Saint goes marching into courtroom

After spending a long weekend in New Orleans, I discovered firsthand the locals really love their food, their drink and, much to my delight, their seersucker (pre-Memorial Day, natch). But that town really, really loves its football team, the New Orleans Saints.

I know there are rabid football fan bases all across the country, including right here in Baltimore. But the connection feels deeper in New Orleans.  A lot of it is because the team is forever intertwined with Hurricane Katrina, and some of it has to do with the team winning the Super Bowl in February. But I got the feeling that even if the fleur-de-lis was not named the state symbol two years ago, the Saints logo might still have been emblazoned on the side of every city trash can.

I bring this up to point out a class-action lawsuit set to be heard this week in U.S. District Court in New Orleans. More than 2,100 plaintiffs are suing a Chinese drywall manufacturer for product defects causing both structural damage and health problems. The lead plaintiff? Sean Payton, the Saints’ head coach.

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King noted the hearing yesterday in his Monday Morning Quarterback Column. “Heck of a choice for lead plaintiff,” King wrote under a “Home-Court Advantage Dept.” heading. “Sounds like kicking off in a football game with a 21-0 lead.”

To that, I would add: good luck, defense, finding impartial jurors. And I wish I had thought of a way to convince my editors I needed to cover the proceedings.

Which design firm gets your vote?

The University of Baltimore has selected five architecture firms as finalists to design its new law school, scheduled to open in 2012.

A blue-ribbon panel of respected architects from across the country will hear the proposals for the $107 million, 190,000-square-foot building Nov. 11. But I say why wait that long? And who needs a blue-ribbon panel?

That’s right, we’re asking you! Which architect would you pick to create the building for the corner of Charles Street and Mount Royal Avenue? Granted, we won’t know about their concepts until the November presentations, but let’s assume past work indicates an architect’s preferred style.

So — do you like SmithGroup, which designed Discovery Communications’ world headquarters in Silver Spring? Ziger/Snead, which created the unique Brown Center at the Maryland Institute College of Art?

How about Ayers/Saint/Gross Inc., which did the site planning for the student housing at Charles Common? Or Cho Benn Holback + Associates Inc., which gave us the Orleans Street branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library?

Maybe your tastes run toward Harvard B-school’s master planner, Moshe Safdie and Associates Inc., which would join forces with Hord|Coplan|Macht.

Or do you have your own ideas about what the new UB law school should look like?

DANNY JACOBS, Legal Affairs Writer

Thieves get copper-happy in HoCo

When I visited Chicago last month, my colleague and I noticed reports of theft of stainless-steel appliances from residential construction sites. My colleague shared that in his hometown of New Orleans, residents often complain of copper pipe thefts from home sites under construction.

Turns out the theft of this valuable metal doesn’t always happen so far from home.

Patuxent Square, a new commercial/residential development in North Laurel, Md., is hiring a night watchman after $10,000 of copper pipe fittings were ripped off at its construction site, the HoCo Times reported last week.

And the Patuxent Square development is just one of many. According to the story, the Howard County Police say copper thefts from county construction sites tripled in October (14 reports) and November (13 reports). At scrap dealers, copper yields about $3.20 per pound.

JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor