Locklear’s court fight grew out of an assignment that, for her, was a major coup. In early 1999 her six-year-old firm, Locklear Reporting Service, Inc., was selected to transcribe dozens of plaintiffs’ depositions in a massive product liability case against a host of latex glove makers and distributors. She assembled a team of six freelance reporters to handle the job — her biggest ever. “Rosemary is a quality stenographer,” says David Shrager of Philadelphia’s Shrager, McDaid, Loftus, Flum & Spivey, which hired Locklear for the assignment. “We always valued her services.”

So, apparently, did the defense firms. In the early stages of the litigation, dozens of defense lawyers “were ordering transcripts like clockwork,” says Locklear’s attorney, Alan Frank of Philadelphia’s Frank & Rosen. But last spring, the relationship began to sour. The firms, according to Frank, asked Locklear for a discount, given the scores of transcripts they were ordering. Locklear acceded, cutting her rate from $2.20 to 92 cents per page.