Category: Torts

California Man Dies During Taco Eating Contest

We have previously discussed the liability issues associated with eating contests or drinking contests. In Fresno, California, Dana Andrew Hutchings competed in the Taco Truck Throwdown eating contest and it proved to be his last meal. Hutchings is believed to have choked to death during the taco-eating contest at a Grizzlies game in California. I remain surprised by the continued popularity of such contests given the obvious risks. However, these contests are often accompanied by clear waivers of liability and such tragedies are viewed as a classic assumption of the risk by courts absent some collateral negligence in responding to a medical emergency or other issue beyond the dangers of the competitive eating.

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Warren And Harris Accuse Cleared Ferguson Officer Of Murder

Facts are often strangers to politicians who want to trigger emotive responses in targeted groups. The problem is when good politics make for bad law. That seems to be the case with Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren who have declared that Michael Brown was murdered five years ago in Ferguson, Missouri. The problem is that their statements would mean that Officer Darren Wilson is a murderer. However, Wilson was cleared in the shooting, including an exoneration by the Obama Administration. Wilson could conceivably claim defamation but the standard is quite high for a public figure.

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“Army Tied My Mum’s Body To Chair And Blew It Up”: Body Donated for Alzheimer’s Research Used For Blast Testing

We have previously discussed cases involving abuses of corpses, particularly bodies donated for science or organ donation. Now there is a highly disturbing case out of Arizona where Jim Stauffer donated his mother’s body for Alzheimer’s research only to find out later that the body of Doris Stauffer was used for military testing and blown up

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Oh Canada: Airline Tells 71-Year-Old Disabled Woman To Share Hotel Bed With Male Stranger

We have previously discussed the increasingly brutal conditions on airlines which are continuing to reduce legroom and every possible comfort for travelers to further drive record profits. Some of the airlines however appear to be disregarding the most basic safety considerations. Air Canada recently told Elizabeth Coffi Tabu, a 71-year-old cancer patient in a wheelchair, that she would have to share a bed with a male stranger at a hotel for the night. What is incredible is that this markedly abusive decision could have easily resulted in serious liability for the airline.

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Getting Your Assateague Kicked: Tourist Receives Fast Response After Ignoring Signs Not To Pet Wild Horses

One of my favorite hiking areas has been Assateague Island in Maryland. It is home to wild horses that locals believe originated with a Spanish ship that sank close to shore hundreds of years ago. I used to backpack to remote parts of the beach, which has extensive signage telling people to not pet the wild horses. One man however decided that such rules did not apply to him and petted a horse that wandered over to the popular beach. What he received was a memorable response.

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Oberlin Ordered to Pay An Additional $6.5 Million in Attorneys Fees

We have previously discussed the unprecedented damages awarded against Oberlin College for defaming a small grocery store after the arrest of three African American students for shoplifting. Recently President Carmen Twillie Ambar   refused to apologize to the grocery store and the school assured alumni that it would have no difficulty in paying the reduced $25 million. In other words, the President and school simply shrugged and offered neither apologies or reform, including retaining one of the key officials who facilitated the protests and targeting of the store. Now the direct costs are $31.5 million with an award of attorneys fees and that is not counting the huge costs spent on the defense. The records show that Oberlin’s counsel billed twice as many hours as the victorious team for Gibson’s Bakery.

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Dershowitz Moves To Dismiss Defamation Case Over Epstein Allegations

Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz is back in the news in connection to allegations that he was one of the men who had relations with underaged girls during trips with Jeffrey Epstein. New evidence has been released in the case that have rekindled the allegations against Dershowitz. Moreover, Dershowitz (who invited a defamation suit by the woman accusing him with having sex with her as a minor) is now seeking to dismiss the action and thus avoid discovery. Additionally, an early interview has been uncovered with what may be the single worst line since Bill Clinton’s “I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and didn’t like it. I didn’t inhale and I didn’t try it again.” When confronted on whether he did in fact accept a message from one of the women at Epstein’s mansion, Dershowitz admitted that he did but insisted “I kept my underwear on.”

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Clinton Challenged On Denial Of Epstein Flights and Knowledge Of Crimes

225px-Bill_ClintonMany people were surprised yesterday when former President Bill Clinton finally made a public statement after over a decade on his relationship with convicted felon and billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.  Epstein was charged this week with sex trafficking and conspiracy.  Clinton has long been connected with over two dozen flights on Epstein’s place, often called the “Lolita Express” for its reputation for underaged girls and orgies.  Clinton also reportedly told the Secret Service not to accompany him on some flights with Epstein.  Clinton now denies ever traveling without the Secret Service and claims that he only flew with Epstein four times on routine flights. Various people are challenging that account including the journalist, Conchita Sarnoff, who previously wrote on the flight logs and records showing Clinton’s trip. Continue reading “Clinton Challenged On Denial Of Epstein Flights and Knowledge Of Crimes”

Oberlin Hit With $11 Million Verdict For Role In Defaming Local Bakery

Two years ago, I wrote a column about a controversy involving Oberlin College and allegations of racism leveled against the family-owned Gibson’s Bakery. The bakery appears unfairly attacked for an incident involving African-American students — an incident that the college proceeded to address without any semblance of objectively or fairness toward the long-standing local bakery. I said that the time that the bakery had ample reason to sue. Well, now an Ohio jury has hit Oberlin College with crushing damages of an $11.2 million. What is most disturbing is the failure of any action taken against the college president and other officials who not only allowed these abuses to occur but then took a remarkably bad case to court at a loss in millions in damages and fees. The cost of poor judgment shown by college officials in this controversy is magnified by bad case law that it creates potentially for free speech. And the jury has not even convened yet to consider punitive damages.

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Biographer: MLK Watched And Laughed During Rape Of Follower

Pulitzer prize winning author and MLK biographer David Garrow has written a disturbing piece in the British magazine Standpoint on his review of secret tapes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There have long been stories about MLK’s affairs and even discussions of reexamining his standing in the MeToo period. However, the details in this article are different and deeply unsettling, if true. If not, Garrow has ruined his own celebrated career and defamed an American icon. Either way, one would think that there would a huge amount of coverage of the allegations in the mainstream media. Instead, there has been very little coverage of the story. While Yahoo and MSN ran foreign-based stories, most of the coverage has come from newspapers outside of the United States.

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“Psychoooooooo”: Texas Bartender Arrested For Serving Murderer Before Killing Spree

I teach “dram shop” cases in my torts class — cases where bars and bartenders are sued for “over serving” customers who later cause injuries to third parties. This week there is Texas case that involves a criminal charge against a bartender, Lindsey Glass, 27, who was arrested after allegedly violating the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. The man that she allegedly over-served was Spencer Hight, who killed eight people after leaving the Local Public House in Plano. The bar has also been sued by the families of the victims.

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The Sliming Of Pete Buttigieg

Fox News reported on a disturbing allegation of an alleged effort by conservative activists to push a false claim that Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg sexually assaulted another man. The man denies the published account and says that he was coerced into signing a statement as part of an effort by lobbyist Jack Burkman and blogger Jacob Wohl. The story appears entirely false and represents a new low for this town even after such disgraceful stories as the Pizzagate.

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Brothers Sue Lawyers for Jussie Smollett For Defamation

Abel and Ola Osundairo: Instagram

Abel and Ola Osundairo, the two brothers implicated in the hoax attack on Jussie Smollett, are heading back to court. This time however they will be appearing as plaintiffs in a defamation case against Smollett’s attorneys,  Tina Glandian and Mark Geragos. It is a relatively rare case against counsel and could test the limits of legal privilege in defamation.

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Dershowitz Sued For Defamation Over Jeffrey Epstein Case

We have been following the scandal involving the case of sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein (left). Epstein was accused of being a sex trafficker for powerful men ranging from former President Bill Clinton to Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz. Dershowitz has called his accuser a perjurer and recently declared that he wanted to be sued for defamation. He has now gotten his wish. Dershowitz will now face a trial on the merits of the allegation after Boies Schiller filed the requested defamation action against him.

Tensions recently came to a head in a New York courtroom with allegations against Dershowitz made by former federal judge Paul Cassell.

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The Astros’ Orbit Cuts Down Woman With Tee-Shirt “Bazooka”

I am in Houston today and this story caught my eye on the way to Utah (which appears a much safer place in the absence of roaming, battery-causing mascots). Yes, we have another mascot-related sports torts case. Jennifer Harughty alleges the Astros mascot Orbit “shattered” her finger during a July 2018 game in Houston when she was hit by a flying tee-shirt fired from a “bazooka style” cannon. It is an all-too familiar claim as fans find themselves on the wrong end of a mascot projectile. She is suing for $1 million.

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