East coast arrogance?

The Madison County Record Mar. 27, 2005, 9:37am

To the editor:

Your story on Alton attorney Emert Wyss accidentally suing himself would be funny if true but it is not either true or funny, at least as you describe it.

Wyss never brought a lawsuit of any kind, accidentally or otherwise. He represented McLaughlin in the purchase and refinancing of her house, and referred her to other lawyers for the class action lawsuit that she subsequently joined.

These other lawyers also did not sue Wyss, accidentally or otherwise. They added him as a defendant in the class action when the court determined that Centerre was a necessary party (your story doesn't distinguish between Wyss the individual and Centerre the corporation), but again Wyss did not do this to himself, and the Lakin law firm did not do it to him accidentally.

There are other problems with the article as well. For example, you fail to explain why the $60 fax fee (which you mysteriously reduce to $30 in a subsequent article), was a Centerre fee rather than one imposed by Alliance.

Since this is the critical fact in your criticism of the case, failing to explain it looks a little bit like a strategic "confession and avoidance" on your part (ask your lawyer friends what it means), and thus a tacit acknowledgment that your whole argument rests on a bogus assumption.

In addition, much of the deposition questioning by Brown quoted in the article seems pointless, and Brown himself gives up on it almost immediately, and yet you reproduce it anyway, for no ostensible purpose. This distracts from your argument.

Don't reporters in the Midwest know about Ockham's razor? You also make contradictory points. For example, if McLaughlin did not see, and thus was not aware of, the fax fee, how could she know that Centerre was the one charging it?

You can't have both these points; or don't reporters in the Midwest know about the principle of non-contradiction? And if Brown was such an effective attorney (which you seem to imply), why did the trial judge deny all of his motions on the merits? Don't reporters in the Midwest know about the evidence card?

This is a wholly made up article, which seems to have started (and ended) with a headline that you thought was clever. I hope that as your career develops you learn to write "the rest of the story." If not, you can always do stringer work for Fox. Maybe you already do.

I should add, the problem of class action abuse is a complicated one, and one which many serious and thoughtful people struggle to solve. This process is not advanced, however, by simple-minded, shill pieces like yours. But then maybe you're not really trying to solve the problem.

Bob Condlin
Professor of Law
University of Maryland School of Law

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