: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Houston Hospitals embroiled in suit over Anti-Competitive Practices

The now defunct Houston Town & Country Hospital has hired noted Houston Trial Attorney Rusty Hardin to sue the large non-profit Memorial Hermann Healthcare System for interfering with its ability to work with insurers, driving it out of business.

For news coverage see Houston Chronicle: Hospital lawsuits attract big legal talent, ABC 13: Two Houston hospitals duke it out in court, Isiah Carey’s Insite: IT’S GOING TO BE AN UGLY BATTLE: HOSPITAL VERSUS HOSPITAL WITH RUSTY HARDIN THROWN INTO THE MIX!

According to the Chronicle

Hardin obtained an internal AETNA Insurance e-mail which he says supports his clients’ claims. The email states quote: “If AETNA contracts with Town and Country, Memorial Hermann will demand a 25% rate increase.” Later it says, “This is an extremely hot issue with Memorial Hermann management…”

Memorial Hermann filed suit in federal court in response and has asked the judge “to find it is free to enter into exclusive or semi-exclusive contracts with insurers, even if they would preclude the smaller, privately owned hospital from contracting with those health insurers.”

On a somewhat sinister note, it was Memorial Hermann that acquired Town and Country after it closed. Houston Business Journal: Town & Country Hospital shuts doors, lays off employees.

Hardin, who made his bones as a Harris County Prosecutor for 15 years, never strays far from the limelight. His exploits have been well chronicled here and here.

Guiliani and Bracewell

I previously posted on this subject at A Firm by any Other Name. Susan Beck recently wrote an excellent, in-depth article at The American Lawyer: Texas Two-Step: Giuliani and Houston’s Bracewell Learn the Politics of Dancing

Litigation Reality Check – Reversing Juries in Coca-Cola v. Harmar

From the Texas Observer: Hitting the Bottlers

In 2000, after a six-week trial, a jury in Daingerfield, Texas, found Coca-Cola Enterprises—a bottling company 40 percent-owned by Coca-Cola—guilty of breaking state antitrust laws. Although a far cry from the $100 million they were hoping for, Harmar and the other regional bottlers won a $15.6 million judgment. Almost seven years later, they have yet to see a dime.

In late 2006, after sitting on the case for nearly two years, the Texas Supreme Court finally ruled on Coke’s appeal of the suit. By a 5-4 vote, the state’s highest civil court threw out the verdict.

Reversing a multimillion dollar judgment is not out of character for a court packed with conservative judges, six of them appointed by Gov. Rick Perry before winning pro forma elections. But the legal reasoning that the slim majority used to justify its ruling was so alarming—and sets such an unappetizing precedent—that it has spawned incredulity in Texas legal circles.

Opinion: Coca-Cola Co. v. Harmar Bottling Co., 2006-2 Trade Cas. (CCH) ¶ 75464 (Tex., Oct. 20, 2006). More commentary from Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, Perlmutter & Schuelke: Vanishing Jury Trial Part 1 and part 2, and The Federalist Society.

NY Times, Legal Battle Over Drivers’ Gun Rights in Texas

File under “Unusual Bedfellows”…

In a report issued in February, the Texas affiliate of the National Rifle Association joined the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition “to spotlight unlawful, unnecessary governmental encroachment on average law-abiding citizens.”

NY Times: Legal Battle Over Texas Drivers’ Gun Rights

A Firm by Any Other Name

I ran into an associate at Bracewell & Giuliani this weekend and couldn’t resist knowing if he had any Rudy sightings. In 2005, former U.S. Attorney, NYC Mayor and now Presidential Candidate Rudy Giuliani joined then Bracewell & Patterson as a name partner and started the New York office. At the time, I wondered if this arrangement not might be more ‘name’ than ‘partner’. I’m assured that this is no mere endorsement and that Rudy is involved in day to day operations to surprisingly degree, focusing on client acquisition and management. This makes sense. If you were a potential client facing complex business litigation in bet-the-company scenarios, can you imagine a more reassuring figure than the guy who lead NYC through 9-11?

Given Rudy’s lead in the polls, however, I wonder if Bracewell & Giuliani might not have to consider another name change in the not too distant future? At the very least, TRPC 7.01(c) would seem to prohibit the name of a sitting President from being used in the name of the firm.

(c) The name of a lawyer occupying a judicial, legislative, or public executive or administrative position shall not be used in the name of a firm, or in communications on its behalf, during any substantial period in which the lawyer is not actively and regularly practicing with the firm.

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