May It Please The Court

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May It Please The Court
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Oh bother! What's another $500,000?

Winnie the Pooh and the 100-acre wood bring back childhood memories of innocence and hunny. But today, I'm afraid we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

The revolving door of lawyers has swung around once again. Let me explain the connection.

As this article explains, in 1991, the original Pooh cartoonist's wife's (Shirley Slesinger) heirs sued Disney over its non-payment of royalties to the Slesingers. The litigation hasn't stopped since then.

During the pending litigation, the Slesingers have changed lawyers like they change underwear. According to the SoCalLaw Blog, the Slesingers have had seven teams of lawyers in the last twelve years. The latest set of lawyers, however, may have established a new record.

The Slesingers said Friday "During the last couple of months, Jones Day's fees for handling this matter were much higher than either we or the firm expected."

Admittedly, Alan E. Friedman, an attorney with Jones Day, said in a letter sent to the court "cost considerations have led (the family) to conclude it cannot afford to have Jones Day continue as its counsel."

According to an IMBD article, those fees were in excess of $500,000 per month.


A simple, fun-loving bear who was given by a father, A.A. Milne, to his son, Christopher Robin Milne on his first birthday in 1925 has transformed into a meglo-marketing effort generating millions and long-running court battles.

What would Pooh say? Oh bother!

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, October 13, 2003 at 08:09 Comments (1) |

Let's Kill Endangered Species to Save Them

Here's a bright idea: allow the importation of endangered species and their parts (as if that were not enough contradiction in itself) to promote conservation.


Our very own U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service came up with this wild revelation. So far, thankfully, it's only a proposal. No one in the USFWS seems to have hit upon the idea that it's illegal under the 30-year old Endangered Species Act - which is posted right there on the USFWS website.

The least you think they could have done was read it.

And now, we have another classic, bureaucratice epuhemism for the name of the plan: "proposed enhancement-of-survival policy."


I think Adam Roberts said it best when he called the proposed policy "a horribly dangerous precedent, a wrong-headed conservation policy propelled by the circus and zoo, trophy-hunting lobby in the United States and others who want to profit by the commercialization of live animals or dead ones."

"Eco-tourism" activities -- such as safaris and whale-watching trips -- generate more income than would trophy-hunting and whale killing, he said. Roberts is a senior research associate at the nonprofit Animal Welfare Institute, an advocacy group for endangered species.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, October 12, 2003 at 07:42 Comments (0) |

Stopped at the Border, Dirty Air Not Allowed In

Where does air pollution come from and how can you tell? The Ninth Circuit tackled this thorny issue and decided it could tell.

The suit brought by the Sierra Club against the USEPA. The Clean Air Act required California's Imperial County to demonstrate that it had reached certain air quality standards for PM-10, or particle matter concentration, by the end of 1994 (the CAA's deadline to meet attainment for the PM-10 limits).

Six years after the attainment date expired and the County was not in complance, no one had taken any action. The Sierra Club filed suit in the D.C. federal court, and the USEPA promised to issue a decision by 2001.

The California Air Resources Board found that the Imperial Valley “would have attained the national ambient air quality standards. . . but for emissions emanating from outside the United States, i.e., Mexico,” and the EPA agreed. Imperial County shares 80 miles of border with Mexico.

The Sierra Club didn't agree, and filed suit again.

In the suit, the Sierra Club presented evidence that on the two dates when particulate emissions were in excess of the PM-10 standards, the wind direction was from the west, and not from the south, where Mexicali, the Mexican city alleged to be the principal source of transborder PM-10, is located.

The Ninth Circuit agreed, and agreed so much that it did not order further court proceedings. It ordered the EPA to designate Imperial Valley as a non-attainment area for PM-10.

Apparently, Imperial Valley's high childhood asthma rates and its death rate from respiratory diseases is more than double that of California, according to Dr. Timothy Krantz.

The designation as a non-attainment area will mean that more expensive controls have to be placed on agricultural operations. These controls could include increased use of water in an already water-starved area.

There's no easy answer to this question for Imperial County. Other than to place the same controls on Mexico, clean air is going to take water, money and time.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, October 11, 2003 at 09:36 Comments (0) |

A Ripping Good Time

The Hyatt Newporter's Summer Jazz Series ended with the Rippingtons' performance tonight.

18 weeks of great jazz and a good time. Saxophonist Eric Merienthal was fanstastic, as was the rest of the band.

When it comes to great music, what more is there to say?

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, October 10, 2003 at 23:57 Comments (0) |

A Sneaking Suspicion?

