Milberg-Weiss Guys

By October 23, 2007Briefly Legal

In the Kansas City Star column cited below on the survey of corporate counsels, we note this item:

More than half of the respondents said their companies had at least one class action pending. Securities class actions were slightly down at the time of the survey, although the survey noted that a change in market conditions could quickly alter that result.

Asked to name the primary reasons for the decline, 40 percent of the respondents cited the indictment of the Milberg Weiss law firm, the leading prosecutor of securities class actions in the United States; 55 percent said Sarbanes-Oxley had made companies more careful; 50 percent said increased government enforcement had made companies more careful; and 44 percent cited the strong performance of the stock market in the last few years.

That seems a fair representation of the factors involved, although the cautionary note about market conditions is certainly well-taken.

The Milberg-Weiss factor must be a new one, since the prosecutions are only now turning into major indictments of the firm’s players. And, in the theory that publicity of the alleged — and in many cases, admitted — crimes serve as deterrence, a summary of recent developments chez Milberg-Weiss….

On Monday, Oct.15, Melvyn Weiss, Paul T. Selzer and Seymour Lazar entered not guilty pleas before Federal District Judge Charles F. Eick in Los Angeles. (New York Times story.) The charges centered around the recruitment of plaintiffs in class-action lawsuits, with kickbacks for filing.

Then on Thursday, Lazar – the recruited plaintiff – pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, subscribing to a false tax return and making a false declaration (Coverage in “The Jurist”, the useful legal news aggregator at the University of Pittsburgh Law School). The Times continued its good coverage Thursday with a piece about Milberg-Weiss’ campaign contributions (to Democrats), mentioning the for-political-consumption defense from some that the Administration is persecuting trial lawyers. Carl Hiaasen, writing in the Miami Herald, bespeaks a serious problem of appearances in the campaign money.

Well, that’s a polite way of putting it. The Hiaasen headline: “The allure of stinking campaign cash.” We anxiously await the next Hiassen novel with his usual over-the-top characters, perhaps involving class-action attorneys illegally drumming up business.

And gators. You need alligators.

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