Category: Torts

Chopped: Will Seattle Officials Now Claim Immunity From Lawsuits After Opposing Such Defenses For Police Officers?

Below is my column in The Hill on the new lawsuit against Seattle for its allowing the establishment of an autonomous zone within the city called CHOP.  According to the compliant, what Mayor Jenny Durkan called “a summer of love” proved instead to be a month of mayhem resulting in deaths, robberies and sexual assaults. Now the city may be relying an immunity defense despite leaders opposing such defenses for individual police officers.

Here is the column:

Continue reading “Chopped: Will Seattle Officials Now Claim Immunity From Lawsuits After Opposing Such Defenses For Police Officers?”

“Outraging Public Decency”: Australian Convicted After Filming And Mocking Dying Officers In Crash

Supporting free speech is often a difficult task that demands defending the most despised individuals or offensive views in our society. That is certainly the case with Richard Pusey, 42, who became a widely hated figure after he filmed and mocked police officers who were dead or dying on the road after a crash. Pusey has been convicted of the crime of “outraging public decency,” an ambiguous crime that would allow the broad criminalizing of speech. Police officers Lynette Taylor, Glen Humphris, Kevin King and Joshua Prestney lost their lives in the accident.

Continue reading ““Outraging Public Decency”: Australian Convicted After Filming And Mocking Dying Officers In Crash”

Twitter Suspends Cornell Student For Showing Embarrassing Picture Of Hunter Biden

Twitter LogoThe conservative site College Fix has an account from a Cornell student that caught my eye today in light of the lawsuit yesterday against Twitter by Project Veritas for violating ill-defined “privacy rule.”  Joseph Silverstein says that he was suspended after showing a widely available picture of Hunter Biden in his underwear — one of the pictures taken from his laptop. Twitter insists that the picture violates privacy rules despite being taken from an allegedly abandoned laptop, widely discussed in the public domain, and concerning a matter of public debate. It is also another example of Twitter’s strikingly conflicted censorship policies where images of Rudy Giuliani allegedly groping himself are permissible but a media confrontation in front of a home with a Facebook executive or a picture connected to the Biden laptop are not. Continue reading “Twitter Suspends Cornell Student For Showing Embarrassing Picture Of Hunter Biden”

Project Veritas Sues CNN In Latest Media Defamation Lawsuit

Project Veritas has followed through with the pledge of its founder James O’Keefe to sue CNN over coverage of the ban imposed by Twitter (The group also sued Twitter in a separate lawsuit).  There has been an explosion of such defamation lawsuits including a suit by Dominion against Fox News (For full disclosure, I am a Fox contributor). The lawsuits raise interesting but challenging grounds for media lawsuits.

Continue reading “Project Veritas Sues CNN In Latest Media Defamation Lawsuit”

Called At The Plate: Umpire Joe West Wins $500,000 Judgment Against Former Catcher Paul Lo Duca

We previously discussed the defamation lawsuit brought by Major League Baseball Umpire Joe West against former catcher Paul Lo Duca after Lo Duca suggested that West took loans of a hot car in exchange for a more generous strike zone. West has now won a major verdict in New York and $500,000 in damages. Due to a default judgment on liability, it was the ultimate “back door slider.” However, damages was no “cookie” given an interesting debate over the harm caused to West in seeking entry into the Hall of Fame.

Continue reading “Called At The Plate: Umpire Joe West Wins $500,000 Judgment Against Former Catcher Paul Lo Duca”

“A Matter Of Public Concern”: Court Dismisses Lawsuit Of Former Rep. Katie Hill Against The Daily Mail

I previously wrote about the defamation claims filed by former Rep. Katie Hill has lost a lawsuit against her husband and a variety of other people, including the Daily Mail for reporting on her sex scandal involving a former aide.  I stated that the legal basis for the lawsuit against the media was highly dubious and that the underlying stories were protected under the First Amendment as matters of public interest. As expected, the case against the Daily Mail was thrown out by Los Angeles Judge Yolanda Orozco on First Amendment grounds.

Continue reading ““A Matter Of Public Concern”: Court Dismisses Lawsuit Of Former Rep. Katie Hill Against The Daily Mail”

Gaetz Could Be Washington’s Latest High-Profile Defamation Defendant

We have been discussing a slew of defamation actions this year. Indeed, for a torts professor, this could prove the golden age of defamation.  Recently, new such cases were filed against Fox News, CNN, and various public figures.  Those cases join various cases against figures like Donald Trump, who recently lost a major ruling.  It now seems likely that Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz will be sued in the ongoing scandal involving allegations of sex trafficking.  Like many, I was surprised to watch Tucker Carlson’s interview with Gaetz on the first night of the scandal and hear Gaetz identify by name (and law firm) the lawyer who he claims was extorting him. That lawyer is former Justice Department lawyer David McGee, who presumably will be filing a libel action against the congressman.  This could prove a “double tap” for Gaetz, 38, who could face a criminal charge and a civil lawsuit as a result of the scandal. Continue reading “Gaetz Could Be Washington’s Latest High-Profile Defamation Defendant”

Two Capitol Police Officers Sue Trump Over Capitol Riot

recently wrote about the lawsuit by Rep. Eric Swalwell against former President Donald Trump as a serious miscalculation that could result in a legal vindication for Trump either on the trial or appellate levels. In my view, the lawsuit contravenes free speech as well as controlling case law from the Supreme Court. Now two Capitol Police officers injured during the riot, James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby, have sued on similar grounds with many of the same inherent flaws. The 40-page lawsuit was written by D.C. attorney Patrick Malone, who previously filed ethics complaints against lawyers representing the Trump campaign or the Republican party.  Trump lawyers many view this lawsuit as a greater opportunity than a liability for their client.

Continue reading “Two Capitol Police Officers Sue Trump Over Capitol Riot”

Major Liability? Biden’s Dog Bites Another Employee After Returning From Delaware Seclusion

Courtesy White House

I previously wrote about the historical and legal perspectives of a biting incident involving one of the presidential pets, Major.  Both Biden German Shepherds (Major and Champ) were previously whisked out of town.  They were then quietly brought back.  Now Major has bitten another person who reportedly required medical attention. In the prior column, I noted that under tort law a dog is afforded (at most) “one free bite” before strict liability applies. Major could now be treated as a known vicious animal for liability purposes.

Continue reading “Major Liability? Biden’s Dog Bites Another Employee After Returning From Delaware Seclusion”

Strikeout at The Boilerplate: Court Rules For Fan Contesting Fine Print On Baseball Ticket

Project Veritas Wins Victory Against New York Times In Defamation Action

While it has received little coverage in the mainstream media, the conservative group Project Veritas won a major victory against the New York Times this week in a defamation case with potentially wide reach.  In a 16-page decision, New York Supreme Court Justice Charles Wood ruled against the newspaper’s motion to dismiss and found that Project Veritas had shown sufficient evidence that the New York Times might have been motivated by “actual malice” and acted with “reckless disregard” in several articles written by Maggie Astor and Tiffany Hsu. The decision will allow the Project access to discovery which can be extremely difficult for a news organization.

Continue reading “Project Veritas Wins Victory Against New York Times In Defamation Action”

Florida Woman Faces Criminal Charges Of Practicing Without A License After Allegedly Disfiguring Patient

We have previously discussed the criminal and civil liability of those posing as doctors.  Alcalira Jimenez De Rodriguez, 56, follows a familiar pattern in doing cosmetic surgeries without a license. One of the criminal charges however is concerning.

Continue reading “Florida Woman Faces Criminal Charges Of Practicing Without A License After Allegedly Disfiguring Patient”

Tarasoff Revisited: Nebraska Court Rejects Liability Of Psychiatrist After Patient Murders Girlfriend

There is a tragic case out of Omaha that has led to a notable decision over tort liability for psychiatrists. The case involves a patient, Mikael Loyd, who was admitted to Lasting Hope Recovery Center after he told police that he wanted their help in killing his mother. Psychiatrist Jeana Benton determined that he was not a risk at the hospital and he was released. He then strangled his girlfriend, Melissa Rodriguez, who broke up with him during his hospital stay.  Her parents, Angela Rodriguez and Adan Rodriguez, sued Lasting Hope and Benton’s employer, University of Nebraska Medical Center Physicians, but the Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the action due to a lack of any legal duty to warn or protect the girlfriend.

Continue reading “Tarasoff Revisited: Nebraska Court Rejects Liability Of Psychiatrist After Patient Murders Girlfriend”

“Major” Liability or One Free Bite? Biden Sends Dogs Back to Delaware After Biting Incident

Courtesy White House (Major)

The Biden German Shepherds have been sent back to Delaware after “Major” was involved in a “biting incident” with a White House security officer. Assuming the incident was a dog-bites-guard rather than a guard-bites-dog incident, the question is whether this is a “Major” liability concern. If nothing else, it allows me to talk about two of my favorite subjects: dogs and torts. Continue reading ““Major” Liability or One Free Bite? Biden Sends Dogs Back to Delaware After Biting Incident”

Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks