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LAWSUIT ABUSE FORTNIGHTLY_ VOL

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LAWSUIT ABUSE FORTNIGHTLY_ VOL Powered By Docstoc
					Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly
April 2004 (Volume 3, No. 3)
A report on how predatory trial lawyers profit by depriving victims
of justice and undermining the Rule of Law in the United States.
                                                                                                        www.heartland.org

Lottery Lunacy                                                        them with newly created drinks that look, taste, and
For years a Cleveland man purchased between 40 and 55                 smell like flavored soda. The plaintiffs want the
lottery tickets four times a week at the same convenience             companies to cough up all profits made from the
store trying to win the Ohio Buckeye Five lottery. He                 promotion of underage drinking in the state over the
played the same five numbers on each and every ticket                 past four years plus a buck or two for their lawyers.
he bought. Finally, in October 2001, he hit it big, and               The companies deny the claims and say they work to
believed he had won $5.2 million, $100,000 for each                   prevent underage drinking. From Corporate Legal
winning ticket times the 52 tickets he bought. Not so                 Times
fast, buddy, the state informed him.
     The lottery rules, printed on the back of each ticket,
clearly state the game pays only a maximum of $1                      One for the Plaintiffs, Ten for the Lawyers;
million to be divided by each winning ticket. Since there             One for the Plaintiffs . . .
was another winning ticket, he was entitled to only                   Stirred up by plaintiffs’ attorneys like Johnnie Cochran
$981,000. Incensed, he sued the convenience store                     and others of his ilk, some 18,500 citizens of Anniston,
owner for not explaining the rules to him.                            Alabama became convinced they were doomed to an
     A jury agreed he had been deceived and awarded                   inevitable early death from cancer and other vile
him an additional $1.3 million. The store owner’s lawyer              illnesses due to decades of PCB contamination from a
said he believes “people have an obligation not to be                 nearby Monsanto chemical plant. Regardless of the
damn idiots.” Clearly, in Cleveland courts they don’t.                merits of the claims, Monsanto settled the resulting
From AP and The Plain Dealer                                          lawsuit for some $300 million.
                                                                           The residents were naturally overjoyed, only to
                                                                      find out after doing the math that each of the plaintiffs
Lead Paint End-Run Fails                                              would receive about $7,725—while 27 lawyers from
The state of Rhode Island was mightily upset when its                 eight law firms that worked on the case would receive
public nuisance suit against the former lead paint                    a whopping $120 million, or about $4 million per
industry ended in a hung jury, with four of six jurors                lawyer. Cochran’s firm alone picked up $29 million.
supporting the industry.                                              The firm of a former lieutenant governor of Alabama
     Clearly the good citizens of the state could not be              came away with the biggest pile of loot: $34 million.
trusted to do what the state wanted, so the state and its             From AP, Anniston Star, and Washington Times
hired-gun outside law firm Motley Rice tried an end-run.
They approached the judge in the case, who had
consistently ruled in the state’s favor on procedural                 Take Your Free Tube of Lipstick and Shut Up
issues, and offered to drop certain charges against the               To settle nine California lawsuits alleging they had
industry if the judge would try the case himself without a            violated state and federal anti-trust law by conspiring
jury. The ploy failed. The judge turned them down and                 to prevent discounting and limit promotions, major
the state immediately asked for a year’s delay in the start           U.S. department store chains and cosmetics companies
of the re-trial. From AP and The Providence Journal                   agreed to distribute on a first-come-first-served basis
                                                                      some $175 million worth of free fragrances and
                                                                      cosmetics nationwide in January 2005. Each item to be
Trial Lawyers Target Booze in California                              given away would have a retail value of between $18
First it was Big Tobacco and then the fast food                       and $25. The lawyers who brought the suit are
industry—could booze be far behind? Nope, it’s here                   scheduled to walk away with $24 million (not in
and now.                                                              lipstick).
     A group of California citizens is suing Miller                        Now, however, the attorneys general of 11 states
Brewing and Anheuser-Busch, claiming the brewers                      have intervened to challenge the settlement, saying
purposely target teenagers with advertising and entice                individual consumers are getting almost nothing out of
the deal and that the whole thing amounts to little more           land and water rights sales in the state for years,
than a “promotional windfall” for the stores and                   Colorado’s governor said he wasn’t totally opposed to
cosmetic companies. From The New York Sun                          the idea. From The Rocky Mountain News


Loony Warning Label of the Month                                   Candid Comments Draw Madison County
On a five-inch fishing lure with three stainless steel             Judge’s Wrath
barbed hooks: “Harmful if swallowed.” Too bad fish                 Appearing at a forum on asbestos litigation at
can’t read. From Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch                      Washington University law school in St. Louis, former
                                                                   U.S. Attorney General Griffin Bell said asbestos-
                                                                   related lawsuits have gotten totally out of control in
Take That, Custer ... Again                                        nearby plaintiff-friendly Madison County, Illinois. He
Following in the moccasin steps of the Delaware                    pointed out that roughly one of four mesothelioma
American Indian tribe, which recently offered to drop its          cases nationwide are filed in Madison Country, even
land claims in Pennsylvania if the state legislature               though the majority of cases are filed by plaintiffs who
allowed it to build a gambling casino there, the                   do not live in Madison County, were not exposed to
Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma in mid-April               asbestos in the county and, in fact, have no ties to the
filed a claim for 27 million acres in Colorado. That               county whatsoever. Mesothelioma is a rare form of
amounts to about 40 percent of the state. Like their               cancer linked almost exclusively to asbestos exposure.
cousins back east, the Oklahoma tribes say they are                For his candor, one Madison County judge banned
willing to give up their claims if the state gives them 500        Bell and his law firm from ever appearing in his
acres to build a $100 million casino, cultural center, and         courtroom again. From The St. Louis Business
travel facility. Since the land claim could possibly tie up        Journal, Kansas City Star, and Overlawyered.com




 Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly                                    Information on lawsuit abuse can be found on these Web sites:
 Published by The Heartland Institute,                        www.litigationfairness.org            www.atra.org
 a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization founded in 1984.            www.alec.org                          www.halt.org
 Phone 312/377-4000, fax 312/377-5000                         www.overlawyered.com                  www.fed-soc.org
 Back issues are available online at www.heartland.org.       www.legalreformnow.com                www.sickoflawsuits.org
 Publisher: Joseph L. Bast                                    www.manhattan-institute.org           www.wlf.org
 Editors: Diane Carol Bast, Paul Fisher, Dan Hales




The Heartland Institute
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Chicago, Illinois 60603

				
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