Sanctions

Keith Lee

Last week I wrote about a complaint I heard from a client after they had been billed for two bottles of water served to them by their former lawyers at a meeting. I got numerous emails from people saying it was one of the most shocking behaviors that they had ever heard, the lowest of the low — a lawyer billing a client for a bottle of water that they had given to the client. When I wrote about it, it was the most egregious thing I had ever heard that a lawyer had billed to their client. But as a lawyer I know often says, “Take your expectations, then put even lower. Try the gutter.”

Less than a week later, there’s something worse in the news. A lawyer got sanctioned for his incompetent representation — then billed the sanctions to the client….

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Litigators get away with a lot of obnoxious stuff during discovery. For better or worse, the pre-trial discovery phase of civil litigation is every lawyer’s opportunity to relive those times when parents leave kids alone for the first time: every slight, disagreement, and jealousy on a slow boil explodes into anarchic back-biting once there’s no authority figure around to enforce civility. Bring on the mean-spirited letters and smack-talking RFAs.

When it comes to depositions, it doesn’t always reach “fatboy” levels, but a federal deposition isn’t a deposition until someone threatens to call the magistrate — though never does.

Which is why this benchslap, where a federal judge levies a sanction straight out of elementary school, is so appropriate….

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Isn’t discovery fun?

You sometimes hear Biglaw litigators complain about courts not publishing enough opinions about discovery issues. Discovery (especially e-discovery) is such a major — and majorly expensive — part of the complex litigation in which large firms specialize, but there aren’t that many decisions on the books over such nuts-and-bolts issues as responsiveness, privilege, and work-product doctrines.

So it’s noteworthy that the Massachusetts Appeals Court just issued an opinion featuring extended discussion of the work-product doctrine. Some Boston Biglaw litigators will surely welcome the additional guidance on this subject.

But not all of Boston Biglaw will be pleased by this decision. Certainly not the major firm that could wind up getting hit with sanctions as a result….

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Juan Monteverde and Alexandra Marchuk

In our last story about Alexandra Marchuk’s lawsuit against Faruqi & Faruqi and one of its top partners, Juan Monteverde, we noted the acrimonious nature of the dispute: “The case just seems so heated and so personal, and both parties are litigating it in a no-holds-barred style.”

When we last checked in on the case, Marchuk’s lawyers announced their intent to seek sanctions against the defendants. The basis for that move: the defendants’ counterclaims against Marchuk, alleging that she defamed the defendants by creating or helping to create an anonymous Gmail account that was used to disseminate her lawsuit over email. Marchuk’s lawyers denied that their client emailed her complaint around and said that they would seek sanctions from the defendants for the “frivolous and abusive” counterclaims — which sought a whopping $15 million from Marchuk.

Until now, the stakes have only gotten higher and higher. But today brings word of a possible de-escalation in this hard-fought battle….

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Juan Monteverde and Alexandra Marchuk

Many discrimination cases brought against law firms end in quiet settlements. But I suspect that Alexandra Marchuk’s lawsuit against Faruqi & Faruqi and one of its top partners, Juan Monteverde, could go the distance and make it to trial.

Why? The case just seems so heated and so personal, and both parties are litigating it in a no-holds-barred style.

Consider the latest move in the case, a declaration of intent to seek sanctions….

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Kristen Saban

* With Eric Holder questioning his job, and Deval Patrick dining at the White House, perhaps we’ll see our second black attorney general. Or not, because one of the Governor’s aides says he’ll continue his reign as a Masshole. [Washington Times; Buzzfeed]

* When it came to sanctions for discovery violations in the Apple v. Samsung case, this judge was all about pinching pennies. Last week, both Quinn Emanuel and MoFo got taken to task over their apparently “sloppy billing practices.” [The Recorder]

* What’s the most inappropriate thing for a federal judge to say to jurors when delivering the news that a defendant of Asian descent killed herself after testifying? “Sayonara.” Ugh. [Careerist via New York Times]

* “Law school is very unforgiving, but classes must go on.” Law schools in the New York metropolitan area are still trying to make sure their students are safe and sound — and studying, of course. [New York Law Journal]

* Another one bites the dust: Team Strauss/Anziska’s lawsuit against John Marshall Law School over its allegedly phony post-graduate employment statistics has been dismissed with prejudice. [Chicago Tribune]

* Are you ready for some litigation? Lawyers for Nick Saban’s daughter are showing the sorority girl who sued her what it’s like to get rolled by the Alabama tide in a flurry of more than 40 subpoenas. [Times Leader]

Somebody is so getting sued.

* “We have all the resources and infrastructure we need for any potential dispute or recount.” Because elections aren’t just for Election Day anymore. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* UC Hastings College of the Law has set up a symposium fund to honor fallen alumnus J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya. [NBC Bay Area]

* People realize that the next President will probably get to appoint a couple of SCOTUS justices, right? [Slate]

* That’s some costly attorney misconduct: a lawyer who got slapped with a $10,000 sanction for “egregious conduct” at a deposition now has to pay an additional $36,274 in legal fees. [New York Law Journal]

* The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau better hope Obama wins. [National Law Journal]

* Fun legal times at the Village Voice. [Corporate Counsel]

* When Sandy got real for people in Manhattan. [New Yorker]

It’s been a few months since we last heard from Paul Ceglia, the guy who claims he owns a 50 percent stake in Facebook.

In August, he was getting slapped around by a federal magistrate judge, but this morning, we learned he got slapped again — with handcuffs.

It appears federal prosecutors caught wind of his, as Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio wrote, incomprehensible and vexatious tactics, so they decided to take matters into their own hands…

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Last time we checked in with Paul Ceglia — the Man Who Would Be King of Facebook — and his lawsuit claiming partial ownership of the social media giant, he was facing sanctions if he refused to provide Facebook with a very touchy document known as the Kasowitz letter.

Well, the production deadline has come and gone, and there’s no letter. You know what that means. All aboarrrd! Next stop, Benchslap City…

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Paul Ceglia’s lawsuit claiming a major ownership stake in Facebook is heating up again. There has been a flurry of court activity over the last couple of weeks, and it looks like things are getting close (we can only hope) to a thrilling conclusion.

In a new, strongly worded ruling, a federal magistrate judge threatened to impose more sanctions on Ceglia and ordered him to produce a letter written by Kasowitz, one of his (many) former law firms, which Facebook’s attorneys say will blow the doors off whatever remains of his case.

Let’s take a ride on the benchslap express….

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