End of Summer Round Up

I've been trying to keep current with my blogging over the summer, but work -- billable work -- kept getting in the way.  September will be better, I promise.

Right now, I'm finishing up a week of vacation with my family.  I always start vacations with ambitious plans to get to all of the nonbillable, yet very Books I planned to jpgimportant, work.  I gather together a hefty pile of reading material (see image at right) for all that free time I am about to have, secure in the knowledge that I will return from vacation relaxed, infinitely wiser, and with A Plan. 

Reality comes crashing in by the end of Day 1.  I have three children ages 7, 14 and 15.  The 7 year old, rightfully, wants my attention every second of the day.  When she is asleep or commanding my husband's attention, I need to spend some time with the teens to get them talking, so I can know what they are up to.  There is no time for purposeful reading of career-building nonfiction. 

Here's what I actually read this week.

What I read.jpg

Oh well.  A little brain candy never hurt nobody.

Focusing back on work, an article jumped out at me from this week's ABA eJournal:

Stanley Kubrick Thought of iPad Design First, Samsung Says in Patent Spat with Apple.  Really? Science fiction as prior art?  I suppose Fritz Lang thought up robotics.  And don't even think of patenting a process for freezing humans in carboniteGeorge Lucas will have some words for you.

Another LSAT Disability Discrimination Lawsuit?

Less than a week after a lawsuit was filed claiming that the Law School Admissions Test discriminates against the legally blind, a Weslyan University senior, Meghan Larywon, filed a suit Thumbnail image for pencil test.JPGclaiming that the Law School Admissions Council (the group that administers the LSAT) discriminated against against her by refusing to give her double time to take the test and 15 minute breaks between sections.  (Here is the complaint: Larywon Complaint.pdf.) 

According to the Complaint, Ms. Larywon suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder and Processing Speed Disorder, which affect her ability to read and process visual information under time pressure.  On the strength of the complaint and supporting affidavits Judge Briccetti issued an Order to Show Cause why Ms. Larywon should not get the accommodation she seeks for the LSAT being administered on June 6.  (Here is the OSC:  Larywon OSC.pdf.)  The hearing was scheduled for this afternoon, but no decision is listed on Pacer yet. 

The documents substantiating Ms. Larywon's disability are not publicly available (nor should it be), so I can't say whether I think the accommodation is justified or not. 

But I understand the LSAC's skepticism.  The controversy over the frequency of ADD diagnoses rages on and Ms. Larywon's own history does not help.  In her academic career, Ms. Larywon was never classified as needing, or actually received, services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  The fact that Ms. Larywon and her family were able to manage her disability without invoking IDEA or implementing an Individualized Education Program can suggest a wonderful relationship between school and parents, but it can also suggest a private school's willingness to accommodate anyone for anything.  I know plenty of kids with learning disabilities, and they all have IEPs. 

We'll have to wait and see what Judge Briccetti says about it.

HUGE Med Mal Verdict Shows Importance of Offer of Compromise

Smart Lawyering Adds About $30MM to $58MM Verdict

Personal injury powerhouse Kathleen Nastri of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder secured a $58MM verdict in a case where an bigstock_Money___922494[1].JPGobstetrician failed to deliver a baby by caesarean section immediately upon discovering certain conditions.  The baby, born two days later by caesarean section after mom went into labor, developed cerebral palsy and needs extensive home care.

Most of us will not have this day in the sun in our careers, but let me highlight something we all can do:  file an offer of compromise pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-192a.  This is NOT limited to personal injury cases -- I use them all the time in business litigation. 

By filing an offer of compromise, you say, "This is what my client will take to settle this matter."  The defendant has 30 days to accept the offer. 

If the defendant doesn't accept, and the damage award at trial is greater than the offer, the plaintiff is awarded 8% prejudgment interest on the entire amount of the damage award from the date the complaint was filed if the offer is filed within 18 months of the filing date, or from the date of the filing of the offer, if the offer is filed more than 18 months.

Add a few years for the case to wend its way through the justice system, and you've got some serious bucks and serious leverage in a settlement scenario.

Is the LSAT Discriminatory?

As reported in the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, the American Bar Association was sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act because the LSAT discriminates against the blind and visually impaired.  bigstock_Close-up_of_John_Harvard_statu_17337434[1].JPG

The suit alleges that the ABA pressures law schools to use LSAT scores to evaluate applicants, threatening those schools that waive the LSAT with a loss of its ABA-approved status.  About one-fourth of the LSAT consists of "analytical rezoning" questions -- those horrific logic games -- that require diagramming to answer correctly.  According to the complaint, blind or visually impaired applicants are "unable to concieve of spatial relationships or diagram answers in the same manner as their sighted peers".  This puts the blind or visually impaired applicant at a marked disadvantage vis-a-vis sighted or unimpaired candidates.

Two thoughts (because you know I cannot keep quiet):

1)  The ABA law-school standards do not require the LSAT.  They require schools to take a "valid and reliable admission test."  An alternate test can be used and, I suspect, has been used by many law schools to evaluate qualified blind or visually impaired applicants.

2)  The plaintiff bases his claim on his having been rejected from three law schools in the Eastern District of Michigan.  You read that right -- three.  Most lawyers I know were rejected from at least three law schools. The complaint does not mention his college GPA, while mentioning his having completed high school in 3 years, so I suspect his GPA was not the greatest.  

I'm sympathetic to the plaintiff -- sighted applicants of similar ability have an unfair advantage over him.  But if his college grades are weak, he has to cast the net wider than three schools.

LOVE this headline: "Feds sue New Canaan man for lack of subtlety"

As reported in the New Haven Advocate

A majority owner of Michael Kenwood Group LLC, based in Stamford, Illarramendi allegedly took $53 million from one of his hedge funds (valued at $540 million) and slipped it into his bank account, according to a lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in Hartford Federal Court last month.

He then put that $53 million in his own “companies” — including, the civil suit alleges, one called “Nuclear Energy Company” — without the knowledge or permission of his hedge-fund investors, a textbook case of conflict of interest.

Not so texbook, for an wannabe fraudster anyway, is that Illarramendi told the SEC what he was doing, reporting that “the $53 million transferred from the funds to private equity investments were loans from the funds to entities controlled by Illarramendi."

The Moral of the Story:  If you are going to steal, try to be a little creative about it.  The SEC Enforcement Division employes top-flight investigators.  Give them a chance to shine.