May It Please The Court
Quote of the Day - We have women in the military, but they don't put us in the front lines. They don't know if we can fight, if we can kill. I think we can. All the general has to do is walk over to the women and say, 'You see the enemy over there? They say you look fat in those uniforms.'
What Is The Price Of Getting Dressed In The Morning?
I put a tie on for work every day. Frequently I wear cufflinks, too, but it's not required. Sometimes wingtips that require tying, but other times just loafers. You know, the ones with the little tassels, although my friend tells me they're out of style. I carry a briefcase, a pen and a watch. Oh yes, my cell phone/PDA and files I took home last night to work on.
If you were my client, would you want to pay me to get dressed?
That's what police in California and several other states are asking. After a Supreme Court opinion two years ago that ruled employees are entitled to pay for the "don and doff" process of dealing with uniforms, police here claim they're entitled to pay for getting dressed with bulletproof vests, guns, pepper spray, tasers, and handcuffs.
It's kind of like the uniform I wear, just a little more intense.
Now don't get me wrong here, there are many bailiffs in Court and police around the state who put their lives on the line for you and me every day, and I'm grateful for it, as I suspect you are too (except, perhaps while you're being pulled over and given a speeding ticket, but that's somehow different).
The Supremes ruled that where uniforms are mandatory, employees should get paid for the time it takes to don and doff the clothes and accouterments, and walking to and from workstations. Perhaps the police officers and others are entitled to get paid. If so, you can expect your taxes to increase.
But I won't be charging you to button my shirt or drive to the office.
Spector's Lead Lawyer Films New TV Show During Spector's Trial
MIPTC handles white-collar criminal cases, mostly for companies and executives charged with environmental crimes. But if you hire me, I'm going to be there throughout the entire case, including the trial if it ever comes to that. That's what you pay for, and that's what I do.
Apparently not all lawyers agree with that philosophy, including New York attorney Bruce Cutler, who's carpetbagging and representing Phil Spector in his ongoing criminal trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Attorney Cutler is the lead trial attorney for Mr. Spector, who's charged with murder.
Cutler, according to this Associated Press article, is off filming a new TV show, "Jury Duty" during the trial. It's not a violation of his ethical duties, and assuming he has his client's permission, he's otherwise complied with the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Did I mention that the lead attorney representing the defendant, who is charged with murder, is not in the courtroom during the trial?
Even so, according to Linda Deutsch's AP article, "Cutler vowed Monday to deliver the closing argument in the Spector trial even though he will not have been in court for much of the defense case. He said he has been watching the trial on TV and reading transcripts of testimony."
Watching it on TV? Reading transcripts? What's wrong with being in the courtroom?
Oh, I forgot. Mr. Cutler is the star of a new TV show. He told the AP, "I decided to do this because it's motivational and educational and it's fun," he said. "It's good to have fun sometimes."
It's also good to be in court representing your client during a murder trial. But that's just my opinion.
I'd Like A New Brain, Please
Well, maybe not, but perhaps some people do. Certainly people, lots of people, wish for new hearts, eyes, lungs, kidneys, livers and life-giving organs they need to live. MIPTC is an organ donor, so if something happens to me, I hope parts of me live on through others.
Here in the US, we have lists for those waiting for organ donors. Elsewhere, you can buy body parts. Many ask why that isn't the case here.
It's not only a question to ask about organs, but what about experimental drugs for people that are dying? What if a drug, not yet approved by the USFDA, might save your life?
The Abigail Alliance, a father's tribute to his daughter's death from cancer despite her suit against the USFDA to gain access to an experimental, but not yet approved drug, asks these questions, and more. The site is worth a visit and more worth your careful thought and deliberation.
Certainly worth talking to your representatives about.
Insurer Ordered To Cover Copyright Infringement In Advertising
Despite many lawyers' efforts to convince insurance companies to cover copyright infringement claims, most insurance carriers routinely deny coverage.
It's a frustrating denial for those who pay insurance premiums.
Never fear, though. An Ohio court has just come to your rescue. In the case of AMCO Insurance Co., v. Lauren-Spencer, Inc., the court ruled that an insurer has a duty to defend its insured when advertising was involved in the lawsuit that alleged copyright infringement, and the insured's advertising contributed in part to the copyright infringement.
Whew! That was a mouthful.
In any event, if your company's advertising causes an alleged copyright infringement, your insurance company should cover the claim.
Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Covers the Supreme CourtA big week for the U.S. Supreme Court as it winds down its 2006-2007 term with five rulings involving free speech, religion and campaign finance. On this week's Lawyer 2 Lawyer, we discuss these rulings and look ahead to upcoming SCOTUS action. Please join me and my fellow co-host and Law.com blogger Robert Ambrogi with the experts: Tony Mauro, Supreme Court correspondent for Legal Times, American Lawyer Media, and Law.com and Amy Howe, a named partner at Howe & Russell P.C in Washington D.C. and regular contributor to and editor of SCOTUSblog. Don't miss it!
Supreme Court Restores Santity To CERCLA
Thank God. The United States Supreme Court finally cleaned up the debris left from its groundbreaking decision three years ago in Cooper Industries, Inc. v. Aviall Services, Inc. Now, parties who voluntarily remediate contaminated property may sue other parties for environmental contamination cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.
Despite the open question of whether this option was open after the Cooper Industries decision, the now Court ruled under section 107(a) that Potentially Liable Parties can recover these voluntary cleanup costs, even if they are partly responsible for the contamination.
Earlier this month in U.S. v. Atlantic Research Corp., the Court rejected the position that only innocent parties can pursue recovery under CERCLA's joint cost recovery provision, which imposes joint and several liability on all parties. MIPTC earlier reported on the Eighth Circuit's interpretation of this case, largely upheld by the Supremes in Atlantic Research.
But all is not rosy. The decision also casts doubt on the value of the USEPA's highly-touted "contribution protection" to PLPs who enter into cash-out settlements. In a rare unanimous opinion, Justice Thomas declared this "contribution protection" actually offers no protection to parties who "cash-out" CERCLA 107(a) claims with the USEPA. In contrast, the decision expands a party's remedies when voluntarily cleaning up contaminated property. Now, you can pursue parties who "cash out" with the USEPA, despite promises from the goverment that those parties were protected.
Ouch. That's hundreds of thousands of parties, and significant changes to the liability side of many companies' balance sheets.
In other words, if you settle potential liability with the USEPA and don't also settle with all the other responsible parties - a tall order in most contamination cases - you may find yourself paying at least twice, if not more times (depending on the number of Potentially Liable Parties.
As most everyone knows in the environmental liablity area, CERCLA turns standard tort schemes upside down. Section 107(a) imposes strict, joint and several liability against PLPs, a hard pill to swallow for most used to our typical scheme of "I'm liable for what damage I cause." In other words, a party who caused only five percent of the contamination is completely (100%) liable for cleaning up the entire contaminated site.
Other sections of CERCLA work differently. Section 113(f)(1), on the other hand, creates what is known as "several" liability, which means that the parties allocate the liability among themselves according to their respective liabilities. Defendant sued under this section are held responsible for their fair share of the contamination.
Prior to the Court's clarification in Atlantic Research, you had to choose - either a contribution action under section 113(f)(1) or a section 107(a) claim for joint and several cost recovery. To some degree, that choice prevented parties responsible for contaminating a site from receiving compensation for 100% of the cleanup costs.
Cooper Industries turned that world upside down, and severely limited section 113(f)(1) actions only to PLPs who either: (1) gotten sued under CERCLA section 106 (by the USEPA) or 107; or, (2) entered into a settlement with the USEPA. That limitation left a wide open group: PLPs who voluntarily remediated contaminated property without USEPA oversight.
Now, that question has an answer. This case, however, continues shifting the supposedly "known" cash-out settlements in prior cases and guarantees confusion for years to come.
After years of dedicated public service and notable credentials, as reported by the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Roy L. Pearson got a taste of what it's like to lose. And lose he did.
Not only his pants (which according to the dry cleaners were returned), but also his integrity and quite possibly his job as an Administrative Law Judge.
People do silly things when they're at the end of their rope. Supposedly when Pearson filed suit, he was at rock bottom; divorced with mounting credit card debt.
The worst is yet to come, however. Next week, the real judge in the case will decide whether to award the dry cleaners their attorneys fees and costs.
Then Pearson may really get it in the shorts.
Update July 7, 2007: Pearson intends to continue fighting his loss, and will file a motion to ask the judge to reverse her decision. This circus is starting to get painful to watch.
Genetic Testing Good Enough To Prove Man Wrongly Named As Father Isn't, But Not Good Enough For A Refund
Terry Burton had a child she named Tyler James, and listed Taron James as the father. When Tyler was born in 1992, Taron was in the Persian Gulf with the armed forces and denied being Tyler's father. Taron even offered to pay for genetic testing to prove he was not the father.
Mother declined the testing, something MIPTC has cautioned about before.
Not to be dissuaded, however, Mom sued Taron and obtained a default judgment against him for child support, and the court ordered Taron to pay $121.00 per month. Taron paid it but played no role in Tyler's life, and continued to deny he was Tyler's father.
Frustrated with making the payments, Taron sued to contest paternity. This time, he obtained an order for genetic testing, which conclusively proved he was not the father. Vindicated, he sought the return of his $121.00 monthly payments for the last seven years from Tyler's Mom, Ms. Burton.
The Court of Appeal held that California Family Law Code section 7648.4 prevents Taron from recovering the money he wrongly paid in child support. The Court ruled the legislature intended that in cases like this, the wrongly declared father can't get his money back. The statute, the Court says, is designed to protect the child at the expense of the wrongly named father.
The familiar ring of the "best interests of the child" can be heard loudly in this case. Taron argues that while that may be the case, since it was Terry who wrongly named him, she should be the one to pay him back.
You know what they say: it all flows downhill, except when it's in the air.