“Always be on high alert when someone tries to sell you a fix to a problem you didn’t know you had,” warns IBM general counsel Bob Weber in Forbes. He’s referring to third-party litigation funding, which may seem benign but in fact dangerously introduces a gambling mentality to the court process and promotes the interests of funders and lawyers over their client.
A judge has awarded $181 million – about $19,700 per hour – in fees to a law firm that sued Johnson & Johnson on behalf of the state of Arkansas, according to Reuters. The firm was hired by the attorney general on a contingency fee basis to sue the company over the risks associated with the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.
In a letter to the European Commission, ILR President Lisa Rickard warns that mass legal action under the EU’s draft data-protection proposal could lead to abuses similar to those in the U.S. class action system. “We have yet to see the case made for EU measures on collective redress, and since there is no guarantee that the problems of the U.S. class action system would not be replicated, it is imperative that any EU measures that are adopted include certain essential safeguards,” Rickard’s letter says. (Law 360)
An Ecuadorian judge who once presided over a lawsuit against Chevron submitted an affidavit that the plaintiffs lawyers in the case offered a $500,000 bribe to the judge if they were allowed to write the decision, reports ThomsonReuters. The case, which has been tainted with allegations of illegal and improper conduct, resulted in a $19 billion verdict against Chevron. The company continues to fight the enforcement of the verdict in American courts.
The Associated Press reports that Louisiana’s attorney general has paid more than $15 million to outside law firms that he hired to sue over the gulf oil spill, many of whom have donated money to the AG’s campaigns. The judge overseeing the case recently took issue with the use of outside counsel, saying they have “obstructed and frustrated the progress of the litigation” instead of cooperating with other attorneys in the case.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers in a multibillion environmental lawsuit have been accused of defrauding the investors that were funding the suit, Roger Parloff reports in Fortune. In a letter to lawyers, the funders write “we believe that you and particularly your U.S. representatives engaged in a multi-month scheme to deceive and defraud in order to secure desperately needed funding, all the while concealing material information and misrepresenting critical facts in the fear that we would have walked away had we known the true state of affairs.”
The Supreme Court today will hear will hear oral arguments on “the lawsuit industry’s attempt to end-run Congressional limits on abusive class actions,” says a Wall Street Journal editorial. The court will decide whether plaintiffs can bypass the Class Action Fairness Act if they cap their damages at $5 million, the threshold for removing cases to federal court. “Congress has addressed this state-court abuse, and we hope the High Court protects the law that restored some sanity to class actions” concludes the Journal.
The number of asbestos lawsuits filed in 2012 in Madison County, Illinois reached an all-time high of 1,563, an increase of more than 600 from the previous year. Asbestos filings have steadily increased in Madison County since 2006, reports the Madison County Record. Madison Country was named the sixth most unfair and unreasonable jurisdiction in the nation in ILR’s most recent lawsuit climate survey.
Main Justice reports that the DOJ and SEC combined to collect $260 million in FCPA fines and penalties in 2012, down 60 percent from 2011. According to Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s 2012 Year-End FCPA Update, the drop is due to several big trials and the drafting of an FCPA guidance document that dominated staff time.