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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Litigation Nation: Sue Everyone (SBUX)

The owner of a small coffee shop sued Starbuck's for anti-competitive practice. The suit alledges that Starbuck's paid above market rent to get exclusive rights to sell coffee in certain locations. The suit was filed in California.

Also in the nations largest state, the attorney general has filed suit against six big car companies for polluting the air. The emission harmed the infrastucture and the health of the state's citizens. The car companies are being blamed for global warming consequence.

And, of course, a federal judge has allowed a class action suit to go forward by plantiffs who claim that "light" cigarettes were just a little trick to make people think it was healthier to smoke if the product had the "light" label. The large tobacco companies have won virtually all of the previous actions blaming them for smoking-related illnesses.

The labels on the cigarettes that claimed that smoking would kill smokers did not seem to matter to the court. The state of California made no attempt to ban cars with dangerous emissions. The local coffee merchant was not open to paying above market rent to get better locations.

Perhaps as summer wanes, and fewer people can vacation and go to the beach, the need for excitement has found its new home in the court system.

A small prediction. The plantiffs will win none of these.

Douglas A. McIntyre can be reached at He does not own secutities in any of the companies that he writes about.

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