How messed up is U.S. immigration policy?

Pedestrian border crossing sign Tijuana Mexico 225x300 How messed up is U.S. immigration policy?Immigration policy is so messed up that a Minnesota landscaping business appears to have found it a relative bargain to devise a fairly complicated arrangement of illegal worker trafficking rather than simply hiring legal workers for a living wage.

L&K Landscaping of St. Michael, Minnesota is alleged to have instructed an illegal Mexican immigrant residing in Minnesota to go back to Mexico and get a visa, after which, L&K said it would hire him. L&K agreed to lend the worker, Mr. Campis Abarca, money to tide over his family during his trip to/from Mexico. When the visa was denied (based on Mr. Campis Abarca’s previous illegal entry into the U.S.), L&K is alleged to have insisted that Campis Abarca return to work, anyhow, because he had to repay the debt. L&K also told Campis Abarca that L&K would pay for Campis Abarca’s illegal entry into the United States and arrange for a legal visa the following year. L&K paid for a “coyote” to smuggle Campis Abarca into the United States. Then L&K worked Campis Abarca for a year, charging him rent for illegal and substandard housing, locking him and his family into a life of cycling debt and peonage.

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“Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate…”

Illustrations to Dantes Divine Comedy object 4 Butlin 812 4 The Inscription over Hell Gate 214x300 Lasciate ogne speranza, voi chintrate...

William Blake Illustration of Dante’s Inferno

Happy Monday. For all you trial lawyers, judges, and, most of all, parties to civil litigation, this post’s for you.

The Italian poet, Dante, portrayed the gates of hell as having an inscription, the last line of which is the title of this post in Dante’s Italian. The most common translation into English is, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here…”

Unfortunately, there are far too many civil litigants who feel that such an inscription should be over U.S. courthouses, state and federal, and over lawyers’ office doors as well for good measure.

I expect we can count Plaintiff Chandramouli Vaidyanathan, who is gearing up for the third trial against Seagate Technologies among those who have lost almost all hope in our legal system.

When his unhappiness overflowed into an email to former business colleagues, the immense challenge that is his multi-year lawsuit got even worse, as hard as that might be to imagine…

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This is like a bucket of bullsh*t…

Zinger for the Court 300x144 This is like a bucket of bullsh*t...“Need a zinger for court?” If so, I suggest two things to you: (1) No, you don’t; and (2) If you must, why don’t you just think up a few yourself, pick the best one, put it in your brief (or your oral argument) and see how well that goes. Better than paying Thomson Reuters well over $100 for “unabridged analogies” for sure. Sheez. What will they think of to sell us next? I tremble at the thought…

When Is Speculation Illegal “Gambling”? When is Risk-Sharing “Immoral”?

Poker Chips 300x225 When Is Speculation Illegal Gambling? When is Risk Sharing Immoral?Imagine a business model where someone bets with you on whether or not you will be physically injured over a certain period of time and, if you are seriously injured during that time, then you “win” the bet and the other bettor has to pay you up to a certain limit. If you are not injured during that time period, then the counter-party “wins” and you do not get your money back.

This, of course, is the essence of insurance. We do not think of this as gambling. We do not think of this as immoral. We do not think of this as “mere speculation in the troubles of others.”

Imagine that you have bought insurance, you are injured, your insurer foots the bill per the insurance agreement, and then the insurer sues a third-party tortfeasor to recover damages the insurer paid out for your injury. We generally do not think of this as gambling and we do not generally think of this as immoral. It’s very common. It is not a prohibited “agreement between a stranger to a lawsuit and a litigant by which the stranger pursues the litigant’s claims as consideration for receiving part of any judgment proceeds.”

Now, how about this: you are injured and you carry no insurance. (Maybe you are injured in such a way for which there is no insurance available.) And a “legal finance” company proposes to finance a lawsuit, agrees to give you money up front in exchange for a share of any recovery in a lawsuit against a third-party tortfeasor. You might call this “after-the-accident insurance” in a way, right? Or you might call it “litigation insurance.” Does this scenario somehow convert the circumstances to gambling? To something immoral? To something illegal? To something that courts and legislators should make illegal as socially harmful?

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You won the lawsuit! Now what?

Money Role 300x225 You won the lawsuit! Now what?Minnesota civil litigators spent very little time trying cases, as we all know. From that, it follows that Minnesota civil litigators, generally, spend very little time collecting on money judgments. Roughly 99% of civil lawsuits are either thrown out of court, or settled far in advance of any judgment, or, a very small percentage, settled post-judgment (for example, after summary judgment or while a case is pending appeal). Even fewer contested cases require collection efforts.

So Minnesota civil litigators generally do not spend very much time converting court judgments into cash.

(The exceptions to the rule are collections specialists like Twin Cities attorneys George Warner or John Halpern or, sometimes, particular large firm lawyers who are assigned this kind of work on behalf of the firm (like Bricker Lavik used to do for Dorsey & Whitney LLP). Lawyers like them spend a lot of time monetizing unopposed judgments against “judgment debtors” who have no defenses to creditors claims and therefore do not appear and defend the creditors’ claims. (Unfortunately for the debtors, “I don’t have the money” and “I do not want to pay you” are not normally viable defenses.))

But, for the rest of the Minnesota civil litigation bar, I thought it might be useful to dig a bit into just what this means, “Let Judgment Be Entered.” What does it entail? How long does it take? What is “docketing a judgment”? Is “docketing a judgment”a synonym of “entering a judgment” or something entirely different and distinct?

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