April 27, 2009
Cold Comfort for West in "Sham" Treatise Pocket Part Ruling
In a federal lawsuit, law profs David Rudovsky (Pennsylvania) and Leonard Sosnov (Widener Law School) claimed that the December 2008 pocket part to their book, Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure -- Law, Commentary and Forms (West Publishing) was so poorly researched that it harmed their reputations because their names were prominently displayed as authors of the pocket part. Late last week, the authors were denied their motion for a preliminary injunction by Judge Fuller of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania because prior to the injunction hearing West Publishing has taken sufficient steps to remedy the situation. [text of Rudovsky v. West Publishing Corp.] From the opinion:
[D]efendants informed their subscribers that the plaintiffs had not had any part in the preparation of the 2008-2009 pocket part, and that the pocket part contained errors and omissions which would be remedied in the subsequent pocket part. Subscribers were also advised, in rather small print, that upon request, they would be given a financial credit against subsequent pocket parts.
Judge Fuller took notice of the quality of the pocket part produced solely by West's editorial staff in these words:
[T]he quality of that particular pocket part was not up to standard. Few, if any, relevant court decisions were included in the publication; and the reader was not informed that some cases cited in earlier volumes had since been reversed or modified.
It sounds about par for the quality of research one would expect from 1L students and should make us all wonder about the quality of work being generated in West's information factory.
All Is Not Lost for the Law Profs. The Legal Intelligencer reports that Thomson-Reuter's spokesperson John Shaughnessy issued a one-line statement that said: "We’re pleased with today’s result" but the ruling may still be a setback for West because Judge Fuller appears to support some of the authors' claims:
On the basis of the evidence thus far available, it seems clear that plaintiffs have established a right to some form of remedy – damages to reputation come to mind – but it would seem that the harm has already been done, and that, if plaintiffs do require further injunctive relief in order to complete their remedy, such relief would be just as effective after final hearing.
Might be time for West to write Rudovsky and Sosnov checks.
What About Base Volume Sales? The law profs may be losing income from lost sales at the moment. I have heard from one Pennsylvanian law librarian that she could not even buy a replacement copy of Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure -- Law, Commentary and Forms base volume from West at this time. Her blood-stained copy (returned from a jail library) is all she has.
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You misspelled the judge's name - it's Fullam, not Fuller.
Posted by: CarefulReader | Jun 12, 2009 9:18:52 AM