Scientific Feats of the Year

After my last post, you might be expecting an announcement about my new professional home, but that will have to wait for January 2. I once represented a sporting equipment manufacturer in a claim against an athlete who had an endorsement deal with the company. The athlete had had a couple of terrific years and had signed a new endorsement deal with a competing company that was to begin several months later, when his first deal expired. But in that interim, the athlete held a press conference: “I’m still endorsing golf club A,” he said in essence, “but as of January 1 I’m be endorsing golf club B.” Not cool. So you won’t hear from me on this until the bells at midnight. (more…)

Continue ReadingScientific Feats of the Year

Farewell to Murphy & King

Readers, after sixteen years, I am saying farewell to my friends and colleagues at Murphy & King. I came to the firm in early 2003, after the firm where I had started in practice suddenly went out of business. My wife and I had our first child on the way. I had opportunities to go with this group or that group to one large firm or another. But we talked it through at home, and my wife gave me the best advice I ever got: “Strike out on your own a little! Do your own thing!” So that’s what I did. (more…)

Continue ReadingFarewell to Murphy & King


I noticed several days ago that Karen Hinton, the PR representative of Steven Donziger and the Lago Agrio plaintiffs, was also the representative of Steven Wise’s Nonhuman Rights Project. What are the chances? I tweeted about the coincidence of her involvement in two cases I’ve been following very closely, which was probably a bad idea, as it got me embroiled in my least favorite kind of argument—a Twitter argument. It’s 2018 and I should know better. It also drew in a writer named Linda Monk, who accused me of “mansplaining,” broke the first rule of HLS (don’t talk about HLS), and engaged in a meta-argument with me about what is or is not an ad hominem argument. You can look up the argument on Twitter if you feel that you want to squeeze the last dregs of misery out of 2018. But Karen and Linda made a point I want to respond to. “What a hypocrite!” they seem to say. “You think that Chevron (by which they mean Chevron Canada) is a legal person that should enjoy the benefits of limited liability in the Lago Agrio case, but you think that Happy the Elephant is not a person and has no right to issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.” So what’s the deal? (more…)

Continue ReadingPersons

Case of the Day: In re Grand Jury Subpoena

You may have seen some intrigue in the news recently. The Special Counsel’s office was arguing an appeal in Washington. The case was under seal, and the subject matter was so super-secret that the court didn’t just close the courtroom, it closed an entire floor of the courthouse so that no one would know who was arguing the case, which might allow inferences about the identity of the parties. The speculation was that the case involved a grand jury subpoena—grand jury proceedings are secret by design. Who could be resisting a grand jury subpoena connected to the Special Counsel’s investigation? The President? Someone else particularly juicy? (more…)

Continue ReadingCase of the Day: In re Grand Jury Subpoena

Case of the Day: IDS Property Casualty v. Gree USA

The case of the day is IDS Property Casualty Insurance Co. v. Gree USA, Inc. (D. Minn. 2018). IDS insured Chad and Andrea Murphy and was subrogee in their claim against Gree Electric Appliances, Inc. of Zhuhai, which manufactured an allegedly defective dehumidifier. After IDS paid a claim to the Murphys following a fire they claimed was caused by a defect in the dehumidifier, IDS brought suit against Gree and related companies. IDS attempted service by delivering the summons and complaint to “Richard, the person in charge of 4195 Chino Hills Avenue #1026, Chino Hills, CA to be given to Ming Chu Dong President of [Gree] … business and mailing address 4195 Chino Hills Avenue #1026, Chino Hills, CA.” It also “mailed first-class copies of the summons and complaint to Ms. Dong on Gree China’s and Gree Hong Kong’s behalf to Gree USA’s Chino Hills, California, business location.” (more…)

Continue ReadingCase of the Day: IDS Property Casualty v. Gree USA
Read more about the article Elephant Habeas Case: Steven Wise’s Forum Shopping Apparently Fails
Credit: Deror Avi (CC BY-SA)

Elephant Habeas Case: Steven Wise’s Forum Shopping Apparently Fails

Steven Wise is very keen on treating animals like people, but he also seems to treat rural people like unsophisticated rubes. As you’ll recall, Wise and his group, the Nonhuman Rights Project, brought a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Happy, an elephant at the Bronx Zoo. He brought the case in rural Orleans County, New York instead of, you know, the Bronx:

Curiously, the case was filed in Orleans County, on the shore of Lake Ontario. The county’s largest town, Albion, had a population of 8,468 as of the last census. Why there? Because, Wise told the Post, “local courts aren’t amenable to his arguments.” Apparently this is consistent with New York’s statutes on venue in habeas corpus cases. We’ll see how the judge in Albion feels about Wise bringing the circus, or the zoo, to his or her courtroom.


Continue ReadingElephant Habeas Case: Steven Wise’s Forum Shopping Apparently Fails

I Was A Sucker

I remember the impeachment of President Clinton in 1998. I had just started law school. I was basically a supporter of the President’s political agenda—I had voted for him twice. And I did not like what I saw as the overreach of the Independent Counsel, Ken Starr. Starr had been appointed to investigate the Whitewater scandal, and yet at the end of the day the main point of the articles of impeachment was that the President had lied under oath about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. And yet I was persuaded that the impeachment, no matter how tacky, tawdry, politically motivated, and inappropriate, was right. Lying under oath—perjury—is a serious crime, after all. We can’t have a perjurer as president. This is America! (more…)

Continue ReadingI Was A Sucker

Case of the Day: Batbrothers LLC v. Paushok

The case of the day is Batbrothers LLC v. Paushok (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2018). Batbrothers had a $25 million judgment against Sergey Viktorovich Paushok from a Russian court. It sought recognition and enforcement in New York and moved for summary judgment. Paushok defended on grounds of lack of standing, a supposed lack of finality of the Russian judgment, and a supposed lack of conclusiveness. The standing argument is somewhat difficult to discern, and so I don’t address it here. (more…)

Continue ReadingCase of the Day: Batbrothers LLC v. Paushok

Case of the Day: Reflex Media v. Apiriliaco

The case of the day is Reflex Media, Inc. v. Apiriliaco, Ltd. (9th Cir. 2018). The case illustrates nicely the distinction drawn in Water Splash v. Menon between methods of service that the Hague Service Convention authorizes, and methods of service that the Convention merely permits. Reflex served process on Apiriliaco in Cyprus via mail—sent by the plaintiff or its lawyer, not the clerk. Cyprus is a party to the Convention and has not objected to service by postal channels. Reflex then obtained a default judgment, and Apiriliaco appealed. (more…)

Continue ReadingCase of the Day: Reflex Media v. Apiriliaco