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Showing posts from December, 2009

This Is The Year That Was.

Well kids, what I can say about this year that hasn't already been said.

F*@K!!

What a rollercoaster we've had here in the South Florida legal world, and I have a feeling there is more to come in 2010.

We've done visual looks back, so this year I was going to offer up some awards, but maybe I'll let you guys do that.

I will, however, throw one out there just to get things started -- best South Florida legal anecdote.

Let's see, there's really only one nominee, hands down, my man -- the Big Man -- Bowman Brown.

Take a bow, Bowman!

On a serious note, I want to thank you readers, whose eyeballs, intelligence, wit, and good sense make this blog what it is.

Thanks for the support and giggles.

May you find 2010 to be safe, prosperous, peaceful, happy, and joyful for you and yours.

Tom Lehman Talks/Buys Wine In the NYT

I was going to do a year-end wrap up, but then I thought I just read about Tew Cardenas lawyer Tom Lehman discussing wine in the NYT?

No, it was not a dream:
And Mr. Truax shepherded Tom Lehman, “our friend from Florida,” he said, around the store.Mr. Lehman, 57, is a bankruptcy lawyer who lives in Miami but was spending the holidays in the area, and was shopping for a case of wine for himself and his wife. With South Florida still gripped by the recession, business for him has been good this year, he said, so even though he tries to economize by snapping up the wine bargains he sees, he has not had to cut back.“One of the things that’s alluring about this wine shop is that they get a lot of cellars,” he said, adding that he stops by the store whenever he is in town. “I wish my habits had changed and reduced, but I still continue to buy good wine.” Hey, same with me -- MD 20/20, Boone's Farm, white Zin, you know, all the good stuff.

3d DCA Watch -- Ding Dong Ding Dong

Hi kids it's almost New Year's and the Resplendently Robed Ones have brought out the noisemakers, the legal-in-three-States fireworks, and the heavily swilled, heavily spiked coffee as we launch into this very special holiday edition of 3d DCA Watch:

Morrissette v. NCL:

This case involves someone who may or may not be related to Alanis Morissette.

Nothing else about this opinion is notable.

Valdes v. Optimist Club:

We're finally seeing some pull-back in the expansion of the preemption doctrine during the Bush Years. This well-reasoned opinion by Judge Ramirez seeks to align Florida law with the Supreme Court's recent Wyeth decision.

(Added one more New Year's resolution -- stay away from Tylenol Cold.)

Laquer v. Convergency Plaza:

Hey, once you waive arbitration, you waive it forever.

Industrial Affiliates v. Fish:

"For reasons unknown" Judge Schwartz seems a little ticked at Circuit Court Appellate Division Judges Scott Bernstein, Mindy Glazer, and Maria Espinoza…

"Loan Me Fifty Dollars."

Lippmancomplaint

God I miss Neil.

Remember how Rogers often played that old clip of Larry King, asking for a loan?

That came to mind as I reviewed the adversary complaint filed by Herb Stettin against Steve Lippman.

I don't know about your law firm, but does this part sound normal to you:
23. The second set of payments the Trustee seeks to recover includes reimbursements for payments made by RRA to Lippman which were classified in RRA’s financial records as “loans” or “other compensation” and are referred to below as the “Lippman Loans.” These payments were reflected by numerous checks written by RRA to Lippman over a 4 year period from the RRA operating account. Typically, Lippman would deposit each check into the bank account he maintained in the name of Lippman Valinsky & Storfer, and which Lippman and Rothstein both referred to as the “Nest Egg Account.” Usually, within a day or two of deposit by Lippman of the RRA check, he would then write a check out of the Nest Egg Account…

Marc Randazza Continues To Rule Our (Cyber) World.

We've previously discussedMarc Randazza's particular brand of legal brilliance, not to mention his great and utterly profane blog The Legal Satyricon.

Now, fresh off beating Glenn Beck to a bloody pulp, and forcing UM Professor Donald Jones to come to his senses about that meshuga complaint he filed, Marc has arrived to rescue some poor schmuck who tweeted and Facebooked a few times about a negative experience at a South Florida auto dealer.

Turns out this guy's tweets led to a "Dear John, We're About To Sue You" letter from West Palm attorney Douglas Thompson.

