Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Professor Bernie Ward, May He Rest in Peace, Would Have Loved It

While Charles Allen Wright was better known, Bernie Ward was an equally talented federal courts scholar at the University of Texas Law school when I was a student. I had Professor Ward and still marvel at the quality of his lectures and his interest in the fine jurisdictional distinctions related to the federal courts, which we were frequently reminded are "courts of limited jurisdiction." While I have doubts that many will relish wading through Judge Easterbrook's opinion in Baker v. IBP, Inc. (7th Cir. 4/4/04) [pdf], Professor Ward would have loved at least the initial discussion on why the district court was wrong to find that it lacked jurisdiction.

Professor Ward may not have been as interested in Judge Easterbrook's continuing dissertation over the economic problems with plaintiffs' case, which ultimately lead him to find it should be dismissed for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted.

Almost lost among all the jurisdictional and law and economic writing is an unusual set of allegations - that IBP, acting with others, was depressing the labor market by knowingly hiring illegal aliens, going so far as to allege that IBP would notify these workers on days when the INS might appear. (Judge Easterbrook wryly notes that the complaint fails to state how IBP knows of such dates.) This was a violation of RICO according to the complainants.

But for reasons you will have to read the opinion to discern, not a claim that could be successfully made as a legal matter.

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