Monday, March 28, 2011

Will Class Action Suits Based On Employment Discrimination A Dead Issue? Is Summer Inman Dead?

Two different types of potentially dead issues...

Christine Kwapnoski and Betty Dukes v. Wal-Mart

Christine Kwapnoski is a named plaintiff in a suit against Wal-Mart which alleges that male employees make more than female employees. Christine claims she was told to "doll up" or "blow the cobwebs off" her make-up. This 46-year-old single mother decided to become one of the two faces of the lawsuit that will be argued at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. The other is Pittsburg greeter Betty Dukes. The court will decide if the suit can go forward as a class action that could involve 500,000 to 1.6 million women. Potentially billions of dollars are riding on the court's decision. Perhaps more significantly, the decision may also be crucial to the general viability of class action discrimination suits. Class actions increase pressure on businesses to settle suits because of the potential massive defense costs. The issue before the court could end class action employment discrimination suits under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Brad Seligman, a California-based lawyer, filed the suit nearly ten years ago. Wal-Mart argues that class action suits include too many women with too many different positions. Wal-Mart claims that its policies prohibit discrimination and that most management decisions are made at the store and regional levels, not at its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters. Wal-Mart is represented by Theodore J. Boutrous. Both Christine Kwapnoski and Betty Dukes continue to work at their local Wal-Mart. Both will be very interested in Tuesday's argument. If Wal-Mart prevails, class action lawsuits based on employment discrimination will become a dead issue.

Update 6-20-11: The Supreme Court unanimously agreed that the class action suit may not continue as a class. Huge victory for corporate America. The individual plaintiffs may continue with their cases; however, there will be no class action.

Summer Inman's Disappearance Turns Into Murder? The hopes of finding Summer Inman alive is slowly becoming a dead issue. While Summer is not a high profile litigant in the U.S. Supreme Court, her photo, which has been scattered all over the news media, has made her one of the more recognizable women in the Midwest. Summer is a beautiful 25 year old mother of three who was apparently kidnapped last Tuesday. She is 5-foot-3 and 120 pounds with light hair, blue eyes and fair skin. Police believe she was kidnapped in the town of Logan which is southeast of Columbus. She was apparently forced into a car by two men outside a Logan bank late Tuesday night. Columbus Dispatch. The lack of callers reporting the seeing of her recognizably beautiful face makes it extremely unlikely that she is still alive. William Inman II, the 26-year-old husband of Summer and his parents (William and Sandra Inman) have been apparently arrested and charged in connection with Summer's disappearance. A hearing is scheduled to determine whether they'll be sent from Jackson County back to Hocking County. According to the Columbus Dispatch, Summer and William were going through a messy divorce. Apparently at issue were the custody of their three kids. Based on past articles, this has become all too common of a theme. LEGAL PUB PROPOSAL TO REDUCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. While family is holding out hope, the probability of Summer being found alive is dwindling.

All suspects, including William Inman II and his parents are presumed innocent unless otherwise proven in a court of law.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Selection Of A Cutting Edge Expert Witness

When looking for an expert witness, attorneys often go through a strenuous selection process. Selection of an expert witness often directly correlates with the ultimate outcome of a jury trial. Consequently, when seeking an expert witness in a case involving surgery, many attorneys look for experience. Others may look for a doctor who has a reputation for being "good with a knife." While I have never met Ted Eisenberg, M.D., I suspect that he meets both criteria.
Fro example, Dr. Eisenberg, holds the record for the most breast surgeries performed in a lifetime.

This Philadelphia plastic surgeon apparently has a very good reputation for breast augmentations. According to Guinness, Eisenberg's 3,460 official surgeries is a world record. (Eisenberg actually claims that he has performed more than 4,700 augmentations in his career.) The surgeon sees patients primarily at 2375 Woodward St and at Nazareth Hospital in Philadelphia. While the surgical numbers are impressive, Dr. Eisenberg is also a competitive tomahawk and hunting knife thrower. He competes in competitions in many different states. The doctor's hand eye coordination that apparently serves him well in the operating room also serves him well in the competitions.

