May It Please The Court

RSS Feeds
MIPTC Author
About J. Craig Williams

May It Please The Court
by Leonard Rivkin
Barnes & Noble CLE Books
Latest Blogs
12/4/2008 - How to Get Sued

1/5/2005 - Your City Leaders Aren't Listening To You

12/29/2004 - Niagara Falls? Slowly I Turned, Step by Step, Inch by Inch.

12/25/2004 - Season's Greetings

This Month's Posts
Links of Interest [more]
Quote of the Day - A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money. - Everett Dirksen
Claim Your Profile on Avvo
There are 2034 Journal Items on 255 page(s) and you are on page number 247

Two Towers, Two Planes, One Occurrence, Too Bad

The World Trade Center owners in New York lost their battle with Hartford Insurance, Travelers Company, (formerly St. Paul) and a host of other insurance companies, but not Travelers. The WTC, owned by Silverstein Properties, LLC, wanted their insurance carriers to pay for the loss of the two buildings as two different "occurrences." That way, Silverstein could collect for the loss of both buildings. Obviously, the carriers only wanted the loss of the two WTC towers on September 11 to constitute one "occurrence."

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the loss of the towers constituted one occurrence. In a heavily factual opinion, the Court cited the policy form developed by Silverstein's insurance brokers, Willis of New York. The Willis "form" defined "occurrence" as:

"... losses or damages that are attributable directly or indirectly to one cause or to one series of similar causes." Apparently, Silverstein was concerned with the insurance companies attempting to apply multiple deductibles to one "occurrence." Silverstein instructed Willis to customize (or manuscript) this language into the policies with the insurers.

Silverstein, along with the rest of us, never thought both towers would be lost in one accident. Silverstein wanted high deductibles to keep premiums low, but didn't want the carriers to avoid paying claims by applying multiple "occurrences" to each loss.

It backfired. In a big way.

To the tune of only $3.5 billion instead of $7 billion. Yes, that's with only one "B" instead of two.

In their decision, the Second Circuit agreed with Judge John S. Martin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. He ruled that the "occurrence" definition agreed to by most of the various insurers meant that the damage occurred from one cause - a coordinated plan of attack on the two WTC towers. The Second Circuit affirmed his ruling.

Traveler's portion of the case, however, remains unresolved, and is set to be heard by a jury. The Second Circuit thought the definition in the Travelers policy was too ambiguous to grant Summary Judgment as a matter of law for Judge Martin to decide.

The case is actually much more complicated that I've presented here, and for lawyers, insurance brokers or others interested in the facts behind what happened, the case gives all the details, even down to quoting faxes and deposition testimony. Otherwise, the opinion is good for bedtime reading.

The case is also a Civil Procedure professor's dream come true. The Court's discussion of jurisdiction goes on for almost eight pages - a lot to slog through if you're not a lawyer.

If Silverstein hadn't tried to limit its own payout for multiple deductibles by altering the typical insurance definition of "occurrence," the Court would have had no problem awarding $7 billion dollars of coverage.

You know: two planes, two towers, two different times, two sets of highjackers.

Too bad for almost everyone ... but hope springs eternal for Silverstein and Travelers.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, September 27, 2003 at 12:50 Comments (0) |

No Lift for this Lift Kit

If you’re going to sue, sue. Don’t just sit there.

Anthony Choy installed a lift kit on his car, and then promptly lost control of the car and severely injured himself in an accident. How he got to sue anyone else is a mystery, but he did.

He bought the lift kit from Shamrock Tire, and Shamrock was insured by Redland Insurance Company, part of the Clarendon Insurance Group (rating recently downgraded). Not surprisingly, Choy sued Shamrock. Not surprisingly, Shamrock filed bankruptcy.

Here’s where it gets dicey. Choy tendered a policy limits demand to Redland for $500,000. Redland rejected the demand. Deals were made in Shamrock’s bankruptcy, and ultimately, Choy ended up with a bankruptcy claim for about $26K. The trustee approved the claim, the bankruptcy court approved the claim, but when the trustee sued Redland Insurance to collect the claim, the case was dismissed. The appellate court upheld the dismissal. Boom. Case over.

