I am thankful that yinz guys hang out here!
When I meet people for the first time, my initial inclination is to tell people I’m a truck driver. Mention that you work for a law firm, and you will inevitably get the “now tell me if I don’t have a case against this guy/city/school/driver, etc.”
No, chances are I can’t tell you. See, JUDGES and JURIES ultimately determine whether you have a case with something called a “verdict.” I am not a judge, although I must admit in all conceit I do look rather fetching in black, and was in Catholic school enough to not mind wearing the same thing to work every day. I have served on juries, though – only criminal ones; civil lawsuit plaintiff’s lawyers bounce me before they’ve completed voir dire.
Often people will tell me they’ve seen several lawyers and none are willing to take their case. And, well, maybe you should stop there, then. Because there are more slip and fall lawyers in California than anywhere and if they don’t think they can get any money in a shakedown from someone’s homeowner’s insurance, it’s time to lick your wounds and stop imagining a mansion and Ferrari from the proceeds.
So I was rather amused yesterday to read that the father of Ahmed the Clock Boy has engaged a Texas law firm to demand $10 million. ZIP has the story here:
I looked up the law firm – and after perusing their website, I’m thinking these guys are big on settlements – quick ones. And they’re all the way in Plainview – meaning they couldn’t get a Dallas Plaintiffs firm to take them on.
While Clock Boy and Progenitor have not actually filed a lawsuit – they’re still in the “give us money” stage, the letter states that “legal action will be filed” if our demand is not met. There’s the difference between the mafia and the legal profession – the mafia breaks your legs if their demands aren’t met; lawyers serve you with a mutli-paragraph, strongly worded complaint. But Plainview trial lawyer dudes, let me clue you in on something, because I seriously doubt your “getting as much money as we can for our clients” have a lot of experience with. It’s called DISCOVERY. People hear that a lot when others talk about lawsuits – you know, Planned Parenthood yakking about suing the Center for Medical Progress and the like. The word that pops up in the comments section is always – well “Discovery” should be interesting. Because, folks, Discovery usually is.
And discovery in this case will be interesting to a fault. I don’t suppose the lawyers explained to clock papa that Ahmed can be stuck in a conference room, surrounded by lawyers and asked to describe in PRECISE detail how he came to build the clock, why he built the clock, why he brought it to school, why he insisted on showing it to a teacher AFTER he was warned by the science teacher NOT to show it to anyone, as it looked dangerous. And no, Daddy Bulova, you don’t get to be in the room if defense lawyers say so. You can put your faith in the graduate from Mrs. Ferguson’s Law School and Tire Shop to defend your mini-me. And I seriously hope that
Here’s a few more depositions that will be taken.
The science teacher, who will also be asked if this was a requested science project.
The English teacher who called the police. And I imagine we’ll be hearing a lot more about The Little Clock Boy’s attitude in class.
The police, who have recounted previously that Ahmed acted like Danny Dirtbag until the media and the cameras showed up.
And that’s only the beginning, Family Timepiece. Because now comes the WRITTEN discovery and requests to produce.
This poor family alleges that they had to flee – FLEE! – the United States because of threats. Threats, you say? Okay. Can we please have all copies of all reports of these threats to law enforcement? Does your phone have caller ID? Well, let’s just backtrack and look at those threatening calls.
But that’s not the best part. The best part is going to be the defense requesting your emails. ALL your emails. And yes, Timmy Timex, you are going to have to produce them. Oh, and you will have to turn over your hard drives from ALL your computers, which will be gone over by a computer forensic expert with a fine.tooth.comb. And good luck trying the Lois Lerner “it crashed” defense. Because your emails live with your service provider. Even so, the guys the defense lawyers have are no doubt pretty good – turn ’em over anyway. And I’m thinking there are proooooobably some things on there you don’t want a jury to see. Oh and your text messages and cellphone records as well.
Not to mention the interrogatories and requests for admission. You know, where they get to ask you questions and you get to answer them? And if you change your story at trial they shove them under your nose and say “that’s not what you said here.” (They do it with depositions, too. That’s why we seal the transcripts and then open them up in court to a great deal of flourish. Think of it as legal dinner theater).
So good luck with that lawsuit. Because you can bet the City and School District aren’t going to be running to Plainview for a lawyer – they’ll be hiring the one of the biggest law firms in Dallas for their defense.
Oh, and by the way….did your contingency fee lawyers explain that if you LOSE this lawsuit – via outright dismissal, summary judgment, and bench/jury verdict – you are going to be responsible for attorneys’ fees and costs incurred by the defense? See, that’s why we call it the “hazards” of litigation.
It’s tonight’s open thread folks – discuss any and all topics here. Any first-hand experiences with our trial system?
Our phone lines are open!
Hot money is leaving China, a devaluation is coming, again, and fast.
David Tepper says a yuan devaluation may be coming in China. John Burbank warns that a hard landing there could spark a global recession.
Tepper, the billionaire owner of Appaloosa Management, said last week at the Robin Hood Investor’s Conference that the Chinese yuan is massively overvalued and needs to fall further. His comments follow similar forecasts from some of the biggest hedge fund managers, including Crispin Odey, founder of the $12 billion Odey Asset Management, who predicts China will devalue the yuan by at least 30 percent.
The money managers are losing faith in China’s ability to revive its economy, which suffers from rising nonperforming loans and falling exports, after the surprise 1.9 percent currency devaluation in August and global market rout that followed. The investors made their dire forecasts after shares of U.S.-traded Chinese companies, which their funds sold in the third quarter, began to rebound in October.
“The downside scenario for China seems more intimidating than ever before,” billionaire Dan Loeb wrote on Oct. 30 to investors at Third Point, which manages $18 billion. “The new question is not whether but how severe the slowdown of the world’s foremost growth machine will be.”
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on Thursday echoed the managers’ concerns, saying the biggest risk to a rebound in emerging-market assets next year is a “significant depreciation” of the yuan. Policy makers, facing a stronger dollar and slower growth, may let the currency decline, which would ripple through emerging markets, strategists led by Kamakshya Trivedi wrote.
“In our view, the fallout from such a shift is the primary risk,” the analysts said.
Hedge Fund Selloff
Hedge fund holdings of some of the largest U.S.-listed Chinese companies have dropped in the past six months. The funds owned about 8 percent of reported U.S.-traded shares of Baidu Inc. at the end of the third quarter, according to regulatory filings. That’s down from about 13 percent in the first quarter. Fund ownership of Ctrip.com International Ltd. sunk to roughly 16 percent from 25 percent in the period, and it declined to approximately 22 percent from 44 percent at JD.com Inc.
Appaloosa, Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management and Burbank’s Passport Capital were among firms that axed holdings of these companies during the third quarter, filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show. Appaloosa sold its entire stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Coatue shed seven positions, including 58.com Inc. and Bitauto Holdings Ltd., and Passport dumped nine stakes.
Shares of all of these companies except Bitauto Holdings have rallied this quarter, with Ctrip and Baidu jumping more than 50 percent. That hasn’t softened Burbank’s outlook, which has grown more pessimistic since the first half of the year.
Basket of Reserves
The People’s Bank of China forced the devaluation on Aug. 11, and said that it was shifting to a more market-driven system of setting the currency’s rate as it tries to meet the requirements for the currency to join the International Monetary Fund’s basket of reserves. Since then, the central bank commitment to a freer market approach has been questioned.
A gauge of the yuan’s strength is almost back to where it was prior to August’s devaluation. The real effective exchange rate is within 1 percent of a record high and has risen almost 20 percent over two years, according to a Westpac Banking Corp. index.
China’s economic growth goal of 6.5 percent for the next five years won’t be met unless the yuan falls at least 8 percent versus the dollar by the end of 2016, Royal Bank of Canada and Rabobank Groep said.
Burbank, the founder of $4.4 billion Passport, told investors in an Oct. 30 letter to beware of a China-led shakeout. The world may be heading into “a global downturn that leaves no region safe, including the United States,” he wrote. If economic conditions worsen in China, particularly with nonperforming loans, it could mean the end of the dollar peg for the yuan, lower interest rates and the liquidation of risk assets around the world, he said.
‘Central Bank Panic’
Burbank’s main macro fund has beaten most rivals this year, returning 13 percent through last month, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
Elliott Management’s Paul Singer also warned about global contagion from China’s decline. Singer told investors in an October letter that emerging market countries are “choking” on U.S. dollar-denominated debt that was extended due to low interest rates and monetary stimulus. He said many emerging economies, which are in recession, are “scared to death” about even a 25 basis-point increase in U.S. interest rates.
While “muddling along” is still an option, Singer wrote that the world could face a more severe scenario like a “global central bank panic.” He said that policy makers will probably “double down on monetary extremism” in response to deteriorating economies in emerging markets and China.
Some managers have a more sanguine view of China.
“We are not in the doomsday camp as it relates to China,” Taconic Capital Advisors, a $7.4 billion firm that seeks to profit from corporate events such as mergers, bankruptcies or spinoffs, wrote to investors on Oct. 28. “Growth has slowed, but not as much as some feared, and the Chinese government continues to have a number of levers to pull to support its economy.”
Whether China has the means to spur growth is a question for Burbank, who says that will be “enormously difficult” to pull off.
“We don’t think a trillion dollar stimulus like the one initiated in 2009 is likely in the cards again for China,” he wrote. “Investors should prepare for a worsening global economic environment and the potential for recessions in both the U.S. and globally.”
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