Down With Frivolous Lawsuits

This is in keeping with earlier promise to post more articles. One of things that has contributed to my “burn-out” as an attorney is the escalation in the number of frivolous (or at least what I consider to be frivolous) lawsuits. They’re the ones filed by people (their lawyers, actually, who I think serve their own ends by talking their clients into filing these things) to gain advantage in a business situation. Rather than negotiate fairly, rather than accept what should otherwise shake out from arm’s length bargaining, they sue you (well, your client). Of course, there are those lawyers who accept this with glee. When I accuse another attorney of just using litigation as harassment to gain some advantage despite the lack of real merit, I often hear the retort, “What are you complaining about? You’ll make lots of fees off this.” Well, sorry, but I haven’t yet adopted the lawyering business model whose mission statement is something like, “Do whatever it takes to soak the most fees from the client.”

So, it was with some measure of glee and satisfaction that I read about the recent ruling in one of the lawsuits against Google. While this doesn’t pertain to oil and gas, it exemplifies the sort of litigation I’m seeing way too often in oil and gas litigation (frivolous), and the kind of judicial attitude (willingness to impose sanctions) I’m seeing way to little of. For lack of better links, I’m going to refer you to this article in Eric Goldman’s Technology and Marketing Law Blog. I’ve borrowed his links to pdf files of the opinion dismissing the suit and the opinion granting sanctions, which I admittedly have yet to read. I hope the actual opinions are as good as the reporting makes them out to be.

In my experience, getting a judge to impose sanctions is like pulling hen’s teeth. I always hear, “Well, counsel, their position was a bit of a stretch but I can’t say it was completely and totally without an arguable issue; ergo, can’t rule it was frivolous so your request for attorney fees is denied.”