Sneaking Suspicions posted a tip of the hat to MIPTC and ACWOS yesterday. I'm grateful, and happy as well to return the praise. SS has a great post up on higher learning, technology and the youth of today.

OK, so it's a rant about a kid at a cash register who can't figure out how to make change. But it's still funny.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, October 09, 2003 at 11:48 Comments (0) |

Keep a Stiff Upper Lip, Old Chap, and Pay My Fee

I don't know which is worse: contingency lawyers who want more money or insurance companies that won't pay. Across the big pond, solicitors and insurers got into a "wrangle" (that's British for fight, I guess) over no-win, no-fee cases.

First introduced in England and Wales in 1995, the no-win, no-fee program was designed to replace legal aid funding for low-end tort cases, such as traffic accidents and the like. The idea was to encourage solicitors (another British term for lawyer) to take the case to earn a contingency fee.

The argument between the lawyers and insurers centered on what else - money. In this case, it was how much the insurers had to pay the lawyers upon a win.

Reporter (not actress) Maureen O'Hara of The Guardian informs us that laywers have now agreed to take 12.5 percent of a settlement as a fee, and the insurers have agreed to pay that rate. Insurers had been holding up payments to solicitors for the last two years because they believed the success fees taken before the agreement were too high.

Too high? On this side of the big pond, contingency lawyers get anywhere between 20 to 50 percent of the deal, and no-win, no-fee has been part of the deal all along. Alaska has such a system, and two other states, Oregon and Oklahoma have a hybrid version. The Overlawyered blog has a thoughtful article on the whole subject. Of course, we don't have the English version of legal aid funding for tort cases. Yet.

Heaven help us. Now someone over here will probably get that bright idea.

In England, however, the rule is that the loser pays the winner's fees. Some here argue for application of the so-called "English Rule." Some have even argued that since American lawyers have such an upside, they ought to also have the downside of paying the winner when they lose.

Talk about tort reform. With those rules in place, none would be needed.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, October 08, 2003 at 08:18 Comments (0) |

Elvis is Dead. Climate Change is Happening.

With the recall looming, CalEPA announced that it will join several states' effort to sue the USEPA over greenhouse gases, according to Winston Hickox, Secretary of CalEPA.. The statement appeared in yesterday's Daily Journal. Last month, the USEPA announced that it would not regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

So far, the USEPA has only created voluntary, token programs to address CO2, such as the relatively unknown Climate Leaders program and the more prevelant Energy Star label.

In response to pressure from environmental groups, last month California said it might sue the USEPA, after the USEPA's statement that it did not have the authority from Congress to do more. California, however, will be last on the bandwagon given that Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine have already filed suit. Six other states are considering joining in.

The whole hulabuloo started with a a petition by the International Center for Technology Assessment, which wanted regulation of CO2. Others disagreed.

The only worthwhile sound bite in this whole thing came from an environmental group, quoted in CBS' story. "Elvis is dead. Climate change is happening … It's time to stop the denial and move on with solutions," said Melissa Carey, of the Environmental Defense Fund.

I guess the EDF's motto is "just accept it."

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, October 07, 2003 at 07:19 Comments (0) |

More Hits from the Supremes?

So, the Supreme Court starts drawing a paycheck again today, and the new season opens. What's this gig all about? Well, there are three cases this next week that should prove interesting.

The session starts off today with a bang over campaign finance reform. It pits the First Amendment free speech rights against the ban on soft money and "issue ads."

The second case involves a dispute between State and Federal rights over regulation of the Clean Air Act. The third case pits an employee discharged for drug abuse against his employer.

The environmental case will be heard on Wednesday: Alaska v. USEPA.

This case presents the question whether the Clean Air Act authorizes the USEPA to prevent construction of a major emitting facility where Alaska is prepared to grant the facility operator an air quality permit. The dispute arose after the USEPA attempted to block the construction of an electric generator for a zinc mine in Alaska.

You can view the Opening brief, the Opposition and the Reply briefs for this case by clicking on the highlighted words.

The third case, Rayethon v. Hernandez, will prove interesting to employers, and will also be heard on Wednesday. The question the Supreme Court will decide is whether employees lawfully terminated for alcohol or illegal drug use must be rehired under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which recognizes drug or alcohol addiction as a disability. Hernandez, a recovering alcoholic, was rejected as a job applicant under Rayethon's unwritten rule of not rehiring fired employees or those that quit in lieu of being fired.

Again, you can view the Opening brief, the Opposition and the Reply.

Last year we had gay rights and affirmative action. This year we can expect major rulings on redistricting and school vouchers. Sounds ho-hum, but you never can tell. We seem to get surprises every year.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, October 06, 2003 at 08:11 Comments (0) |

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