Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Lies, damned lies, and lawyerly lies

Legal news you probably can't use, except as cautionary tales:

-- Philip Thomas reports on Judge Mills' discovery sanctions against Harrah's. The case arose out of a charter-bus accident, but the present issue is some stunningly brazen misconduct, including old-fashioned lying to the court, regarding some materials requested in discovery. (NMC had some good posts on the case, but they seem to've been casualties of his former blog host's own misconduct.)

Anyway, Judge Mills's sanction is that he's resolving against Harrah's the issue of whether the charter bus was Harrah's agent. We had thought this was a disappointingly slight punishment, but NMC (commenting at Thomas's post) corrects us:
The view up here among lawyers is that this ruling was devastating to Harrah's-- apparently, the bus wreck is all but indefensible. You also are missing the part where he says he's going to apply Ark. law and there are no damages caps.

Throughout the part of the hearing I attended, Harrah's was saying that a dispositive sanction about joint venture meant it was doomed.

It was not a slap on the wrist. It's a zap that will cost Harrah's way into the millions.
One wonders if they'll seek to recover against their attorneys.

-- The other legal news is that the sealed court order in the dispute between State Farm and Jim Hood has been unsealed, thanks to Alan Lange and some Mississippi TV stations who persuaded the district court to unseal the entire document. NMC gives the background. Lange and NMC flag the contrast between what Hood told the court --
Judge Bramlette: All right, Mr. Hood, you’re going to be approached by the media and we want to know what you’re going to say. And you’ve already said it off the record. There’s a request that it be on the record. And go ahead and say that, sir.

Mr. Hood: Yes, your Honor. In order to protect the seal, certainly, the only comment would be that the the case was dismissed. And, of course, they’ll ask me about the criminal case; and I would not make any comment, which is always what I’m bound ethically to do, is not to make any comment about the criminal case, say “I can’t comment about that”.
-- and what he told the public:
allegations lodged against me by this insurer (State Farm) were shown to be false when a federal judge recently threw out a lawsuit it had filed against my office.
Disappointing, to say the least.

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