May It Please The Court
Quote of the Day - People think baseball players make $3 million and $4 million a year. They don't realize that most of us only make $500,000.
Who Owns Baseball Statistics?
It's well past the bottom of the ninth, and the boys of summer have long ago left the mound, but that hasn't stopped Major League Baseball from trying to wring a few more dollars out of last season. MLB has decided to attack fantasy baseball.
Yep, it gives a whole new meaning to Rotisserie leagues.
According to LA Times writer Greg Johnson, a fantasy baseball game operator, CBC Distribution & Marketing has filed a complaint against MLB, arguing that MLB cannot force it to obtain a license to plug baseball stats into its games. MLB claims it owns the numbers, or perhaps more accurately the statistics of baseball. I don't play fantasy baseball, but I have a lot of friends who do, and most of them are attorneys. You can count on numerous amicus curiae briefs being filed in this case, most likely in favor of CBC, and against MLB.
It's hard to imagine that MLB will be successful in its claim that it owns the statistics of the game. They're numbers, right? On the other hand, there are several cases out there about the alphabet, and some intellectual property rulings side in favor of companies owning part of the alphabet, in certain configurations. But I can't fathom that one through one thousand, or any of the other myriad statistics thrown out at baseball games (pun intended) can be the property of those who play the game. It would be like Webster's claiming that I have to obtain a license to write this blog because they first trademarked the words in their dictionary.
Next thing you know, they'll be charging the fans to quote statistics to one another. Nah. Numbers (and letters and words) are owned by the people, not the major leagues.
New LA Radio Legal Talk Show About To Go On The Air
Be on the lookout for a new legal talk show, "Meet America's Best Lawyers" on a local Los Angeles radio station, KTLK-AM 1150. The show will be hosted by Steve Murphy, who also hosts SkyRadio, which you can hear as you fly across country on numerous airlines.
Disclaimer here: these shows are related to the Law Business Insider, a sponsor of MIPTC, as you can see from the large ad banner.
Steve's Predictions For 2006: Will They Ring True?
A friend of mine, Steve Kaplan, a lawyer at Hicks, Mims & Kaplan, offers these predictions for the coming year, posted here with his permission. If you have some you'd like to add or disagree with Steve, comments are open.
1. The price of crude oil will be volatile, and trend upward.
2. Crude oil will never get below $50 a barrel in 2006.
3. Any disruption will send oil prices above $70 a barrel.
4. The Dollar will slightly appreciate versus the Euro by the end of the year.
5. California, Las Vegas and Florida housing prices will decline by 10% in 2006.
6. Neither GM nor Ford will go bankrupt in 2006 (but GM may go bankrupt in 2007).
7. The Dow Jones industrial average will end the year at just above 11,000.
8. Canadian oil and gas trusts (e.g., symbols PWI and PTF) will return over 15% in 2006. (i.e., dividends plus appreciation will exceed 15%).
9. Altria will return over 15% in 2006.
10. Citigroup, Bank of America and Pfizer will return over 10% in 2006.
11. Emerging market ETF’s (e.g., EEM) will outperform the Dow, NASDAQ and S&P 500 in 2006.
12. Apple will release the “i-phone” cell phone in 2006.
13. Yahoo, Google, AOL or a phone company will buy TIVO.
14. Microsoft will release its new operating system, and new version of Office.
15. Microsoft X-Box will out-sell Sony Playstation in the U.S.
16. Moslems will again riot in Europe.
17. There will be another terrorist attack in Europe.
18. Republicans will maintain control of both houses of Congress after the mid-term 2006 elections.
19. Judge Alito will be confirmed as the next Supreme Court Justice.
20. At least one former U.S. president will die in 2006.
21. Tom DeLay will be found not guilty.
22. At least two former or current members of Congress will be indicted for bribery or taking illegal campaign contributions.
23. In the Enron trials, Ken Lay will be found not guilty, and Jeff Skilling will be convicted.
24. Congress will not pass major immigration or border legislation in 2006.
25. Congress will pass legislation in 2006 extending the 15% tax rate for dividends and capital gains.
26. Eliot Spitzer will be the next Governor of New York.
27. US troop levels in Iraq will decrease from approximately 160,000 today to fewer than 110,000 by the end of 2006.
28. Saddam Hussein will be found guilty and executed.
29. Assad will not last the year as Syria's President.
30. Europe will be unable to persuade Iran to submit to nuclear inspections.
31. The Iran nuclear situation will be referred to the UN security counsel.
32. Israel will complete the wall and cut all relations with the Palestinians.
33. France, Germany, Italy and Spain will fail by a wide margin to fulfill their Kyoto targets. These same countries will continue to rail against the United States for not signing the treaty that they signed and failed to enforce.
34. In some areas of the world it will be hot which will be blamed on global warming.
35. In other areas of the world it will be cold which will be blamed on global warming.
Best Wishes in 2006.
Happy New YearMIPTC wishes you and yours a healthy, happy, prosperous and successful New Year!
2005 Legal News: The First Annual Legal Louie Awards
CNN's TV lawyer Ken Coffee has his list, and MIPTC jumps into the fray with its first annual Legal Louie Awards, a tongue-in-cheek look at this year's legal news. Why a "Legal Louie?" He was my grandfather's barber, who always had an opinion about legal shenanigans, and it just seemed appropriate to name the awards after him. Here's a round-up review of the legal news for 2005 and the resulting awards for the best and worst, in multiple categories:
Worst TV Legal Show: Nancy Grace. It's like Survivor in the courtroom. Come on, who really watches this show? Not lawyers or anyone else with a working head on their shoulders. Too bad we can't vote her off the network.
Best TV Legal Show: Boston Legal. Once again, William Shatner saves the universe with three-word sentences. Best line in the show by Shatner's character, Denny Crane: "I can act. I won a Grammy." OK, occasionally he can rattle off a four-word sentence, but trust me on this one, the show's a riot.
Worst Legal Decision: Kelo v. City of New London, the case that upheld that city's condemnation of Suzy Kelo's single-family home so they could give it to a private shopping center developer and make more in taxes from the mall. The U.S. Supreme Court may have been right on the law, but wrong on the public relations effect of its decision. It's one thing to complain about activist judges, but quite another when everyday citizens clamor to have local governments exercise their eminent domain power over the justices' homes.
Best Legal Decision: Can't think of one, but I'm open to suggestions. As far as the Worst Supreme Court Moment goes, however, the award has to go to Harriet Miers' blue dress. She almost made Blackwell's list, and MIPTC sighed relief when she withdrew her nomination to the Supreme Court without first having a "wardrobe malfunction."
Worst Jail Sentence: Michael Jackson. No kidding. You think he did it? So do the rest of us, but even without the dream team, we're all glad it's over, along with the attendant media frenzy. Get a life. Honorary mention: Judith Miller, who entertained us all with her on-again, off-again refusal to reveal her sources, like a tart who keeps checking her watch.
Best Jail Sentence: Martha Stewart. I have to agree with Ken Coffey on this one, she took it like a ... well, you know what I mean. She did the crime, and she did the time. Now what's for dinner, honey?
Worst Will Contest: Terry Schiavo. If there's one thing we learned from this debacle, it's to get a Living Will. The rest of it was just embarrassing. Chalk another one up to the Glad It's Over category.
Best Will Contest: Anna Nicole Smith. Sure she's a gold-digger. But we love her for it. What story gets more coverage than a rich old man who marries a broke young playmate. Why shouldn't she get all of his money instead of his children, even if she was married to him for only three hours?
Best Insurance Claim: After a jury trial late last year, the insurance companies who started to pay (finally) for the damage to the World Trade Center buildings. It only took them four years of legal wrangling and numerous lawsuits, but they paid part of the damage.
Worst New Legal Trend: Lawyer jokes within the profession (subscription required). It's a tough enough profession as it is. Do we need to make it any harder or any less civil?
Best New Legal Trend: Blawgs and Podcasting. As one well-known blawger called it, 2005 was the year of the podcast. We're finally reaching out there and making the legal profession more accessible. Next year, MIPTC predicts video will surpass podcasts, now that broadband and the technology has come of age.
Saddest Legal-related Event: The loss of Civil-rights pioneer Rosa Parks. She inspired legions of volunteers and changed our country's path for the better.
