Archive for the ‘Torts’ Category

220px-Banana_(partially_peeled)220px-Richard_posner_harvardzJudge Richard Posner has crushed the appeal of Catherine “Banana Lady” Conrad who sued for copyright infringement over the publication of her photograph in her costume after appearing at parties for children. Posner not only dismissed her case, he encouraged a lower court to bar her from new filings and published a picture as part of the opinion. The picture is now part of an official opinion and court record. As discussed below, The Banana Lady fared much worse than did The Human Cannonball in an earlier analogous case brought under the common law as opposed to copyright.

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250px-al_sharpton_by_david_shankbone136px-US-FBI-ShadedSealMSNBC host Al Sharpton has long been controversial from his involvement in the Tawana Brawley scandal to questions raised about his pressing companies to give “love offerings” and associations to his legal problems. Nevertheless, his position at MSNBC is viewed as secure while President Obama continues to honor him at official White House meetings and public events, including an event three days ago. This teflon reputation with liberals appears to be holding even after news reports surfaced that Sharpton was an FBI snitch and an associate accused him of seeking to cash in on the drug trade before he became a national figure. Sharpton has been somewhat guarded in answering detailed questions about the stories about his wearing a wire in meetings with the mob, but recently confirmed that he “cooperated” with the FBI. He proved testy with 60 Minutes in refusing to acknowledge that he was an informant. According to reports, the FBI designated Sharpton as “Confidential Informant No. 7″ and used him with a bugged briefcase to incriminate mob figures in discussions of criminal enterprises. Sharpton insisted “I’m not a rat, I’m a cat.” He certainly has nine lives given the range of his past scandals. The mayor of New York and other Democratic leaders lined up to praise Sharpton in the aftermath of the story.

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Did GM Pull A Pinto?

800px-Chevrolet_Cobalt_LT_sedan250px-Ford_PintoBelow is a slightly expanded version of my column that ran today in the Los Angeles Times on the growing scandal over the defective ignition switches on the Cobalt and other cars produced by General Motors. Just this weekend, it was reported that CEO Mary Barra received a memorandum on a steering problem with the Saturn Ion on a different problem as early as 2011, but did not order an immediate recall. What is now clear is that the company spent years discussing the defect. Two engineers were recently put on paid leave by the company — a move viewed as too little too late by many, including some who want to see criminal charges. Ironically, I have been teaching the Pinto case in my torts class this week and today I will be teaching my new material on the GM Cobalt as an extension of that material.

Some have charged that GM was aware of this defective design before it lobbied the government for a massive bailout in 2009. The government handed over $49.5 billion to the automaker and the public ultimately ate a $10.5 billion loss when our shares in “Government Motors” were finally sold off in 2013. In addition to billions in losses, the public got cars that could put their lives in danger the moment they turned the ignition key.

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Idaho State Police Shoulder PatchAccording to Courthouse News an Idaho state trooper arrested and searched a 70-year-old Washington man solely because of his license plate from Colorado, where marijuana is legal, the man claims in a federal lawsuit.

Darien Roseen lives in Washington and has a second home in Colorado. He was driving east on I-84 the morning of Jan. 25, 2013, and had just crossed the Idaho-Oregon Border, when he passed Idaho State Police Trooper Justin Klitch, who was in the median observing eastbound traffic. “Immediately after Mr. Roseen passed his location, Trooper Klitch pulled out from the Interstate median, rapidly accelerating to catch up with Mr. Roseen’s vehicle,” according to the 25-page complaint. Roseen, who is retired from Weyerhauser, says he changed from the right lane to the left, and exited the Interstate to a designated rest area. Klitch followed him to the parking lot, which Roseen says made him “uncomfortable,” though “he did not perceive that he had done anything wrong.”

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US-CourtOfAppeals-7thCircuit-SealposnerDespite my great respect for Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner (whose brilliant writings on legal theory have shaped much of modern jurisprudence), I have recently had occasion to criticize his conduct on the bench (here and here). I am afraid that an opinion this week raises yet another troubling example of poor judgment by Posner. In an opinion in Mitchell v. JCG Industries and Koch Foods, Posner included an account of an experiment by court staff that tested a core factual issue presented by the Plaintiffs — the time needed to change into work clothes. The reliance — to any degree — on such an experiment violates core rules of appellate review and is correctly identified by fellow Seventh Circuit judge Diane Wood as a highly disturbing element to the decision supporting the company. What is odd is that this experiment with “donning” and “doffing” only undermined an otherwise well-considered opinion (even though many would still disagree with its conclusion).

