Lawyers Gone Wild Now, Bye, Bye, Bye

By October 12, 2007Briefly Legal

The Examiner newspaper concludes its five-part series on the economic depredations of the plaintiff’s bar, “Lawyers Gone Wild,” with a package on legal extortion by liability lawyers.

The lead story reports on the Stoneridge v. Scientific Atlanta case, heard in oral arguments by the Supreme Court on Tuesday. (Previous posts here, here and here.) Had missed this connection:

Until recently, one of the leading strategists for the Stoneridge plaintiffs was liability law celebrity William S. Lerach. But Lerach recently pleaded guilty to a felony related to his participation in an $11.8 million kickback scheme federal investigators say began decades ago at Milberg Weiss, a prominent New York law firm where Lerach was a senior partner.

Other stories:

  • Just the threat of a lawsuit can be worth millions:
    Lots of companies have in recent years found the better part of valor in settling out of court to avoid the possibility of suffering a verdict that could put them out of business.

    Nowhere is this trend more evident than in California where, according to Trial Lawyers, Inc., out-of-control liabilities lawyers have feasted on high-tech companies by using threatened litigation to gain lucrative settlements.

  • Cough it up: Costs rise when liability lawyers have free rein in the courts, with a sharp quote from Steve Hantler, chairman of the American Justice Partnership:
    Incredibly, what Americans spend on lawsuits could pay for all the following government programs combined: ‘Education, training, and employment; general science; space and technology; conservation and land management; pollution control and abatement; disaster relief and insurance; community development; Federal law enforcement and administration of justice; and unemployment compensation.’

    Our thanks and congratulations to Mark Tapscott and Cheryl Chumley for their reporting on this important series, and to Mark for conceiving it. Odd, isn’t it, that such a powerful economic force with so many malign consequences receives such comparatively little scrutiny from the media.

    P.S. Comparatively? That’s a weasel word. Compared to what? Oh, for example…Education, training, and employment; general science; space and technology; conservation and land management; pollution control and abatement; disaster relief and insurance; community development; Federal law enforcement and administration of justice; and unemployment compensation.

  • Join the discussion One Comment

    • Carter, thanks for the kind words. Believe me, there were a bunch of other folks whose role in getting this series done far exceeded my small contribution, most notably Cheryl and the experts on the issue at NAM, among others.

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