Category: Torts

NRA Sues San Francisco Over Resolution Declaring It To Be A Domestic Terrorist Organization

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has filed a lawsuit against San Francisco over the resolution denouncing the organization as a “domestic terrorist organization.” I am cited in the brief, which can be read below. The NRA is correct that I have written in opposition to the resolution of the Board of Supervisors as a direct attack on free speech and “the very definition of demagoguery.” However, the quote that is attributed to me is in error. it was in fact from another column by Henry Olson. It is minor matter since the NRA correctly attributes my view that the resolution is an attack on first amendment rights of free speech and association.

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Too Much Rope, Too Much Hope? The Oklahoma Case Against Johnson & Johnson Might Not Stand

Below is my column in USA Today on the recent massive damage award in the opioid case in Oklahoma. I remain quite skeptical about the underlying theory of liability as well as other elements in the case.

Here is the column:

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“I Don’t Know Why You Are Freaking Out”: Woman Drowns As 911 Operator Tells Her To Calm Down

In a horrific recording, a 911 dispatcher dismisses the cries of panic by Debbie Stevens, 47, (above) as her car fills with water in Fort Smith Arkansas. At one point, the dispatcher, Donna Reneau, says “I don’t know why you are freaking out.” Stevens explained that she was afraid of dying and kept apologizing. She later drowned in the car waiting for rescue.

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HuffPost and Senior Reporter Sued Over Kavanaugh Story

There is an interesting defamation case out of the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. Professor Derrick Evans is suing Huffington Post for a September 2018 story on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and partying at Georgetown Prep school. The article alleged that Evans committed drug offenses in scoring drugs for friends, particularly cocaine. The most extraordinary — and potentially defamatory — claim was that Evans and his friend Douglas Kennedy not only regularly bought and distributed cocaine but supplied the cocaine in April 1984 that killed Douglas’ brother, David.

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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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