By Joseph Schuman
Patient non-disclosure agreement comes back to bite
Manhattan dentist Stacy Makhnevich has been putting a
muzzle on her patients, but one of them is biting anyway, in
Makhnevich has been forcing her patients to sign agreements
promising not to criticize her online, according to the New York Daily News. And former patient Robert Lee signed such an
agreement before Makhnevich fixed his sore tooth. But when Lee
received a bill for $4,000 more than he expected, he went on
Yelp to complain anyway, according to his court claim. "Avoid
at all cost!" he wrote on the user review site. "Scamming their
Makhnevich accused him of breaching the "Mutual Agreement
to Maintain Privacy" he signed, and started billing him $100 a
day as long as the post stayed on Yelp.
So Lee has gone to court, arguing the agreement infringes
on his First Amendment right to free speech, and that it's also
a violation of dental ethics. "This is using these contracts to
suppress the other side and deprives the consumer of valuable
information," Lee's lawyer, Paul Levy of Public Citizen, tells
the News. Other reviews of Makhhnevich's work on Yelp carry
five stars, he adds.
Lee, who claims to have been in bad pain when he signed the
form, tells the paper he has "to wonder what this dentist's
other patients have said to make her feel it was necessary to
go to this extreme."
Subterranean seizure nabs a record marijuana haul
Summary Judgments has a new favorite law enforcement
agency: The San Diego Tunnel Task Force. This week it uncovered
an underground drug-smuggling passageway so elaborately
constructed that it could have been built by Donald Trump. And
along with six suspects, it netted a record 32-ton marijuana seizure.
The task force includes representatives from the Drug
Enforcement Agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the
California Bureau of Narcotics, and has been hunting down
tunnel smugglers since 2003.
For the past six months, task force investigators have been
working a case that led them Tuesday to the most sophisticated
tunnel found on the U.S.-Mexican border in years, the DEA says.
The 612-yard passageway connects a warehouse in an industrial
park in the Otay Mesa section of San Diego with a similar one
in Tijuana, and is equipped with elevators, electric rail cars,
reinforced walls and electric lights.
Confirmation of the tunnel's existence came when detectives
observed a tractor trailer truck leaving the Otay Mesa
Warehouse Monday night.
The dirver parked it near the Miramar Marine Corp airbase,
where a second man picked it up the next morning. Agents aware
of the operation let the truck pass through a customs
checkpoint on the way to Los Angeles, where the driver and
another man were arrested as they began to unload the 11 tons
of marijuana in the truck. When agents busted into the
warehouse down in San Diego they found nearly 20 tons of
marijuana wrapped in plastic and stacked neatly on pallets, and
another ton piled in bundles at the entrance of the tunnel. All
told, the marijuana seized in the operation has what the DEA
estimates to be a street value of $30 million to $35
Grand jury examines possible improper payment by
Richardson's 2008 campaign
The seamy side of politics may sometimes blight the face of
democracy, but it sure generates revenue for lawyers and the
media. Case in point: the sex scandals that seem to mark each
presidential campaign, the current cycle included. Yet the
latest example involves a Democrat from the 2008 presidential
cycle -- and the matter could soon be headed to court.
People familiar with a federal inquiry of former New Mexico
Gov. Bill Richardson tell the Wall Street Journal a grand jury
is investigating allegations that he violated campaign-finance
laws by having supporters pay a woman who planned to say the
two carried out an extramarital affair. The alleged payment is
said to have taken place when Richardson was seeking the
Democratic nomination four years ago.
And the inquiry appears to have progressed far enough for
some of Richardson's close associates to be granted immunity
from prosecution in exchange for their testimony.
Contacted by the Journal, the U.S. Attorney's Office in
Albuquerque neither confirmed nor denied a grand-jury probe was
taking place. Richardson's currently out of the country at an
environmental conference in Nigeria, and his office wouldn't
identify his lawyers. But a senior finance adviser to his
presidential campaign, Jennifer Poersch, tells the Journal she
knows of no inappropriate fund raising or other wrongdoing.
