No You Can't Sue For Anti-Trust Violations From Two Decades Ago

from the statute-of-limitations dept

A year ago, we noted that Jerry Kaplan had suddenly scooped up the rights to his famously failed pen computing startup, Go, and and sued Microsoft for antitrust violations. At the time, we wondered if there was some sort of statute of limitations on suing for antitrust violations. Turns out that was a good question to ask. A court has dismissed the case, noting that some of the accusations go back 20 years. They say Kaplan can file a new lawsuit if he focuses on any harm Microsoft has done the company in the last four years — which still seems rather open ended. Since the company hasn’t existed in quite some time, what’s to stop him from claiming it would have been a great success over the last four years?


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Comments on “No You Can't Sue For Anti-Trust Violations From Two Decades Ago”

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55 Comments
Go Alum says:

Crime pays

While I agree that waiting this long to file suit looks a little ridiculous, and the chances of GO’s success even without Microsoft’s unethical acts were (in 20-20 hindsight) low, given that pen computing hasn’t taken off since, the fact remains that Microsoft acted unethically, and quite possibly in criminally, and people were harmed and suffered damages as a result.

And accepting a cnet report of a Microsoft characterization of judge’s decision doesn’t show a lot of healthy skepticism. 20 years ago Jerry was creating Lotus Agenda with Mitch Kapor, and GO hadn’t been founded, so I doubt the judge characterized the claims as more than 20 years old.

And you failed to note the updated cnet story “A California state claim by Go remains.” So there is still a chance to see Microsoft punished for its damages (and Jerry to get rich 🙂

Rickie Edwards says:

Re: why people sue each other so often

Amen! Most of the hyped lawsuits rip off consumers. Too bad microsoft ‘dominated’ the market.

We COULD have had lame OSes from DEC, IBM and the like for thousands of dollars. Too bad we lost all of that and got useless Windows that runs about $100. What a shame.

Ronde says:

what is wrong with people

I mean really, why is everyone suing all the time. This lawsuit is from something 20 years ago. Let it go, my god. Its sad what people are suing over these days. I mean someone suing McDonalds because their coffee was hot, and they didn’t warn her.

What is the world coming to? Soon people will be suing because someone took part of their air or something.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: what is wrong with people

That McDonalds lawsuite is widely publicized incorrectly. I think you have the wrong version in your head there. Yes, I did call the thought police on you. Sorry. But…

How would you like if scalding hot coffee burned your inner thighs and genetalia?

Google for McDonalds coffee law suit and read about it.

Cutter892 says:

Re: Re: what is wrong with people

Coffee is severved HOT! On the cups there is the warning that the contents is HOT! McDonalds would only be lyable for the the coffee burning the customer if an employee was haddling the coffee at the time of the spill. This lady had the coffee in here car and burned her self while adding cream and sugar. So it is actually her own fault for spilling it in the first place do to miss handling not McDonalds for serving there coffee the people like it,hot.

To answer your question it would suck to get burned by coffee, but it would be my own fault for the spill if I remove the lid to do something to the coffee.

Cutter892 says:

Re: Re: what is wrong with people

Coffee is severved HOT! On the cups there is the warning that the contents is HOT! McDonalds would only be lyable for the the coffee burning the customer if an employee was haddling the coffee at the time of the spill. This lady had the coffee in here car and burned her self while adding cream and sugar. So it is actually her own fault for spilling it in the first place do to miss handling not McDonalds for serving there coffee the people like it,hot.

To answer your question it would suck to get burned by coffee, but it would be my own fault for the spill if I remove the lid to do something to the coffee.

Tim (user link) says:

Actually...

I’m all for suing Microsoft. And Google. Oh, and George W. Bush. And anybody else who has more money and/or power than me.

They’re all idiots.

Yeah…

And, no, I’m not saying they should get away with unethical/illegal behavior. But it seems like people tend to expose their jealousies on these companies/people.

Here’s a suggestion. Make a billion dollars and then you can be sued too.

Oh, and “YO!”…I think you hit submit on the wrong site. Heh.

Itinerant Critic (profile) says:

It's not so simple

So why not sue? If he’s buys the rights and can prevail in a case, is it altogether wrong? Perhaps he takes the proceeds and creates something altogether new. Perhaps he donates it to a charity in dire need. Perhaps the litigation moves the book of law in this area that much father along. We sometimes attach too much importance to certain characteristics of what we believe “real work” is. If we judge on the basis of hard work, let’s all line up behind the guy picking lettuce. Let’s not cast stones — we all live in glass houses.

