The New York Review of Books On Entrepreneurial Litigation: It’s Rise, Fall, And Future

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In 2015, the New York Review of Books (NYRB) reviewed John Coffee Jr.’s book Entrepreneurial Litigation: It’s Rise, Fall, and Future.  In his book, Coffee writes about the reality of lawyer financed, lawyer controlled and lawyer settled cases and the murky agenda some attorneys may have in pursuing those cases. He also touches on the topics of class actions and how they play a role in entrepreneurial litigation. The NYRB’s article focused on the effect class actions can have stopping corporate wrongdoing. That article written by Judge Jed S. Rakoff, of the Southern District of New York, broached on the history of class actions, the possibility of misconduct on the part of plaintiffs’ attorneys, the future of class actions, and the recent moves by Congress and the Supreme Court on the topic of class actions.

At the very outset of a plaintiffs’ attorney’s career, they know they will have to carry the reputation and financial burden alone on their shoulders. In addition to being lawyers, they are also entrepreneurs. The firm lives and dies by the skill of the plaintiffs’ attorney, the cases they take, and their financial standing. Whenever they take part in litigating big or high profile cases, their motives are questioned. Whether they are driven by fees, bringing justice to their client or gaining the stature associated with the litigation. One would assume its a mix of all three, but a plaintiffs’ attorney’s main job is to be a strong advocate for their client. They have to be skilled enough and knowledgeable enough to present their client’s case in court. Plaintiffs’ attorneys have to be able withstand the wherewithal to litigate these cases where delays are imminent and payment is delayed.

Mauritius Upholds Criteria For Enforcing Foreign Judgments

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Recently,Mauritius, a small country off the coast of Africa, reaffirmed their criteria for enforcing foreign judgments. The issue of foreign judgments can be tricky because there are a lot of factors that can play a role in that judgment and whether it will be enforced. That is why many countries have signed treaties where they agree to certain conditions on foreign judgments. In an article written by Gilbert Noel, a Partner at Appleby Global Group Services Limited, he states the benefits of Mauritius’ Supreme Court upholding the criteria. He says it give the business community confidence investing in Mauritius and keeps the country in line with international trends.

As the globalization trend continues across the world, people and companies who are doing business in different countries have to be aware of what can be done in the and legal system. Businesses and people need consistency and the ability to fix a problem should one arise through the court system. That is why investing in different countries isn’t as easy because what’s legal matters. When a foreign national or business runs into a problem where the legal system is needed, they need to know the steps that need to be taken. If they are successful in bringing a claim, they need to be able to enforce that judgment. For any foreign national or company that brings a legal matter in the legal system, it can be difficult enforcing that judgment. First, they are at a disadvantage because of they are dealing with a different kind of court system. Next, asset classification, publications, and seizure may be next to impossible. Third, the role of foreign policy can not be ignored. The relations between two countries can have an effect on how the citizens from those countries are treated. Lastly, it may also depend who the judgment is against. That person or company could be a highly respected in their country and it could be damaging for them to suffer such an indignity. So efforts might be made to protect them from such a fate.

However, Mauritius has made their criteria clear and what’s needed to enforce a foreign judgment. The country is a hub for business and thus its important for any foreign national or company who is doing business in the country as well as any who would like to what they are facing should they dive in.

Mauritius Criteria For Enforcing Foreign Judgments: 

(a) the judgment must still be valid and capable of execution in the country where it was delivered;

(b) it must not be contrary to any principle affecting public order;

(c) the defendant must have been regularly summoned to attend the proceedings; and

(d) the court which delivered the judgment must have had jurisdiction to deal with the matter submitted to it.

Photo Credit: Mauritius Grunge Flag by Nicolas Raymond

San Francisco Airport Prepares For Super Bowl 50

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Super Bowl 50 is expected to be one of the biggest events to date. This year, the event will be held in San Francisco. As the city prepares itself for the mayhem that is to come with the Super Bowl, San Francisco International Airport was turned into a celebration of players of yesteryear. The Pro Football Hall of Fame contributed most of the items that are exhibited in the airport. The exhibit is titled The Nation’s Game, The NFL from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. People arriving, departing, or waiting for a connection in San Francisco International will be able to see the museum in Terminal 3, free of charge.

