May It Please The Court

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May It Please The Court
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There are 2034 Journal Items on 255 page(s) and you are on page number 190

Hooters Out In The Cold

About three weeks ago, MIPTC told you that Hooters had sued a competitor, Ker's Winghouse, over it's "intellectual property."

Turns out that the federal court just dismissed Hooter's action.

According to Findlaw, "U.S. District Judge Anne Conway dismissed the case Thursday before it went to the jury, finding that 'no reasonable juror' could confuse waitresses for Ker's WingHouse and those for Hooters. Ker's WingHouse waitresses are dressed in all-black shorts and tops, while Hooters girls wear orange shorts and white tops."

Hooters wanted $4 million in damages. To add insult to injury, the judge ordered Hooters to pay Ker's $1.2 million.

Puns are up to you. Fill in your comments below.


Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, December 05, 2004 at 23:05 Comments (1) |

This Just In: USEPA Expects 35 Years and $280 Billion Cleanup

Yes, I know it's not news to you and me. But the USEPA thinks that the Report it issued Friday is.

News, that is.

You see, the USEPA estimates that there will be as many as 355,000 sites to cleanup, with up to 9,267 more discovered each year. Well, the real news is that these figures represent a 60 percent increase in the number of sites than were identified in the USEPA's last study from 1996. Back then, the USEPA thought it would only take $187 billion to cleanup; now, as much as $280 billion.

I don't trust the figures the USEPA released Friday. Think about it. Imagine what it's going to really cost 35 years from now.

Here's the USEPA's spin: "The purpose of the report is to allow us to plan and develop better strategies to meet the nation's cleanup needs," said spokeswoman Cynthia Bergman.

Who's she kidding? A sixty percent increase in just eight years? How can we trust any of the USEPA's numbers - then, now or in the future? More important, who's running the show back in D.C.?

Government bureaucracy? That's just another oxymoron.

I've got an idea. Let's stop issuing reports and start cleaning up the sites contaminated by the government, the country's worst offender.

Excluding the Departments of Defense and Energy, other government agencies including the Departments of Interior, Agriculture and Transportation have been spending $200 million annually for site cleanups, and have up to $21 billion more of cleanup work to be done over 30 years. DOD expects to spend $33 billion, and DOE expects to spend $35 billion.

All told, the government expects to spend something like $90 billion, or almost one third of the total amount of cleanups. The USEPA wants us to "plan" on those numbers.

Right. That'll be the day.

Want to buy a bridge?


Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, December 04, 2004 at 00:36 Comments (0) |

Bhopal Turns Twenty Years Old (Part 1)

I. The Release of Deadly Gases

Twenty years ago today, during the pre-dawn hours of December 3, 1984, more than 40 tons of methyl isocyanate (MIC), hydrogen cyanide, mono-methyl amine and other lethal gases spewed from Union Carbide Corporation’s pesticide factory in Bhopal, India. According to some, routine maintenance operations caused a large quantity of water to enter MIC gas storage tank #610, triggering a run-away reaction.

Union Carbide (now a Dow subsidiary) claimed publicly that the gas leak was caused by sabotage, that a “disgruntled employee” deliberately connected a water hose to the storage tank and put water into the tank, causing a massive chemical reaction, and that safety systems had been put in place that would have kept the water from entering into the tank by accident. See Union Carbide’s chronology of events listed here.

Union Carbide’s position, however, was severely undermined by its own failure to release the name of the suspected employee or to bring charges against him. At the same time, there was significant evidence that supported a contrary view that Union Carbide (both the parent company and its Indian subsidiary) was a negligent company that had failed to improve its deteriorating plant. For example, based on a May 1982 report of the Indian subsidiary conducted by a three-member safety team from the Union Carbide headquarters in the U.S., Union Carbide knew that a serious potential existed for a sizable release of toxic materials in the MIC unit, either due to equipment failure, operating problems, or maintenance problems, and that various changes were required to reduce the danger of that plant. Yet there are no indications that any such changes were ever implemented.

See Part 2, Sat., 12/4/04

Printer friendly page Posted by Gregory D. Granger on Friday, December 03, 2004 at 16:48 Comments (0) |

The Catalyst Rule, a.k.a. $100 Grand a Page

England has the Rule. Loser pays.

Not so here. The American Rule is that each party bears its own fees unless there's an agreement to the contrary or a statute.

The California Supreme Court, however, may be on the road to changing both rules. In two sweeping rulings, the Court ruled that if a lawyer causes a change, the lawyer may be entitled to recover fees.

Even though the lawyer may not have won any judicial rulings.


I don't make this stuff up, I just report it.

Here they are, in all their glory: Graham v. Daimler Chrysler and Tipton-Wittingham v. City of Los Angeles.

Call this rule the "Catalyst Rule," first enunciated in 1983 (but in a case that actually reversed an attorneys fees award). You know, like moving money from here to there. Another name for it is the private attorney general rule.

The United States Supreme Court squarely rejected this theory in the Buckhannon decision. But that case only applied to federal statutes, not state statutes.

In Tipton-Wittingham, plaintiffs' actions resulted in changes in the LAPD's treatment of its officers' race and sex. The changes were made voluntarily by LAPD, not because of any court order. Plaintiffs recovered over $2,000,000 in fees as a result of the "catalyst" theory. In Graham, the defendants offered to repurchase the truck that was the subject of the lawsuit before the court rendered judgment.

The dissent, which lost 4-3 in Graham, the lead case, notes that the Plaintiff's entire legal effort amounted to a seven-page complaint, but the trial court awarded Plaintiff over $750,000 in attorneys fees.

That's in excess of $100,000 a page.

Now, it's the law. At least until the U.S. Supreme Court gets hold of it, which will be some time from now - if at all since there's no federal question - and since the California Supremes sent it back to the trial court. Bounty hunters will have a field day.

Is this an indication of how the ruling on Proposition 64 will fare when it finally gets heard?


Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, December 03, 2004 at 00:29 Comments (0) |

California Lawyer's 2004 Legal Follies

Here are some of this years funniest Legal Follies, as compiled in the December 2004 California Lawyer magazine.

I don't know which is funnier - the articles or the headlines.

Check it out and you be the judge.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, December 02, 2004 at 22:21 Comments (0) |

Let Your Fingers Do The Walking Around The Internet

OK, that fingerprint thing.

Way cool.

Here's the skinny. I got the idea from my new tablet. See that little rectangular reader at the end of the pen laying on top of the tablet in the linked picture? That's a fingerprint scanner. You drag your finger or thumb across it, and it reads your fingerprint.

Then, the software logs you into the computer, and logs you in and logs you in.

What's the most frustrating thing about surfing the internet?


Every time you turn around, you have to Log In to see content, do your online banking, access your email, VNC or RDP into work and on and on. It's enough to drive you crazy.

Enter OmniPass. It's software that came with my tablet fingerprint reader and the Targus fingerprint reader I just hooked up to my workstation at the office.

What a deal. No more multiple passwords.

All you have to do is login to your own computer with your fingerprint, and then "train" the software once. The first time you login anywhere, you click on the "Remember password" feature of the software, and the next time you get to the site, the software will enter the username and password for you, and you're off to the races.

Your multiple login usernames and passwords are safe because no one else has your fingerprint.

Such a deal.

Just don't lose your fingerprint.


Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, December 02, 2004 at 22:12 Comments (0) |

Just Start Writing

Here's a fine How-to article, Blogging with Lawyers by Joy London of Excited Utterances, a great knowledge management blog. It seems there are a number of ways How To Write A Blog.


Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, December 02, 2004 at 15:29 Comments (0) |

Expressing My Opinion About Court Opinions

The internet is a great equalizer.

Why, I can report about Court opinions and even point you to the actual opinion at no cost to you.

In most cases, but not all. Sometimes, I run into PACER. It's the government's way to get more of your and my tax dollars.

As if they didn't have enough already. You'd think that some of that $2.0 trillion .... well, you can imagine a few things to do with it, I'm sure.

You know the old saw, "a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking real money."

So, why is it that some federal courts offer opinions free of charge, and some do not? This admittedly unscientific and partial survey has discovered that some circuit courts offer opinions for free, some do not, and likewise with the bevy of district courts. It's all over the map.

So, what's a body to do?

Actually, I wanted to report on the case at the top of the page, but Lexis charges $20 to access it, and PACER charges, too, but not as much. It's an interesting case, certainly given that the Court figured out a way to trigger coverage for lead contamination because of an ambiguity in the policy language.

Alas, I can't point you to the actual opinion.

My recommendation? Let's abolish PACER, and require the Courts to post the opinions on their websites. Which would you rather read - judge biographies or Court opinions?

Who are these sites constructed for? The judges' egos or communicating their opinions to the public?


Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, December 02, 2004 at 00:34 Comments (1) |

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