Elbobo says:

McDonalds Coffee Lawsuit

Obviously some of you can’t be bothered to actually search for the facts on the case. McDonalds was found liable because they had had over 700 injury complaints and yet still kept their coffee at a temperature of 180-190 degrees (unfit for human consumption) (home coffee is served at 135-140 degrees) They said they kept it that hot because people buy coffee at drivethroughs to drink when they get to work so it will be 135-140 when they get to work. The jury called BS on them…since they probably have all drank coffee in their car. They also refused to drop the holding temperature. The initial settlement was for 200,000 in compensatory damages reduced to 160,000 because she was 20% responsible and 2.7 million in punitive due to the attitude of the McDonalds corporate people who said that this was just a cost of doing business thing. (2.7 million is 2 days worth of coffee sales at McDonalds)

Yeah, people like their coffee hot…but coffee that can cause instant 3rd degree burns is not hot, it’s scalding.

Please before you just say “some dumb bitch spilt coffee in her lap and then sues” get the facts:

http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm

Larry says:

This is the weirdest line of comments I have ever

It reminds me of the conversation I used to have with adults at my 4 year old daughter’s playdates. The adults try to carry on a conversation, with the children constantly interrupting.

To the adults:

Remember that Microsoft et al have teams of lawyers on retainer, so each additional suit imparts little additional cost to them. These guys rarely win. Remember that even the McDonald’s coffee guy got his award drastically reduced on appeal.

To the children:

24!!!!

Billy Bob says:

leeches

This case is the usual get rich quick approach to corporate failures/startups. As stated previously, why work to make your company great when you can just sue the target of a legitimate lawsuit, even if it has little to do with your own failure. Key to success now days: have a GREAT lawyer!

As for the McDonalds thing, it is completely her fault. McDonalds was right in assuming people would drink it at work as it’s been show how careless people are when driving as they devote attention to eating, tuning the radio, talking on the cell phone. Maybe if she would focus her attention to driving (which is what you’re supposed to do when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle), she wouldn’t have dumped hot coffe in her lap as it should have been in a drink holder anyway.

So, because she has bad driving habits, and apperently quite clumbsy, she’s entitled to millions??

Remind me to sue the maker of my razor next time i cut myself shaving… there’s not reason for them to be that sharp!!!!!

Yokono says:

Tort reform...

I love how liberals spew stuff like “2.7 million is 2 days worth of coffee sales at McDonalds”, like they paid nothing for the coffee to begin with, the equipment needed to make coffee, the money needed to pay people like you $10 / hour to make the coffee, and who knows how much money in CYA warnings, signage, specs, regs, etc, all in at least 2 languages. Bobo, why should one lady get money, and 700+ get nothing? Or do you think they should all get millions… I mean, 2 billion is _only_ 1481.5 days worth of coffee sales at McDonalds. Who wants to give bin laden all the credit for destroying the world’s economy? Can’t we just destroy McDonald’s, Microsoft, Walmart, and all get along?

If you don’t think there are frivilous lawsuits in this country, then you are ignorant.

I’m no huge fan of McDonalds or Microsoft, but what’s right is right… No matter how big you are, how much money you make, how many people you employ, how much you donate…

johnny says:

Re: Tort reform...

Set your indoctrination aside once in awhile and you might learn something new (yes, there are still things in this world to learn after taking the Limbaugh/Orielly/Hannity world tour).

The point of the original post you responded to was to illustrate that public opinion and that facts are sometimes not in alignment (wow, imagine that). You may still not come to same conclusion as the jury, but I believe the point was made.

Next time leave your imaginary “liberal” straw man at home in your closet. If you need to get off on blasting some more “spewing liberals” (spew- nice falacious and cheap tactic there), pull him out have your way.

aal says:

Sueing ...

Well the constitution of USA is all about checks and balances. But unfortunately somebody forgot to include checks and balances economic power. Suing is a nice way to keep the economic power in check. So sue away anybody who has assets more than say a 100 mil. lest they becomes black holes which tear apart everything around them.

Matt says:

Real Tort Reform

“I love how liberals spew stuff…”

Who said they were liberals? If you don’t know how much profit McDonald’s makes, feel free to ask a conservative who was or is a McDonald’s manager.

“what’s right is right”

Exactly. A reasonable person takes a certain amount of risk and accepts responsibilty when they are burned. They expect coffee to be hot based on past experience. When McDonald’s serves coffee that is MUCH hotter than a reasonable person can expect, they should make it known. The fact is that McDonald’s was warned repeatedly that they were serving coffee WAY hotter than people were expecting and there were some serious injuries. They refused to do anything.

If these people knew that the coffee was being served at temperatures that would immediately cause 3rd degree burns, they would have known to handle it with more care.

Imagine if you got a rental car and the first time you touched the gas at all, the car took off at the highest acceleration possible. You’d get in a car wreck immediately. Wouldn’t the rental agency be at fault? You have a reasonable expectation that the car will perform a certain way.

Yokono says:

Ahhh... I see...

You’re saying she took the risk of screwing around with a cup of coffee, in her lap, in her car, because she thought it was only 140 degrees… You’re right, a truly reasonable person. I’m not sure why she didn’t bring the automobile manufacturer into the deal, now that you mention it. She probably could have got a lot more, as I’m certain some amount of blame could be derived from their malfunctioning vehicle.

I’m just sick and tired of people not having any personal accountability, and being rewarded for it.

P.S. What’s wrong with profit? Isn’t profit what you’re left with after the government takes a bunch of your money?

Yokono says:

Ahhh... I see...

You’re saying she took the risk of screwing around with a cup of coffee, in her lap, in her car, because she thought it was only 140 degrees… You’re right, a truly reasonable person. I’m not sure why she didn’t bring the automobile manufacturer into the deal, now that you mention it. She probably could have got a lot more, as I’m certain some amount of blame could be derived from their malfunctioning vehicle.

I’m just sick and tired of people not having any personal accountability, and being rewarded for it.

P.S. What’s wrong with profit? Isn’t profit what you’re left with after the government takes a bunch of your money?

Yokono says:

Dang...

I guess you really _can’t_ say anything without offending the “tolerant” crowd. That’s cool, you “enlightened” ones just let the rest of us know when you’ve got it all figured out. I won’t bother you any more johnny, maybe then you can stay on topic, or at least maybe start blasting a few of those preschooler posts, instead of others with “differing opinions than yourself” (wow, imagine that)…

bye bye

johnny says:

Re: Dang...

“Tolerant” crowd? “Enlightened?” Are those more of your code words? Little phrases that demean without evidence or the presentation of an actual argument?

Differing opinion is what this country was built on (like I said, you can still disagree with the jury’s conclusion), but if you say things like “spewing liberals” and expect them to stand on their own then I think you’re being naive. You seem like a smart person, don’t have a temper tantrum and run away on my account. Take your medicine like a man! Or explain to me why I’m wrong without personal attacks!(I tend to be wrong alot, so I’m used to it)

btw- I like the “preschooler” posts, they tend to be very funny.

The Obvious says:

Coffee WARNING

New McDonald’s warning label:

CAUTION – CONTENTS HOT!

PLEASE SEE FORD WARNING LABEL.

New Ford warning label:

CAUTION – VEHICLE VIBRATION DURING OPERATION MAY CAUSE UNEXPECTED/UNINTENTIONAL RESULTS. PLEASE DO NOT OPEN COFFEE LIDS WHILE OPERATING THIS VEHICLE.

New EXXON Gasoline Warning label:

PLEASE DO NOT CONSUME COFFEE WHILE PUMPING GAS. THE FUMES MAY CAUSE TEMPORARY DIZZINESS AND CREATE AN UNINTENTIONAL COFFEE SPILLAGE.

Should I go on???

Matt says:

Re: Coffee WARNING

Should I go on???

Sure, if you enjoy hyperbole.

I can do it too: Why don’t we get rid of all warnings? We could save tax money by not putting signs out warning people of highway repair. It should be obvious, right? Why are we wasting money by listing the side effects of over the counter drugs? Drugs have side effects. People should just know that. They should read the fine print if they want to know that it kills pregnant women.

No. That’s not how it works. Reasonable people have reasonable expectations. If someone wants you to take an abnormal or extraordinary risk, they should disclose that fact. If not, you won’t know to take the right precautions.

If fumes at an Exxon station are such that people easily get dizzy, there SHOULD be a warning. What kind of moron expects to get dizzy every time gas is pumped?

Matt says:

Ahhh... I see...

No, that’s not at all what I am saying. People take a certain amount of risk every day. She expected, just as any reasonable person would, that the coffee might burn to a certain degree and took a certain level of precaution. No reasonable person feels it necessary to treat a cup of coffee as if it is hot enough for a third degree burn. The jury assigned her a portion of the blame, but McDonalds knew they were selling a product that was dangerously hot and did nothing about it. They knew that their customers were unaware the coffee was hot enought to cause third degree burns. They also knew that customers generally drink the coffee in their car and packaged it for that purpose.

I’m tired of people expecting individuals to be accountable when a corporation endangers them willingly for profit. There needs to be both personal accountability AND corporate accountability. There is no corporate accountability because they control the PR and the media.

P.S. I didn’t say there was anything wrong with profit. You implied that the 2.7 million figure was gross, not net. That’s easily the amount of net profit on coffee for McDonald’s in two days. Punitive damages to corporations are generally too low to actually produce the desired effect, not too hight.

Why should a person go to jail for endangering others and a corporation simply pays a fine that’s barely a slap on the wrist?

Billy Bob says:

Ahhh... I see...

Matt… you’re an ignoramus.

