In Ordering Sanctions, Judge Also Clears Up Style Problems

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 12:00 am  

You may have read elsewhere that Ryan Solomon of the Rose Law Firm has been ordered to pay $10,000 for his misconduct in the Keystone Kopish deposition of his client, USA Drug scion Jason LaFrance, back in November.

U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson also ordered the U.S. Attorney's Office to pay $4,000 for the work created for the opposing counsel, Pat James, by improperly moving the civil case that USA Drug's parent company filed against a former executive, Garret Sorensen, from state court to federal court.

What you haven't learned is that Wilson, while mopping up the mess in federal court, also settled a long-running stylistic dispute over the proper term for charges racked up in the performance of legal work:

"In reviewing Sorensen's request for ‘attorneys' fees,'" Wilson wrote in a footnote, "I stumbled into a style and usage skirmish that is reminiscent of the egg-cracking dispute between Lilliput and Blefuscu. See Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels, at 40-41 (Signet Classics, 1999). In Gulliver's Travels, the two nations warred over whether the big end or the little end of the egg should be uppermost when the egg was eaten. Id. Likewise, in the federal reporters, numerous courts have struggled to resolve the "stylistic dilemma of whether to use ‘attorney fees,' ‘attorneys fees,' ‘attorney's fees,' or ‘attorneys' fees'.... For uniformity's sake, I will use ‘attorney's fees' throughout this Order."

Meanwhile, Back in State Court
Wilson weeks ago sent the case of Stephen L. LaFrance Holdings Inc. v. Garret Sorensen et al back to the Pulaski County Circuit Court from whence it was improperly removed by federal prosecutors.

And there, on Dec. 14, Ryan Solomon repeated his request that the case be dismissed completely rather than have Jason LaFrance and his father and brother, Stephen LaFrance Sr. and Stephen LaFrance Jr., sit for depositions that might help Sorensen and his wife and sister-in-law defend themselves against related criminal charges that are pending in federal court.

Dismissals in circuit court are generally routine, but in this case, Pat James has tried to file a countersuit alleging defamation of Garret and Katherine Sorensen. So the case has been in legal limbo awaiting action by Judge Wendell Griffen.

There is about to be some activity: Griffen has scheduled a status hearing for 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

And in case Griffen declines to dismiss the case, James has tentatively scheduled depositions of the LaFrances starting Feb. 20. And not in Jason LaFrance's garage this time.

"My office," James told Whispers. "Where we have heat and air; chairs; conference table; and, yes, a bathroom."

The criminal trial for the Sorensens and Katherine's sister, Shannon Walters, is scheduled to start on May 1 in Judge Wilson's federal courtroom. They are accused of illegally routing commissions from USA Drug, where Garret Sorensen was a vice president, to an advertising placement business they set up without his employers' knowledge.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.