut a deal, without knowing a single thing about what cards their opponents held. For all counsel knew — for all they know even today — there are memoranda and reports in Nissan’s internal files disclosing that the LEAF’s Lithium-Ion battery suffers from a variety of defects, and that Nissan nevertheless decided to go to market with it.

– Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, filing an objection to a class action settlement between Nissan and buyers and leasers of its electric car, the LEAF. Alison Frankel of Reuters describes having Chief Judge Kozinski as an objector as a “lawyer’s nightmare.”

Jodi Arias

* Trouble in paradise, so soon? The proposed merger between Dentons and McKenna Long & Aldridge has been delayed. McKenna has postponed its partnership vote, and Dentons says no partnership vote was ever planned. [Daily Report]

* Wherein a firm fails to Latham an ex-employee’s baby mama drama: a legal secretary who was allegedly told her pregnancy complications “were not [the director of HR's] problem” will see her case against L&W move forward. [Blog of Legal Times]

* You know that relations have grown bitter between opposing counsel when attorneys from one firm refer to lawyers from the other as “Monday Morning Quarterbacks.” The legal fee dispute in the BARBRI antitrust case rages on at the Ninth Circuit. [National Law Journal]

* Paging ProudCooleyGrad: Kurzon Strauss, the firm that sued Cooley Law over its allegedly deceptive job stats, is trying to get records unsealed in the school’s defamation case that’s now on appeal. [MLive.com]

* Convicted murderer and jailhouse hottie Jodi Arias is accepting donations for her appeals fund. It could be worth your while — if you donate enough, maybe she’ll consider turning you into her next victim. [HLN TV]

* Parties in the greenhouse gas cases before SCOTUS have agreed to trim the number and length of their briefs to reduce the number of times “go f@ck yourself and die” is written. [Blog of Legal Times]

* The latest patent reform bill up for debate promises that it will put an end to the trolls by forcing them to do more work before filing suit. If only it were that easy to keep the trolls at bay. [National Law Journal]

* Do the hustle, and blame it on Becca! A jury has found that Bank of America is liable for selling defective mortgages, and the potential penalty could be up to $848 million. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Since the law was puff, puff, passed, lawyers in Washington State have politely asked their Supreme Court if and when they’ll allowed to smoke weed and represent clients that sell it. [Corporate Counsel]

* Class certification in the Alaburda v. TJSL lawsuit over allegedly deceptive employment statistics has officially been denied. We guess that all good things must come to an anticlimactic end. [ABA Journal]

* Another law school gets it: the U. of St. Thomas will its freeze tuition at the low, low price of $36,843, allowing students to pay a flat fee for all three years of education. [Campus Confidential / Star Tribune]

* If you’d like to ace your law school interviews (which apparently are a thing these days), it helps if your personality doesn’t inspire ritualistic seppuku. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Michael Skakel, the Kennedy cousin convicted of killing, was granted a new trial due to ineffective assistance of counsel. Getting away with murder? Aww, welcome to the family, Mike! [Washington Post]

My wife, who is being deprived of shows like Dexter and The Big Bang Theory reruns by the Time Warner/CBS fee dispute, and is terrified of missing out on Homeland, said of the two warring media conglomerates: “It’s like watching two muggers argue over who gets to steal your purse.”

I haven’t been paying it much attention. I’m assuming that TWC and CBS will get this sorted in time for football season. Well, let me rephrase, I’m assuming that if these two billion-dollar operations can’t get their act together in time for football season, we’re going to see the American version of “Arab Spring” and there will be blood in the streets. There are few things you don’t mess with in America: one is football, and I don’t think people care about number two as long as football is on.

Sorry, let me back up, CBS has been blacked out in New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas for weeks now due to a fee dispute with Time Warner Cable. CBS also owns Showtime, so that’s been blacked out, and the Smithsonian channel — which nobody watches but me because it’s the last “learning” channel that doesn’t pander to redneck pawn, ice, gold, lumber, and fishing stars.

In response to this ridiculous situation, a group in Los Angeles has filed a class action lawsuit against TWC for blacking out CBS…

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