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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Ind. Decisions - "Judges deal double defeat to songwriter who sued Lake tourism bureau"

The August 3rd 7th Circuit decision in Cheryl Janky v. Lake Co. Convntion & Visitors Bureau (reported by the ILB here) and the 21-page order dated July 31st, out of the ND Hammond Division, in the case of Cheryl Janky v. Speros Batistatos et al (reported here by the ILB) are the subject of this story today by Dan Hinkel of the NWI Times. Some quotes:

HAMMOND | Hammond songwriter Cheryl Janky has filed several lawsuits against the Lake County tourism bureau over a doo-wop song, but two recent judicial decisions might give Janky material more appropriate for a blues record.

On Monday, judges from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago reversed the judgment and $100,000 jury award Janky won in 2007 when she sued the Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau for licensing the song "Wonders of Indiana" from another songwriter. Janky claimed she wrote the song alone. The panel of federal appeals judges ruled Monday that Janky wrote the song with Lakes of the Four Seasons songwriter Henry Farag, overturning the judgment and negating her award.

"This doo-wop ditty is a joint work," wrote 7th Circuit Judge Terence T. Evans.

One business day earlier, Hammond federal Judge Philip Simon dealt with another of Janky's lawsuits against the bureau when he issued an indignant rebuke and a $16,000 fine aimed at stopping Janky and her lawyers from continuing to file what Simon sees as abusive, haphazardly reasoned and "nearly indecipherable" legal claims against the tourism bureau.

"I have strong doubts as to whether they even bothered to proofread, let alone check, the foundations of their legal theories," Simon wrote.

More from the story:
The 7th Circuit judges called the case "over-litigated" in their opinion that overturned Magistrate Judge Paul Cherry's 2006 summary judgment in favor of Janky and the $100,000 a jury awarded in March 2007.

Simon's decision Friday was related to a federal lawsuit that followed Janky's $100,000 victory. The second suit claimed the bureau and its lawyers used unreasonable defenses in the first suit. Simon found this second suit to be based on a "flimsy" legal claim.

Simon's excoriating 21-page opinion and order fines Janky $1,000, while her Detroit-based attorneys, Gregory Reed and Stephanie L. Hammonds, absorb fines of $10,000 and $5,000, respectively.

Aiming to pre-empt the thickening of the legal "morass," Simon also ruled that if Hammonds and Reed file another federal civil suit against the bureau, they will have to post $5,000 to cover the "high probability of further sanctions." Simon noted many other cases that have led judges to fine the two lawyers. Simon wrote the lawyers seem to be "flaunting their inappropriate conduct."

Simon also chastised the lawyers for their "numerous typographical mistakes, run-on sentences, spelling errors and pervasive inability to put down on paper a cogent, comprehensible English sentence." He wrote that in one legal filing, the lawyers appeared to accidentally mention satellite television provider DirecTV. Simon wrote he suspects this was caused by an errant cut-and-paste.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 5, 2009 09:34 AM
Posted to Ind Fed D.Ct. Decisions | Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions