Commercial, Corporate, and Contracts

Because my practice focuses on complex commercial disputes–especially cases involving antitrust, oil and gas, and patents–I keep daily track of important decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, the 13 U.S. Courts of Appeals, and the highest appeals courts in Delaware, New York, and Texas.

You can follow along during the week on Twitter (@contingencyblog) or here at The Contingency each Monday with this Commercial Case Roundup.
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Because my practice focuses on complex commercial disputes–especially cases involving antitrust, oil and gas, and patents–I keep daily track of important decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court and the 13 U.S. Courts of Appeals.

You can follow along during the week on Twitter (@contingencyblog) or here at The Contingency each Monday with this Commercial Case Roundup: U.S. Appeals.
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IMG_0359Location

The place of suit matters a lot in civil cases. Suing at home helps the plaintiff — by keeping her costs low, giving her comfort that local judges and juries will give her fair treatment, and throwing out-of-town defendants off balance. All of that bigly boosts the plaintiff’s chances of success.

But a trio of recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings promise to make plaintiffs’ home fields more like patches of weeds than acres of sweet verdance.
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How many trial lawyers sit on the U.S. Supreme Court?
How many trial lawyers sit on the U.S. Supreme Court?

In the last quarter-century and more, no current member of the Supreme Court tried a lawsuit of any kind to a judge or jury. Almost none of the justices has ever tried a civil case to verdict. And before their honors became appellate judges, only one of their number served as a full-time trial judge.

Does the justices’ nearly total lack of trial-lawyer chops matter? Has the almost utter absence of actual trial experience in fact degraded the quality of civil justice? And will confirming the nomination of a former trial lawyer like Neil Gorsuch make a difference?

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497417651327Possible shift

In 2014, the ABA Journal called the Fifth Circuit the “nation’s most divisive, controversial and conservative appeals court”. Liberal blog Jezebel deemed it “exceedingly conservative”. Even The Wall Street Journal described the court this year as “conservative-leaning”.

But in a recent case over limits on voting rights, the court ruled for the left-leaning opponents of the restrictions. And last week, the court sitting en banc voted 11-5 to revive a $250+ million class action. Torres v. S.G.E. Management, L.L.C., No. 14-20128 (5th Cir. Sept. 30, 2016) (en banc).

Has the court’s center of gravity shifted?


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