Big Business Has Two Faces on Litigation

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has a post about chemical and plastics giant Celanese legal malpractice lawsuit against one of its former law firms, claiming that discovery mistakes led to a $107 million settlement, which the company otherwise did not need to make but for the legal malpractice of the law firm. Kaye Scholer had represented Celanese from 2002 to 2006, an MDL brought by customers alleging the price-fixing of polyester fibers.

Celanese fired Kaye Scholer in 2006 and hired Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman. Now, these same lawyers are suing Celanese. Sneak preview to one of Kaye Scholer’s defenses to the legal malpractice action: you morons never should have settled the frivolous lawsuit in the first place. Don’t be surprised if lawyers at Kasowitz are served with deposition notices to explain why they settled the case and what recommendations they gave to Celanese.

What gets lost in the notions of tort reform and lawsuit abuse is that a quick glance at the largest verdicts in this country shows that most are business-to-business lawsuits.

I never particularly enjoyed George Carlin’s humor. But he had a great line that applies to big business: “Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” (Let’s face it, we all do this a bit.) Insurance companies and big businesses adopt a derivative of this logic: When you sue me, you are abusing the system; when I sue you, I’m seeking justice.