The trustee’s case was dismissed ultimately because no one ever bothered to prosecute to judgment the underlying case for liability. It’s very simple in insurance lingo. No judgment, no payment. No one ever proved that Shamrock was liable for Choy’s injuries. (See also the second paragraph, above). Now, the attorneys, trustee and practically everyone else is embroiled in litigation to sort all of this out.

That is, everyone but Redland. They’re just continuing to collect premiums and not pay out claims.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, September 26, 2003 at 09:35 Comments (0) |

We Can Pay Any Punitive Damages You Can Award

Hats off to my former partner, Dan Callahan of Callahan & Blaine, who just pulled down a $934 million dollar victory. The news hasn't made it to their website yet, but it is in the print version of today's Los Angeles Daily Journal (right most column, and third story down on this internet page).

Dan represented a medical equipment manufacturer, Beckman Coulter, and Gary Waldron of Waldron & Olsen and Scott Farrell of Call, Jensen & Farrell (I couldn't find either of their sites) represented Dovatron, whose parent is Flextronics. Supposedly trading was halted after the verdict, by it appears that the stock is still being traded, although it's fallen 4.73% at the time of this post. Not surprisingly, Waldron nor Farrell returned calls to the Daily Journal. Dan, of course, played to the paper.

According to the article, "The jury was instructed - at the behest of Flextronic's counsel, according to Callahan - that the company was capable of paying any punitive award it may deliver. 'They stipulated they could pay any punitive damage allowed by law,' he said. 'I believe that tactic backfired on them. Their rationale was they did not want to expose their financial records in any more depth to the jury, but I believe it gave the jury a sense of arrogance and lack of remorse.'"

In order to get to that little tidbit, you have to wade through the entire article. I don't think I would have put that revelation at the end of the article.

That revelation is $850 million of the verdict. Arrogance costs a lot these days.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, September 25, 2003 at 11:23 Comments (0) |

Spam- Soon to be Illegal in California

Just a scant 30 minutes ago, Governor in Waiting Gray Davis signed SB 186, banning spam in California. The bill makes it illegal for spammers to send unsolicited email. The estimates in the bill are that 40% of all email sent is spam, and by the end of this year alone, it will reach 50%, costing us over $1.2 billion dollars.

Fines are stiff: $1,000 for each violation and up to $1,000,000 for a email blitz campaign. The bill also provides for an award of attorneys fees to the prevailing plaintiff. The Los Angeles Times article quotes the Bill's author, State Senator Kevin Murray, who says it will be easy to collect these fines.

The bill applies to "'Commercial e-mail advertisement[s']' [, which] means any electronic mail message initiated for the purpose of advertising or promoting the lease, sale, rental, gift offer, or other disposition of any property, goods, services, or extension of credit." The bill goes into effect January 1, 2004, and does not apply retroactively.

The bill also requires email senders to provide an opt-out method - either in the email itself or an 800 number. Most other states have Spam laws, but California's is comparatively harsh. It will likely set a new standard for other states and the federal government.

Plus, it will be a crime to send unsolicited email in California. So not only can regular citizens sue spammers, the AG and DA can file charges. Ouch!

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, September 24, 2003 at 07:52 Comments (1) |

The Death of an Indian Chief

The Indian Chief may once again ride off into the sunset. Yesterday, Indian Motorcyles halted production and laid off its entire workforce of 380 in Gilroy, California.

Initially started in 1913, the company folded in 1953, but rumbled slowly back to life in 1999, according to an Associated Press article. The article points out that just last year, Indian introduced its own motor, the Power Plus, which creates an exhaust sound different than the infamous Harley-Davidson sound. (Check out the "Sounds of Harley-Davidson" box. After you scroll down, look on the right.) For a short sample of the Indian sound, click on the "Feel the Power" link on the site's home page.

