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Chief Justice Urges Improvement of Contentious Federal Litigation

In Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.'s annual report on the state of the federal courts, he has "implored lawyers to work together and judges to take a more hands-on role to improve a federal litigation system that has grown 'too expensive, time-consuming, and contentious,'" The Washington Post's Robert Barnes reports. Roberts said the 2015 amendments to the federal civil rules provide an opportunity to improve the federal courts, including for burdensome discovery requests.

Ninth Circuit Rebukes Judge for Blocking Out-of-State Attorneys

Here is some interesting legal news from last month:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rebuked a Nevada district court judge for denying pro hac vice admission to Department of Justice lawyers based in Washington, D.C., The National Law Journal's Zoe Tillman reports.

Tillman reports that U.S. District Judge Robert Jones had concerns about the "'ethical commitments'" of out-of-state government lawyers, but the Ninth Circuit opined that "'generalized doubts about all government attorneys’ ethical commitments are not valid grounds for denying an individual attorney’s application for pro hac vice admission."'

Even though Jones reversed his previous order denying the the U.S. attorney permission to appear in USA V. USDC-NVR, the panel held that this did not render the controversy moot because it was reasonable to expect that Jones might issue such an order again.

The case was one of first impression.

BP Wins Court Victory Over Gulf Oil Spill Claims Administration

A federal appellate court, divided 2-1, has ordered the trial judge presiding over the settlement of Gulf of Mexico oil spill lawsuits to reconsider the formula used to calculate claimants' damages, The New York Times reports. "BP has repeatedly complained about the claims process, arguing that the program’s administrator, Patrick Juneau, was approving fabricated payments for business economic losses based on an unsound interpretation of an agreement the company reached with victims last year," The Times also reports.

Asbestos Attorneys Face $1.3 Million Judgment For Fabricated Claims

In December, two Pittsburgh attorneys, as well as a doctor they hired to read X-rays, were found liable by a federal civil jury in West Virginia for violating the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and for state-law fraud over 11 fraudulent asbestos claims by railroad employees against CSX Transportation, I reported for The Legal Intelligencer in a story picked up by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Now the presiding judge has tripled the award of  $429,240.47, which was the amount CSX said it spent to defend 11 claims it said exemplified a wider practice, the West Virginia Record reports. Awards under RICO can be tripled, the West Virginia Record also reported.

My full coverage from December is here:

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