The Hybrids Are Coming!Toyota has licensed its hybrid technology to Ford. In a deal announced yesterday, we can now expect to see the popular Escape SUV move into the ranks of fuel efficiency.
This event has been long-awaited. Time to Escape those high gas prices.
Spicy Facts, A Mistaken Murder and Two JuriesAdmittedly, every once in a while a news story just jumps out at me that I can't resist reading. Even though it varies from the general tone of this blawg, here it is.
You need a playbill to follow the actors, though, so here is our cast of characters and a brief summary:
Lee Ann Riedel. Wife of still-living (this will be important later) Paul Riedel. Lover of Ralph Salierno. Lee Ann bore Ralph's child while still married to Paul.
With me so far?
Paul Ridel. Husband of Lee Ann (that was easy to figure out, huh?) and partner of the now dead (again, important later) Alexander Algeri. Both were partners in the Dolphin Fitness Club, but I just put that last fact in there to throw you off the track. He's now estranged from Lee Ann.
Ralph Salierno. Now ex-boyfriend of Lee Ann, and alleged killer of Alexander Algeri. Friend of our next character, Scott Paget. Father of Lee Ann's child.
Allegedly cocaine-addicted strip club bouncer Scott Paget. According to Court TV, "a muscular weightlifter who collected debts for loan sharks to pay bills and fund his cocaine habit."
Allegedly the driver of the getaway van of Alexander Algeri. According to Scott, he took $3,000 from Ralph for the driving job. According to Ralph, Scott killed Alexander. It just keeps getting better, doesn't it?
Stripper from either Flashdance, Wildside or Diamonds. Alibi source for Ralph. He was allegedly on a date with the stripper when Alexander got killed. Ralph says Scott did the killing.
Got all that? Sidney Sheldon couldn't have a better setup. But this is real.
Want to know what happens? Check out this Court TV article for the trial details, and this one for a little more of the setup.
The long and short of it? Lee Ann was having an affair with Ralph, had a child by Ralph while married to Paul. Paul and Alexander were not only partners, but they also looked alike and drove similar cars. Alexander walked out of a workout gym to pick up some CDs, and got shot. Apparently, whoever did the shooting killed Alexander by mistake, not Paul, as intended.
The motive? Apparently for Lee Ann to be free to marry Ralph with all of Paul's money.
What a mess. Now Jury A will try Ralph and Jury B will try Lee Ann.
How about Scott? He cut a deal.
Another Big Asbestos VerdictHere's an example of what Kelly Moore is trying to pass along to Union Carbide. (See post immediately below.)
Asbestos Defendant Turns the TableAsbestos litigation has taken a new twist. Now, the asbestos defendant has become the asbestos plaintiff.
Typical defendant Kelly Moore Paint has turned the tables on its supplier, Union Carbide Corporation, now known as Dow Chemical.
KMP has even hired a typical plaintiff's lawyer, Mark Lanier. He's squaring off against Scott D. Lassetter in a small Texas town, Angleton.
Lanier won a $115 million compensatory, $100 million punitive case there.
The case goes to trial in a few short days. There's already been lots of wrangling - out of five motions for summary judgment filed by Union Carbide, they've won one, knocking KMM's civil conspiracy claim out. KMM is on its Fifth Amended Complaint. Needless to say, KMM has had some pleading issues.
It's not unusual for manufacturers (KMM) to turn the table on suppliers (UCC) and attempt to pass along the liability that injured workers and consumers have saddled on the manufacturer. What's unusual here is that KMM's lawyer is truly a plaintiff's lawyer.
Watch this space for a follow-up at the end of the month. Same bat time, same bat channel.
Finding the Balance Between File Sharing and $$$$Here's an argument in favor of piracy by Lawrence Lessig. He teaches at Stanford, and writes this "blawg", which is really more about him than anything else. But, it's an interesting perspective. Here's the real blog.
In his article, he impliedly, if not outrightly, argues that since most of the major industries associated with piracy, such as cable, radio film and even music, were all started through some form of piracy, it's OK (or at least understandable) to file share between computers. Admittedly, it's been a long time since I took on a professor, but this doesn't make sense to me.