Now, the Indian company has 200 dealers across the country and had hoped to produce 4,500 bikes this year. Before WWI, Indian had produced as many as 20,000 bikes. Just recently, funds ran low, and the company's main investor backed out, leaving Indian high and dry.

Dozens of investors have called offering help, but the company is weighing bankruptcy options. This sad event may have been coming for some time. The job application section of the company's website notes that no jobs are available at this time

If you were ever thinking about owning an new Indian, now may be your last chance.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, September 23, 2003 at 08:42 Comments (0) |

The Kozinski

I'm watching CSPAN right now, and trying to watch/listen to the oral arguments on the California Recall. CSPAN's servers must be overloaded. Although the video is good, the sound is intermittent. We don't have a cable feed at the office yet.

Oh well, I'll just have to wait for the pundits to tell me what was said.

Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski may have given a surreptitous signal during the oral arguments while on TV. This post is pure speculation (right - like any good lawyer, I think I already know the answer).

During his first question, Judge Kozinski gave a noticeable "tug" on his ear, a la Carol Burnett. The "Tug" is generally known as Burnett's signal as a greeting to her Texas family.

Was Kozinski (born in Bucharest, Rumania, a long way from Texas) greeting anyone? Enquiring minds want to know. Any ideas out there?

P.S. Kozinski may have been one of the first judicial bloggers, having written a 10-day electronic journal for formerly MSN's Slate magazine.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, September 22, 2003 at 13:33 Comments (0) |

USEPA Just Can't Get It Right - 17 Years Later

Last week, while it wasn't fielding California recall briefs, the 9th Circuit decided a little-known case with very little fanfare. It will, however, have lasting effects. In three consolidated cases, the Environmental Defense Center, Natural Resourses Defense counsel and the American Forest & Paper Association sued the USEPA. These actions were first filed in the Fifth, Ninth and D.C. Circuits, and then consolidated in the Ninth.

The import of the case boils down to two changes in the USEPA Phase II rule for storm water discharges. Previously, when a construction site between one and five acres or a MS4 (essentially a small municipality) applied for a NPDES stormwater permit, the USEPA did not require review of the notice of intent to comply. In a word, the USEPA rule allowed self-regulation.

Now, however, with this Ninth Circuit ruling, the Court required USEPA to go back to the drawing board and add in provisions for public notice and public hearings. As a consequence of this ruling, the USEPA will eventually require review and comment before approving the permits, which will make the permits harder to obtain and subject to challenge by environmental groups like the Plaintiffs in these cases, the EDC and the NRCD.

It only took the USEPA 13 years to promulgate this rule, and four years to wind its way through the court system. We'll see how long it takes this time.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, September 22, 2003 at 09:59 Comments (0) |

Harvard, Indeed

Fellow blogger Phillip Greenspun reports that Miss America is indeed on her way to Harvard.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, September 21, 2003 at 18:05 Comments (0) |

Page:  << Prev  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  32  33  34  35  36  37  38  39  40  41  42  43  44  45  46  47  48  49  50  51  52  53  54  55  56  57  58  59  60  61  62  63  64  65  66  67  68  69  70  71  72  73  74  75  76  77  78  79  80  81  82  83  84  85  86  87  88  89  90  91  92  93  94  95  96  97  98  99  100  101  102  103  104  105  106  107  108  109  110  111  112  113  114  115  116  117  118  119  120  121  122  123  124  125  126  127  128  129  130  131  132  133  134  135  136  137  138  139  140  141  142  143  144  145  146  147  148  149  150  151  152  153  154  155  156  157  158  159  160  161  162  163  164  165  166  167  168  169  170  171  172  173  174  175  176  177  178  179  180  181  182  183  184  185  186  187  188  189  190  191  192  193  194  195  196  197  198  199  200  201  202  203  204  205  206  207  208  209  210  211  212  213  214  215  216  217  218  219  220  221  222  223  224  225  226  227  228  229  230  231  232  233  234  235  236  237  238  239  240  241  242  243  244  245  246  247 248  249  250  251  252  253  254  255  Next >>