Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
James F. Haggerty, author of In The Court of Public Opinion: Winning Strategies For Litigation Communications (American Bar Association Publishing 2009) has written an article examining the effect of public opinion in the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust lawsuit to block the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, and the U.S. Federal Housing Finance Agency's lawsuit against seventeen banks over mortgage securities bought by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Mr. Haggerty points out that both cases demonstrate the importance of effective communication in legal matters where public perception plays a role:
There is a valuable lesson in these cases for all companies facing the prospect of major litigation. High-profile lawsuits don't occur in a vacuum, and the relative strength or weakness of the parties can be greatly affected by the public response to a lawsuit's announcement. In this modern media age, communicating publicly about major litigation needs to be handled with the same seriousness as any other aspect of the case. Sometimes, the impact of this public communication can actually be greater than anything that happens within the courthouse walls.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
In this article, James F. Haggerty, the author of In The Court of Public Opinion: Winning Strategies For Litigation Communications, examines whether Bank of America's litigation communications strategy in response to the lawsuit filed by institutional mortgage investors led to a loss of shareholder confidence in the bank.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
It will be interesting to see how Lady Gaga's relentless publicity machine counters the negative media arising from a lawsuit alleging that she defrauded the "Little Monsters" who responded to her call for donations to help Japan's earthquake and tsunami victims.
A Michigan-based law firm has filed a purported racketeering class action against Lady Gaga and several entertainment companies, claiming they made false representations that all proceeds from sales of a wristband would go to victims of Japan's massive earthquake and tsunami.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Lawyers for Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban are trying to turn the Mavs win over the Miami Heat on the basketball court into wins in the court of public opinion and the court of law. This "full court press" is in response to a 2009 lawsuit by Hillwood Investment Properties, a company controlled by H. Ross Perot, Jr., son of the former presidential candidate, against Dallas Basketball Limited, the company controlled by Mr. Cuban that operates the Mavs. Hillwood is a minority owner of the Mavs, having retained a 5 percent share of the team after Mr. Perot sold Mr. Cuban a controlling interest in 2000 for $285 million. The suit seeks the appointment of a receiver to manage the team's affairs, claiming that Mr. Cuban's mismanagement has pushed the team to the brink of insolvency and that the Mavs are $200 million in debt.
On June 11, 2011 the World Champion Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat to claim the franchise's first NBA championship. . . . Under Hillwood's ownership, the team was deemed the 'worst franchise' in all of professional sports. Under Cuban's stewardship the Mavericks have become one of the league's most successful teams and are now NBA champions. Accordingly, there can be no genuine question that Hillwood's claims of mismanagement lack merit and Hillwood's claims should be disposed of on summary judgment.
You don't have that many cases when you're watching television and a game ends, and you think, 'wow this is really great for my lawsuit.' . . . It's a humorous twist, but it has legal force. It makes a serious point that allegations of mismanagement are ridiculous. A substantial part of our defense is that the Mavericks are successful, and what more obvious success for an NBA team than an NBA championship?
Friday, June 10, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
In an earlier post, "Maintaining Privileges," I examined whether discussions with a litigation communications consultant are protected by the attorney-client and work-product privileges, and provided links to two articles that outline the steps that should be taken in order to maximize privilege claims. The Sunday, May 20, 2011 Chicago Tribune contains an article written by Ameet Sachdev, the Tribune's legal reporter, describing the fallout when a judge rejected assertions of privilege and ordered the production of a plan written by a litigation communications consultant. It is a cautionary tale that is well worth reading. "PR executive sets off firestorm with proposal to discredit Madison Count court system."
In a nutshell a major element of the October 2005 JTA proposal outlines a plan to tie the defense of this action into a negative public relations campaign that castigates the Madison County judicial system as a 'judicial hellhole' and a source of 'jackpot justice,' and, in part, to undertake efforts to enhance the public's perception of Syngenta and the herbicide it manufactures at the expense of the Madison County judicial system. ... Although the document utilizes the term 'litigation support' on a couple of occasions, the proposal actually outlines an aggressive public relations strategy to build upon or create a hostile attitude toward the Madison County judicial system.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Earlier this week, Reuters reported that Dominic Strauss-Kahn's legal team is consulting with Washington, DC firm TD International for public relations advice. "Strauss-Kahn's team consults ex-CIA officers' firm." This event has lead to some unfortunate, though not surprising, speculation concerning how Mr. Strauss-Kahn's lawyers are planning to defend him. "DSK public relations strategy kicks into high gear."
