A judge has allowed Big Beef’s lawsuit against ABC News to proceed: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2014/0328/Pink-slime-lawsuit-moves-forward-Could-ABC-News-be-held-liable


I’m sure you all remember if not the story then, certainly, the image of the infamous “pink slime” (aka “finely textured beef”).  Beef Products Inc. claims the ABC news story was slanted and cost the company $1.2 billion while ABC insists their report was factual.  According to the plaintiff, even though ABC News did include a disclaimer, they take issue with the report’s description of the product as “not meat” and its questioning of the product’s safety (based on the concerns of certain scientists).

Of bigger issue here, in my opinion, is this: “What happens if corporate interests are able to, through the courts, curtail not just how journalists, but also average Americans, use language to hail or decry companies? Even unsuccessful lawsuits against media companies can have a chilling effect on journalists, legal experts say.”

Which brings us to THIS lawsuit – http://boston.cbslocal.com/2014/03/25/daily-talker-defamation-lawsuit-over-yelp-review/ – filed by the owner of a watch repair shop in Manhattan against a customer who gave him a negative review on Yelp.  Seriously.  I, for one, would love to go back and sue anyone who gave my Stargate episodes less than a 3 star review.  I’ll be keeping my eye on this one.

Meanwhile, http://qz.com/193046/the-guy-from-office-space-has-lost-his-lawsuit-against-illegal-flair/.  An actor from the movie Office Space sued 20th Century Fox for unjust use of his image in merchandise related to the film.  Not surprisingly, his lawsuit was dismissed.  It makes sense – the contracts are pretty clear – but part of me is somewhat saddened.  After all, I can’t begin to imagine how much money MGM made off the sales of DVD’s in which I made a special features appearance.

The big boys tussle: http://consumerist.com/2014/03/28/walmart-slaps-visa-with-5b-lawsuit-for-allegedly-fixing-card-swipe-fees/.  Walmart’s lawsuit against VISA for price fixing, colluding with the banks to set high fees for card swiping.  This follows a 5.7 billion dollar class-action settlement approved in December between merchants, VISA, and Mastercard.  In this battle of the titans, I’m rooting for – if not exactly the little guy, then the slightly less big guy.  The slightly less annoying big guy.  And, in this case, that’s Walmart.

Big international banks are on the receiving end of this class-action lawsuit – http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-rt-us-banks-lawsuit-libor-20140328,0,2915892.story – filed by a Sanford, Florida man who accuses them of manipulating “manipulating yen-denominated interest rate benchmarks”.  Interestingly enough, “A Japanese investment banking unit of UBS in September was ordered to pay a $100 million criminal fine after pleading guilty to wire fraud for scheming to manipulate yen LIBOR to benefit a senior trader’s positions.”

Did Apple and Google conspire to drive down wages through mutually agreed-upon no-hire agreements?  Five software engineers believe so and they’ve filed a lawsuit against both companies “alleging a conspiracy to suppress pay by agreeing not to recruit or hire each other’s employees.”  http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-rt-us-apple-google-ruling-20140328,0,7975951.story  This one is interesting as big tech giants aren’t the only ones who include non-compete clauses in their contracts.

Lisa Ling, co-host of The View, is being sued by a houseguest who slipped and fractured her foot on her steps: http://www.tmz.com/2014/03/26/lisa-ling-gets-dinged-with-banana-peel-lawsuit/.  Homeowners should, of course, always take the precaution of posting “CAUTION: HAZARDOUS STEPS” OR “BEWARE DANGEROUS CARPET” for visitors.


18 thoughts on “March 28, 2014: The land of lawsuits!

  1. Re: the tech companies, it’s not about a non-compete clause in contracts. In this case, the companies are accused of making secret agreements amongst themselves to not hire anyone who is currently working at one of the other companies.

    What frequently happens in the software biz is that the engineers will jump from Company A to Company B in order to get better pay and/or better benefits. To keep the turnover level low, Company A would end up having to raise their own pay and benefits. The secret agreement kept the turnover artificially low because Company B would automatically disqualify any resume of someone from Company A and vice versa.

    Not. Nice.

  2. It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world. Actually, Canadians should be glad that our American friends are such a litigious lot. They set the benchmark for laws in our country so we don’t have to be involved in such silly law suits.

    Regarding the Walmart/Visa lawsuit, I’m wishing they could both lose that one, and have to pay consumers for our pain and suffering.

    It also looks like countries are going to get into this law suit business. Our forward thinking Prime Minister arranged a trade agreement with China that is as lopsided as the next war between Russia and Ukraine.The Canada-China Investment Treaty allows Chinese companies (including state-owned enterprises) to sue the Government of Canada over decisions that can limit or reduce their expectation of profits. China can claim damages against Canada for decisions at the municipal, provincial, territorial or federal level. Even decisions of our courts can give rise to damages. The Canada-China Investment Treaty requires that if, in the future, Canada wants to conserve natural resources (fisheries, water, oil, uranium, forests — everything is covered), and reduce Chinese access to these resources, we are only allowed to do so to the extent we limit our own use of those natural resources. Anything else and the Chinese can sue us to their hearts content.

    In ancient Athens City state law, the people could vote once a year on the person/politician who they felt was most destructive to their society and expel them. It was simply a command from the Athenian people that one of their number be gone for ten years. It was called Ostracism. The citizens were asked to give names of unpopular people to a scribe and the names were scratched on a piece of broken pottery then deposited in an urn. At the requisite time, names were drawn and the most unpopular person was then banned from the city. I can name a few politicians and corporate leaders who would be top of my list. Maybe it’s time to bring this practice back.

  3. I have to agree completely with everything arcticgoddess said – especially about the Chinese investment treaty. I don’t think Canadians even realize how damaging that can potentially be (or even know about it, for that matter.) This government seems to be quietly but effectively selling us down the river for corporate profit. I’m inclined to think that ostracism may be too kind.

  4. I, for one, would love to go back and sue anyone who gave my Stargate episodes less than a 3 star review. I’ll be keeping my eye on this one. 😆

    Sadly, I wonder if the only ones making money are the lawyers?!

    This one is going to be nasty and I think they have some meat to the suit. The more I read, the more chills I get: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/26/us-gm-recall-lawsuit-idUSBREA2P00V20140326

    Of course I’m routing for the victims in this case. They have been raped by their attackers and by the “justice” system for letting 12,000 rape kits go untested. How many rapist could have been caught? How many rapes could have been prevented? http://www.wmctv.com/story/25083793/filed-in-federal-court

  5. We have too many lawyers. And too many of them in government office. And too many frivolous law-suits with no consequences to the person initiating them! Oooooh. It makes me mad.

  6. And for all of you college sports lovers: Northwestern football players have been given the go-ahead by the National Labor Relations Board to unionize. Apparently they are employees, not students.


    followed by:

    Dang – here I was thinking that in return for playing a game, which they like doing, these students were being given the opportunity to attend a fabulous college and get an education that would benefit them long after their playing days are over. Silly me.

  7. People can be utterly ridiculous about this. It’s become a war cry for the insanely stupid “I’m gonna sue you!” Even for something silly as a request to be left alone. Yes.. someone has responded with “I’m getting a lawyer!” Ok, then, good luck with that.

    I feel that this is somewhat like the absurd plastic surgery that people get these days. Just because there are crazy people out there wanting to sue does not mean lawyers and judges should give in to them. Lawyers shouldn’t be so eager to take these cases and judges shouldn’t allow them to waste the precious court time. Just like plastic surgeons DO know better and should refuse so many of these elective surgeries.

    I’m actually not fully against lawsuits or plastic surgery. My husband’s aunt had breast cancer and was one of the first women to have reconstructive surgery. I applaud that. I also applaud companies and people being held to account for their bad behavior. I don’t support greedy money grubbers or those who wish to mutilate their bodies to no end. There’s a happy medium. Too bad it’s often over-looked.


  8. Libel/slander/defamation law is pretty clear. It’s not defamation if what you say is true. So in the Beef Products vs. ABC case if ABC can prove the things they said in their report then, theoretically, they shouldn’t have anything to worry about. The onus is on the allegedly defamed to prove that the comments are false. In the case of meat products the law is also pretty clear on what constitutes “meat”.

    In Office Space vs. 20th Century Fox I’m not surprised it was thrown out. I’m pretty sure I had clauses in my contracts for the movies I’ve worked on saying that my likeness, interviews, etc could be used by the production company for any purpose they deem suitable. And I was so far in the back room of these productions the chance was almost zero that it would actually happen.

    As for Walmart vs. Visa I say bring it on! Walmart aren’t saints but Visa have been running a veritable monopoly for the last 40 years and it’s about time someone did something about it. Oh shit! I’ll probably have Visa suing me now!

    Re: A houseguest suing the host. That’s pretty low but not surprising in the USA. I guess that’s why you have personal liability clauses in your home insurance.

  9. Oh yes, I also wanted to say that there’s only one winner in any of these cases . . . and that’s the lawyers. Scum sucking bottom feeders! Oh bugger! There’s another lawsuit coming my way!

  10. The Puritans got all judgy about the personal violence that was prevalent in England when they left, but they replaced it with the communal violence of mindlessly backing judicial decrees. This created a deferred responsibility for the same bullies who would have been beaters in England and gave power to physically weaker bullies, too. I can’t say it was less violence because the Salem witchcraft trials were horrid.


    I seem to recall Oprah getting in hot-water for saying something during a discussion on her show about proper food preparation. It wasn’t any different than you’d expect your ultra-girly cousin to say when the subject of underdone food is at hand, but because she has a large audience, big beef applied the thumbscrews.

  11. Re: Lisa Ling case–wow. When we adopted a young fear aggressive (previously abused) border collie, we worked hard to manage his behavior with the help of some excellent trainers and he turned out to be a great dog. But because we live in a suburban area, we also took out an umbrella insurance policy, just in case. He has since passed and I was recently telling my husband maybe we could drop the policy and save some money. But after reading Lisa LIng’s story, I’m thinking maybe we should hang on to it after all!

  12. I’ve seen a number of lawsuits in the tech industry over the years, with most being in the category of posturing or attempts at outright market suppression of a competing product. The results of such lawsuits have been mixed at best, but overall it suppresses innovation and product development.

    Among the most common (in the tech industry) is where a patent house buys an obscure patent with dubious claims and then sues anyone that they think they can claim infringement on. This usually results in an out of court settlement because that is cheaper to the sued company than a protracted court fight and thus the stage is set for the patent house to move on to their next victim. They’re essentially leeches in my opinion.

    Some company to company lawsuits are necessary; anyone remember NBC News stuffing bottle rockets in GM pickup truck gas tanks in the 80’s to get a story about unsafe GM pickup truck collisions? GM sued and won that one. The question here is whether ABC did their due diligence, and on a couple of points they may have a problem.

    On the subject of pink slime itself, isn’t this in the category of offal? The ingredient list looks awfully close to many of the things I grew up with. Anyone else have a grandmother who made sausage? She made use of EVERYTHING. If you get squeamish about it, don’t eat the sausage. I do think the FDA should have required companies to list LFTB (pink slime) as an ingredient and then let consumers decide. I would have been much more supportive of the ABC story had it taken this tack (changing FDA guidelines) instead of trying to paint beef producers as being the primary source of the problem. Having said all of that $1.2 Billion is ridiculous, and should be thrown out, but ABC deserves some culpability in not being more complete in their reporting, even if it is only the pain of having to defend their reporting in court.

    Okay, the above rant is partly due to the number of times I’ve seen major reporting outlets completely screw up a tech story (i.e. the “GPS satellites are tracking us!” nonsense) that I now have a low tolerance for reporters ignoring relevant technical details in their stories. Rant now off. 😉

  13. Joe, on March 18th, you talked about achieving a nice crisp pork skin. I saw a program on making porcetta, and the key to getting the perfect crisp skin was to air dry the rolled porcetta in the refrigerator for three days uncovered. The stress was on the fact that there was no alternative for this step, and that it was essential for making the skin light and crispy after roasting. Something to consider.

  14. Here’s a good story Joe, terrible reporting but hey.

    Summed up as Japanese guy has too much to drink, falls on the tracks and ends up losing his leg in the process

    Here’s when that report gets stupid, they claim he was asleep the entire time and his leg was ‘hanging off with the train ontop of him the entire night. No mention how a human can survive the amount of blood loss that would have occurred during that time mind you. I haven’t bothered looking for a proper report but found this one and thought it was worth posting.

  15. “Even unsuccessful lawsuits against media companies can have a chilling effect on journalists, legal experts say.”

    Yeah, because God forbid these “journalists” start telling the truth….

    Simply put, the Freedom of the Press part of the first amendment makes no allusion to any requirement for factual basis. Nevermind the fact that this particular freedom was to allow individuals to state their views without legal repercussion or imprisonment from the government or any individual therein. This was in direct response to the autocratic system they were leaving.

    Unsuccessful lawsuits will have no real bearing on how journalism is done since they(as a collective group) have the power to decide what gets reported and what doesn’t. If a particular lawsuit doesn’t make the news, America can’t react to it and take any action. Battle won.

    But, sadly the court of public opinion is ruled by the media with an iron fist. They report what they want, when they want, and how often they want with no regard to truth, facts, tact, ethics, morals, or decency. Why? Those traits I just stated don’t make for good ratings. That’s all it is. TV news is just like any other TV show out there, they need the ratings to survive. They aren’t some sort of service provided out of the goodness of the hearts of TV networks or media corporations. They are ad sales generators. Just like sit-coms and dramas.

    All a “news organization” has to do, really is decide who they want to target for whatever “bad” thing they disagree with(political policy, business practice, etc.), come up with a so-called “investigative report” with hidden camera footage and interviews with top executives, then edit it all in such a way that allows them to tell half-truths and use wording that merely suggests wrong-doing without actually making any hard statements(like the overuse of the word “allegedly” as an Obi-Wan-esque hand wave to avoid prosecution for slander and liable) and next thing you know, the public is all up in arms over the next big scandal as dictated by the news organizations.

    All I will say is this: If a Republican president had been in office during the recent IRS targeting scandal, he would’ve been impeached and removed from office within a week. Then, if he ever stepped out in public, he probably would’ve been drawn and quartered.

    That’s a fact.

    -Mike A.

  16. Regarding that last one, that’s what homeowner’s insurance is for. That’s exactly the purpose of homeowner’s (or renter’s) insurance.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.