• July 7, 2014

A Tale of Two CitiesUpdate (July 7, 2014): Our civil justice system is A Tale of Two Stories. Trials are competing narratives and the fact-finders and law-givers decide whose stories they believe (if any). When one side does not show up, it can be the worst of times that that side…

Assuming Sr. U.S. District Court Judge Paul A. Magnuson (D. Minn.) got it right, it seems that a defendant fraudulently duped a business into providing a $4 million security deposit for a $20 million plane leasing transaction. The deal for the plane financing never worked out. But, in the mean time, defendant pledged the “security deposit” as collateral for another loan, on which he defaulted so that Plaintiff Castle Aero could never recover its “security deposit” from Defendant Erwin Lasshofer and his company, Innovatis Asset Management, S.A….

The Court finds that [Plaintiffs] Castle Aero…submitted substantial and compelling uncontroverted evidence against [Defendant] Lasshofer and finds that the overwhelming weight of the evidence establishes that Lasshofer engaged in fraudulent conduct…

I say “assuming” the Court got it right only because there was no Tale of Two Stories here. As described in the earlier posts, below, Lasshofer failed to show up for trial and had no representative or advocate at trial. Maybe he just had no other story to tell? It looks like we’ll never know.

prison-barsUpdate (June 16, 2014) (Under subject line: After Nearly Four Years of Litigation, A No-Show at Trial?): Plaintiff filed the lawsuit in late 2011. Trial was finally set to start this week. Defendants terminated their lawyers at the beginning of the month. Plaintiff has now moved for a default judgment. It certainly makes more sense than either forcing the plaintiff to put its entire trial on in an otherwise empty courtroom or, alternately, just cancelling the trial. Sometimes litigation, start to finish, is just a brief prologue to the more drawn out collection phase. Maybe collection will be the next chapter in this very long saga.

Update (May 16, 2014): (under subject line: Motion to Postpone Trial: Buying Time to Avoid Doing Time (For No Wrong-Doing): Motion denied.

Original post (May, 15, 2014): All civil litigators know that more than 90% of civil lawsuits settle or are otherwise disposed of before trial so the bulk of civil litigators’ professional lives are preparing for theatrical productions (that is, trials) that never make it to the stage.

It sometimes seems kind of surreal, for instance when lawyers heatedly dispute deadlines two years or more from now that they all recognize are very unlikely to apply to anything because the case will be over by then one way or another.

But trials do still happen of course and they sometimes sneak up on lawyers, who need more time. Usually, “I need more time because I have frittered away two years on other matters,” or “I was really sure this mess would settle” are not very persuasive arguments to judges. But in a recent filing the U.S. District Court (D. Minn.), there was a relatively novel argument that seems quite compelling to me: “If I come to the U.S. for trial, I risk being slapped in jail based on a baseless warrant…” (!)

The procedural history of the Castle Aero Florida International, Inc. v. Marketing and Financial Services, Inc. et al., seems over-complicated even for a law school civil procedure exam.

Putting that aside, a defendant seeks a delay in the scheduled June, 2014 trial date because a U.S. judge in Colorado has issued a warrant for his arrest for the supposed violation of a court order which the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has apparently vacated.

(On top of this, the litigants are still talking settlement so maybe they can avoid the bloodletting of trial AND the threat of an “unlawful deprivation of liberty” altogether…)

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