Randazza has written a responsive letter, pleading with Doug's client to get a little bit hipper to the way of the tubes:
“I must also point out how utterly foolish it would be for your client to do anything except back away from this dispute,” Randazza wrote. “My client posted his tweets about your client six weeks ago. A few of his friends and family had a chuckle about them, Mr. Alascio became bored…

Kim Kardashian Sued Over "Cookie Diet" Tweets!

KimKCookieDocss

Once again, a headline I thought I'd never write.

On top of that, a press release I thought I'd never read:
Celebrity doctor and author Sanford Siegal, D.O., M.D., creator of the immensely popular Dr. Siegal's COOKIE DIET® weight-loss approach and products, and Dr. Siegal's Direct Nutritionals, LLC, the brand's global distributor, this morning filed a lawsuit against reality TV personality Kim Kardashian over two statements they allege Kardashian made on her Twitter page on October 29, 2009. A total of four counts are contained in the complaint stemming from the following statements: STATEMENT 1:"Dr. Siegal's Cookie Diet is falsely promoting that I'm on this diet. NOT TRUE! I would never do this unhealthy diet! I do QuickTrim!"STATEMENT 2:"If this Dr. Siegal is lying about me being on this diet, what else are they lying about?""Perhaps I shouldn't presume to question Kim Kardashi…

Phish Food

It's so nice to see all those eco-friendly, tie-dyed Phish fans hanging around downtown.

Stay green, kids!!

Parsing the RRA Financials

Sofa

Last week Herb Stettin filed the RRA Schedules of Assets and Liabilities and Statement of Financial Affairs.

I was struck by a few things:

1. This 70-lawyer firm only took in $10 million in 2008 and 2009;

2. Kim Rothstein was employed by RRA at a salary of $45k; and

3. This was some wildly f&(ked up place.

You know how lawyers, particularly litigators, pride themselves on being good judges of character? They just know when a witness is not telling the truth, or being evasive, or when something is "not quite right."

Indeed, their self-worth as a lawyer is sometimes bound up with their inflated view of themselves as being able to "put the pieces together," find a seemingly meaningless clue in a document or a stray aside by a witness, and sleuth their way on a hunch, flop sweat, and good detective work to unraveling the key to winning a case.

Why didn't anyone at RRA do that with Scott Rothstein?

Buju Banton Hires David Oscar Markus!

Jailed Jamaican reggae star Buju Banton has hired none other than our own Mr. Markus:
Tracii McGregor, president of Banton's Gargamel Music Incorporated, is quoted as telling the CaribWorldNews.comwebsite : "We're going to get him the top legal representation there is. We are ready to fight."Last weekend, BET News said Marcus will lead the team to get Banton off charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute just over five kilograms of cocaine. He was arrested by Drug Enforcement Administration officers on December 10 in Sarasota, Florida, and charged one week later in a Miami court.The singjay is best known for the 1995 album, Til Shiloh, and songs like Deportee, Untold Stories and Murderer. He is facing a lengthy prison term if convicted.Among top 40 under 40The 36-year-old Markus is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and has been involved in several high-profile cases. His success rate has earned him recognition from respected publications such as the

Herald New Math

I see from Executive Editor Anders Gyllenhaal that the Herald is now finally available to be downloaded daily to your Kindle:
You can now receive The Miami Herald on Amazon's Kindle, which provides the best stories of the day via its elegant reader. While the fee that Amazon sets is high, $9.99 a month, the service is proving popular in many cities.Why editorialize in your announcement that the fee of $9.99 a month is "high"?

Does Anders know how much a monthly subscription is to the dead-tree version of the Herald: $13.75 per month.

So a yearly Kindle Herald subscription is $119.88 while a dead-tree yearly subscription is $165.00.

Yep, I see what Anders means.

Well at least the Herald finances are in good hands.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

Judge Martinez Reversed On Forum Non Banana Boat Death

Now that's a headline I thought I'd never write.

Actually, it's a very unfortunate case involving a tourist who died riding a Banana Boat in the Bahamas which Judge Martinez dismissed on forum non grounds.

The original opinion is here.

In a thorough opinion by Middle District of Georgia Judge Hugh Lawson, sitting by designation, the Eleventh Circuit identified a number of serious errors in the district court opinion, including a fundamental one relating to the scope of the relevant inquiry:
The district court considered the Southern District of Florida to be the relevant forum for purposes of the forum non conveniens test. In weighing the private interests, the district court looked only at the contacts between the case and the Southern District. Limiting its consideration to just one judicial district was improper. “[T]he relevant forum for purposes of the federal [forum non conveniens] analysis is the United States as a whole.” Aldana, 578 F.3d at 1293; Esfeld v. Costa Croci…

Merry Christmas Darling

Oy I had to pop a few Xanax and put on some old Carpenters after reading this story about the various outstanding loans that former RRA lawyers including Marc Nurik owe RRA:
The documents for Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, filed late Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, said the firm has $1.4 billion in liabilities and only $42.9 million in assets, painting a bleak picture for recovery of claims.The documents list $34.8 million in apparent payments to various individuals between 2007 and 2009, including many of the firm’s former employees and attorneys. In some cases, those loans were partially paid back, but there’s an outstanding balance of $23.9 million in “advances to non-debtor third parties.”Among those on the list is Steven Lippman, who is said to have received $8.9 million. Lippman was recently hired by Rice Pugatch Robinson & Schiller in Fort Lauderdale.According to the schedules, Lippman repaid $6.5 million, leaving an outstanding balance of $2.4 million.Lippman could not be im…

3d DCA Watch -- Geometric Eggnog And Mistletoe Edition

Does anyone really like the geometric pattern of the bunker?

I for one do, and in fact I have suggested a few simple modifications to further bring out the angles, the boxiness, the sharp lines that just scream out "we who labor here seek only the truth (and hip early 70s Norwegian building design)."

What do you think -- I kinda like it.

Ok, the eggnog has been added to the coffee, the swilling has reached veritable OCD levels, and the mistletoe has been strategically placed above a certain former Chief Judge as we launch into the final, action-packed 3d DCA Watch of this wunnerful, wunnerful year:

Honeywell v. Guilder:

Here we are again with this case, and a new opinion has been substituted which reverses the $24 million mesothelioma verdict.

As before, one issue was the trial court's failure to redact a portion of an old letter:
Here, the Bendix employee’s letter to an asbestos supplier written in the late 1960’s was relevant to proving Honeywell’s knowledge of the dangers of…

Details of the Rothstein Auction

Save your money folks, there are bargains to be had at the Scott Rothstein/RRA auction to be held January 23rd in Tamarac.

Barring a late Marc Nurik photo grab, here are a variety of crappy and tasteless items you Rothstein junkies can bid on.

Wow, what schlock.

Wait a minute Scotty, a signed and framed Jay Fiedler jersey?

Jay Fiedler?

Ok, Jay's a nice Jewish boy and all, but so is Sage Rosenfels, you see what I'm saying?

(Yawn), Some Legal Stuff.

Hi kids, you know those driver's license privacy cases that have been floating around the State for a while?

Well, the 11th Circuit just dinged one and affirmed a Middle District summary judgment as to a state vendor in a well-reasoned opinion by Judge Fay.

It's filled with nice statutory analysis and concludes as follows:
Plaintiff-appellants argue that Imagitas and the State of Florida are doing an “end run” around the DPPA, and indeed, the district court thought such an argument was not unreasonable. That may or may not be true. Congress knew what the states were doing when it passed the DPPA. There is nothing in the federal statute that prevents states from including advertisements in such renewal notices and the same statute specifically allows states to operate though private contractors. If this is a loop hole, Congress can remedy this situation. However, we can just as easily conclude that Congress knew exactly what it was doing and through the DPPA put broad limits on th…

Thanks Joe!

I was running late and stuck in court so I asked my old pal Joe Namath to cover a hearing in Palm Beach the other day.

He did pretty good, except his knees kept going out on him -- just like the old days.

(Boy things are slow around here).

SFL Monday -- Welcome Winter!

I love walking around downtown when the temperature drops -- out come the sweaters, the turtlenecks, the boots, the scarves, and I'm just talking about my own personal wardrobe.

Seriously, it's tough being a federal judge:
It's not the lifestyle of a typical federal judge: Five or six vodka cocktails during lunch; gambling with borrowed money; bankruptcy under a phony name, and cash, trips or home repairs from lawyers and a bail bondsman with business before his court.Five or six vodka cocktails before going back on the bench? That part seems fairly typical.

It's the part about increasing bond amounts on poor schnooks in order to financially benefit the bondsman that strikes me as pretty bad:
Later, New Orleans bail bondsman Louis Marcotte testified that he and Porteous had a long-standing relationship in which Marcotte routinely took Porteous to lavish meals at French Quarter restaurants and offered his employees to work on Porteous' cars and home. In return, Porteou…

What Happened To Gary's Bonus??

Boy I've heard some bizarre stories coming out of the Rothstein scandal, misconduct and abuses that can make any lawyer's head spin.

But when I read this, I said "now you've gone too far."

Have you no conscience? No sense of common decency? Good lord man, what is wrong with you?

I speak of this:
"I didn't get a single bonus the entire 11 months I was at RRA.''Ok, in my mind that pretty much explains everything.

SFL Friday -- A Piece of the Action?

Hi kidzzzz, I was briefly detained by an actual court proceeding but I'm back and wrapping it up.

Congrats to entering an era of 100% Rothstein-free JNC appointments:
The Florida Supreme Court screening committee includes Jay Cohen of the Law Office of Jay Cohen in Fort Lauderdale.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal committee is chaired by Edwin Scales III of Edwin A. Scales III P.A. in Key West and includes Miami attorneys Ramon Abadin of Abadin Cook, Dori Foster-Morales of Elser & Foster-Morales, Juliet Roulhac of Julie Roulhac P.A. and Michael Higer of Higer Lichter & Givner of Aventura.

The 4th District Court of Appeal committee is chaired by Cohen and includes Greg Coleman of Burman Critton Luttier & Coleman in West Palm Beach, Eugene Pettis of Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm in Fort Lauderdale, David Prather of Lytal Reiter Clark Fountain & Williams in West Palm Beach and Lisa Small of Small & Small in Palm Beach. Big firms and their bankruptcy fee requests are g…

Don't Be That Guy.

COMES NOW The Lawyerist (via Legal Blog Watch) who duly notes that a heretofore unknown bankruptcy judge ("Judge") from Minnesota has issued prophylactic guidelines on proceeding forthwith ("PF") in terms of filings and/or Legal Briefs in Judge's Honorable Court, with all due respect as hereupon outlined by The Undersigned:
Guideline No. 6 -- Capitalization: Lawyers apparently love to capitalize words. Pleadings, including proposed orders, are commonly full of words that are capitalized, not quite randomly, but certainly with great abandon. Please limit the use of capitalization to proper names. For example, do not capitalize court, motion, movant, debtor, trustee, order, affidavit, stipulation, mortgage, lease or any of the other numerous words that are commonly capitalized.Guideline No. 7 -- Use of articles: Lawyers apparently disfavor articles, both definite and indefinite. Use the articles “the,” “a,” and “an” as appropriate. Write the way you would speak. S…

For Cheapskates Only

Chile Motion

I have been asked by several readers to "liberate" from PACER the bank's motion to dismiss in the Chile/Pinochet money-laundering case I wrote about below.

So, for those of you too cheap to have your firm or the taxpayers of this great nation swallow the 35 cents necessary to see superior writing and research -- it's called professional development, people -- here you go.

Also, for those of you into embedded graphics and jpegs in pleadings, there's a nice one on page 23 of the brief.

When's The Right Time To Raise Rule 11 in A Pleading?

Chile Response

Anyone remember the RICO suits brought by the Republic of Chile against several banks over Pinochet and alleged money-laundering?

This is the one where Pedro Martinez-Fraga got conflicted out and had to hand it over to Bilzin's William Hill.

Well in a recent response to a motion to dismiss filed by one of the banks, there appears this curious paragraph:
We are dismayed that counsel for PNC would raise the earlier sending of a Rule 11 letter to predecessor counsel. That letter was directed at the initial complaint, a pleading that has long since been withdrawn (although it was withdrawn for reasons wholly unrelated to anything in the letter). No subsequent letters have been received and we would not expect to receive one, given the overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing by the bank. We understand that Rule 11 letters are confidential among counsel, and object to counsel raising it to try to gain some sort of litigation advantage here. Further, despite PNC's aggressive r…

Exclusive -- Inside Marc Nurik's Briefcase!