Once the announcement was made about San Francisco being the host of Super Bowl 50, the anticipation started building. The Super Bowl is arguably the biggest sports event in the United States. Every year, the event seems to get bigger. The Super Bowl is no longer just about the game, its about the hype, the lead up to the big game, the commercials, the musical performance, and then the game. This year’s Super Bowl will be taking place in San Francisco. As the time inches closer, stories will be written on the commercials, excitement from city residents and those traveling to attend. In addition, stories will be written about the players, coaches, personnel from both teams as they compete for the title of NFL Champions of 2016. There will also be stories about the players who paved the way for the athletes of today and the struggles they had to deal with. Those same players will be honored at some point during the events. Issues like player safety, concussions and the NFL Concussion settlement are sure to be discussed. So like previous Super Bowls, Super Bowl 50 will be the epicenter of entertainment for a period of time and Terminal 3 in San Francisco International Airport is leading the way.

Photo Credit: DJ Animal 

Litigation around Volkswagen Emissions Scandal Heating Up

Volkswagen

Things are looking grim for Volkswagen. As the drum beating continues for justice against Volkswagen, the New York Daily News reported Volkswagen received a $21 billion loan to help it pay for various fines, expenses like car repairs, and lawsuits that are sure to come with the ongoing “Dieselgate” scandal. In addition, the Wall Street Journal reported plaintiff attorneys are preparing their litigation strategy against the company are going to New Orleans to argue where the cases should be heard. Plaintiff and defense attorneys place importance on the venue where cases are heard and its quite normal for them to seek a venue they think will better serve their case. Some of the biggest law firms like Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann, & Bernstein, LLP, Seeger Weiss, LLP, even law firms that usually represent corporations like Boies, Schiller, & Flexner, LLP and Quinn, Emanuel, Urqhart & Sullivan, LLP have thrown their hats in the ring. Since its revelation, a huge spotlight has been placed on Volkswagen and it will stay on the company for quite some time.

“Dieselgate” is about Volkswagen’s diesel cars showing faulty emissions results for over nearly a decade. The Environmental Protection Agency discovered the issue and has taken the lead over the investigation. The EPA sets federal emission standards and Volkswagen’s diesel engines violated them. According to various news reports, the software in those vehicles that would analyze the emission levels would switch between two different operating modes. The system was able to detect when it was being tested and would show results where the emission levels were normal. However, while the car was moving the system would switch and higher levels of emissions would be spewed into the atmosphere. Some news reports claimed they were 40 times higher than the federal standard of emission levels. The big promotion about diesel engine cars were the better gas to miles they would get over regular cars. It was widely assumed they were better for the environment. So in addition to a faulty system, Volkswagen duped their customers who thought they were getting cars that were better for the environment and got good gas mileage. The publication Car and Driver released a list of cars that are affected by the scandal. They include:

  • 2009–2015 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0L TDI
  • 2009–2015 Audi Q7 3.0L V-6 TDI
  • 2009–2016 Volkswagen Touareg 3.0L V-6 TDI
  • 2010–2015 Volkswagen Golf 2.0L TDI
  • 2010–2015 Audi A3 2.0L TDI
  • 2012–2015 Volkswagen Beetle 2.0L TDI
  • 2012–2015 Volkswagen Passat 2.0L TDI
  • 2013–2016 Porsche Cayenne Diesel 3.0L V-6
  • 2014–2016 Audi A6 3.0L V-6 TDI
  • 2014–2016 Audi A7 3.0L V-6 TDI
  • 2014–2016 Audi A8/A8L 3.0L V-6 TDI
  • 2014–2016 Audi Q5 3.0L
  • 2013–2016 Volkswagen Touareg TDI
    2013–2015 Audi Q7 TDI
    2014–2016 Audi A6 TDI
    2014–2016 Audi A7 TDI
    2014–2016 Audi A8 and A8L TDI
    2014–2015 Audi Q5 TDI
    2014–2016 Porsche Cayenne Diesel
    2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI
    2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI
    2015 Audi A3 TDI
    2015 Volkswagen Beetle TDI
    2015 Volkswagen Passat TDI

John Hopkins Hospital Settles A Class Action Lawsuit for $190 Million

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The world famous John Hopkins Hospital settled a class action lawsuit for $190 million from about 8,000 women and girls who claim they were violated by a gynecologist employed by the hospital. Dr. Nikita Levy, the doctor who conducted the examinations, committed suicide before he could be questioned by the authorities. According to news reports, there were over 1,000 videos taken and over 100 images taken of the women during their examinations. Gynecological exams are very intimate and knowing someone has violated that privacy can cause irreparable harm to the women affected. Many of the women claim they have since been traumatized because of the actions of the doctor.

The hospital will not have to pay the settlement because the hospital’s insurance policy will pay. Although 8,000 women and girls were part of the class action lawsuit, the Press-Herald reported Levy saw close to 13,000 patients. This is a huge blemish on the hospital’s record. Hospitals are prone to litigation because of the sensitive information they deal with and the medical procedures they conduct. Like any business, they are responsible for their employees actions. None more so than the doctors and nurses who work for them. Many tort reform advocates claim the litigation drives up the medical malpractice insurance which in turns drives the cost for doctors, surgeons, and hospitals. Incidents like the one at John Hopkins Hospital are why its important for people to push for litigation and assert their rights in court. While the price of justice is high, its important for any and all victims of any crime to seek compensation from those entities that are liable.

Uber Facing Lawsuits From Uber Drivers Over Tips

 

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The poster child for the “gig economy” is Uber. Since arriving on the scene, it has been the held as the standard for people looking to work side jobs to make extra money. Uber has disrupted the taxi industry through the world with their “democratizing” effect on driving taxis. No longer will a medallion and a hack license be needed. Through Uber the only requirements to drive a taxi are a car and insurance. The company advertises the possibility of making good money while at the same time providing the flexibility to a full time worker to keep their job or work other side jobs. They claim they are not an employer, but a platform that acts as a meeting place for workers and the company. In recent years, Uber has been the subject of various lawsuits and fights. Regulators are looking closely at the company’s operations and there has been some complaints and forthcoming litigation from Uber drivers about their compensation package. People who work with those kinds of companies are in a kind of limbo because their roles are not completely defined. In some ways, they are regarded as freelance or independent contractors because of the flexibility the employers provide. However, people who work for those kinds of companies claim their expenses aren’t reimbursed and they are required to go above and beyond what an independent contractor is supposed to do.

Some Uber drivers have echoed this complaint and have filed a class action lawsuit against the company. They are alleging Uber has not reimbursed them for expenses like gas, vehicle maintenance, and misrepresenting the drivers receive a tip when that is not the case. A trial has been set for June 2016 and the plaintiffs are pushing for change in the company’s practices. These types of lawsuits fall under the Wage & Hour section of the law. There has been an increase in litigation regarding issues like wrongful termination and wage loss in recent years. The ascendancy of the gig economy and companies like Uber and the effects of the recession has put the spotlight back on employment law issues. As the trial date approaches, the whole world will be watching because the repercussions will extend to numerous parts of society. Since Uber, other companies have developed similar models for other parts of labor and will have to look at how they do things when the decision of this case gets handed down.

http://uberlawsuit.com/

 

FWO Chartered Accountants Law Firm Funding Webinar

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A webinar hosted by FWO Chartered Accountants based in Australia discussed the hot topic of law firm funding. The speaker on the webinar is Matt Schlyder, who is the Director of FWO Chartered Accountants. Law Firm Funding has been the topic “Du Jour” these past few months and the space has become white hot for investors and others seeking to get in the business. What many may not realize is that the industry was started in Australia and the United Kingdom and from there spread to the United States. The industry may still expand to places like Europe and Africa.

So a webinar informing interested parties on the law firm or litigation funding field is a welcomed inclusion in the educational material about the space. There are numerous white papers, and law review articles about the field and there will be more as it becomes more mainstream. As it stands now, even with all the material about law firm funding available to read, there is still some confusion about the space and its diversity gets lost.

Whenever law firms pursue litigation, they are undoubtedly burdened with huge costs. It is quite expensive to advertise for a case, gather the clients for the case, and then litigate the case in court. For really huge cases, a well-funded law firm would need to handle it otherwise small law firms are going to buried under their costs. That harms them and the clients they are representing. Plaintiff Attorneys are competitive and its hard to give up what they determined is a really good case, but the economics of the law firm are just as important as underlying argument of the case. That is why a lot of attorneys refer their “really good” cases to bigger firms because they were better equipped to handle the litigation.

The emergence of law firm funding has helped smaller firms keep their cases and pursue them to the finish line. Law Firm Funding companies provide the necessary resources to law firms.  In that scenario, they make a lot more money doing this instead of taking a smaller cut, giving away the case to a bigger firm, and losing an opportunity to burnish their reputation. Law Firm Funding can be used at any stage during litigation. Pre-Settlement, Post-Settlement, Judgment, and Verdict. It can even be used for costs during litigation, which is Case Cost Funding. The webinar breaks down all the benefits and costs of law firm funding in great detail.

The Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association & Medical Malpractice

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An infant can be hurt before it actually is born. Childbirth is a very intense and traumatic event for both the mother and child. There are cases where the infant is hurt during and that can cause neurological injuries after it is born. There could be a myriad of reasons why the child is hurt during the childbirth experience and sometimes it can be due to the hospital and/or other medical officials. In those situations where a medical professional or establishment is at fault, lawsuits are sure to follow. The state of Florida came up with a way to avoid what they call “the costly legal proceedings and compensate the effected families”. The Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association or NICA was created by the Florida Legislature in 1988. NICA’s compensation plan pays for the medical care of infants with certain kinds of neurological injuries. The goals of NICA were to foster obstetrician services by physicians, fix what the issues they saw with medical malpractice insurance, and provide direct assistance to the injured children.

In general, Medical Malpractice is a huge driver of litigation in the courts. Especially in a place like Florida, where the demographics of the population would mean the residents would need more medical services. For years there have been movements against lawsuits against medical malpractice. The opponents tend to be huge hospitals and insurance companies that are constantly being sued in court over the malpractice allegations. So they have pursued and supported litigation seeking to limit the scope of medical malpractice. They were even successful through legislation in getting caps placed on medical malpractice awards. In 2003, the medical malpractice law was overhauled and the caps were put in place. That severely limited what a family could get should they pursue litigation. That legislation may have caused some families not pursue litigation on medical malpractice because of the caps. In 2014, The Florida Supreme Court in a 5-2 ruling struck down the caps on medical malpractice awards. The justices said “the caps saved a modest amount for many by imposing devastating costs on a few.”

While the medical malpractice caps have been removed, the issue of medical malpractice and NICA came together when article was published by The Florida Bar Journal in 2011. The title of the article was Twelve Ways To Avoid A Determination Of NICA Compensability In A Medical Malpratice Case.  In the article, the author Jon Gilbert lists the factors a plaintiff attorney should apply to a case where it is deemed acceptable in a NICA court for determination on compensation.

The New Film Spotlight Digs Deep On The Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal

Catholic Cross Image

A newly released film titled “Spotlight” focuses on the story of some Boston Globe journalists who uncovered the cover-up of sexual abuse of boys by a priest within the Roman Catholic Church. When the stories by the Boston Globe and other media outlets exposed the sexual abuse by priests and cover ups that allowed them to continue their heinous behavior, it caused a huge uproar worldwide. Those issues are still lingering today. The cast of the highly touted film include top notch actors like Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Michael Keaton, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci.

