Procedure

ESI and Admissibility

by Lee Gesmer on July 22, 2008

After writing the post immediately below it occurred to me that although there is much talk about the discovery of electronically stored evidence (ESI), the admissibility of ESI is addressed far less often. In fact, in the two day conference I linked to in that post, the topic is not even mentioned.

For the interested, there are two important starting places for this topic. The first is the 101 page decision in Lorraine v. Markel American Insurance Company by Magistrate Judge Paul Grimm (one of the “rock star judges” mentioned in the ABA article), and the second is The Next Frontier: Admissibility of Electronic Evidence (Listrom, Harlan, Ferguson and Redis). (Note: this last link is on the ABA website and appears to require an ABA membership user name/password; as yet I am unable to locate a copy anywhere else).… Read the full article

Quick Hits – Antitrust

by Lee Gesmer on July 14, 2008

The Federal Trade Commission has asked for en banc review of the D. C. Circuit’s decision in the FTC’s Rambus proceeding. I expect this case to be appealed to the Supreme Court, and given the Court’s propensity to accept antitrust cases over the last several years and the importance of this case, the case stands a better-than-average chance of being accepted for review by the Court. Of course better-than-average is still difficult, so the FTC shouldn’t get its printing presses warmed up quite yet.

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The Supreme Court granted review of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Pacific Bell v. Linkline, and will hear and decide the case next term. The issue in this case, as described in the Pacific Bell’s petition to the Supreme Court, is –

Whether a plaintiff states a claim under Section 2 of the Sherman Act by alleging that the defendant – a vertically integrated retail competitor with an alleged monopoly at the wholesale level but no antitrust duty to provide the wholesale input to competitors – engaged in a “price squeeze” by leaving insufficient margin between wholesale and retail prices to allow the plaintiff to compete.

Read the full article

The Agony of Inadvertant Disclosure

by Lee Gesmer on June 8, 2008

Sometimes being a lawyer is like being an airline pilot – hundreds of hours of tedium, interrupted by moments of sheer panic.

In the case of lawyers, the panic can hit from a number of sources: a missed court filing date or statute of limitations, the discovery during trial that your client has failed to produce key documents during discovery, the failure to discover a controlling legal precedent, the realization that a client has lied to you, or “inadvertant disclosure.”

To lawyers, the term “inadvertant disclosure” means that during discovery documents protected by attorney-client privilege or work-product immunity have been produced to the other side, by mistake. You (the disclosing attorney) usually learn of this when the opposing lawyer calls you up to gloat (under the guise of politely informing you of the incident, which is required under the ethical rules). It’s enough to ruin any lawyers day: you demand (or beg for) the return of the documents; the opposing lawyer refuses; you file a motion with the court asking for an order that the documents be returned to you (after that embarrassing call to your client); the other side opposes your motion; and finally, the judge writes a decision ruling one way or the other on your request for return, but in either case informing the world of what a sloppy or incompetent lawyer you were to have produced the documents in the first place.… Read the full article

Amazon Caught in Common Settlement Trap

by Lee Gesmer on January 16, 2008

If you’re in the middle of a trial, don’t tell the judge that you’ve settled the case unless you absolutely, positively mean it. Amazon fell into this trap in its recent litigation with Basis Technology, a Massachusetts linguistics software company. On the third day of trial over a dispute arising out of a contractual relationship the parties informed the judge that the case had been settled. The judge ended the trial, but the settlement agreement that the parties then attempted to negotiate for signature foundered over the calculation of Amazon’s minority stock ownership in Basis, an important element of the settlement. After the dispute was brought to the attention of the trial judge she examined the negotiations and held that the intention of the parties had been to settle. She ruled that all of the material terms of the settlement had been agreed upon, and that Amazon’s objection to the stock calculation was a “post hoc objection” insufficient to derail the settlement.… Read the full article