Now, I'm all for listening to music. And I recognize, and even acknowledge, that Professor Lessig is right about the formation of these various industries. But, if you follow the logic, then we will have to wait until we colonize Mars to really be able to rip DVDs and music with impunity. His argument is basically that breaking the law is OK, as long as there's no one around to catch you.
Does that mean the artists don't get hurt if they don't know about it? It is, admittedly, more than a philosophical discussion. But, we've all gone through these arguments before. What new spin is Lessig offering? A historical perspective as justification, as I read it.
It used to be done that way, so it's OK to do it that way again. I won't belittle the argument with analogies to numerous other things we used to do as a justification to do it the same way now, but use your imagination here.
To his credit, the Professor offers this observation and conclusion: "the question we should be asking about file-sharing is how best to preserve its benefits while minimizing (to the extent possible) the wrongful harm it causes artists. The question is one of balance, weighing the protection of the law against the strong public interest in continued innovation. The law should seek that balance, and that balance will be found only with time."
But what are we seeking to balance? Free file sharing against someone else's copyright without payment?
Georgia Lawyer Disbarred for OverbillingYou've heard the one about St. Peter meeting the lawyer at the pearly gates? St. Peter expresses surprise that the lawyer took so long to get there. The lawyer asks why, and St. Peter responds, "According to your billing records, you should have been here yeas ago."
There's some truth behind every joke, according to some, and perhaps this one presents a grain or two. Seems as though a lawyer, Bobby Glenn Adkins, Jr. billed clients for defending their complaints against him to the bar (subscription required).
In this case, $40.00.
Yep. Disbarred. By the Georgia Supreme Court. Most likely because this was the third time.
To add insult to injury, he defended himself in the disbarment proceedings.
Not that he didn't get a chance to avoid disbarment. Bar authorities proposed a plea bargain that required Adkins to admit to illegal conduct and accept a reprimand by the Georgia Bar's ethics review panel.
Adkins refused, he said, because he doesn't think he did anything wrong: "I wouldn't capitulate to their Draconian demands."
Instead, he got disbarred. Nothing Draconian about that.
Adkins has asked for additional time to reconsider.
Sole Proprietors Thrown To The WolvesOne of my friends asked me the best way to get sued. "Huh?" was about all I could muster until I realized that she was trying to make a point to our mutual friend who had just decided to go into business for himself.
As a sole proprietor, an individual, a d.b.a. (doing business as).
We discussed it like the plague - avoiding it that is. Working for yourself offers absolutely no asset protection, and just for good measure, poor tax benefits. When (and I don't mean if) your business gets sued, all of your personal assets are at risk.
For a small fee, you can form a corporation for your business. Then, as long as you follow the corporate formalities, and meet other legal requirements (consult with your favorite lawyer here), you will most likely be successful shielding your personal assets from lawsuits and creditors.
Otherwise, most enterprising lawyers will feed you to the wolves.
GE Wins Challenge Against USEPA Superfund OrderSuperfund may have just lost its cape of impenetrability. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled yesterday that General Electric can sue the USEPA over a unilateral order it issued to clean up the Hudson River from years of PCB contamination.
The ruling is one of the most significant challenges to the power of the USEPA to clean up contamination under CERCLA.
GE based its challenge on due process. Lawrence Tribe argued for GE that without the right to challenge a "unilateral ruling," the combination of the absence of preenforcement review and heavy penalties "imposes a classic and unconstitutional Hobson's choice: either do nothing and risk severe punishment or comply and wait indefinitely before having any opportunity to be heard on the legality and rationality of the underlying order."
In other words, a conundrum.
The ruling overturns Judge John D. Bates' earlier order upholding the USEPA's position. The reversal on appeal opens up the entire CERCLA statute to constitutional scrutiny. We may have a very different landscape in several years after this case winds its way through the appellate process.
So, now GE has the right to sue the USEPA, a first in CERCLA. Depending on how this case turns out, there are over 1,000 cleanup orders issued by the USEPA that will be subject to challenge.
Environmentalists are incensed. The NRDC believes the decision will weaken Superfund laws.
GE hasn't commented yet. But it's probably happy it doesn't yet have to spend almost $500 million dredging the Hudson River.