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As a side note, having read the actual court filing, this kind of language in legal complaints always rubs me the wrong way:

1. This case arises out of Defendant’s opportunistic and brazen attempts to extort money from Cruise and Mr. Vogt. As alleged below, after mutually parting ways with Mr. Vogt over two years ago, Mr. Guillory emerged from the shadows with his hand out within days of the March 11, 2016 news that General Motors Company (“GM”) intends to acquire Cruise. As explained below, Mr. Guillory should put his hand back into his pocket; he does not have any stake in the Company.

2. Defendant’s shocking and opportunistic claim is an attempt to thwart, interfere or otherwise delay GM’s merger acquisition of Cruise for his own pecuniary benefit. Knowing that his claim could interfere with the GM transaction, Mr. Guillory hopes to leverage his extortionist claims to achieve a pay-off from the Company. Declaratory relief is therefore necessary to remove potential uncertainty regarding equity ownership, partnership interests, intellectual property and trade secrets of the Company...

Given that such inflammatory language will have no positive effect on the judge, and if anything distracts from the actual precise legal arguments, it seems calculated entirely for the attention of the press and/or general public.

I have no opinion on the merits of this one obviously, but in my experience, when you see a complaint with language of that kind it's often a sign that there's more to the story.

To that point, the fourth cause of action is regarding "Trade Secrets" in the possession of the Defendant and states that "Plaintiffs have reason to be concerned that Defendant may attempt to use such trade secrets in his further endeavors"

Which does prompt a question of how a person who never had any involvement in the company and its technology came to be in possession of its trade secrets.

In fairness, it's certainly plausible that its basis is solely in claims made by the Defendant, and not meant to imply there is any actual IP in his possession.

Or, it could mean that during the acquisition his early role came to light and he was asked to sign away any potential IP by the acquiring company and declined to do so without compensation, since he might want to do a similar project in the future. Did he reach out when he heard the news, or did the company reach out to him during acquisition due diligence?

That's complete speculation, but we have no choice but to guess, since unlike a typical complaint to commence a legal action, this particular one doesn't contain an affidavit or make any attempt to establish an underlying factual record at all.

Instead of saying he "emerged with his hand out" it could state "contacted X via email asking for Y on Date Z" in the style of an actual legal argument rather than of a press release. Rather than referencing "baseless allegations" and "shocking and opportunistic claim" it could just state the claims he made.

So, what shocking thing did he say? What is his stated rationale for compensation? On what date is there the first written evidence that he's making a claim of equity? Why aren't there any exhibits attached? Why aren't there any quotes from the emails he sent?

The exuberant language used is totally normal and common for this kind of legal filing.

This is a (fairly common) example of where HN and legal matters don't mix - HN is awesome because lots of really smart people can exchange ideas based on logic and reason.

But legal matters (like this) come down to custom & practice and precedent -- all of which are facts that have to be learned not derived from logic.

Logically you are totally right that a judge isnt going to be swayed by such verbiage but that's how injunctive relief/etc is played out in court papers.

> The exuberant language used is totally normal and common for this kind of legal filing. ... a judge isnt going to be swayed by such verbiage but that's how injunctive relief/etc is played out in court papers.

Lawyer here (former litigator and current arbitrator). It's actually just the opposite: People who work in the judicial system have heard it all before, and so inflammatory adjectives and adverbs usually impress approximately no one, except in a negative way.

A good brief writer will lay out the facts so as to tell the story in a sober, NPV way that leads the reader to the desired conclusion, without histrionics. As Prof. James McElhaney, one of the all-time great teachers of persuasive legal writing, put it: [1]


Facts, not opinions, are what convince the reader. When you start interpreting the facts—characterizing what people said and did—you’ve stopped guiding your reader through the thicket of the lawsuit. Instead, you’ve popped out the legs on your traveling sales case, hung up the sign on the front of the case and wound up a dozen or so of your little walking dolls, hoping sales will be brisk.

But you don’t want to be the street corner huckster; you want to be the guide your reader can trust. So be careful about ev­­ery sentence you write.

Understate rather than overstate. Better yet, don’t eval­uate at all. Let your reader do it for you.

Avoiding characterization is one of the keys to good editing. When you go back over what you’ve written, cross out every mod­ifier—every adjective and adverb—you can. It’s sur­prising how words that were meant to lend strength to your message actually get in the way.

Nouns and verbs are the gut-stuff of a good story. Adjectives and adverbs are often discounted as the paid-for feelings of a professional advocate.


[1] http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/legal_writing_tha...

IANAL, but I read a lot of litigation documents, and I think you're right. The quoted part reads more like a tabloid piece than a proper, professional laying out of facts.

> having read the actual court filing

Sam said elsewhere in this thread that to his knowledge no actual claim exists yet. What filing are you referring to?

edit: Sam was saying that Jeremy hasn't filed anything, but the founders filed for declaratory relief.

It's linked in the third paragraph of the article that we are both now commenting on.

Thanks, I see it now. I've updated my comment.

as u/dotBen has said, this type of language is common in court filings. Put differently, although it seems abnormal to read this type of language for us, it would be abnormal for a judge to not read this kind of language in a legal complaint.

It's not the way I wish the world operated. However, it looks like they have legal counsel that will do what's required to win.

I've seen that sort of language in general in legal filings. Do you have professional experience here that this is unusual?

(To be clear, I have no professional experience, and I also find that style weird personally, but I have no idea if it's well-accepted in context, and it may well be.)

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