SIHTAF: Manny Pacquiao Made Me Bet Wrong


Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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30 Responses

  1. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I’m not sure whether I would consider a high-profile boxing match to be a nice thing but YMMV 😉

    That being said I am an ardent plaintiff’s lawyer and a firm hater of cheap shots against hot coffee lawsuits and cheap jibes at ambulance chasers. I think our nation suffers when we gave a higher status to corporate and business law over anything else, followed by non-profit law. Why is it more prestigious to represent a Fortune 500 company in litigation or transactional matters than it is to help a non-profit with their 501(c)(3) status? Why is it better to defend a corporation than represent someone who was injured on the job or a victim of employment discrimination? I think law schools might have not found themselves in the mess they are currently in if they were able to stress what Lee has called “real people law” better. But I also have a theory that people prefer corporate litigation and transactional work because there is less psychology and helping people with emotional and legal problems. Most real people law involves people who are in trouble and/or not very happy situations.

    I am also a firm believer in the importance of class actions because they help prevent against aggregate injuries that would never be litigated on an individual basis but work when combing 200,000 class members or even a few hundred or thousand class members.

    Yet this lawsuit does seem to stretch class action credulity to me even if you can make a straight-face argument that there was some form of fraud involved in a very letter of the law manner.

    I suspect that my belief above might get me seen as more of a fair-weather ally. I wonder if I do often have issues with getting seen as a fair-weather ally instead of a team player. I was also against the California proposition for drug testing doctors even though it would have raised the cap on fees in med mal lawsuits (something that I do support).

    Interestingly my girlfriend went to business school and is much more conservative on these matters than I am. She dislikes contingency fees and thinks it provides a wrong incentive. I often have to defend contingency fees as the only way poor people and even middle-class people can bring a variety of very valid lawsuits.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I’ve often found the complaints about contingency fees oddly anti free market but almost always made by conservative/free market advocates. What could be more wonderfully capitalist then the incentive to win/create/work hard by only getting paid if you win. You do a good job and the rewards flow; bad job , no soup for you.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to greginak says:

        Liberals criticize them for class action suits. John Grisham wrote a whole novel.Report

      • There was a ballot proposition out here a while ago to cap contingency rates. Championed, of course, by advocates of the free market.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          Med Mal and Worker’s Comp and some other stuff is capped. Worker’s Comp is capped at something very low like 10 or 15 percent. Same with SSDI. The way firms do SSDI and Worker’s Comp is as a volume business.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to greginak says:

        I have a hard time interpreting arguments for abolishing contingency fees as anything other than a bald attempt at preventing poor and middle class people from access to the justice system. The kindest take on it is that the person making the argument hasn’t really thought it through.

        The thing is, a lawyer only takes a case on a contingency fee basis if he believes there is a reasonable shot at winning. In other words, the case goes through an expert filter before ever getting files. He might be wrong, of course. He might even be incompetently wrong. But compare this with a case taken on a hourly basis, with a plaintiff who has some thousands of dollars to burn. In that sort of case the plaintiff probably does not know if it is a good case, and the lawyer does not care. If he is ethical he will explain the problems to the plaintiff, but in the end an eager plaintiff with money to spend can find a wiling lawyer.

        So suppose we enter into a tort reform no-contingency-fee utopia. At that point, what possible incentive would, for example, an automobile liability carrier have to pay out on a claim, unless the claimant had the resources to sue? The vast majority of claims are settled without ever going near a courthouse, but the possibility that they could is the driving force behind serious settlement offers.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Richard Hershberger says:


          I think you are generally right but there are also plenty of times when plaintiff’s firms really do rush in before looking at things. This usually happens in pharma litigation and class actions. There are a lot of benefits given to the first to file or being among the first to file.

          I’ve also seen valid cases that end up paying a lot less than expected because of the number of claimants and the assets for the company. This usually happens when the defendant is a newer company.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

          I also don’t think you can legally abolish contingency fees. One reason why lawyers were explicitly excluded from the FSLA is so they could take alternate fee agreements like contingency fees or flat fees. There are also plenty of patent firms that are willing to take a percentage of profits if they think they have a lucrative patent on their hand (imagine if you were approached by a young Larry Page and Sergey Birn and they wanted to Patent the Google Algorithm. If someone had the foresight to take something like that for a percentage of profits, they would be very very rich right now.)Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            Or luck. There’s some SV firm out there that got paid 10% of outstanding equity in exchange for locking up all the IP rights to and GeoCities.

            Getting equity points for IP work is a gamble, too. And sometimes, someone wins the Lotto. I hope it’s me. But I don’t base my financial planning on it.Report

            • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko says:

              My Corporations Professor told us that he went into Corporate Law because even though the contingency fee can yield high rewards, he was not a gambling man….Report

        • So suppose we enter into a tort reform no-contingency-fee utopia.