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by Charlton “Chuck” Stanley, Weekend Contributor

115px-CA_-_Oakland_PoliceThe city of Oakland has entered into an agreed order to pay former Marine and two-tour Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen $4.5 million. This is, as lawyers say, “to make him whole.” Unfortunately, Scott will never be whole again. The night of October 25, 2011 he was shot in the head by a police officer using a shotgun loaded with a “non-lethal” beanbag. Upon being hit, the former Marine went down like a sack of potatoes. His skull was fractured, he was bleeding heavily and his neck was broken.
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Uncwsealadams_000Yesterday a North Carolina jury handed down a major victory for free speech and academic freedom. It found that the University of North Carolina–Wilmington retaliated against criminology professor Dr. Mike Adams for his writing of conservative columns for the website Townhall.com and other forums. The decision culminates years of litigation, including a prior decision before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The treatment of Adams reaffirms for many conservatives that academia is hostile to their views and that conservative academics face a bias on promotion. The implications of the decision however could go beyond the issue of bias and raise countervailing issues of academic judgment and decision making.

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dog20n-1-webThere is a bizarre case out of Tampa where Candace Patricia Hauser is facing one charge of aggravated cruelty to animals . Brenda Hines, 31, brought her Mastiff, Nadia, to Hauser’s house to see if she could help deliver puppies. Nadia was able to delivered (with help) the first 12 puppies but had trouble on the last two. Hauser proceeded to do a canine Caesarian and cut open Nadia to deliver the final two puppies. She then used standard, non-surgical glue to close the wound. This was all done without anesthesia and Nadia died.

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170px-Mia20061200px-Super_Bowl_29_Vince_Lombardi_trophy_at_49ers_Family_Day_2009You may recall that we discussed the scene in the 2012 Super Bowl when pop star Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam (AKA M.I.A.) flipped the bird and sang “I don’t give a shit” while performing the song “Give Me All Your Luvin’” with Madonna. Personally, I did not like it, though I am often in the minority in objecting to inappropriate conduct at such events by players or performers. I thought it was immature and vulgar and inappropriate for the millions of kids watching the show. It was a lapse that occurred in a flash and was probably not noticed by many viewers. My kids however say it as did I. It was a stupid and thoughtless addition by M.I.A. to the show. It now appears that the National Football League (NFL) felt the same way and has not forgotten the violation. They are demanding compensation from M.I.A. and estimate the cost at $15.1 million in restitution.

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beer13sThe Idaho Steelheads have been accused of a clipping violation of sorts against the fans. A YouTube video appears to have spawned a lawsuit after a Boise fan showed how a $4 cup of draft beer holds the same amount of brew as a “large” $7 cup. The video by Gwen Gibbs is below.

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chicagocitycouncil220px-Toyota_Camry_Hybrid_VA_08_2009_7020There is an astonishing controversy in my hometown of Chicago this week after The Chicago Dispatcher, and its publisher George Lutfallah, threatened the City Council with outing five members as homosexuals unless it capitulated on a list of demands for legal and policy changes. If this were a serious attempt at extortion, it would be as shocking as it is self-defeating. Some demands seem an attempt as humor, though the strong suggestion is that you should not mess with drivers who see more than politicians would want to be known to their voters.

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SNAKECAB14 There is an interesting controversy out of New York (where so many interesting controversies can be found). In this case, taxi driver and comedian Jimmy Failla has been filming the reaction of passengers when they encounter his 10-foot albino python in the backseat. He calls the video below “Snakes in a Cab,” which he hopes to draw attention to a forthcoming book. While he says that he is not afraid of liability, he should be. This could easily turn into Torts In A Taxi.”

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Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend ContributorEastside Catholic Church Logo

Mark Zmuda announced he is suing Eastside Catholic school and the Seattle Archdioceses for wrongful termination after he legally married his male partner. The case stems from his employment as vice-principal to the school was satisfactory for years and that after he announced he had married his male partner, he was given an ultimatum to divorce his spouse or his employment with the school would be terminated. Mark refused to divorce and was fired.

Employment Attorney, Jeffrey Needle, stated the case is likely to go to the appellate courts and potential the state supreme court for its precedent setting nature. The church counters Mark’s claim, proffering its status as a religious organization which holds tenets that bar gay marriage. However, a recent state supreme court decision might prove difficult for the church to support that position.
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article-2572711-1C07EFB400000578-224_634x612New Jersey Judge Peter Bogaard has rejected the initial effort of Rachel Canning, 18, to force her parents to pay for her financial support and college. Retired Lincoln Park police Chief Sean Canning and his wife, Elizabeth, insist that she moved out of their house voluntarily after she refused to live according to the rules of the house, including speaking respectfully to them, taking a curfew, reconsidering a relationship with a boyfriend (viewed as a bad influence) and doing chores. She said that they kicked her out as soon as she turned 18. However, the problem is that she is indeed 18 and the idea of forcing parents to pay for schooling after the age of majority is a problematic one. She has accused her father of being “inappropriately affectionate” but an investigation reportedly cleared Sean Canning (shown here with Rachel).

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250px-Wet_wipeThere is an interesting products liability lawsuit by a New York dentist, Dr. Joseph Kurtz, 35, against manufacturers of flushable wipes. The wipes have been blamed for massive “fatberg” formations in municipal sewer systems and Dr. Kurtz says that he is out $600 in plumbing bills at this New York and New Jersey homes due to the alleged misrepresentation. He is now seeking unspecified damages in the suit in Brooklyn against Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Costco Wholesale Corp.

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gavel2Many parents spend countless hours trying to keep their children off social media sites. Patrick Snay, 69, can claim that his daughter’s busy fingers cost him $80,000. The former head of Guillver Preparatory School in Miami lost a settlement from a discrimination lawsuit against his former school. The agreement came with a confidentiality provision so the school’s lawyers were a bit put out to read a taunting Facebook posting from the daughter that bragged about the settlement and told them to “Suck it.” It did not quite work out that way. The case is Gulliver Sch., Inc. v. Snay, 2014 Fla. App. LEXIS 2595.

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220px-WallStreet2013posterThere is an interesting lawsuit that is an outgrowth of the new “Wolf of Wall Street” movie over the character Nicky “Rugrat” Koskoff, described in the lawsuit as the ultimate loser. The problem is that lawyer Andrew Greene says that the character is based on him and makes him look like “a criminal, drug user, degenerate, depraved, and/or devoid of any morality or ethics.” Greene, an inactive member of the California bar, is suing for $25 million for alleged defamation.

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Big Game Hunter Fraud660There is an interesting lawsuit in Nevada in which Rick Vukasin, a 65-year-old electrician and big-game hunter, is a Canadian outfitter and a hunting guide in Tajikistan for a type of “shoot and switch” ploy. Vukasin says that he paid $50,000 to kill a rare, threatened argali sheep known as “Marco Polo” but received a lesser trophy rack in the mail.

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220px-Rat_in_a_suburban_Vancouver_drivewayWhen Joseph Vallenti’s family bought one of the “Signature Series” cakes from King Kullen supermarket to celebrate his 96th birthday, they didn’t not expect the apple strudel to have a high protein element. However, when they started to eat the cake, Vallenti complained that it did not taste right. When they looked, there appeared to be black mold in the cake but soon realized what it was one a rat tail appeared.

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80d17cd287There is an interesting development in gun technology this week with the announcement of the release of the first so-called “smart gun” to hit the market. The Smart System iP1, a .22-caliber pistol made by the German gun-maker Armatix GmbH, can only function with an accompanying wristwatch. As explained below, this gun and similar new models in the works could have an impact on torts liability for gun manufacturers.

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Kristen_Saban_1We have previously discussed Stand-Your-Ground laws and common misconceptions that arose during the George Zimmerman trial. That controversy is back this week in Alabama after Judge James Roberts Jr. cited Alabama’s stand-your-ground law in dismissing a civil lawsuit by a former college student who was injured in a fight with a sorority sister. The lawsuit has drawn particular attention in the state because the sorority sister, Kristen Saban (left), is the daughter of University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

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about_us_photoThere is an interesting case before the California Supreme Court on the liability of hosts for guests at parties where a cover-charge is required. California law immunizes hosts who serve alcohol to intoxicated guests, but these parties involve payment that creates an ambiguity in the scope of the state law. The case involves Jessica Manosa, who was 20 years old when she hosted a party at her parents’ rental home and charged $3 to $5 to strangers. One of those guests proceeded to drink too much and ran over another guest, Andrew Ennabe (left), the Cal State Fullerton student.

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by Charlton Stanley, Weekend Contributor

Hawthorne CA Police DepartmentThe Hawthorne, CA Police Department has a history of assaultive behavior toward the public. The department’s activities have been reported on this blog before. In one incident, Hawthorne officers Tasered an autistic child, then when his parents complained, they returned and arrested him a week later.  Last year, the same Hawthorne Police arrested a man for videotaping them in a public space, then shot his dog when it ran to his side.

About a year ago, Jonathan Meister, a deaf man, was loading his car with some personal belongings, including his snowboarding equipment.  There had been several robberies in the area recently.  A neighbor yelled at him, but Meister, being deaf, did not hear the call-out, so the neighbor called the police.  When the police arrived, the officers watched Meister as he carried some items into his car. When Meister saw the officers, he sat his boxes down and walked toward them, trying to use American Sign Language to let them know he is deaf.

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Submitted By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

FHP Stops MHP officerMany are aware of the incident in October of 2011 when the Florida Highway Patrol stopped a speeding Miami Police Department vehicle operating without emergency equipment, weaving through traffic and reaching speeds up to 120 MPH. The MPD officer driving claimed to be late for an off-duty assignment at an area school. The police officer was eventually fired by Miami PD. Dash-cam video was uploaded to Youtube and witnessed by many. The incident also made national headlines. The Miami PD officer involved had no emergent or law enforcement justification for driving at this speed and doing so without emergency lighting is considered hazardous. Dash-cam video quotes the trooper as saying one of the reasons for her concern was that a day prior a police vehicle was stolen and was involved in a tragic incident.

Now the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper, Donna Jane Watts, has filed a civil suit against several officers and police agencies alleging her driver license information had been unlawfully accessed and that she had been subjected to harassment by other law enforcement officers due the incident involving the Miami Police Department officer.
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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

CocktailsUtah Legislator Greg Hughes is proposing a law he believes will address successfully some of the DUI incidents that happen within the state. The proposal is in the working stage and has been under several revisions but in essence the device would be installed in bars under incentives from the state so that bar patrons may use the device to test their sobriety levels so that they may make informed choices on whether to drive or not. The measure includes an immunity from civil and criminal liability on bar owners if a customer’s breath alcohol level is high and the customer drives away and the data would not be available to law enforcement to provide a hesitation free attraction.

While the goal of the device is certainly laudable, could the devices be counter productive as indicated by experience with law enforcement breath test devices and their shortcomings?
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445px-woody_allen_2006Woody Allen continues to be a virtual fountain of interesting criminal and civil cases. Over the weekend, Allen responded to an op-ed in the New York Times in which his adopted daughter, Dylan, 28, who accused him again of sexual abuse. In Allen’s responsive op-ed, he again denies the allegations and blames an overzealous prosecutor. While unnamed, it could only former Litchfield State’s Attorney Frank Maco. Now Maco is suggesting that he may now sue Allen for defamation.

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150px-Porta_Potty_by_David_ShankboneThere is an interesting torts case out of Pennsylvania where Donald H. Adams III has won a $5 million settlement in a products liability against Poly-San, a portable toilet manufacturer and installer. Adams was left a quadriplegic after two of his relatives decided to play a prank on him by rocking the port-a-potty with him inside only to watch it tip over. The case in the Sullivan County Court of Common Pleas, Adams v. Poly-San, raised interesting elements of superseding forces and negligence. Notably, the case also included his relatives as defendants with the company as well as the toilet installer, Lewis Crawford. (Portable toilets shown are not involved with the company or case)

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By Mike Appleton, Weekend Contributor

“In this case, a young woman in a crisis situation was put at risk because religious directives were allowed to interfere with her medical care. Patients should not be forced to suffer because of a hospital’s religious affiliation.”

-Kary Moss, executive director, ACLU of Michigan (quoted in the Detroit Free Press, December 2, 2013)

“The Church holds that all human life, both before and after birth, has inherent dignity, and that health care providers have the corresponding duty to respect the dignity of all their patients. This lawsuit argues that it is legally ‘negligent’ for the Catholic bishops to proclaim this core teaching of our faith. Thus, the suit urges the government to punish that proclamation with civil liability, a clear violation of the First Amendment.”

-Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (quoted in the National Catholic Register, December 7, 2013)

Tamesha Means was only 18 weeks pregnant when her water broke. A friend rushed her to the emergency room at Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon, Michigan. She was examined and sent home with instructions to follow up with her regular doctor at her next scheduled appointment. The following morning she returned to the hospital, bleeding and having painful contractions. She was given pain medication and again sent home. That very night she returned for the third time, in great pain and with an elevated temperature, suggestive of an infection. As the hospital was preparing paperwork to send her home yet again, Ms. Means went into labor and delivered a baby who survived fewer than three hours. She was then informed that she would need to make funeral arrangements.

Those are a few of the allegations contained in a new lawsuit that has outraged conservatives and the Catholic hierarchy by advancing traditional negligence principles as a basis for imposing liability against a surprising group of defendants.  (more…)

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smallbadge-1gavel2Clyde Ray Spencer, a former motorcycle patrolman, was secured a $9 million damage award from a federal jury after spending nearly two decades in jail on a fabricated case. The jury found that two of his colleagues at the police department fabricated evidence and possibly coached witnesses to convict him of sexually abusing his two children. Retired Clark County Police police Sgt. Michael Davidson and retired Detective Sharon Krause have been accused of the most serious violations in the case.

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Colleen 003.half-contentThere is an interesting controversy in Portland Oregon where residents have complained about cattle heads that appeared along a road. Various people complained to the government that the heads smelled and were disgusting sight. At least one official already knew. The heads belonged to Port of St. Helens Commissioner Colleen DeShazer (left) who refused to remove them. Here are the pictures.

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4e660720-2698-4db1-ba61-d8baef403de5_UnTVm-Em-138There are health care nightmares and then there is what happened to Eric Fergusan, 54, in North Carolina. Fergusan was bitten by a snake on the foot while putting out trash last August. He drove himself to the hospital and was given anti-venom medicine that can be purchased online for as low as $750. The bill” $89,227 bill for an 18-hour stay.

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220px-Blame_Mosley_bannerWe previously discussed the case of Max Mosley, the ex-Formula One boss, who became infamous on the Internet after the posting of a video showing him in a sadomasochistic orgy. The story broke in the now defunct News of the World tabloid and reported the scene as a five-hour orgy with five prostitutes dressed as Nazi guards — a particularly embarrassing performance given the fact that Mosley’s father, Oswald, was the pre-war leader of Britain’s fascist “blackshirts” and even invited Adolf Hitler to his wedding. Mosley, 73, prevailed in a court action in showing that the party did not have a Nazi theme and that his privacy was violated. Now he is continuing what can only be described as a scorched Earth campaign against everyone who has carried the photos and announced a new lawsuit against Google. In a move that raises concerns over the censorship of the Internet, German court ordered the Internet giant to block photos of him at his sadomasochistic orgy.

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We have an interesting defamation case out of California where Courtney Love was found not guilty of an allegedly defamatory tweet directed against her former attorney Rhonda Holmes. The increase in social media and Twitter has led to new challenges under defamation law that we have been following. Such “twibel” cases are still evolving in terms of the standards and potential liability. In this case, Love had sent a tweet reading “I was f***ing devestated [sic] when Rhonda J. Holmes esq. of san diego was bought off.”

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Submitted by Darren Smith, Guest Contributor

Washington Legislative BuildingThe Washington State House of Representatives have crafted House Bill 2272 titled “The Fourth Amendment protection act” with the purported purpose of protecting state citizens from unwarranted collection of data that is provided to various agencies of the United States government without a search warrant. The act includes provisions that allow for a citizen to be arrested for complying with the U.S. government and sanctions local agencies and employees with even harsher penalties. One has to wonder which is a greater threat to individual liberty, the actions of the federal agencies targeted or this potential state law.
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220px-Pepsi_targeted_ad_1940s220px-Pepsi_logo.svgThere is a startling Consumer Report announcement this week that the respected organization has found a suspected cancer-causing chemical, 4-methylimidazole, or 4-MEI, in soft drinks. The presence of a human carcinogen will alarm many parents given the consumption of such drinks by children. The largest brand slammed in the report is Pepsi. It certainly makes the company’s “Live For Now” slogan a bit more menacing.

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200px-US-CourtOfAppeals-9thCircuit-Seal.svg-Crystal Cox Blogger -There was an important decision last week in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in which a panel ruled that bloggers are entitled to the same protections as journalists. The decision is in sharp contrast to the view of Senator Dianne Feinstein and Obama Administration officials who have fought against such protections for bloggers in a new federal shield law. The opinion was handed down on January 17, 2014 in Obsidian Finance Group v. Cox.

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davidperdue175px-CA_-_Torrance_PoliceIf you recall, Torrence Police Department was responsible for a shootout with an unarmed innocent man during their search for ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner. Surfer David Perdue only survived due to the poor marksmanship of Torrence Brian McGee. The district attorney now cleared that officers and said that they were just in a state of “panic” with a cop-killer on the loose. Of course, I thought officers were trained not to panic, but more importantly, I fail to see any reference to the termination of the officers or even discipline for the attack on Dorner. The coverage does mention that the district attorney cleared the officers without even interviewing the victim or his passenger.

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Entreating the Godfather

Submitted by Darren Smith, Guest Blogger

In another chapter in the switch of Washington State from waging a war on drugs to marijuana “regulator” the legislature has introduced a bill to punish cities or counties that ban recreational marijuana retailers and another bill rewarding them if they fall in line and allow it. Does this represent an overstepping of the ordinance making authority of local governments?

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Last available picture of David from 2012

Last available picture of David from 2012

It is with the greatest personal sadness that I have to report the death of a cherished member of our blog family. David Blair Drumm passed away on December 18, 2013 in Austin, Texas. David was there at the very beginning of this blog and remained one of its staunchest supporters. Through the years, David was a rock who not only brought reasoned and calm analysis to posts but also to the management of the blog. He started as a regular commentator under the name “Nal” and I then invited him to write on the weekends. He played the role of editor as well as writer. (Indeed, I am worried about this memorial since David often caught the many typos that I would leave in early morning postings). I came to trust him absolutely in his judgment and analysis. I considered him a good friend and one of the most important influences on this blog. David wrote as a Weekend Blogger for years, sharing his insights into religion, politics, and his always popular “Find the Kitteh” contest. Our success is due in no small part to David Drumm and this blog, I hope, will remain a testament to his work and his memory. To that end, we are dedicating the entire blog today to David and his work. He was a brilliant electrical engineer, a profound writer, a passionate civil libertarian, and most importantly a fierce and loyal friend to our blogging community. (more…)

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UnknownDeming_NM_sealWe previously discussed the horrific case out of New Mexico involving David Eckert. You may recall that Eckert filed a federal case against  the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, police officers with the City of Deming and medical professionals at the Gila Regional Medical Center. Eckert was stopped on a minor traffic violation and accused by an officer of holding his buttocks.  What followed was a nightmare where officers and doctors subjected Eckert to outrageous abuse as they searched for drugs or contraband in his body. Before the police released him after finding no drugs, he would endure five manual penetrations; three forced defecations before witnesses; and an intrusive surgery under sedation. All of this was done without consent and without any basis other than an officer saying he looked like he was clenching his buttocks. Now he has reached a settlement with the city of Demin and the Hidalgo County for $1.6 million. He is still proceeding against the doctors and hospital.

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chi-sandiego-bachman-20140113We have seen prior cases of inopportune or dangerous pictures that result in tragedy on vacations or special occasions (here and here). We now have the tragic case of Anna Bachman, 25, a Chicago graduate student studying for a master’s degree in urban planning and policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Bachman was killed when she lost her balance and fell from the Sunset Cliffs in San Diego.

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nguyen11n-2-webnguyen11n-1-webThere is an ongoing controversy in Los Angeles where pharmacist Kim Nguyen, 27, has charged that she was picked up for no reason by police, handcuffed, sexually assaulted, and then thrown out of a moving police car. A video shows the scene as Nguyen is left bleeding on the road.

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camposLeiterBrianWe have been discussing the effort of University of Denver law professor Nancy Leong to have the Illinois bar punish an anonymous poster called “Dybbuk” who criticized her on a blog as well as other female law professors. Now, University of Chicago Professor Brian Leiter (right) has added a rather bizarre twist to this story on his blog. Professor Leiter says that Professor Paul F. Campos (left) has threatened him not to reveal the identity of the poster targeting Nancy Leong with the disclosure of unspecified embarrassing information on Leiter. [Update: Professor Campos has responded]

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Seal_of_Lake_County,_Illinoistape3_MEDA couple in North Chicago, Illinois, Brandy Allen and Nicholas Timmons, have filed a lawsuit against the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, a Lake County MEG officer, “unknown agents” and “unknown police officers” in a disturbing case of alleged robbery and abuse. The couple says that police stopped them without cause and proceeded to arrest them, interrogated them, and ransack their apartment. They also allege that police took an array of valuable items from their apartment and refused to return the property.

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vidal8n-1-webThere is a troubling case out of Boiling Spring Lake, North Carolina, where a family says that police were called to assist them with their son, Keith Vidal, 18, who was having a schizophrenic episode. After tasering and holding down the boy, an officer shot and killed him. The family says that the police pointed out that he had a screwdriver but they say that the screwdriver was tiny and could not have hurt anyone and that Vidal, who was being held down by multiple officers, was only 90 pounds.

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220px-Christmas_in_Dublin,_CA200px-New_Year_Ball_Drop_Event_for_2012_at_Times_SquareHere is today’s column in USA Today on the hazards of the holidays. While Halloween racks up an impressive array of torts, Christmas and New Year’s Eve produce a considerable number of accidents and crimes. The difference is that the accidents are often self-inflicted — many of which I have personally experienced. Indeed, my family shudders when I pull out the Christmas decorations in anticipation of some unforeseen disaster.

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260px-Fukushima_I_by_Digital_Globe220px-ChopperDecon2011There is a little reported story about U.S. service members who have developed cancer and other illnesses after serving in the rescue efforts following the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. In an account that could have easily been written for the nuclear tests in the 1950s, service members have said that the Navy told them that there was no harm from radiation so long as they avoided the plume rising from the plant.

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Submitted by Charlton Stanley, Guest Blogger

When the public’s right to know is threatened, and when the rights of free speech and free press are at risk, all of the other liberties we hold dear are endangered.
- Senator Christopher Dodd

Utah Federal CourtBack in 2008, John Palmer ordered gifts for his wife, Jen. John ordered from KlearGear, an online retailer located in Michigan. When the merchandise did not arrive, Jen began calling, but got the runaround from KlearGear and the order was canceled. At that point,the frustrated Jen Palmer wrote an account of her negative experiences with KlearGear on the complaint site, Ripoff Report. In describing her frustration with trying to reach somebody at the company to talk to, Jen wrote, “There is absolutely no way to get in touch with a physical human being. No extensions work.”

In 2012, more than four years later, KlearGear notified the Palmers they were being “fined” $3,500 for their negative review. KlearGear warned that unless the bad review was removed from Ripoff Report, they would turn the “fine” over to a collection agency. Ripoff Report makes it clear on their web site that they do not remove negative reviews, but merchants have the opportunity to respond, with their response posted next to the original complaint.

When the unpaid $3.500 was reported as a bad debt to all the credit reporting agencies, the Palmer’s credit rating took a nose dive. They were unable to buy a furnace they needed, they could not finance a car, and were denied other credit, including buying a new home.

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Submitted by Darren Smith, Guest Blogger

WA DSHS LOGOIf allegations are proven it would reveal a shocking and systemic dereliction of duty of Washington’s Child Protective Services to investigate and properly respond to multiple reports of abuse and neglect lasting many years of a family of children. The abuses ranged from mental and verbal abuse to felony assaults against a child.

In March of 2013 the children’s parents Sandra and Jeff Weller of Vancouver were each sentenced to twenty years in prison after having been convicted of fourteen counts of child abuse; double the statutory determinate maximum sentence. Clark County Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson levied the exceptional sentence due to the severity of the crimes.

The claim against the state on behalf of five children alleges nearly ten years of abuse of the children by the parents where little to no action was taken by Child Protective Services to address the issues and protect the children from further crimes by the parents.
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article-2525278-1A2A43B700000578-349_634x350Now this would make for an interesting torts case in the United States. In Cabo Frio, Brazil, doctors performed a cesarean section on a 37-year-old woman only to discover that she wasn’t pregnant. The hospital later said that they were relying on the woman who said that she thought that she was pregnant and that they panicked when they could not hear the baby’s heartbeat.

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