Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"Second lawsuit on LUS tossed"

This morning's paper delivery brings us articles from both the Advocate and the Advertiser on yesterday's dismissal of the class action suit against LUS. Judge Ware dismissed on the grounds that the courts had already heard this argument and that Louisiana law didn't allow this form of double jeopardy. The Plaquemine lawyers in the class action suit had already "intervened" in Conque's court (the site of last weeks LUS-City victory) to argue in support of BellSouth and were at that time warned that they'd not get "another bite of the apple." The lawyers, being lawyerly, argued that their argument was unique because they wanted to stop LUS in order to use LUS' "residual" money to pay off their earlier lawsuit should they win. The problem is that having a different reason to want to stop LUS does not constitute a different argument—something they judge felt they weren't bothering to make.

Nonetheless, we'll likely see yet another appeal. It's getting so you can't keep track without a scorecard. Probable/promised appeals: of the PSC' ruling, Judge Conque's ruling, and now Judge Ware's dismissal. At least it looks like bond law requires a strict, and quick timeline for filing and making appeals. In all honesty the problem of endless legal delay is not constrained by BellSouth or its allies running out of legal reasons to sue; the truth is that while the evidence is that they've already run out of good reasons to sue (since they've consistently lost) that will not keep them from gumming up the works with lawsuits based on bad reasons. Bad reasons are infinite--as anyone who has raised children can attest. And the solution for manipulative children's endless demands masquerading as (bad) reasons is the parent losing patience and refusing to hear them any more. The solution for bad, manipulative legal reasons is the same: the courts will have to decide that they've lost patience with misusing the system. With Judge Ware's ruling we might have the beginning of that trend. He was unwilling to let BellSouth game the system by letting others play proxy for arguments that had already been found invalid by the courts.

From the Advertiser:

"If the playbook that's been described to us holds true, the decision will be appealed to drag it out," Huval said. "One needs to wonder if these suits are just frivolous attempts to ignore the will of the people."

The courts just might beginning to see the pattern as well. And that is not a perception that BellSouth and Cox should want the courts to have--too much other business depends upon being seen as credible. Getting the courts in the habit of suspecting that you are taking up the court's time just to be running out the clock is something an overburdened judiciary will react to with resentment..and something reasonable folks avoid.

No comments: