This week in legal news
- After introducing fabricated evidence, trademark claim is dismissed with prejudice and plaintiffs are ordered to pay more than $400,000 in fees
- The last convicted witch in Massachusetts is exonerated
- A sleepwalker who accidentally got into a coworker’s hotel bed is not protected from termination by disability law
- A magistrate judge resigns over a dispute about his neighbor’s garden peas
- A New York patent attorney is suspended for filing more than 18,000 trademark applications without proper review
Dismissed with prejudice: fabricated evidence results in plaintiffs ordered to pay
Plaintiffs For Life Products, LLC claimed that the defendants, Virox Technologies, Inc. violated their trademark with their surface cleaners and antibacterial products. However, For Life Products (FLP) submitted photoshopped images of product catalogs and web pages into evidence to bolster their claim.
This led U.S. District Judge James P. Jones of the Western District of Virginia to dismiss the case with prejudice.
On July 29 Jones granted the defendants attorney fees and costs spent investigating and litigating the case against FLP in the amount of $405,112.33, with a total amount for attorney fees at $366,480; $38,291.10 for expert fees; and $341.23 in copy costs. (Via Law.com)
Judgements of this type are rare, but this is allegedly not FLP’s first time submitting fabricated evidence.
Thanks to an eighth grade civics teacher, the last convicted witch in Massachusetts is exonerated
Carrie LaPierre of the North Andover Middle School used a real-life lobbying effort to teach her civics students about how bills become law. Those efforts recently succeeded as the class was able to legally exonerate convicted witch Elizabeth Johnson Jr.
Teacher Carrie LaPierre of the North Andover Middle School in Massachusetts used her quest to exonerate Elizabeth Johnson Jr. to teach her students about how bills become law and how to contact lawmakers. She spoke with the New York Times and Courthouse News Service about her efforts, which came to fruition after Massachusetts Democratic State Sen. Diana DiZoglio added the exoneration to a budget bill. Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed the budget bill July 28. (Via ABA Journal)
LaPierre states that she is happy with the results and pleased by the positive sentiments she and her class received.
Sleepwalker who lost job after getting into colleague’s next-door hotel bed is not protected under disability law
Jennifer Harkey, formerly employed by NextGen Healthcare Inc., lost her appeal when the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New Orleans ruled against her claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act.
While attending a national sales conference for her employer, Harkey experienced a bout of somnambulism. She knocked on the door of another employee around midnight. The man assumed that the knock was from one of the men he had recently been socializing with at the bar, but when he opened the door, he found Harkey, who he did not know, wearing a black bathrobe. He told her that she was in the wrong room and asked her to leave, but she did not respond.
She walked over to a made bed, got in it and pulled the sheets up to her face. Harkey was unresponsive to O’Donnell’s requests to leave.
“O’Donnell was concerned,” the 5th Circuit said. “He was a married man on an out-of-town business trip, and a woman was in a bed in his hotel room. He called his supervisor.”
The supervisor called the director of human resources. The HR director couldn’t wake Harkey at first. Harkey was disoriented when she finally awoke. Hotel security was called, and Harkey was helped back to her room. (Via ABA Journal)
After talking to human resources and explaining that she was sleepwalking, Harkey was placed on paid leave, and then terminated shortly after. She sued. A judge ruled, and the 5th circuit confirmed on appeal, that Harkey could not be protected for a disability in this case.
Magistrate judge resigns after threatening man in dispute over garden vegetables
Chief Magistrate Judge Eddie Anderson of Tattnall County, Georgia, resigned after he was arrested for making terroristic threats against a neighbor.
Anderson made the threat in front of witnesses after his neighbor accused him of stealing produce from his garden without permission.
But Anderson told Law360 that he had permission to take peas from the man’s garden. Anderson said he stopped by the property because he saw “some pretty corn over there, and I wanted to buy some.” The property owner wasn’t home, but a relative told Anderson that he could pick some peas. After picking the peas and returning home, Anderson got the call from the property owner, who wrongly accused him of stealing the vegetable, Anderson told Law360. That’s when Anderson made the comment. (Via ABA Journal)
Anderson states that he regrets his comments.
New York patent attorney suspended after filing more than 18,000 trademark applications for Chinese agents without proper review
After filing approximately 18,300 U.S. trademark applications for Chinese agents without proper review, a patent attorney in New York has been suspended from practice.
Specifically, “due to the volume of applications he filed, Respondent did not always conduct a sufficiently thorough review of trademark applications prior to filing, including, for example, not performing an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances to determine whether the specimens showed the marks as used in commerce or failing to review specimens to determine that they were authentic (e.g., not mockups or digitally altered). ” These voluminous questionable filings from China might be one of the reasons for the slowdown in the USPTO examining trademark applications. (Via National Law Review)
These filings include 350 applications in a single day on December 31, 2020.
The suspension notes that the attorney violated a number of USPTO rules including failing to represent clients competently, failing to keep clients reasonably informed, assisting in the unauthorized practice of law, and engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.