Will Kavanuagh Sue For Defamation?

We now know the name of the woman who accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault in an anonymous letter to California Senator Diane Feinstein earlier this summer. She is Christine Blasey Ford, a pscyhology professor. The Washington Post reported on her identity this weekend, after she sat with a reporter and provided what corroboration she could to her claims of misconduct.

Judge Kavanaugh should sue Ford for defamation. It would do the country a world of good to see what actual proof looks like.

The food fight that was the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearings on the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to serve as Supreme Court justice spared us the Ford saga. Only after the committee hearings ended, did Feinstein leak the contents of the letter she had sat on for months. An ambush is best when the target can't shoot back.

While a high school student, Judge Kavanaugh is alleged to have taken Ford to a bedroom, forced himself atop her, and placed his hand over her mouth. Had the other male in the room not intervened, there's no telling what would have happened. Or so the anonymous letter contends.

Judge Kavanaugh has denied the claims.

Senate Democrats chose not to confront the judge with the accusations in a forum in which he could respond. They went to the press, where the standards of proof are low. The anonymous accuser was the latest #MeToo Madonna. We were told to believe her because she said it. That plays in some quarters, especially among those who are determined to block Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation to the high court at all costs. The judge is too conservative. He might vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

But the anonymity of the complaint deprived it of more than public relations value. To be credible, the story needed a face, a name, a person to own it in a public, or semi-public forum. So Ford came forward, in the manner, at the time, and for the reasons of her choice.Let's learn more about her motives, the better to assess her credibilty.

Judge Kavanaugh should have her served with a defamation suit before the Sun goes down.

Ford told The Post that it's all true. She even brought to an interview with reporters records from a treating psychologist whom she saw just a few years ago. She appears to have sought therapy in mid-life, perhaps marital therapy -- the Post doesn't say.

What the Post did say is that she told her therapist there were four men in the room. Not two. The discrepancy? The therapist go it wrong, Ford told the Post. Maybe. Although that's not the sort of detail a "victim" is likely to get wrong.

She also never named the men -- whether it be two, four, six of eight. Why? They are now powerful. They might retaliate. But surely these villains weren't powerful in high school, or in college, or in professional school, or when they first entered the job market? No complaint then? 

Neither would it be credible for her to claim the shame card, the most common reason folks contend they sit on allegations for decades. Ford wasn't raped. There's little shame about being held down by a drunken fellow party goer, as terrifying as that might have been -- if true.  If her claims were true in the 1980s, why not address them then, or in the decades since?

Let's have a public trial. Let's discover Ford's partisan affiliation, her interest in the outcome of the Kavanaugh hearings, her motives for coming forward only when it is too late for the judge to respond except at the cost of derailing his confirmation vote. I'm willing to bet she's a lifelong Democrat. I'm willing to bet she was outraged that Senate Republicans did not bring President Obama's last nominee to the high court, Merrick Garland, to a vote in 2016.

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal and New York Senator Chuck Schumer will now call for delay of the confirmation vote. Perhaps they will even call for reopening the confirmation process. Anything to push a full Senate vote on Kavanaugh off until after the November election, after which time, they no doubt hope, Democrats will be in the majority of the Senate and in a position to block the nomination of anyone President Trump nominates to the high court.

Don't run from this fight, Judge Kavanuagh. Embrace it. File suit. It's high time one of the accused demanded due process in the face of these libidinal smear campaigns. We've seem moguls, media personalities and Senators cut and run in response to anonymous claims of misconduct. Stand up and fight.

Unless, of course, you're guilty.  Then apologize and encourage us all to move on.

In the meantime, the Senate ought to hold a vote on the confirmation. If some Senators think these ancient claims are enough to force them to vote no, then so be it. The rest of us will await a contested civil trial. A weary nation will thank the judge for showing us what real proof looks like.


Who Wants $100,000?

                Remind me never to piss off John Uustal. Or, if I do, remind me that I should get him angry at someone I don’t like. The Florida litigator is so furious just now, he’s putting his money where his mouth is. If you have the information he is looking for, he will pay you up to $100,000.


            Uustal is a Florida plainitffs' lawyer. When he smells injustice, he goes into attack mode. His clients are glad he does. He’s a David in search of deep-pocketed Goliaths.


            Now plaintiffs’ lawyers get a bad rap. The business community regards them as gold-diggers – lawyers bent on making a buck from other people’s sorrow. That has a fine moralistic tinge to it. But let’s be real: when a corporation makes a mistake, it typically has a budget for legal fees that no little guy can match. Skilled plaintiffs' lawyers take cases on contingency fee because they assume the risk of failure.


            Folks like to talk about the McDonald’s coffee verdict years ago as an example of civil litigation run wild. You recall that suit, don’t you? That’s the case involving Stella Liebeck, who, at age 79, was badly burned when a cup of scalding coffee offered at a McDonald’s drive-through spilled into her lap. A jury awarded her almost $3 million in punitive damages.


            The case has been the staple of late-night comics and corporate mockers for almost a quarter of a century. I mean, millions of dollars for spilling a cup of coffee? Plenty of folks think that if you drink hot beverages and drive, you’re assuming the risk of a mishap.


            But here’s the story that rarely gets told: McDonalds is a massive corporation. It was aware of risk of customer’s being burned by coffee. Indeed, it estimated the number of such cases that would occur in a given year with the help of an actuary or two. It then had to decide just how hot to serve its coffee. The economists, marketers and actuaries got together and made a decision: If McDonald’s wanted to keep market share for piping hot coffee, it had to serve coffee at a temperature far hotter than its competitors. But that carried a risk of additional injuries for the inevitable spills.


            In the end, the jury in the McDonald’s case heard that company executives made a cost-benefit analysis. It was willing to risk serious burns to customers so long as it made more money in profit selling coffee than it paid out in injury claims. The $3 million paid to Ms. Liebeck represent an estimate of one day’s profit from selling coffee.


            That’s a trifling sum; hardly the boon to Ms. Liebeck propagandists make it out to be.


            But in an era of fake news, the headline is the thing. Why not another McDonald’s suit to fan the flames of animosity to plaintiffs and plaintiffs’ lawyers?


            A new McDonald’s suit was recently filed in Southern Florida. The basis of the suit? McDonald’s charges the same price for a quarter pounder with cheese as it does for a quarter pounder without cheese. The lawyers have filed a class action suit so that those who eat their meat without cheese get a rebate of some sort. The lawyers, of course, can rack up big fees. That is if the case survives a motion to dismiss.


            The suit is asinine, and lawyers who filed it should be ashamed. They give ambulance chasers a good name.


            But what if the lawyers aren’t doing this because they actually believe that they can win this silly suit? What if they are doing this as corporate dupes? Tongues are wagging in Florida, and the hunt is on for information about who is funding this stupid stunt.


            So if you have information about who is financing this execrable nonsense, contact Uustal.


            “We know that big corporate interests have successfully attacked the credibility of our civil justice system by highlighting frivolous lawsuits. They do it so they can eliminate truly righteous lawsuits,” Uustal says. “Frivolous lawsuits are poison. They not only create unfair costs for innocent defendants, they also allow powerful corporate interests to create a smoke screen to hide their truly despicable conduct.”

            Do you have any idea who is behind this latest McDonald’s suit? If so, contact Uustal at He’s offering as much as $100,000 to the first person who offers proof that leads to a judgment finding that the lawsuit is just a corporate scam.

            Tell him Norm sent you his way.


About Norm Pattis

Norm Pattis is a Connecticut based trial lawyer focused on high stakes criminal cases and civil right violations. He is a veteran of more than 100 jury trials, many resulting in acquittals for people charged with serious crimes, multi-million dollar civil rights and discrimination verdicts, and scores of cases favorably settled.

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I believe that the state is a necessary fiction and that failing to combat it is the first step toward tyranny.
– Norm Pattis


Nothing in this blog should be considered legal advice about your case. You need a lawyer who understands the context of your life and situation. What are offered here are merely suggested lines of inquiry you may explore with your lawyer.

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