Hi kids, how was your weekend?
The details of mine were quite inconsequential, really.
Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink. He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. The sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical. Summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we'd make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds- pretty standard really. At the age of twelve I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles.......So are you following the unfolding drama playing out in federal court regarding Podhurst, Nicaragua, and the pesticide DBCP?
It's a role-reversal of sorts for forum non junkies -- normally the defendants are claiming the foreign legal system is okey-dokey, and the plaintiffs are railing against the lack of justice in corrupt courts run by big multi-nationals.
Here it's the opposite -- the Nicaraguan courts have fast-tracked injury sterility claims by farmers involving the pesticide DBCP, and plaintiff's lawyers are seeking to have those foreign judgments honored in federal court in Miami.
But out in LA a state court judge, Victoria Chaney, has questioned whether the claims and plaintiffs in related cases are manufactured, and has apparently implicated Podhurst co-counsel in the Miami cases, Texas lawyer Mark Sparks:
The scam, Chaney wrote, was part of a much wider fraud in Nicaragua -- a thriving industry of manufacturing plaintiffs to capitalize on a justice system rigged against multinational corporations.In other words -- go pound sand, Judge Chaney.
At the center of that system, she wrote, is a law passed by the Nicaraguan government in 2001 that ordered the courts to fast-track DBCP claims.
Anybody claiming to have been exposed to the chemical on a banana farm who can produce a lab report showing he is sterile is entitled to damages. Evidence presentation is limited to eight days, after which the court has three days to decide the case. Defendants, such as Dole, must deposit millions of dollars in a trust for the right to defend themselves. They generally don't bother because it is almost impossible for them to win.
As the Florida case is set to restart, attorneys for Dole have already submitted Chaney's ruling to bolster their argument that the $97-million judgment in Nicaragua was a sham.
The plaintiffs' attorneys countered that Chaney's ruling is full of inaccuracies and overly broad.
"It's amazing to me that a judge can criticize in a sweeping way an entire country's integrity and make a ruling on every individual's honesty and integrity, even those who aren't before her," said plaintiffs' attorney Steven Marks of the Miami-based firm Podhurst Orseck.
Chaney's ruling implicates Provost and Umphrey, a Texas law firm representing plaintiffs in the Florida case along with Podhurst Orseck, in the alleged fraud in Nicaragua. Chaney wrote that one of its attorneys, Mark Sparks, was present in a 2003 meeting in Nicaragua at which lawyers, medical laboratory officials and a judge set out a plan to manufacture evidence and bolster cases in the Nicaraguan courts.
In court filings, Sparks and his firm denied he ever attended such a meeting, and argued that Chaney's ruling was fundamentally unfair because it did not offer them the right to defend themselves.
The ruling was based primarily on information from witnesses whose names and unredacted testimony to Dole lawyers remain sealed under an order by Chaney, who became convinced that their lives would be in danger if their identities were made public.
In any case, the plaintiffs' lawyers in the Florida case said they had no involvement in the California cases.
Sparks and his firm released a statement saying they "are confident that our investigation, testing and diagnosis protocols were superior to other firms in this litigation."
Our interest in this case has nothing to do with sperm motility or related health issues, I assure you, but we will nevertheless be following this one closely.