Tuesday, July 24, 2012

E-Everything coming to Florida Courts

Effective September 1, 2012, E-Discovery amendments to the following existing Florida Rules of Civil Procedure become effective: 1.200 (Pretrial Procedure); 1.201 (Complex Litigation); 1.280 (General Provisions Governing Discovery); 1.340 (Interrogatories to Parties); 1.350 (Production of Documents and Things and Entry Upon Land for Inspection and Other Purposes); 1.380 (Failure to Make Discovery; Sanctions); and 1.410 (Subpoena). These rules will now include Electronically Stored Information or ESI. See Florida Supreme Court E-Discovery amendments opinion at-- http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2012/sc11-1542.pdf and The Florida Bar News story from forthcoming August 1, 2012 issue quoting me-- http://bit.ly/MEAxsu Additionally, mandatory E-service begins September 1st in civil, probate, small claims, and family law divisions of the trial courts, as well as in all appellate cases. Under Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.516, service by E-mail is deemed complete when sent. E-mail service is made by attaching a copy of the document to be served in PDF format. The E-mail must contain the subject line "SERVICE OF COURT DOCUMENT" in all capital letters, followed by the case number of the relevant proceeding. The body of the E-mail must identify the court in which the proceeding is pending, the case number, the name of the initial party on each side, the title of each document served, and the sender’s name and telephone number. The E-mail and attachments together may not exceed 5 megabytes in size or must be divided into separate e-mails (no one of which may exceed 5 megabytes) and labeled sequentially in the subject line. When the rules take effect on September 1, attorneys practicing in the criminal, traffic, and juvenile divisions of the trial court may voluntarily choose to serve documents by e-mail under the new procedures, or they may continue to operate under the existing rules. E-mail service will be mandatory for attorneys practicing in these divisions on October 1, 2013. See E-Service opinion at-- http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2012/sc10-2101.pdf Finally, all 67 county clerks of court have been directed to accept E-filings through the statewide e-portal in the civil divisions and new electronic filing requirements will become effective in the civil, probate, small claims, and family law divisions of the trial courts, as well as for appeals to the circuit courts in these categories of cases, on April 1, 2013. As civil ECF is well-established in Orange County, this is nothing new. Next, the new electronic filing requirements the Court adopts will become effective in the criminal, traffic, and juvenile divisions of the trial courts, as well as for appeals to the circuit court in these categories of cases, on October 1, 2013. See E-filing opinion at-- http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2012/sc11-399.pdf

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Super Bowl Tix Suit v. NFL to Proceed without Cowboys

Following a failed mediation earlier this summer, U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn of Texas threw out all claims against the Dallas Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones today, ruling that a Super Bowl game ticket constitutes a contract between the NFL and a purchaser. Some of the lawsuit was already dismissed and many ticket holders accepted the NFL’s offer of compensation. The NFL and lawyers for the ticket holders still suing engaged in mediation previously, followed by a motion claiming the NFL negotiated in bad faith, purposefully delaying proceedings for months while allegedly falsely claiming to be truly interested in resolving the case. Fans moved to other seats were offered refunds or a ticket to a future Super Bowl, while those not seated at all were offered their choice of $5,000 cash or $2,400 and a trip to a future Super Bowl, with airfare and hotel included. Most of the 3,200 fans affected accepted. The league must also defend fraud in the inducement claims brought by fans whose seats had obstructed views at the 2011 Super Bowl Game at Cowboys Stadium during the game between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers. Some 475 ticket holders who watched the game on video screens and another 2,800 fans that were given new seats or kept waiting outside the stadium can also pursue their claims against the NFL. Simms v. Jones, Case No. 3:11-cv-00248, U.S. District Court, Northern District Texas; See stories - http://bloom.bg/LZrmmq and http://bit.ly/MoumGW and http://bit.ly/NBFdgY and http://bit.ly/NUmQA8