With this surgeon's experience, one suspects that this doctor would be a "cutting edge expert witness" in any malpractice or personal injury trial. Prior to hiring any expert, an attorney typically interviews the expert and sometimes asks to see some of his work. In breast augmentation cases, the expert's experience with scarring and disfigurement may be crucial.
Disclaimer: Legal Pub does not endorse any particular expert and all attorneys need to make their own decisions when selecting experts and consultants.
Update 3-22-11: Do expert's who entertain in their spare time not fill your entertainment needs? It is no wonder, given how t.v. shows are taking real life legal matters and turning them into dramatic television shows. Our friends at criminal justice recently explore the top ten television shows that copied real life events. CRIMINAL JUSTICE LINK.
Update 3-23-11: Speaking of the interrelationship between law and entertainment, Tom Hanks is in the news. Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson are suing their former insurance agency. Apparently the plaintiff's are alleging that they were overcharged by the J.B. Goldman Insurance Agency. The couple allegedly used the company for over 20 years for their insurance needs. A new broker apparently told the couple that they were overcharged and had duplicate coverage. (Allegedly insured multiple times for the same things.)
Keep in mind, J.B. Goldman Insurance Agency has a presumption of innocence and it is the plaintiff's burden to prove these allegations..

Monday, March 14, 2011

Legal Pub's Example Of A Target Defendant Needs Work ~by Blond Bombshell

Some men can't see the trees because of the forest! Here I am sitting in a trendy pub Sunday evening sipping an Irish Coffee when I witness the following exchange:

Women: Excuse me, sir. Are you an attorney?
Lawyer: Why yes mam, I am.

Women: Can you please tell me what lawyers mean by "a target defendant?"

Lawyer: Sure. Have you heard of the World Wide Travel bus company?

Women: I think that's the bus company whose bus crashed in New York yesterday ( Saturday.) But why are they are they "a target defendant?"

Lawyer: That is correct. Yesterday, 14 people died in the accident.* It appears that the company has been involved in at least two other crashes with injuries in the past two years. If this is true, then World Wide Travel may have a bulls eye painted on its back.

Woman: What other accidents?
Lawyer: Well, government records are consistent with the company being involved in a crash in New York in 2009 that resulted in one injury, and a crash in New Jersey in 2010 that resulted in an injury. (See the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website for more information.) Not only that, but the company drivers have apparently been cited five times for "fatigued driving" between December 2009 and October 2010. (Twice in in New Jersey, twice in Pennsylvania and once in Connecticut.)

Woman: I guess if I was family of one of the 14 passengers who died, I would be looking to sue the company if the driver of the tour bus lost control and struck two sign poles as reported in the papers. I hope this company is as sorry as I am for asking you a question...

Lawyer: World Wide Travel published a statement saying the company was "heartbroken" over the deaths and injuries. The statement read, " We are a family owned company and realize words cannot begin to express our sorrow to the families of those who lost their lives or were injured in this tragic accident... Our thoughts and prayers are with them. We will continue to use every resource at our disposal to assist and work with investigators to determine what happened."

Woman: Sir, I know all about broken hearts, but what caused this accident?
Lawyer: Well, obviously I was not there. But I read that the crash occurred about 5:30 a.m. on Saturday. It was on I-95 (the New England Thruway) near the Bronx-Westchester County line.

Woman: Besides the one's killed, I presume that others were also hurt?
Lawyer: As I understand it, eight of the 31 passengers suffered severe injuries. Five people at New York's St. Barnabas Hospital were being treated for skull and spinal fractures, internal bleeding and broken bones.

Woman: Well was was the bus at least coming from some place romantic?
Lawyer: The bus was traveling from the Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino in Connecticut to Chinatown in Manhattan.

