Sunday, April 30, 2006

3rd Edition Nation, 1st Edition Rules

Via Mythusmage I read about Maine resident and blogger Lance Dutson getting sued by Maine tourism advertising contractor, Warren Kremer Paino Advertising, for criticizing them and pointing out (correctly) that an advertisement they put together includes the number for a phone sex operation, and not the Maine tourism board.

Mr. Dutson is getting sued for a few million dollars it seems. Fortunately, it looks like he's going to get some help in defending against this.

Since there seems to be bi-partisan loathing for this sort of thing, and "loser pays", like in the UK, seems to be the solution, does anyone know why we don't have that here in the U.S.?

I've heard occasionally that "loser pays" is too corporate friendly, but has it actually worked out that way in the UK?

In fact, a lot of things in the U.S. feel a bit like we're still playing Brown Box Dungeons & Dragons or running Windows 3.1, while the rest of the democracies have moved on:

  • no instant run offs for presidential elections creating all these unpleasant situations where you're not voting for your actual first choice
  • the quaint artefact of congressional districts, even though you likely work, live, and go to school in three different ones -- honestly, it seems their entire function is to facilitate gerrymandering and promote budget deficits via pork.


dan said...

Loser pays is corporate friendly because if, for example, you are a small environmental non-profit and you have a good - but not watertight - case you probably won't bring it because losing would destroy (and I mean absolutely destroy) you.

Loser pays is corporate friendly because corporations can sue the little guy knowing it will hurt the little guy even if he/she wins but they can afford to lose.

You decide.

Actually, you can try to have the best of both worlds with fee-shifting in commercial cases and one way fee-shifting in certain kinds of public interest cases (like environmental and civil rights)

this just scratches the surface, of course.

Steve Peterson said...

I imagine there are more complex solutions, but you could also cap what the loser pays at no more than what the loser paid in handling the case.

This should help prevent an arms escalation of greater legal fees in the hope that overwhleming the opposition will also eliminate your own costs, and allow the smaller non-profits to know and control the upper limit of what they'd risk spending on a case.

Alan Kellogg said...

Good news. The company withdrew it's suit. Dutson won.

Steve Peterson said...

Thanks for the update, Alan. That is good news.