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Madoff Mediation

Attorney General Kamala Harris of California and the liquidator of Bernard Madoff's defunct firm will mediate to pursue a settlement according to Manhattan U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Burton Lifland. Madoff trustee, Irving Picard, asked Judge Lifland to stop California's $270 million lawsuit against an alleged beneficiary of the Ponzi scheme, arguing that only the trustee can collect money for Madoff's victims. Harris contends her suit can proceed because she's using state police power to protect against consumer fraud. Interestingly, Picard did not protest when New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman struck a $410 million settlement deal with Madoff feeder-fund operator Ezra Merkin. However, Picard sued Harris in January, alleging her lawsuit filed on behalf of Californians interferes with the collection of assets needed to help compensate Madoff victims. See story here - http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Madoff-estate-lawsuit-goes-to-mediation-3717797.php

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bankrupt Cali Cities and Mediation

With 15 percent unemployment since the recession and a foreclosure rate among the state's highest, San Bernardino is likely to become the third California city to file for bankruptcy this year. Stockton filed for bankruptcy June 28 after months of mediation apparently failed to yield an agreement between the city and its creditors, including bondholders and labor unions. Mammoth Lakes, a small ski resort town, filed for bankruptcy last week due to a $43 million legal judgment against it. Unlike Stockton and Mammoth Lakes, however, whose financial problems were well-known before those cities filed for bankruptcy, San Bernardino Mayor Patrick Morris claims he didn't know about the awful financial situation until a few weeks ago. Under a California law passed this year, cities must hire a third-party mediator to negotiate with employee unions and creditors before filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. However, cities can avoid the mediation process if they instead declare a fiscal emergency, which San Bernardino plans to do. The U.S. Bankruptcy Judge overseeing Stockton's bankruptcy, Elizabeth Perris, just appointed her judicial colleague, Christopher Klein, to mediate that case and ordered the city and its creditors to meet next month. On the city's first day in court last week, Judge Klein said that for the Stockton bankruptcy to be successful, the city will need to propose "a consensual plan of adjustment." See stories at - http://www.mercurynews.com/top-stories/ci_21064706/stockton-bankruptcy-judge-appoints-mediator-orders-meeting and http://nyti.ms/S842kT

Thursday, July 5, 2012

E-discovery rules in FL at long last!

Effective September 1, 2012 are amendments to seven Florida civil procedure rules: 1.200 (Pretrial Procedure); 1.201 (Complex Litigation); 1.280 (General Provisions Governing Discovery); 1.340 (Interrogatories to Parties); 1.350 (Production of Documents and Things and Entry Upon Land for Inspection and Other Purposes); 1.380 (Failure to Make Discovery; Sanctions); and 1.410 (Subpoena). This is the culmination of a six-year effort initially chaired by me and with the help of members of my subcommittee and the Civil Rules Standing Committee of the Florida Bar. These rules will further allow for the ability for neutrals to play a role in dispute resolution of ESI issues in state court cases. See full opinion and new rules here - http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2012/sc11-1542.pdf and bulletin quoting me "This is the culmination of a rigorous effort to modernize procedure in Florida to include electronically stored information,” attorney Lawrence Kolin, of Winter Park, former chair of the e-discovery rules, told the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists® - http://aceds.org/news/florida-ediscovery-rules-take-effect-september-1

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New gTLD Objections and Dispute Resolution

Because recent new generic top level domain names or gTLDs opened by ICANN will likely lead to violations of existing trademarks, an objection period and dispute resolution process have been implemented. The objection period is provided to protect existing rights and interests. However, objections must be filed directly with selected Dispute Resolution Service Providers or DRSPs, not with ICANN. Grounds for objection include: “String Confusion,” i.e., if confusingly similar to existing TLD or another applied-for GTLD, to be filed with ICDR; “Legal Rights" objection, to filed with World Intellectual Property Organization or WIPO; “Limited Public Interest” objection to be invoked when the applied-for GTLD string goes against generally accepted legal norms of morality and public order under principles of international law, to be filed with the International Center of Expertise of the International Chamber of Commerce; and finally, “Community Rights” objections, e.g., substantial opposition to a GTLD application from a significant portion of the community that the GTLD string is targeting, filed with the International Center of Expertise of the International Chamber of Commerce. Within 30 days of the closing of the objections filing window, ICANN will post Dispute Announcements and notify DRSPs to begin the objection proceedings. For details on the procedure, including fees and response deadlines see - http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/program-status/objection-dispute-resolution and http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/applicants/agb/guidebook-full-04jun12-en.pdf