Woman: Not exactly my idea of a place for a good time. What happened to the bus driver?
Lawyer: Ophadel E. Williams, 40, had relatively minor injuries. Williams told police that he swerved to avoid a tractor-trailer. The bus then flipped on its side and hit the poles. The driver of the tractor trailer has denied that he collided with the bus before the crash. Federal investigators are considering all potential causes of the crash, including mechanical problems, steering and brake issues as well as the possibility the driver fatigue. If the bus rolled over some rumble strips before the crash, then driver fatigue may have played a role in this tragedy.

Woman: Any good dirt on the bus driver?
Lawyer: Ophadell Williams was apparently ticketed in 1995 for speeding and twice for driving without a license. On at least one occaision, Williams allegedly gave the police the alias of Erik Williams. (Williams' driving privileges were at one time suspended.) But perhaps even more concerning is that Williams has a 20-year-old manslaughter conviction. Expect Governor Andrew Cuomo to launch a state investigation into how Williams aquired a valid commercial driver's license at the time of the accident.

Women: (Looking completely bored out of her mind.) Was the bus speeding?
Lawyer: Investigators are looking into the possibility. Two UPS couriers (Joe Insalata and Ira Berman) apparently told WABC-TV that they thought the bus was traveling very fast on the highway before the accident. Investigators will likely examine Williams' background and of course he probably had his blood drawn for analysis shortly after the crash. It will be interesting to see what the bus video camera reveals leading up to the accident. The bus engine control module(the black box) will also be analyzed for data leading up to the accident. The skid marks left by the bus which appear to show the bus hitting the guardrail on the right at least three time in 480 feet will be scrutinized by accident reconstructionists. At the end of all the investigation, there should be a pretty good understanding of what probably happened. In the interim, we all know that mistakes can happen.

Women: I know all about mistakes. Can I be honest with you?
Lawyer: Mam?
Women: I originally I only asked you if you were a lawyer so as to break the ice and start a conversation.
Lawyer: Oh...
Women: What a mistake. I wondered if you might be an interesting person. Now you have removed all doubt. Excuse me, I have to go. (Walks away about 25 feet towards another gentleman.) Excuse me sir, are you a DOCTOR?

I suppose what more can I expect hanging out in a "Legal Pub" on a Sunday evening? ~Shell

Legal Pub Disclosure: As of this date no one knows what caused this fatal tragedy. No facts are known nor have any facts been proven as of this date. Both the driver and the bus company are to be presumed innocent.

*As of 3-14-11, 15 people had died.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Prince With Legal Fee Dispute? by Viper

Generally speaking, it is a bad ideas for lawyers to sue their clients. Especially if the client is famous pop icon because the suit has the potential to generate a lot of negative publicity. This is generally true even if the reason for the suit is a failure to pay a legal fee. Insurers typically discourage the practice because it tends to increase the probability of a counterclaim. Consequently, when a law firm sues a client, they typically do so only after a great deal of thought and after a genuine attempt to resolve the dispute has failed.

In this weeks feature story, the law firm of Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Taylor were apparently hired by Prince to help him resolve some financial obligations. Apparently, the legal work was performed; however, Prince did not pay the attorney's fees associated with the legal representation. To obtain more details of the allegations, please read the complaint filed by Patterson Belknap Webb & Taylor in New York state's Supreme Court in Manhattan. The firm apparently alleges that Prince owes them more than $700,000 in attorney's fees. (This sum is apparently in addition to the $125,000 that Prince apparently has already paid them. )

At first blush this may seem like a lot of legal fees; however, the firm apparently represented Prince in separate cases in California, Ireland and New York. They also represented Prince in his divorce. One may reasonably presume that this was no easy task. Consequently, the amount of the legal fees in question may actually be quite reasonable given the amount of work involved. So why have the fees not been paid? The public may not know until Prince's new law firm files an answer to the complaint. While lack of cash flow may come to mind, that excuse is unlikely in Prince's case. Prince recently put on three concerts at the Oracle Arena in Oakland so one may reasonably assume that Prince can still generate enough revenue to pay even the most expensive legal representation.
Perhaps in the end, Prince is just frugal. After all, his dream girl "...wore a raspberry beret, the kind that you buy at a second hand store." Perhaps he was expecting similar pricing on legal fees?