This lawsuit is absurd

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by rayt, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45144944/ns/us_news-life/
    But what is striking, said the studio that took the pictures, is that Mr. Remis’s wedding took place in 2003 and he waited six years to sue. And not only has Mr. Remis demanded to be repaid the $4,100 cost of the photography, he also wants $48,000 to recreate the entire wedding and fly the principals to New York so the celebration can be re-shot by another photographer.​
    What is particularly annoying about this lawsuit is that the defendants have already spent more than the cost of restaging the wedding defending themselves. How many of us could tolerate spending $50K to defend such a lawsuit? Rock solid contracts will not protect from litigation. All it takes is for one fee hungry schister lawyer willing to take such a case and you could be on the hook for thousands in legal fees or a judgement if you get a goofball judge.
    It is also quite telling that the lawsuit is six years after the event. So there is apparently no limit on the time frame to be sued for your work.
     
  2. Frightening!
     
  3. LOL well it's hard to take this seriously... especially as, apparently, the judge feels the same...
    Judge... ...dismissed most of the grounds for the lawsuit, like the “infliction of emotional distress,” she has allowed the case to proceed to determine whether there was indeed a breach of contract.​
    While the photog's legal fees are obv. mounting, the suit has already come down to the single important factor... breach of contract. This is something that can be addressed proactively by the terms of the contract but begs the all important question: Why did the photog's leave "15min early" (if they in fact did)?
     
  4. The lawsuit is indeed absurd, but it's going to cost the defendants tens of thousands of dollars to get a judgement to that effect. The plaintiff is obviously feeling the pain of the divorce from his (mail order?) bride and is lashing out at anyone he can reach. Presumably his lawyer is working no win, no fee - I just hope the defendants win. If the plaintiff hasn't worked for years, it's a fair bet the defendants won't actually get their costs paid even if this is ordered.
     
  5. The defendants should counter-sue. This is frivolous and absurd, it wastes the tax money we pay into the system, and it wastes the time of the courts who have much more important matters to resolve.
     
  6. So there is apparently no limit on the time frame to be sued for your work.​
    Actually, there are limits to how long you can sue in most every case. Often it is 7 years, however, in something like this one would think that "discovery" would have been immediate, but here, from the article I just found this as I was writing:
    Mr. Remis sued in 2009, just before the statute of limitation was about to expire, according to Mr. Fried.​
    Honestly, this is the reason you need to have insurance--mostly to protect yourself from these sorts who are out there. You also need to know if your insurance covers any suit that is raised at any time in the future from acts that occurred while your insurance was in force. This isn't always the case and new insurance may not cover suits from previous periods. We don't always think about these things, but having worked in Healthcare for many years, it is something you learn about real quick.
     
  7. The defendants should counter-sue. This is frivolous and absurd, it wastes the tax money we pay into the system, and it wastes the time of the courts who have much more important matters to resolve.​
    Won't counter-suing cost us even more money?
     
  8. John A: I have professional indemnity insurance, and it is "retroactive":
    Retroactive cover applies solely to Professional Indemnity Insurance. Once this class of insurance is arranged, it will cover you for any future claims which may relate back to an occurrence which pre-dates the date on which the insurance policy commenced as far back as the date on which your business started, so long as you keep the policy in force with us.​
    What I've never been not sure about with PI insurance is this: if you're proven negligent, does PI insruance cover you?
     
  9. has alredy (sic) been discussed in another forum.​
    Yes, it has, thanks for pointing that out. My search turned up nothing when I checked. Guess I did not use the proper search terms. But it is relevant here because it is dealing with wedding photography. I don't scan all the forums looking for tidbits that are relative to weddings.
     
  10. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/03/nyregion/suit-against-photographer-seeks-re-creation-of-wedding-after-divorce.html?scp=1&sq=weddig%20photo%20law%20suit&st=cse
    The NY Times had the same article reported. 'Nuff said.
     
  11. Just like to say the word "frivolous" is a legal term of art. A lawsuit could be silly, stupid, or just about any other word you can think of, but if the case has been judged to have merit, it is, by definition, not frivolous.
    In this case, it's inside the 6=year statute of limitations, and the judge wants to see if there's a breach of contract, so it's not frivolous.
     
