The Intersection Among Torts, Science, Corporate Law, Insurance & Bankruptcy

Fostering Cross-border Litigation – ABA Opinion 464 Allows Dividing Legal Fees with Nonlawyers

Posted in Global Tort Litigation, Litigation Industry

Cross-border litigation with UK lawyers  and non-lawyers (and others) is becoming easier for US lawyers. An example arises from ABA Formal Opinion 464. An ABA Journal article from November 2013 provides background and color.

The bottom line is that the opinion allows cross-border fee sharing with nonlawyers, in some circumstances. It states:

“In summary, a division of a legal fee by a lawyer or law firm in a Model Rules  jurisdiction with a lawyer or law firm in another jurisdiction that permits the sharing of legal fees with nonlawyers does not violate Model Rule 5.4(a) simply because a nonlawyer could  ultimately receive some portion of the fee under the applicable law of the other jurisdiction.”

The opinion framed the issue as follows:

This opinion considers whether a lawyer subject to the Model Rules may divide a legal fee with another lawyer or law firm practicing in a jurisdiction where the other lawyer or law firm might eventually distribute some portion of that fee to a nonlawyer.  In contemporary practice, lawyers routinely work with lawyers from other law firms, including lawyers and law firms in other jurisdictions, to represent clients in particular matters. The August 2012 amendments to the Model Rules expressly recognize these common arrangements. New Comment [6] to Model Rule 1.1 explains that a lawyer may retain or contract with other lawyers outside the lawyer’s own firm to provide or assist in the provision of legal services to a client anddescribes how a lawyer should approach these relationships with both the client and the other lawyers.

Sometimes the other lawyers with whom a lawyer may work are admitted and practice in other jurisdictions, both within and outside the United States, a situation that has become morecommon with the growth of national and international commerce. Those other jurisdictions may have professional conduct rules identical or similar to Model Rules 1.5(e) and 5.4(a), which dealwith the allocation of legal fees among lawyers and nonlawyers. But some jurisdictions, like the District of Columbia and the United Kingdom, have rules that differ significantly from Model.” 

“Sustainability and human health issues pertinent to fibre reinforced polymer composites usage: A review”

Posted in Asbestos

A new review article that may someday be relevant to toxic tort litigation.   ”Sustainability and human health issues pertinent to fibre reinforced polymer composites usage: A review,”  doi:10.1177/0731684414521087, Journal of Reinforced Plastics and Composites, June 2014 vol. 33 no. 111069-1084.

The abstract states:


The specific properties of fibre reinforced polymers give them a lot of advantages over traditional materials but the long life of polymeric composites poses serious environmental threats raising sustainability concerns. The other issue of importance concerning the innovators and environmentalists in the mass usage of this material is its health impacts on human beings. This paper thus attempts to highlight and surface out the issues related to fibre reinforced polymers’ sustainability and their health impacts on human beings, by reviewing past studies on the subject, to examine critically the extensive body of published data, prior observations and ideas on the subject in order to identify and analyse those features that are intrinsic and unique to fibre reinforced polymers. This would thus serve as a conceptual model for future research on fibre reinforced polymer composites sustainability and health concerns.”


The Asbestos Bankruptcy Saga Continues – Where Are They Now, Part VII

Posted in Asbestos, Asbestos Bankruptcy

Mark Plevin, Leslie Davis, Tacie Yoon and Rebecaa Suarez are the authors of the seventh edition of  the valuable series of papers chronicling asbestos bankruptcies. According to PR from Mark on LinkedIn, “Mealey’s Asbestos Bankruptcy Report is now publishing “Where Are They Now, Part 7: An Update On Developments In Asbestos-Related Bankruptcy Cases.” The article is the newest installment in a series that Crowell & Moring started publishing in Mealey’s Asbestos Bankruptcy Report in 2001.”

Travelers is Running Out of Rope in the Important Ongoing Saga from the Manville Bankruptcy

Posted in Asbestos, Asbestos Bankruptcy, Asbestos Trusts, Manville

Due to a Second Circuit ruling yesterday, Travelers is about out of rope in its effort to avoid paying $500 million to asbestos plaintiffs who sued it directly for its role in suppressing information about the full extent of the health hazards of asbestos. The suits arose because Travelers was Manville’s primary insurer while reports of asbestos disease flowed into Manville with increasing frequency, and Travelers was seeing and handling many of the claims. Travelers, however, never issued warnings, and kept writing insurance policies that prolonged Manville’s global sales of asbestos-containing products. Therefore, when Manville went into chapter 11, some plaintiffs’ lawyers moved their gun sights to directly target Travelers.

Some follow-up thoughts. Assuming Travelers fails to obtain cert, will Travelers and plaintiffs lawyers ensure transparency in accounting for payments to plaintiffs? And, which plaintiff and defense lawyers will in the future take advantage of this saga in terms of its implications for additional suits against Travelers, Manville, and others?

Supply Chain Issues – Are Ds and Os Paying Attention?

Posted in D + O Issues

Globalization can reduce expenses and raise profits by purchasing goods from the cheapest supplier. But purchasing the cheapest product sometimes is not a good answer. Literally decades ago, well run companies set up supply chain oversight and checking for overseas suppliers. Others, however, do little or nothing to check on suppliers, and some Ds and Os ask few questions. Failing to ask good questions can produce adverse headlines and financial consequences, as illustrated by this week’s set of stories about food recalls involving Chinese suppliers.

“Canvas” Technology that “Fingerprints” Web Site Visits – Imagine the Uses for Lawyers, and Potential Risks and Benefits for Clients

Posted in Litigation Industry

Amazing what’s out there on the web that may in the future provide interesting facts for lawyers.  A July 21, 2014 report at ProPublica provides an overview of emerging news about a technology known as “canvas fingerprinting.”  The technology records web site visits even if the browser is set to hide a user’s identity. So, now, for at least some web sites, lawyers potentially have a way to find out if juror X read a news article on the Acme trial. Or, a way to find out if opposing counsel or an expert has been visiting a web site. Or, perhaps a way to see if employees of company x (or government x) were browsing through your client’s web site. Perhaps the DOJ (or a divorce lawyer) can subpoena information about where your client was  web browsing. And, does your client’s company want to allow/use or not allow/use the technology on its web site. Are your Ds and O’s talking about these issues with your CIO? The list could go on …….and even more tracking software perhaps is out there but we do not yet know about it….