Tyler Hamilton is a confessed liar in search of a book deal – and he managed to dupe 60 Minutes, the CBS Evening News, and new anchor Scott Pelley. Most people, though, will see this for exactly what it is: More washed-up cyclists talking trash for cash.In addition, Mr. Armstrong has supplemented his legal team by retaining Robert Luskin of the Washington, DC firm Patton Boggs. Among others, Mr. Luskin is known for having represented Karl Rove during the Valerie Plame investigation. "Patton Boggs' Luskin Takes On Armstrong Accusers."
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
In an earlier post, "Where's The Beef?", I discussed how Taco Bell started off slowly, but eventually developed an effective public relations response to a class-action lawsuit claiming that there was little beef in the restaurant's tacos. With the announcement earlier this week that the lawsuit had been voluntarily withdrawn, today Taco Bell really put the hammer down, demanding an apology in full page ads in the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. "Taco Bell demands apology after lawsuit withdrawn."
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Thursday, March 31, 2011
"At the company's downtown headquarters Thursday, Charney and his advisors showed Times reporters sexually explicit emails, photos and text messages from some of the women who sued the company this month. The photos showed some of the women posing nude in suggestive positions, in one case with Charney. In many of the texts and emails provided during the meeting, the women asked Charney to pay for airfares and provide them with money."
"Mr. Charney has said he often holds meetings in his bedroom. In a 2010 American Apparel ad, he was depicted in bed alongside two female employees. Employees regularly stay at his home in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles when they are in town on business. And Mr. Charney has spoken openly about having sexual relationships with some of his workers."It will be interesting to see how these lawsuits develop.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
"March Madness" usually refers to the NCAA Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments, both of which will be settled on the court over the next few days. However, the month of March also saw a spate of high profile trials and lawsuits, in which both sides jostled for position in the court of public opinion.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
In my last post, "Where's The Beef?" I chronicled how, after an initially tepid response, Taco Bell eventually presented a strong and effective response to a lawsuit alleging that there is very little beef in the fast food chain's tacos, and therefore it should be prohibited from advertising the tacos as containing "seasoned ground beef or seasoned beef."
"What we can say right now is that we stand behind the quality of ingredients in Nutella hazelnut spread and advertising for our product," she said."It's really early in the case and we are really not in position to discuss the case any further," she said.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Last year, in a post entitled "Reputation Management In The Digital Age," I presented some examples on how a slow response to a crisis can do serious damage to a company's brand and reputation. For much of the past week I thought history was repeating itself as I observed Taco Bell's evolving response to the "Where's the Beef" lawsuit. It took multiple attempts, but Taco Bell eventually presented a strong and effective response to a lawsuit's allegations that there's very little beef in the fast food chain's tacos, and therefore it should be prohibited from advertising the tacos as containing "seasoned ground beef or seasoned beef."
"At Taco, Bell, we buy our beef from the same trusted brands you find in the supermarket, like Tyson Foods. We start with 100 percent USDA-inspected beef. Then we simmer it in our proprietary blend of seasonings and spices to give our seasoned beef its signature Taco Bell taste and texture. We are proud of the quality of our beef and identify all the seasoning and spice ingredients on our website. Unfortunately the lawyers in this case elected to sue first and ask questions later -- and got their "facts" absolutely wrong. We plan to take legal action for the false statements being made about our food."
Monday, January 10, 2011
I was trying to clean up some old emails today, and was looking at this one dated December 27, 2010 from the National Law Journal titled The Year in Review. There was one article, “They Said It”, which is a slide show of "memorable remarks" for 2010. I do not know what made me stop and look at it, but I almost fell off my chair when I got to the eighteenth slide. It has to be seen to be believed.
UPDATE: The New York Times leads with Giffords in article published today. "In Tucson, Guns Have a Broad Constituency."
Friday, January 7, 2011
Covington & Burling is joining the ranks of law firms that have initiated a crisis management practice. Former D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles, who was a Covington partner before joining the administration of D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, will chair the new crisis management practice.
In addition to Nickles, the crisis management team assembles some of the firm’s most high-profile attorneys, including former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff; Stuart Eizenstat, who served as President Clinton’s ambassador to the European Union; former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue; and Thomas Williamson, former U.S. solicitor of labor.