  12. The lawsuit is indeed absurd, but it's going to cost the defendants tens of thousands of dollars to get a judgement to that effect.​
    Why?
     
  13. @ Steve:
    The New York Times story tells us this:
    Mr. Remis’s lawyer works for Goodwin Procter, where Mr. Remis’s father, Shepard M. Remis, is a litigation partner. The younger Mr. Remis has testified that he is paying his lawyer himself.
    Curt and Dan Fried are paying their lawyer, Peter Wessel, themselves, they said, and the costs — $50,000 — the time the suit has taken and the distress have taken a toll.
    This probably explains how the plaintiff got someone to take up his case in the first place (Daddy’s influence, and most likely Daddy’s bankroll as well). The plaintiff also sounds like the kind of guy who would find a way (such as declaring personal bankruptcy) to avoid paying if a judgement went against him, thus making any order to pay the defendant’s costs unenforceable.
    This is the answer to the question as to HOW this case will cost the defendants a bundle. I don’t think anyone can really say WHY a legal system is tolerated in which such crazy things happen!
     
  14. It strikes me more that the system we call justice, is so far off resembling what is meant to be, and it seems to be heading for nothing much better.
    Of course the guy is perhaps in need of some therapy.
     
  15. Michael, I note you deem frivolous lawsuits as absurd. You also state the defendant should counter sue. Could you reconcile these
    two statements by identifying what viable counterclaim exists and therefore is, itself, not frivolous?
     
  16. John Henneberger [​IMG][​IMG], Nov 03, 2011; 08:11 p.m.
    Michael, I note you deem frivolous lawsuits as absurd. You also state the defendant should counter sue. Could you reconcile these two statements by identifying what viable counterclaim exists and therefore is, itself, not frivolous?​
    If it greatly affected the defendant's business, either in terms of clientele or by causing them to close up shop, would that be enough to countersue? I'm pretty sure that the first would be, but I don't know about the second. Or even the first for that matter.
    I once knew a guy that slipped and fell on the ice outside of a church, spraining his ankle. He sued the city since it was on the city sidewalk. But then he also proceeded to sue the church, since they were a separate entity,and the Girl Scout troop that met at the church, since they were assigned with maintainence that week. As I recall he only won against the city, but he was allowed to sue the other two groups for being 'at fault' for the exact same offense, and cost them all a lot of money. It seems to me that only one group can be "at fault" in this case, but the American Legal System did not see it as so. I hate to fault the church, but the guy had in writing that the city was ceding maintainence to the church,and the church to the kids. Since the kids took responsibility and not the Girl Scout organization itself, and they are presumably all minors, one would assume that the "proper" guilty party would be the church for not following up on the lack of proper maintainence. Why he was allowed to sue the other two escapes me, and seems very much like double-dipping.
    This is why ideas like prisoner's rights and 'innocent until proven guilty' are so important. Yes, it does mean that a guilty man will occassionally walk free. But the alternative - automatically siding with the plaintiff - is the reason why so many dumbass lawsuits are brought to court, and why so many innocent people are put into backruptcy.
     
  17. "but he was allowed to sue the other two groups for being 'at fault' for the exact same offense"
    It's not uncommon to sue multiple parties as co-defendants. You can also sue "mises en cause" which means a third party will be bound by a court ruling even though they are not defendants.
    As to the merit of the case, the church and scouts may very well have been liable but the court won't be able to make a judgement until sufficient evidence exists through a defence filing and discovery.
     
  18. Michael, I note you deem frivolous lawsuits as absurd. You also state the defendant should counter sue. Could you reconcile these two statements by identifying what viable counterclaim exists and therefore is, itself, not frivolous?
    I'm not a lawyer but ... it would seem the only half-way solid complaint the plaintiff has are that the photographers departed a few minutes before the end and did not secure pictures of the last dance and the departure of the "happy" couple. His expectation that a video recording of a 6-hour event should run for 6 hours is bizarre (should have hired Michael "Heaven's Gate" Cimino to direct) and his request for enough damages to reunite him with his ex-wife and family (who are apparently in Latvia and most probably totally disinclined to get involved) is ludicrous. Even if an attempt were made to reshoot the two missing scenes mentioned above, this could be done with the couple themselves, a half dozen out-of-focus extras and stock footage of a limo driving away. To ask for any more is arguably excessive and malicious and an expert psychiatric witness could soon establish that the case springs primarily from the plaintiffs' mental state rather than from any deficiencies of photographic work.
     
