Court Throws Out Tribe Suit

Case Against Law School Professors Dismissed as 'Frivolous'

A federal court has dismissed a suit brought against Tyler Professor of Constitutional Law Laurence H. Tribe '62 by New York litigator Steven M. Kramer.

Tribe, along with co-counsels Jonathan S. Massey '85 and Harvard Law School student Kenneth J. Chesebro, were charged in January with breach of contract, fraud, slander and interference of contract in their handling of the case Lightning Lube v. Witco Corp.

The suit also charged that the University was liable for Tribe's actions.

In the suit, Kramer claimed that Tribe did not give adequate attention to the case because of his attempts to lobby for a top legal post in the Clinton administration.

Kramer also implied in the claim that Tribe's legal fees were exorbitant.

Massey yesterday called the suit an absurd attempt to take revenge on Tribe.

"Basically, Kramer was paid and then went ahead and sued Professor Tribe on several frivolous claims," Massey said.

The suit against the three attorneys was dismissed May 11 and thrown out before reaching trial.

Kramer originally handled Lightning Lube v. Witco Corp. and won $61.5 million in punitive and compensatory damages for Lightning Lube.

When Tribe defended Lightning Lube in the appeal, however, the trial judge threw out $50 million in punitive damages "because of errors made by Kramer at trial," Tribe told the Harvard Law Record last week.

In addition to the dropping of charges against Tribe, a New Jersey judge referred Kramer to a disciplinary board for his attempt to damage the Harvard professor's name.

Massey charged that Kramer has frequently been sanctioned and criticized for frivolous suits.

But Kramer, who has remained tighlipped about the case, said the Massey's claim about disciplinary actions against him was "absolutely false."

Kramer said he will appeal the judge's decision and expects a ruling early next year.

Tribe said yesterday that any appeal by Kramer would be "hopeless."

The professor said he wants to "leave [this case] in the past."