Most Hopeful Legal Event: Chief Justice Roberts sailed through his confirmation hearings with all the aplomb and grace the office deserves. It's too early to tell how his court will shape things to come, but if how he handled the Senate is any indication, he'll make us proud.
Worst Government Moment: It's a three-way tie. The first winner? He couldn't lead. He couldn't follow. He couldn't even figure out how to get out of the way until it was too late. It took a demotion to make him realize he needed to resign. Former FEMA Director Mike Brown probably won't get a book deal, talk show invitations or the lecture circuit. Thank God. Second and third place go to Senator Tom Delay and Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham for their fine, upstanding examples of leadership.
Best Government Moment: That's not an award category. That's an oxymoron.
With that, we wrap up this year's awards, with three spins of the barber's chair. To relive those old barbershop times, if you'd like to share your comments, the comment feature below is open. Audio comments can be left at 206-338-3088, and will be posted below, as well. Finally, if the winners contact MIPTC, they can claim a parting gift.
2005 Legal Louies To Be Announced Tomorrow
"Three-spin Louie" used to cut my hair as a young boy, and my grandfather went to his barber shop at least once a week for a trim and a shave, occasionally dragging me along. I'm not sure how good of a barber he was (I had a buzz), but he sure could talk. He and my grandfather solved the world's problems each visit, only to start all over again the next week.
When I was searching for a name for MIPTC's first annual best and worst awards for the legal world, it seemed fitting to choose Louie's name given his penchant for national affairs.
The "three-spin" nickname? My grandfather regularly said that it took Louie only three spins of the barber chair to cut your hair. At the end of the third spin, you were done, whether your hair was or not.
That'll be two bits, please.
The Time To Enforce Payment Of Your Mortgage Is A Long Way Off
When can you sue on a promissory note secured by a deed of trust? That's a complicated question that deserves a complicated answer, and you can read that complicated answer in this opinion: Ung v. Kohler.
In short, however, it's longer than four years, which is commonly considered the statute of limitations for contracts in California.
Surprised? Check out California Civil Code section 882.020, which courts have interpreted to extend the statute by either as long as 10 years or 60 years, depending on which opinion you read. In certain circumstances, it could be as little as 10 years, but may be as long as 60. So if you think you can avoid paying a house mortgage, guess again. Presumably the statute was enacted to clear title for ancient mortgages where an outstanding note appeared on the property from long ago, and extinguished the note so the new buyers could get clear title.
According the court, it isn't meant to shorten the statute based on contract law, which is what the debtor tried to do here. She got stopped dead in her tracks, and will have to pay the note.
Insurance Company's Coverage Dodge Doesn't Work To Avoid Liability To Third Party
You have to love insurance companies. Here's a case about an insurance company that issued a policy to a company in India, doing business in India, to cover work done in India for an American company.
But there was just one little problem for the insured and the American company that insisted the Indian company get insurance: the policy excluded coverage for work done in India. No problem for the insurance company, Zurich Specialties London Limited, though. The company collected the premium and when the American company presented a claim, it denied the claim.
The American company, Business to Business Markets, Inc, (B2B) hired Tricon Infotech, an Indian software company to develop software for it. B2B insisted that Tricon obtain errors and omissions insurance coverage, and informed the broker and insurance company that Tricon operated out of India.
Tricon did not deliver the software as promised, and B2B sued, only to find out that Zurich had issued the policy with an exclusion for coverage arising out of operations in India.
B2B sued Tricon and got a default judgment, which it then presented to Zurich for payment. When Zurich denied B2B's claim, B2B sued Zurich. The trial court believed that Zurich did not owe a duty of care to B2B and granted Zurich's demurrer, but that's about as far as that thought process went. The court of appeal reversed and said that Zurich did owe B2B, a third party, a duty of care because B2B was the intended beneficiary of the policy Zurich issued to Tricon. The court also ruled that Zurich could have foreseen harm to B2B and B2B actually did suffer harm. It reversed the trial court's dismissal of B2B's case, and sent the matter back for further proceedings.
Zurich may yet have to pay the $922,480 judgment B2B got against Tricon.