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Fed up with bickering litigators, a federal judge has ordered an unorthodox form of alternative dispute resolution to solve a procedural dispute. Would you believe hand-to-hand combat on the courthouse steps? OK, it’s a G-rated form of dueling that U.S. District Judge Gregory A. Presnell of Orlando, Fla., envisions to settle a beef over where the parties should conduct a deposition in what sounds like an incredibly pissy insurance dispute. In his recent order, Presnell calls it “the latest in a series of Gordian knots that the parties have been unable to untangle without enlisting the assistance of the federal courts.” He ordered the attorneys to report outside the federal courthouse in Tampa, Fla., at 4 p.m. on the last Friday of this month with “one paralegal who shall act as an attendant and witness. “At that time and location, counsel shall engage in one (1) game of ‘rock, paper, scissors,’ ” with the winner entitled to select the deposition venue, Presnell wrote. The case pits Wausau Underwriters Insurance Co. against Orlando’s Avista Management Inc. over damage caused by Hurricane Charley in August 2004. Court records list David J. Pettinato of the Merlin Law Group in Tampa as lead counsel for Avista, and D. Lee Craig in the Tampa office of Miami’s Butler Pappas Weihmuller Katz Craig as head of the Wausau defense team. Showing the patience of Job, the judge allowed that he’d hear any appeal of the outcome. Trademark, hell! Someone else might have written the Bat Out of Hell song, but Meat Loaf claims he should be the only one to use the phrase in connection with music. In a suit filed in federal court in Los Angeles, the rocker-identified in the action as Michael Aday-said the expression had been publicly associated with him since the 1977 release of his Bat Out of Hell album. Jim Steinman, who wrote the original song of the same name, filed for a U.S. trademark for the phrase, “Bat Out Of Hell,” in 1995, according to the lawsuit. Meat Loaf’s attorney, Los Angeles trial lawyer Skip Miller, insisted that Steinman’s claim to the exclusive rights is “blatantly false.” “The law protects the user of the mark, and here there is only one user: Meat Loaf,” Miller said. “We were forced to file suit to uphold these rights.” The album and its 1993 follow-up, Bat Out of Hell II, sold 48 million copies worldwide, according to the lawsuit, which seeks damages of more than $50 million. Steinman and co-defendant David Sonenberg, identified as Meat Loaf’s manager, have been trying to disrupt the October release of the third Bat Out of Hell album by telling the singer’s distributors that Aday had no right to use the phrase, according to the lawsuit. “Meat Loaf will not be bullied by anyone,” Miller said. “He will continue to use the title Bat Out of Hell in any way he wants.” -Staff and wire reports

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