Still, the Journal's sources say that indictments could come
within weeks. But they also say it's possible no charges will
Survey paints stark portrait of courts' budget
Summary Judgments recently looked at the toll budget
cutting has taken on state courts, via a story in the New York
Times. Now we get hard numbers released this week by the
nonprofit National Center for State Courts, which surveyed
court officials around the country. The broad reduction in
services portrayed in the report is bound to frustrate citizen
litigants and the lawyers who represent them.
Forty-two states have considerably reduced their judicial
budgets, 39 aren't filling clerkship vacancies and 23 state
systems have cut back court operating hours, limiting public
access to justice as courtrooms close their doors. The Center
says this is restricting courts' ability to handle divorce and
child custody cases, foreclosures, bankruptcy, personal injury
suits and more.
For a state-by-state chart to see what measures affect you,
specific year-to-year budget changes and narratives about the
financial pickles of all 50 states, click here.
Corruption is widespread, global index shows
Corruption is one of the fastest growing areas of the legal
business, and business is good. Since advice about -- and
defense against -- the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act has been a
burgeoning source of new income for U.S. law firms, Summary
Judgments thought it might be a good idea to look at where in
the world corruption poses much of a threat. Turns out, it's
Transparency International, a global network of
nongovernmental groups that deals with the issue, released its annual Corruptions Perceptions Index today. The vast majority
of countries scored under 5 on a scale where 0 is highly
corrupt and 10 is very clean. New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden,
Finland, Singapore and Norway, the cleanest countries in that
order, were the only states to rate a 9 or higher. Germany and
Japan were among those scoring 8 or higher, while Britain got a
7.8 and the United States -- ranked 24th -- was given a 7.1.
Somalia and North Korea were at the bottom with a score of
1. But among low-scoring countries more likely to welcome
foreign business executives, the former Soviet republics of
central Asia, many African countries and states in the once
war-torn Southeast Asia all fared poorly. Central American
countries had pretty high perceptions of corruption, and in
Europe, Russia ranked 143 with a rating of 2.4, and Greece came
in eightieth, with a score of 3.4.
China was ranked 75 with a score of 3.6, not much better
than 69th-ranked Italy at 3.9.
TI looks at perceptions because corruption is usually
hidden and thus hard to measure itself. The group compiles its
index from opinion surveys conducted by independent
organizations. "This year we have seen corruption on
protestors' banners be they rich or poor," says TI Chair
Huguette Labelle. "Whether in a Europe hit by debt crisis or an
Arab world starting a new political era, leaders must heed the
demands for better government."
Jesse Eisenberg says film promoters are misusing his image
The actor Jesse Eisenberg is perhaps best known for his
portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg as the Facebook founder who
endured depositions and a host of legal travails in "The Social
Network."Now Eisenberg is launching his own, real-life lawsuit,
against studios that exaggerated his five-minute cameo in a
horror movie to promote the picture.
Eisenberg is suing Lionsgate and Grindstone Entertainment,
which put his face on the cover of the DVD for "Camp Hell," as
well as his name above the title when the DVD was released in
August, the Hollywood Reporter recounts. Eisenberg only did one
day of work on the film in 2007 with payment of just $3,000, as
a favor to the friends who were directing and producing the
flick. That was before he was nominated for an Oscar for his
role as Zuckerberg.
Now, he is seeking damages of $3 million -- more than was
spent to make the movie -- for misuse of his name and image in
a complaint that begins, "No good deed goes unpunished." But
Eisenberg's complaint says the dispute isn't about the money.
"Eisenberg is bringing this lawsuit in order to warn his fans
and the public that, contrary to the manner in which Defendants
are advertising the film, Eisenberg is not the star of and does
not appear in a prominent role in Camp Hell," it says. In fact,
the Reporter says the lawsuit sounds more like a consumer class
action than a fight over publicity rights, with Eisenberg
accusing the studios of "continuing to perpetrate a fraud on
Summary Judgments for Nov. 30
Summary Judgments for Nov. 29
Summary Judgments for Nov. 28
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