  19. And if this guy loses the lawsuit he sounds like the type who will hire another lawyer to sue his first lawyer because 'if he didn't win it must have been a incompetent lawyer' and so on and so on. What a business. The legal system framing laws to keep the legal system in work. Sometimes the whole legal system seems like a glazier with a bag of rocks drumming up business.
     
  20. The judge should of tossed it out as soon as it arrived. Now, as business people we have to load up on insurance and carry as much as we can afford. We also have to charge more for our services. So we all pay for this kind of stuff in the long end.If a mistake was made by the photographer it should of been brought to the surface much much snooner.Throw it out and dont waste more money
     
  21. David, you report that a psychiatric expert witness (an expensive prospect requiring exams ect) may testify that the plaintiff has some
    mental health issue in response to whether there is a viable non frivolous counter claim. Suing someone for having a mental health
    condition is a viable cause of action? Perhaps you may have confused that for a defense rather than it's own claim. If so, how does
    having a mental health condition excuse a breach of contract by someone not having such a condition? The work was either
    performed satisfactorily according to the contract or it was not. Impeaching someone's ability to recall information is fair game but I
    don't know how it becomes a non frivolous lawsuit.



    Zach, How is merely affecting business a independent legal claim? Isn't some other factor required? What specific legitimate
    independent, thus non frivolous, claim can the photographer bring?
     
  22. Sure, John, I can reconcile my statement. Punish the plaintiff in the only place they seem to care about: their wallet. It would theoretically serve as a deterrent to others who waste the courts' time. It would also serve to reimburse the legal costs of the defendant. How else do you propose such deterrence be facilitated?

    As for more tax dollars being spent in the act of deterring silly (notice I'm no longer using "frivolous" since I'm being admonished for my egregious faux pas... end sarcasm font), I think putting into place protections for defendants who are the victims of this overly-litigious society of people who all seem to want something for nothing, and punishing those who abuse the justice system in the process of trying to achieve their malicious and avaricious ends, is money well spent. Hopefully one day those tax dollars will reduce the amount of tax dollars being wasted by the evil people who sue others purely on speculation that the fear of litigation will gain them free money.
     
  23. James, most of the suit has been tossed. The remaining claim involves a question of fact for a viable claim, namely,
    breach of contract. If the article version of facts, missing much detail, is shown to be true, then the photographer likely
    substantially performed and did not breach. Court cases aren't decided by a couple lines in an article. Actual evidence
    is weighed. If we adopted your methods, matters would be resolved based on arbitrary conjecture and one sided
    accounts. A prospect you would, no doubt, cause you great anguish if it were applied to you. This case is an unusual
    sensationalized instance. Not a cause to throw out evidence as the basis of jurisprudence as your post seeks.
     
  24. Thank you Michael. That does't reconcile your statement. It changes it. Incidentally, there are causes of action for
    vexatious litigation and sanctions for frivolous actions. Shoring up these kind of things is a worthy discussion.
     
  25. John, shouldn't you be in Las Vegas at the Hair Splitters convention?
    It doesn't change it, it elaborates on it.
    "The defendants should counter-sue. This is frivolous and absurd, it wastes the tax money we pay into the system, and it wastes the time of the courts who have much more important matters to resolve."
    My post merely further elaborates on my first sentence. The second sentence is still true. It's absurd, it's a waste of money and time for courts which should be using their resources to deal with REAL matters of justice. And if tax money has to be spent to save tax money in the future, I support that.
     
  26. I think John H., makes perfect sense. Many of the responses here are emotional reactions, understandable given the reported circumstances and the vulnerability that photographers working on margins feel of not being immune from this kind of suit. One thing that photographers can control is the kind of contracts they present to the clients. Including provisions for arbitration and legal fees. But oops, you's probably have to consult an <gasp> attorney:) Really, the main thing I would think is to use this awful circumstance and apply it to what you need to be aware of as a business person/photographer.
     
  27. Seconding, thirding, fourthing, and more @Barry!
     
  28. Michael, you are claiming there is a basis for the photographer to sue but have not identified a single viable cause of
    action that can be brought. If you are against frivolous lawsuits, you would be against the one you are actively
    promoting, it's not possible to be splitting hairs by pointing this out because it's merely identifying a diect instance of
    hypocrisy, even if was made unintentionally.

    What cause of action does the photographer have to sue?
     
  29. A five second Google search brought up instance after instance of advise saying that you can countersue for damages, court costs, even for something as small as "personal distress and anxiety." The point is to call the bluff, make him withdraw his frivolous case, and if he doesn't, to give the judge the opportunity to punish the malicious jerk for wasting the court's time. The end justifies the means here, in my opinion.
    http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/824/the-countersuit-how-to-fire-back-at-frivolous-lawsuits
    http://www.physiciansnews.com/law/403post.html
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100127191048AAIT8sb
    http://www.physiciansnews.com/spotlight/305.html
    http://www.ask.com/questions-about/Frivolous-Lawsuits
    http://www.worldlawdirect.com/forum...ations-causing-personal-distress-anxiety.html
     
  30. Zach, How is merely affecting business a independent legal claim? Isn't some other factor required? What specific legitimate independent, thus non frivolous, claim can the photographer bring?​
    John- to start, I want to say that this is speculation. Since my original response was phrased (vaguely) in the form of a question, I've tried not to imply that I am an expert in any matters.
    That said, I would think that a countersuit could be brought if the plaintiff's case were thrown out, and in the process (or even just along the way) the defendant's legal costs forced them out of business, or nearly so. I see this as a variation on libel, which is grounds for a damages suit. In both cases a plaintiff makes an unsubstatiated claim that serves no purpose other than to damage the defendant. The plaintiff's argument and demands, while called 'breech of contract' are obviously intended to punish the defendant by forcing him to provide a service that he cannot be reasonably expected to do. In my eyes, the only difference between this an a libel case is that the plaintiff told a judge, and not a newspaper.
    But again ... I'm no expert. As you may recall, I was asking you.
     
  31. I spent a few minutes actually reading those links. They support John's position (except for the answers.yahoo, ask.com and wordlawdirect. Those are forum type answers and are not to be taken seriously. If you'll pardon the usage, just a bunch of Yahoos with internet access.)
     
  32. Michael, some of those links are merely free for all forum type postings answered by people who don't know what they
    are talking about. Another involves a a statutory scheme that allows a prevuing party attorney fees which is not the
    case here. The non forum type links all cited cases where the case could not proceed because there was a summary
    judgment ruling that there were material facts that were disputed. The court here already ruled that the case was viable
    but you called for a countersuit anyway. One of your own links warns against making a claim of frivolous litigation in
    anything but very rock solid scerarios at the risk of exposing oneself to bringing their own frivolous action.
    The very problem I raised in the first place. This isn't like the cases in your links where the law at issue never existed
    at the time or where everyone knew the service provider had no involvement whatsoever. This case involves an actual dispute over whether there was a breach of contract. None of the links are
    applicable.
     
  33. I think the most interesting part - and one of which we will likely never see any resolution - is the connection of the groom who is supposedly paying for his own legal expenses, his father, and his father's law firm. Is son paying Dad? Is Dad doing this on his own or is the firm representing the son? Is the firm happy that they have been publicly connected to this fiasco, whether actually involved or only by the reporting of the Dad's position?
     
  34. Zach, there are some wrinkles to your response such as there being no defamation in court testimony in the U.S. (to
    foster willingness to testify) and a couple other things but, fwiw, your analysis is very thoughtful epecially as to a matter being
    tossed for having utterly no foundation in the first place vs. a dispute.

    As to photographers this is somewhat esoteric. Good contract drafting can help limit exposure to zealous complaints
    and other more common or lens. That us what we can most learn from this episode.
     
