Thursday, October 27, 2005

Louisiana Pacific v. Lester Bldg. Systems (9th Cir. - Oct. 24, 2005)

Sometimes you gotta realize when things are futile. This is a particularly appropriate message of the day in light of contemporary events in the legal world. But I mention that fact not to refer to a particular Supreme Court nominee, but rather in a much more pedestrian context. The reality is this: No matter what I say, I'm pretty darn sure I won't be able to persuade many people to read a 70-page opinion on the intricacies of the Anti-Injunction Act. It could be the most sexy Anti-Injunction Act case in the history of the universe. Still, I know the reality. It just ain't gonna happen.

But I'll nonetheless mention that this case is worth reading. Really. Okay, maybe only for people who really, really, really, really, really like fed courts issues. Really. But for that select group -- yes, probably the same people who once dressed up as their favorite Dungeons and Dragons character -- it's a case that's definitely worth the investment. For everyone else: Well, it's true for them as well, but I ain't gonna beat my head against a wall. Much. Sure, they should maybe read it too. But good luck with that. Easier to sell snowballs to Eskimos, as my father would sometimes say. (He had a lot of other euphemisms as well. I feel bad for him, however, as he can no longer use the "Is the Pope Polish?" line. Ah, the death of a classic.)

Here's my one-paragraph summary of the case to wet your interest. It's a case with both an opinion (by Judge Clifton), a concurrence (by Judge Silverman), and a dissent (by Judge Reinhardt). So no one fully agrees with anyone else. The dispute matters: It both revolves around a $509 million class action settlement as well as the propriety of a subsequent $29.6 million jury verdict against Louisiana Pacific. And I thought as I began to read Judge Clifton's opinion that I was totally going to agree with him and disagree with my former boss (in dissent), but it turned out, by the end, that the contrary was true. Plus there are super-long footnotes in the opinion (oh boy!) and a ton of direct interchange between the majority and dissent. Finally, the concurrence by Judge Silverman contains the following bon mot that humorously summarizes his main point with a thinly-veiled reference to Las Vegas' contemporary advertising slogan: "What happens in state court stays in state court." Funny!

That's the best I can do to convince you that it's a page turner. It was for me. But the day I claim that I'm representative of any class is the day I formally institutionalize myself. Enjoy the opinion if you so choose!