          At the same time we abolish safety and environmental regulations, of course.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to greginak says:

        Yeah, I don’t get it, either. It’s way too blunt an instrument, and seems like the worst possible way to approach tort reform. I would much rather see reforms that specifically target dubious cases and lawyers who bring them.

        In particular, I’d like to see something that protects businesses against the “threaten to sue so they’ll settle just because it’s cheaper” gambit. I haven’t really thought about what the best way to do that would be, though. Loser-pays?

        Of course, you have to regulate contingency fees for class-action suits, because lawyers don’t actually negotiate with clients, but as Saul points out that is already the case.

        One reform I would like to see is a ban on punitive damages in cases against publicly held corporations. This ends up punishing shareholders for something they had little control over*. When it’s been determined that there was misconduct of a nature where punitive damages would be appropriate, the specific individuals responsible should pay them, not the shareholders. This should provide adequate if not better disincentives while a) avoiding punishing the wrong people, and b) reducing the incentive for lawyers to pursue longshot cases in hopes of a punitive damages jackpot.

        All of the above, of course, comes with the caveat that I’m not a lawyer.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          There is already a way to make the people responsible liable for corporate wrong-doing, its called piercing the corporate veil. However, it is mainly applied to cases where the corporation is clearly the alter-ego of the tortfeasor rather than large corporations with many shareholders.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I think our nation suffers when we gave a higher status to corporate and business law over anything else, followed by non-profit law. Why is it more prestigious to represent a Fortune 500 company…

      Out of curiosity, how are you defining status and prestige? Money or something else?Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Part of me says that the people who lost are only $90 down and probably aren’t in bad shape because of that unless they were prodigal son types. Another part of me says that Nevada law was broken by people hoping to make a lot of money off the fight and those people should not be rewarded for this.Report

  3. Avatar Vikram Bath says:

    a reasonably good lawyer

    If I were him, I’d throw out all my business cards and get new ones with this endorsement on there.Report

  4. Avatar Kolohe says:

    I don’t think you have anything to apologize for. I don’t think the plaintiffs’ suit is silly – I think they are unlikely to win, but I don’t think they are being totally ridiculous.

    Given that the government of the state of Nevada has declared a substantial interest in the sport of boxing and in the transparency of gaming operations through extensive regulation of each, there is then a minimum expectation of quality of each facet.

    Now, the standards for the spectacle itself are quite low. Presumably, regulations would preemptively stop the fight if the Congressman showed up in a Hoveround, but medical clearance pretty much means those watching the fight have no other warranty, expressed or implied. (though that’s part of the issue. Did Pacquiao lie about his medical history, under penalty of perjury?)

    The transparency of information at the sports book is a bigger issue and one where the plaintiff’s may have firmer ground (and an actual case that goes forward). Though, at the end of the day, they would probably have to prove some sort of collusion, which is unlikely to have happened.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kolohe says:

      Though on the other hand, one guy bringing the suit is professional magician (&former underwear model) and the other one recently worked in marketing and advertising for the Bellagio (and is now a spa co-owner), so it probably is a publicity stunt.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Kolohe says:

      You pays your money, you takes your chances. You inform your bet as best you can, and if you don’t know relevant information when placing it. Oh. Well. “Sorry you lost, sir. Better luck next time.”

      That’s what it is to gamble.

      There is risk inherent in the activity. That’s why they call it “gambling,” not “making money off of some fool who doesn’t know as much as you.” Of course, if you did call it “making money off of some fool who doesn’t know as much as you,” then maybe you ought to hesitate before putting your money at risk, if you can’t immediately identify who the uninformed fool is. If you don’t like to lose, then don’t play.Report

  5. Avatar CJColucci says:

    Fighters in Nevada have to fill out forms, under penalty of perjury, that, among other things, require disclosure of injuries. It’s one thing to say that figuring out the health and condition of a fighter is part of the risk of gambling on a fight and you’re on your own; it’s quite another to say that a fighter can lie about it on official forms that require the truth be disclosed.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to CJColucci says:

      Let the State of Nevada file perjury charges against Mr. Pacquiao, then.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to CJColucci says:

      There’a saying in MMA that if you don’t have some sort of injury on fight night, you probably didn’t have a very good training camp. MMA fighters regularly lie about injuries to the media so as not to tip their hand to their opponent.of course, that’s a sport where a bum leg means the other guy can kick you there, or a bad shoulder means they can put extra torque on it in the clinch to slow down your punches. I’ve even seen a fighter hide two broken hands for four rounds by only throwing elnows and kicks.

      I suspect boxing is similar and obviously Manny was willing to fight hurt. He’s a warrior. Anyone that doesn’t understand a sport enough to know these things should probably avoid placing bets on it.Report