  35. If so, how does having a mental health condition excuse a breach of contract by someone not having such a condition?
    John, I don't know if you're a lawyer or in the business of selling any product or service to the general public. Anyone with experience of the latter will certainly have encountered a customer suffering from hysteria or obsessive compulsive disorder and who is impossible to deal with. In this case, as you remark, the two most important points from a legal point of view are:
    1) Was there a contractual obligation for the photographers to stay right to the end and cover the last dance and throwing of the bouquet, and also to deliver a real-time video, i.e. one of the same duration as the event?
    2) If such an obligation existed, did the photographers meet this, and if not, did they make a reasonable offer of restitution?
    The press report does not unfortunately give enough information for me to answer question 2), most businesspeople would automatically offer restitution in some small form to a complaining customer, merely to prevent the matter from escalating and taking up any more of their valuable time than necessary. The photographers in this case may not have done so, but as I indicated in an earlier post, it would have been cheap and easy to fake the missing footage, and I feel a court of law would regard this as a reasonable offer of restitution, possibly coupled with a return of part of the fee paid. Any further claims for damages must surely be regarded by any rational person as excessive (without any need, I agree, to legally establish the plaintiff’s state of mental health) and irrational.
     
  36. I didn't realize I was on a forum for attorneys. I have real work to do. Bye.
     
  37. David, I agree completely.
    Michael, the forum, I gather, is for anybody and hopefully educational. Here, that a potentially weak case is not
    inherently fitting for the buzz word "frivolous" and that there are some preventative measures that are available to
    reduce exposure to losses in both strong and weaker claims by clients.
     
  38. Pretty horrific! So, what do we take from this guys? Rather than scrutinizing contracts, perhaps better to have insurance for the "full whack"? I know I have 100K (GBP), which will hopefully be more than I'll ever need :$
     
  39. Better to loose ourselves in the technical details than recognize the sad fact that judges are now incapable of swiftly and quickly doing the sensible thing. Of course, it's not just judges that suffer this affliction. I've seen my fair share of it in science as well. Best, JJ
     
  40. Rather than scrutinizing contracts, perhaps better to have insurance...​
    I suggested both. Skipping the first part, as raised above, would be foolish.
    Better to loose ourselves in the technical details than recognize the sad fact that judges are now incapable of swiftly and quickly doing the sensible thing.​
    Now? Most of the claims were dismissed. The claim involving an actual dispute over an actual issue wasn't. As it should be. As it always has been since the nation began. Cases aren't decided on whimsical notions. They are decided based actual presentation of evidence. Unless you live in a dictatorship or something. A technical detail one needn't be 'loost' in.
     
  41. I would think the statute of limitations would bar some, if not all, of plaintiffs' claims. A defense on that basis should not cost $50K.
     
  42. John, I don't expect you to agree. But I would say that the ability to use basic common sense in a social system is in no way whimsical and is not characteristic of dictatorships.
    We are simply arguing about whether a system should see a case like this as an actual dispute. The system does. And once we make this move it is just a matter of pursuing the dispute within whatever system we have - the details. The interesting question is how we can develop a system that sees such cases for what they really are.
    I think an appropriate description of my position might be that it is idealistic. Perhaps. But I am just trying to point out that spending our efforts on the details does allow us in some sense to avoid the bigger, more difficult questions. Best, JJ
     
  43. A technical detail one needn't be 'loost' in.​
    Where's the 'like' button?
     
  44. I understand where you are coming from Jeremy. In criminal cases we sometimes have preliminary hearings for probable cause deciding whether a case can go forward or grand juries. In civil cases where property may be attached to secure payment, if it will be due, there is a hearing looking at the likelihood of the plaintiff prevailing. Similar things could be done but the expense can be really high to go that route and there are other issues to contend with. Maybe other ideas can be considered for tort reform. Often, in medical malpractice cases, there is talk of caps on the compensation. But that hurts actual victims. Instead, the standard of proof could be made higher from a preponderance of evidence to clear and convincing which is harder to prove. that can help weed out questionable cases. There are many ideas that can be explored to achieve your goals while allowing the system to run its course and without resort to jumping to conclusions.
     

Share This Page