Lawsuit of the Day

Pamela Levinson

You know what’s the mark of a good lawsuit against a law firm? The ability to polarize. Sure, it’s fun to laugh at the wacky ones, like Berry v. Kasowitz Benson or Morisseau v. DLA Piper. But the true classics are cases in which half the people think the plaintiff is a crusader for justice, and half the people think the plaintiff is an extortionist.

Take the 2007 lawsuit of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell, brought by a young M&A lawyer claiming anti-gay discrimination. That was a great lawsuit. Some readers saw it as a Philadelphia for the 21st century, while others saw it as a shameless shakedown of a top law firm.

By this standard, Levinson v. WilmerHale is a good lawsuit. Readers can’t seem to agree on this one. Let’s check out the sharply divided opinions — and also hear more about Pamela Levinson, from former colleagues at the firm….

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Back in December, we wrote about a major employment discrimination case filed against Greenberg Traurig. That suit contained some salacious allegations, including claims that women lawyers had to sleep with superiors to get ahead.

Today brings news of another employment discrimination lawsuit filed against another top law firm. It’s being filed by the litigation boutique of Sanford Heisler LLP, which seems to be carving out a nice little niche in plaintiff-side Biglaw employment litigation.

Which firm is being sued this time, and what are the plaintiff’s allegations?

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Does teacher want to…. plaaaaaay?

Pedophobia, the fear of children, is not something that makes the news very much. It’s not like anybody who suffers from pedophobia gets to have a Facebook account unless they want to be bombarded with terrifying images of other people’s children.

Since we know that pedophilia is a real thing, I totally believe that pedophobia is a real thing. That makes sense.

But, just as I don’t want pedophiles teaching in schools, I’m not sure that a middle school is the best place for a pedophobe.

An Ohio teacher suffering from pedophobia agrees. She’s suing her former school district for failing to accommodate her disability by moving her from a high school to a middle school.

If she doesn’t win her employment discrimination case, maybe she’ll have a claim under the Eighth Amendment….

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Of all the ways to say ‘I love you’ this is the most boring.

I hate diamonds. Besides oil, no natural resource is responsible for as much suffering. Wars are fought over diamonds, totalitarian regimes are propped up with diamond money. It all happens because of anachronistic cultural traditions that tell us women should be dressed and adorned like dolls.

Today, western women buy into the convention — because, well, that’s what happens when an entire people is hobbled by generations of unequal treatment — but do not forget that giving engagement diamonds to women is a holdover from a time when a man would pay to buy off the bride from her father. A holdover that has been amped up by the modern diamond industry. It’d be like if every time a white employer hired a black person, they got to strip him down and check his teeth… you know, for old times’ sake. “Here’s your price, now cook me something and be quick about it so I don’t have to beat you” — is what every woman should hear when she receives a shiny bauble for her ring finger.

Of course, my wife wears a diamond engagement ring, because I’m not a freaking hero. In this ridiculous world, even if the woman says “I’m not really into that diamond stuff,” you can’t really be sure and you don’t want to insult her or her family by proposing with a shared New York Times subscription (that made more sense back in the 90s, trust me). Luckily, my wife and I have been able to resist the nearly constant overtures from the diamond industry ever since. Even though every season the television tries to tell us that I just don’t love her very much unless I’m committing 25 percent of my yearly income in a constant shower of stones.

To call the diamond industry “evil” is no overstatement, as reflected in a new lawsuit….

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Women often get the short end of the stick when it comes to upward mobility in their careers. Despite the fact that firms claim to be rectifying these inequities, for every two steps forward the legal industry takes, women seem to be pushed two steps back. Be it smaller salaries or fewer leadership opportunities, women lawyers are usually left holding the bag. It’s almost as if they’ve got to make up for what they lack (dangling genitalia), in all of their dealings.

Women already have a hard enough time as it is without being unfairly subjected to unspoken policies that affect both firm politics and partnership decisions. But, such is life when you’ve thrust yourself into the wonderful world of Biglaw, where the “boys club” reigns supreme, and women are essentially railroaded into the pink ghetto.

How would you like to work for a firm where men hog all of the origination credit, and do their damnedest to exclude women from client pitches? How would you like to work for a firm where women are encouraged to have intimate relationships with firm leaders in order to be promoted?

That doesn’t sound like a friendly working environment, but that’s exactly what a $200 million class action suit against Greenberg Traurig alleges….

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Wait, that’s the wrong answer.

It’s been great fun to watch archconservatives wake up and realize what country they’ve been living in this whole time. Minorities vote too. Single women don’t like being called sluts. Gays and lesbians are everywhere. And people can understand that sometimes, taxes are necessary.

The emerging American consciousness — from both Democrats and Republicans — that if we want government to do things we have to pay for them with taxes, has been particularly fun to watch. In Austin, Texas, there was a ballot initiative which contemplated raising property takes to in order to pay for “a medical school in Austin and other health care projects,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. And it passed!

But that didn’t sit well with some Texans. Don Zimmerman, treasurer of the Travis County Taxpayers Union political action committee, argued that the initiative — called Proposition 1 — was discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act. Zimmerman and his attorney argued that Prop 1 was confusing to minorities who “have lower reading comprehension than whites.”

Maybe so, but I sho’nuff can spy me a racist when I done read one….

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* BP agreed to plead guilty to 14 charges and pay $4.5B in fines, but before going through with it, several Biglaw firms helped the company sell off assets to fund litigation- and spill-related costs. [Am Law Daily]

* According to HBR Consulting, compensation for in-house attorneys has risen over the past year — including bonuses, which went up to $62,500. Sorry, but Biglaw isn’t following suit. [Corporate Counsel]

* It’s better to leave well enough alone: Pryor Cashman was ordered to pay more than $21K in legal fees for filing a frivolous motion over its repeated attempts to dismiss a case. [New York Law Journal]

* Judge Susan McDunn, who claimed that her “life [was] being ruined” by the secret lawsuits of many powerful Chicagoans, has resigned. Looks like her $182K salary wasn’t enough to buy crazy pills. [Chicago Tribune]

* James T. Hayes Jr., the ICE agent who accused his superior of subjecting male employees to her “sexually offensive behavior,” settled his discrimination lawsuit against the government for $175,000. [Washington Post]

A 43-year-old trust fund baby?

Talk about #RichPeopleProblems. And #DaddyIssues.

A prominent Manhattan lawyer is suing his own daughter. For libel. Because she allegedly harmed his reputation. By seeking an accounting of her trust fund. Which he set up for her and reportedly administers. Got that?

Yes, Dad v. Daughter. How could something this messed-up not be our Lawsuit of the Day? Especially given the claimed size of the trust fund, stocked with such goodies as Hamptons real estate?

It’s hard to get one’s head around these allegations, but the litigation is for real. Let’s take a look at the competing claims. And how much the trust fund was supposedly worth at one point — we’re talking seven figures here….

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Heather Clem

Sorry if I’m a little bit late to this story, but did you know that Hulk Hogan is suing Gawker for posting a sex tape of Hogan and his friend’s wife?

Let me back up: Gawker had a sex tape up with Hulk Hogan. Hogan initially used the Shaggy Defense, then came clean and contended that his friend Todd Clem (aka: Bubba the Love Sponge) set him up with his estranged wife, Heather Clem (pictured, and apparently able to be used as a floatation device in case of emergency).

Hogan claims that he didn’t know the sex (which took place six years ago) had been recorded, and he is suing Todd Clem, Heather Clem, and Gawker for posting the video.

And… did you know the Hulkster’s real name is Terry Bollea?

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Say what? One of Above the Law’s favorite subjects, celebrity lawyer and author Elizabeth Wurtzel, got attacked by a penguin?

Yes — in a manner of speaking. Penguin Group, the publishing mega-house, recently sued the bestselling and critically acclaimed authoress, seeking the return of her advance money. Other prominent authors have been sued as well.

How much does the publisher want back from La Wurtzel? What are her possible defenses? And who are some of the other high-profile defendants being pursued by the angry Penguin?

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