“I’m tired of people expecting individuals to be accountable when a corporation endangers them willingly for profit”

I’d agree if that statement held true to the McDonalds case. The tabacco industry falls under that heading. But McDonalds, because their coffee is hotter than everyone else? You REALLY think McDonalds sat around devising this brilliant plan to burn it’s customers so they’d become repeat business????!!!

Fine, most places keep their coffee at 140 degrees or whatever the “agreed upon” temperature is for coffee (not sure what world wide consurtium came up with the official number…???) How many people order drinks at this temperature and gulp them right down??? They probably don’t because IT’S TOO HOT!!

It’s not that we should get rid of all warnings, it’s that people should actually pay attention to warnings that are already there. If something is HOT… don’t treat it like it’s kool aid or a frosty. I’m not sure about you, but i don’t care if something’s 140 degrees or 180 degrees… i don’t want it in my lap.

Stop signs…how many times a day do you see people roll through them… or red lights. Keep hands and feet inside ride at all times… everyone pays attention to that right? You’ve never crossed the street with the “Don’t Walk” light illuminated right?? You wear rubber gloves every time you clean with harsh chemicals right? Ever stand on the very top of a ladder??? These companies don’t tell use EXACTLY how dangerous it is to do these things… their coporate greed insidious!!!

Warnings are there… people just need to actually read them and maybe tax what little common sense they might have… and perhaps they’ll make it through this death trap of a world the corporations have brought upon us.

Now if you’ll excuse me, i have to go sue McDonalds cause they made me fat… ????????

johnny says:

Re: Ahhh... I see...

An Ignoramous? Maybe he is, but his argument is much stronger than yours. What does that say about you?

140 degrees is hot, 180 degrees is a hazard and it’s negligent not to warn others. 3rd degree burns are extremely serious. Go ask a nurse. Food that can cause 3rd degree burns should not be sold, and it correctly no longer is.

How old is this thread? Jiminy! 🙂

Chris Doesn't Read Much says:

RE: McDonnalds ??

While it is true the subject of this debate has strayed a bit, the basic idea is that Jerry Kaplan has as much legitimacy suing Microsoft for his unsuccessful company as the blundering coffee lady did suing McDonalds. As stated above, lawyers have replaced personal accountability, common sense, and hard work.

next time, try reading some of the comments…

Anonymous Coward says:

$10! No.


“2.7 million is 2 days worth of coffee sales at McDonalds”, like they paid nothing for the coffee to begin with, the equipment needed to make coffee, the money needed to pay people like you $10 / hour to make the coffee, and who knows how much money in CYA warnings, signage, specs, regs, etc, all in at least 2 languages

Hmmmm just a few things here – buying the equipment is a one time expense. Its maintaining it that adds to cost. Ive know several people who have worked at mcdonalds and can tell you for a fact that they are NOT making 10/hour. Nowhere near. Theyve all been paid minimum wage, no more.

Russ says:

well there is no relation between Jerry Kaplan and the McDonalds lady because she got burned by coffe and sure. She didn’t get burned by coffe, then waitr 10 years before sueing. I think he doesn’t deserve to get rewarded for it, bieng M$ or any other company.

Look at it this way, if you didn’t pay a ticket fine when you were 16 years old, then 20 years later when you are 36, the police come knocking at your door then take you off to court and fine you for it, would you feel like it is just?

This particular reason is exactly why a statute of limitations was put in place. Indeed, this is a misdameanor offense and not anti-trust but come now people, 20 years before suing is rediculous.

This is just another case of a guy who isn’t doing too well on his finances making a dollar off of a large corporation. I wouldn’t be surprised if following up to this lawsuit, he was in his home trying to think of a way to get easy money.

no one was hurt here, if he was he would have sued long ago.

51 says:

????? Russ

“he was in his home trying to think of a way to get easy money”

…and the McDonald’s lady wasn’t thinking the same thing?????????????????? How many Millions did she spend on her hospital bill??? 2.7? Doubtfull.

I don’t think anyone here said that the CONTENT of the court cases were the same; it’s their motive that’s in question. Easy money!

Matt says:

Re: ????? Russ

The article linked to above indicates that the motive in the McDonald’s case was NOT easy money. The burned lady originally just asked for $20,000, which doesn’t go very far when you have skin grafts and 8 days of hospitalization.

Just ask the nurse above who may not be able to read a simple question, but probably knows how much hospitals charge.

It wasn’t until they found out that it was a continuing problem and McDonald’s was purposely not doing anything about it that they sought punitive damages. What’s punitive to McDonald’s? Anything that would be punitive to them would make the lady rich.

Unfortunately, the appeals court lowered the settlement to an amount that didn’t even faze McDonald’s. My guess is that they didn’t like the idea of the burned lady getting rich.

It seems nowadays that if a person breaks the law or hurts someone, public opinion is to harshly punish them, while if a business breaks the law or hurts someone, public opinion is to ignore it.

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