The effects of the Catholic Sex Abuse scandal have been wide-ranging and ongoing for decades. Sex Abuse alone is a huge issue, but combined with religion can cause a huge explosion. That is exactly what happened in the 1990s and 2000s. Once the victims were able to tell their stories, the floodgates opened and pretty soon Catholic dioceses from all over the world were dealing with similar allegations of sex abuse by priests and the cover up of those crimes by church officials. Many of the victims have pursued litigation against the church and sought compensation by the church for the crimes committed against them. It has been reported that the sex abuse scandal has cost the United States Catholic Church nearly $3 billion. It has also been reported there are an estimated 100,000 sex abuse victims in the United States alone. After the Catholic Sex Abuse scandal was exposed, Protestant, Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish communities have had to deal with sex abuse scandals of their own.

As victims tell their stories to the general public, their advocates continue to push for justice in the courtroom. On behalf of their victims, they are making the case in court that the kind of long standing abuse the victims have suffered deserves justice and compensation. Many of the victims have been living with the mental, physical, and emotional scars their entire lives. Plaintiff attorneys have been able to make that case in court which has led to millions of dollars in settlements compensation. Even though there have been numerous settlements over the Catholic Sex Abuse issue, there are still many more cases working their way through the court system. There are probably some that have yet to be filed on behalf of other victims who are just now telling their story. In these kinds of cases, it is important that the plaintiffs’ attorneys are prepared for the long timeline and expenses that come with litigating sex abuse cases within religious institutions. Resolution of these cases can take a long time and even after a settlement is reached or a verdict is handed down, compensation can still take a long time before it is distributed.

Photo Credit: Bertknot 

Photo Name: Holy Cross Catholic Church Redcliffe

 

A New Film Starring Will Smith Takes On NFL Concussion Issue

football helmetIf the latest film the actor Will Smith is starring in becomes a hit, it will continue to keep the NFL Concussion issue in the headlines for a long time. The film titled “Concussion” will focus around the doctor who first discovered the effects some football players experienced as a result of playing football. The film follows the doctor played by Will Smith and his journey in exposing the problem and the push back he received when he sought to expose it. In reality, the doctor (Dr. Bennet Omalu), who discovered and exposed Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (C.T.E.) dealt with many issues including being criticized and discredited for what his work showed. Omalu’s story has been covered by numerous outlets like the New York Times, PBS’s Frontline, ESPN’s Outside The Lines, and HBO’s Real Sports With Brian Gumbel.

Initially, the NFL settled with plaintiffs from the lawsuit for $765 million with additional compensation for medical benefits and concussion testing, but the judge wasn’t satisfied and the cap of $765 million was dropped with the other parts of the settlement still in place. Arguably, that settlement wouldn’t have occurred had it not been for the findings of Dr. Omalu. Omalu is currently a Volunteer Associate Clinical Professor for the University of California, Davis, the Chief Medical Examiner of San Joaquin County in California, and the President of Bennet Omalu Pathology. In certain respects, Omalu can be considered a whistleblower because of his findings and his willingness to reveal them to the general public. The NFL is arguably the most popular and profitable sport in the United States. His findings threatened the entire league and its future and his fight to expose the truth is covered in the movie “Concussion”. In addition to threatening the league, Omalu’s findings sparked an ongoing discussion among fans and parents of children who play in little league, high school, and college. If those parents decided to prevent or stop their child from playing football that would be detrimental to the league.

The settlement was eventually approved by the Judge with a majority of plaintiffs being satisfied with the deal. Even though there are a some objectors and lawsuits aside from this settlement proceeding against the NFL, most agree that the settlement is good for the plaintiffs. A trial would have been long and drawn out and would bring some uncertainties. The film “Concussion” is expected to be released in December 2015.