Ted Cruz - Attorney for Chinese Tire Company
In the 1990's a Florida businessman named Jordan Fishman designed a specialized tire to used in underground mining. Mr Fishman owned a tire company and much of the manufacturing work was done in Chinai. In 2003, Sam Vance accompanied Mr Fishman on a trip to China where he was introduced to the factory owners. Mr Vance was Mr Fishman's sales manager. Not long after that trip, Mr Fishman discovered that Mr Vance had contacted the Chinese factory and attempted to have the same tires made without including Mr Fishman's company. Mr Fishman then terminated Mr Vance.
No long after being terminated, Mr Vance handed over the blueprints for the tires to the Shandong Linglong tire company and a Dubai based entity called the Al Dobowi Group that had handled the distribution of the tires. Some time after these incidents, Mr Fishman was at a trade show in Las Vegas and across Chinese made tires with his design.
In 2005, Mr Fishman brought a lawsuit against his former employee for his actions. He claimed that his company lost $19 million in business and went from 25 to 19 employees after the tire and distribution companies began selling their stolen version of his tires. In 2009, Mr Fishman also sued the Linglong tire company and Al Dobowi for $36 million in damages. That trial took place in Virginia.
In 2008, Mr Fishman was awarded $59 million in damages in his case against Mr Vance, but a state appellate court tossed out that judgment. In July of 2010, after a six day trial, the jury awarded Mr Fishman $26 million dollars in his case against the tire manufacturer and the Dubai distributor. However, the judge dismissed the owner of the Dubai company as a defendant in the case and denied Fishman's claim of registered trademark infringement. Both sides in the case appealed the decision.
Not long after that appeal, the Linglong tire company hired a Texas based firm named Morgan Lewis to represent them on the appeal. Ted Cruz left the Solicitor General's office in 2008 and was working at the Morgan Lewis firm and was one of the attorneys working on the case.
The lawsuit became a controversy in September of 2011 when Lt Gov Dewhurst picked up on some blog and newspaper discussions concerning Mr Cruz's representation for the companies. The Dewshurst for Texas Senate campaign created a website called "The Real Ted Cruz" and ran television and radio ads stating that Mr Cruz was representing Chinese interests over American companies and assisting the Chinese in violating intellectual property rights.
Many of the claims on that website can be considered hyperbole at best. The site claims that Ted Cruz is a "legal mercenary" for China and that he still serves as lead counsel. The intent of the site is obviously to associate Mr Cruz with the poor sentiment felt towards lawyers in this country and the anger at Chinese trade and copyright infringement. There is no way to gauge Mr Cruz's involvement in the case except that he did do some work on it. As of May 2012, Mr Cruz was still listed as a member of that law firm on their website.
However, the basic premise of the story is sound. A Chinese company colluded with a Dubai company to steal intellectual property from a US company. This theft cost millions of dollars in US jobs and opportunities and the court system awarded the victim of the crime with proper compensation. The company that committed the theft is seeking an appeal to find an alternative legal means out of paying the fines and to delay that payment. This is a perfectly legal and common tactic. The firm that Mr Cruz worked for took the case and Mr Cruz appears to have amendment appeals briefs for the legal firm on the case.
Verdict and Press Release
On July 22, 2010 the PR Newswire released a statement for Gilbert LLP noting that in Mr Fishman's case against Shandong Linglong Rubber Company, Ltd of China and the multi-million dollar Dubai-based Al Dobowi Tyre Company, LLC, the jury had entered a $26 million verdict against the Defendants and it was upheld by the judge. Gilbert LLP was the attorney for Mr Fishman.
Within the press release was a statement made by a former co-conspirator and witness for the plaintiff John Canning. Those words were a quote from testimony given by Mr Canning that it was the belief of the defendents that Mr Fishman could be delayed until he either ran out of money or passed away.
Al Dobowi didn't believe Jordan Fishman would ever get this case to court. They believed he would die or run out of money first.
On September 28, 2011 a San Antonio blog called Plaza de Armas ran a story noting the history of SG Cruz and the lawsuit between Jordan Fishman and the Shandong Rubber Co. A few days later, on October 4, hat story was picked up by the Texas Monthly on what is called the Burka Blog and run by Paul Burka.
Along with duplicating the content of the Plaza de Armas blog, the Burka Blog noted that the issue was more of a lawyer taking on a client. The relationship between China and the US, especially in the areas of intellectual property, would be front and center in the 2012 election.
On October 4, 2011 the David Dewhurst campaign sent out an email that noted the case and pointed the recipents to a youtube video made from a Laura Ingraham interview with SG Cruz. In the interview, SG Cruz does not support a recent piece of legislation aimed at calling out Chinese currency manipulation.
The Real Ted Cruz
The Dewhurst for Senate campaign created a web site called "The Real Ted Cruz" in March/April of 2012. The site featured a commercial highlighting the China tire company case. The ad shows the lead plaintaiff in the case, Jordan Fishman, noting that Mr Cruz represents the Shandong Linglong Rubber Co.
Response from the Ted Cruz Campaign
Not long after the allegations by Lt Gov Dewhurst, SG Cruz's campaign website created a page devoted to countering the claims. The pages lists 8 different points that it claims are lies put forth by the Dewhurst campaign concerning the tire case.