College, Sex, Rape, and Injustice

 

everclear2 300x225 College, Sex, Rape, and InjusticeUpdate (August 22, 2014): The lawsuit of Doe v. Colleges of St. Benedict and St. John’s University started with splashy drama early this month (emergency motions, dramatic allegations) and ended in sealed silence this week. Good for everyone, I think, that the lawsuit was short-lived (except, the cynic adds, for the trial lawyers and their law firms). Let us hope that the involved institutions and individuals can learn and quickly heal from the underlying incidents and the lawsuit’s resolution (and that the trial lawyers soon find some other massive debacle to resolve with professionalism and ruthless efficiency).

Update (August 12, 2014): What is the difference between a blog and a publication? I recently heard one internet pundit say that the only distinction is that a blog is unedited. I think that is an interesting distinction.

Another related point is that publications often employ people with formal training in journalism, who are aware of and who abide by journalism ethics. (Blogs (this one, anyway) do not.)

I received a request to remove links to court filings in the CSBSJU case, discussed below, that have now been placed under seal. I do not have the time nor the training nor the editorial board to discuss the ramifications of the request and how to best to respond to it. So I have decided to accommodate the request and, if anyone feels I have made the wrong decision (or the right decision?), leave a comment.

Original post (August 6, 2014)A fairly recent New York Times piece recounted the terrible story of a young woman whose allegations of rape at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York appear to have been handled poorly by the schools.

More recently and closer by, an accused perpetrator from College of St. John’s recounted a terrible story of false allegations of rape (according to the accused) at the Colleges of St. Benedict and St. John’s University in rural Minnesota. [Link to Complaint removed as Court has ordered filings under seal.]

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Environmental Lawyer, Thad Lightfoot, on an Upcoming Minnesota Supreme Court Environmental Case

cow 174822 640 300x240 Environmental Lawyer, Thad Lightfoot, on an Upcoming Minnesota Supreme Court Environmental Case

I find myself stymied by multiple trash cans in cafeterias, asking me to separate “trash” from “recyclables.” As such, I figure I have to renounce any claim to any background or experience in environmental law. For environmental law, call someone else, like Thad Lightfoot. Few, if any, Minnesota lawyers have the depth of experience, generosity, kindness, and wisdom of environmental lawyer, Thad Lightfoot.

So I was delighted when Thad agreed to share his comments and thoughts with Minnesota Litigator on a recent Minnesota Court of Appeals decision that the Minnesota Supreme Court has decided to review (In The Matter of Reichmann Land & Cattle, LLP).

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Ewald v. Royal Norwegian Embassy: Anatomy of a Gender Discrimination Claim

Hafrsfjord near Stavanger 150x150 Ewald v. Royal Norwegian Embassy: Anatomy of a Gender Discrimination Claim

Hafrsfjord near Stavanger (Norway)

Update (August 22, 2014): The two sides’ proposed “Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law” in Ewald v. Royal Norwegian Embassy alleged sex discrimination case are here (130 pages) and here (95 pages). These documents shed light on why American justice is so extremely expensive. The effort and expertise in creating these records is enormous. The case goes back to 2011. Mining and presenting the evidence took years of work. And the work continues…

We often decry the great cost of our civil justice system. A justice system that cannot function for cases in which $100,000 is at stake (because the cost of the system will exceed the amount at stake) is a failure. We should be able to do better.

But what we rarely appreciate about our justice system is that the system is so expensive because it is so thorough and so focused on fairness.

The issues in the Ewald case seem simultaneously simple and complicated: a man and a woman are hired to do similar jobs, but they are treated differently, and they are paid differently. The question is why the disparity between $70,000 for the woman and $100,000 for the man? Is it because the jobs, while similar, were not identical and the man’s job simply commanded a higher salary? Or was this an instance of sex discrimination? And underneath this surface layer of the lawsuit lay many more layers. Over time, it seems that the relationship between Ewald, the employee claiming gender discrimination, and the Norwegian consulate, the employer, soured badly. Was this because Ewald rightfully confronted her employer’s gender discrimination and the employer, in response, began to antagonize/demonize/dislike her? Or, on the other hand, was there simply a “bad fit,” an employee insisting on benefits outside of the employer’s budget and an employer’s stingy resentment that the employee would not simply take the deal she was offered?

U.S. District Court Juge Susan R. Nelson (D. Minn.) will have the challenge of sorting this all out. She will have the thorough work of excellent advocates to help her, even if they reach diametrically opposite results.

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Unreal.

In early 2011, Minnesota Litigator noted the unorthodox website of Twin Cities lawyer, Marc G. Kurzman. Specifically, Mr. Kurzman includes ten quotes from unnamed sitting judges supposedly praising Mr. Kurzman’s “moral character” and his “legal acumen.”

Really???

The man has a veritable rap sheet of ethical violations stretching back twenty years.

I note that Mr. Kurzman was found in 2003 to have falsely stated to a court that he was a pharmacist admitted to practice in Minnesota and other states. His website still promotes him as “a Patent Attorney and a Pharmacist” among his other many claimed accomplishments.

Really?????

What I REALLY have a hard time getting my head around is how there can be so many fine Minnesota lawyers, young and old, desperate for work and, yet, at the same time, there seem to be some….shall we say, perhaps unfit lawyers?…who seem to stay pretty busy. Is this an instance of “market failure” or what? Am I missing something?

$20,000,000+ for Plaintiffs’ Counsel in Wells Fargo Mortgage Melt-Down Class Action

Back in December, 2013, Minnesota Litigator had a post about Wells Fargo’s apparently inconsistent positions on “SLPs” and “SIVs” back in the go-go years in the U.S. mortgage industry (before the 2008 meltdown). Wells Fargo seemed to tell some investors that these Securities Lending Programs (“SLPs”) presented opportunities for risk-free gains while also saying publicly in other contexts that there were “enormously risky” and “nonsense.”

But another group of class action plaintiffs brought and have now settled another claim against Wells Fargo along the same lines, the final settlement of which was this week for $62 million for the class and $22 million for the class’ lawyers.

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