In 2009, Professor David Rudovsky of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Professor Leonard Sosnov of Widener Law School sued West for publishing a poorly researched 'sham' pocket part to a Pennsylvania criminal law treatise they had written. The pocket part featured the names of the original authors even though it had been prepared by the West staff. Late last week the jury in the case found West liable for defamation and returned a verdict for $90,000 in compensatory damages and $2.5 million in punitive damages for each professor. You can find the verdict form here on Google Docs.
The treatise, Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure: Law, Commentary and Forms has been in print since 1991 and is a part of the West Pennsylvania Practice Series. The volume in question was the 2001 edition. Apparently, the issue of publishing a new pocket part came up in 2008 when Rudovsky and Sosnov wanted to revise and republish the entire treatise. You can read the Declaration of David Rudovsky here from Justia Dockets. You can also review the full Complaint here from the Pennsylvania federal district court site. Each new pocket part had, for years, included from 100 - 150 new cases. West resisted the preparation of a revised edition and, without the participation of the professors, indeed, without their knowledge, published a new pocket part that did not contain the numerous changes that had taken place in Pennsylvania law since the publication of the last pocket part. According to West, there is a contractual provision that allows them to publish an update without changing the names of the authors. It seems clear that the jury bought the argument that West's actions constituted defamation per se.
The best review of the litigation is by Erika Wayne here on the Legal Research Plus blog. There is another concise review here on Jonathan Turley's blog, Res ipsa loquitor. Turley's post also addresses the probability that the verdict will be reduced. A pre-verdict review of the case is here on the online version of the ABA Journal. The National Law Journal published an insightful article early on and you can find it here.