Marc gave Herald reporters Amy Sherman and Jay Weaver a little peek:
Nurik carries the Dreier sentencing memorandum in his briefcase.
Hey, that is so weird -- so do I!

I wonder if the rest of Marc's briefcase is like mine:

1. Autographed copy of "10" (well it was signed by Brian Dennehy, but still);

2. Limited edition Steve Zack bobblehead;

3. Silver flask filled with Mallacan Gin (for medicinal purposes and/or depositions);

4. Star of David hackysack; and

5. Glossy photo of Magistrate Judge Brown.

I mean that's pretty much SOP for any decent federal litigator, right?

3d DCA Watch -- Zager And Evans v. Du Pont Edition

I think it was in 1889 that Du Pont first pulled the fungicide Benlate off the market, leading to lots of claims and lots of headlines and lots and lots of South Florida lawsuits.

Well the bunker is still churning out Benlate opinions, and the Resplendently Robed Ones have today handed a solid rebuke to Judge Donner, who gets to do it all over again, and again, and again, and so on.

By this rate I'm pretty sure all Benlate litigation will conclude sometime in 2525, and you know I'm kinda wondering if Man will still be alive. He's taken everything this old Earth can give, and he ain't put back nothing, whoa-whoa...

Oops, sorry.

Here's the key holding:
We first [consider] Du Pont’s consolidation issue raised on cross-appeal. Du Pont argues that the trial court abused its discretion in consolidating the individual claims brought by the twenty-seven plaintiffs against Du Pont. We agree with Du Pont that the trial court erred when it consolidated the individual claims brou…

Julie Kay Breaks Genuine Rothstein News

Here it is in a nutshell:
Rothstein and Stuart Rosenfeldt worked for the law firm Phillips Eisinger Koss Rosenfeldt & Rothstein in Hollywood before launching their own firm in February 2002. Rosenfeldt worked there for eight years and Rothstein for nearly three.

Gary Phillips, former managing partner of the Hollywood firm, said he and his partners asked Rothstein to leave after learning he had lied to a client about filing a complaint and an emergency motion for injunctive relief. The client called Phillips to discuss the motions.

“I went to look at the file and found there was no file,” Phillips said. “He told the client he had already filed these motions. We were very upset. I pushed to get rid of [Rothstein] after that.”

Phillips wound up taking over the case and filing the motions himself, and asked Rothstein to leave “within a short period,” he said. Phillips said he did not report Rothstein to The Florida Bar because he concluded the issue “was not grievable.”

Rothstein ended up …

Story Idea for Glenn Garvin!

Hi Glenn, I know you're always looking around for story ideas, and you've already done feature stories on a wide range of voices from Glenn Beck to Brit Hume, from Bill O'Reilly to John Stossel.

So let me suggest angry crank and former Law and Order actor Michael Moriarty, who gives an unhinged rant about the "left-wing" tilt of the show here?

Michael, I had totally forgotten you were even on that show, your part having been completely owned by Sam Waterston.

Were you on with Angie Harmon?

Or was it Carey Lowell?

(Sorry, that's my frame of reference for this show).

Either way, no one cares about your opinion and whether or not your now-out-of-print-book verifies that you resigned and were not terminated oh so long ago.

Wait a minute, someone does care.

Glenn!!

Annoucing The Law Office of Christina M. Kitterman!

Former RRA lawyer Christina M. Kitterman has struck out on her own.

Good luck, feel free to drop us a line about your new practice.

Digging the logo btw.

Parsing the Morse v. Rothstein Lawsuit

Rothstein Revised Malpractice Complaint

Finally amid all the crazy Rothstein pleadings we have what appears to be a straightforward professional malpractice suit.

There are no blockbuster allegations here, no inflammatory rhetoric, just a simple suit sounding in malpractice, negligent supervision, and breach of fiduciary duty.

The Morses claim that Rothstein and former RRA partners Stuart Rosenfelt, Russ Adler, Howard Kusnick, Steve Osber, and Les Stracher all screwed up in various ways in their handling and/or supervision of four separate Morse matters.

The first one was an interior designer services matter that appears to be unrelated to the forged Judge Marra order.

According to the complaint, Steve Osber had day-to-day responsibility for this file: