We have been discussing how attacking free speech has become an article of faith for many on the left. That includes embracing corporate censorship and recently even good old-fashioned state censorship. It includes banning books and preventing opposing voices to be heard on campuses. Now, MSNBC national security analyst Frank Figliuzzi has called for Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Fox News host Tucker Carlson to face civil liability for their commentary on transgender policies or controversies after the recent tragic shooting in Colorado. It is part of a growing movement in the media in favor of imposing criminal or civil liability on opposing viewpoints — a call that is tantamount to sawing the very branch upon which journalists and analysts sit. Continue reading “MSNBC Analyst Calls for Liability for Boebert and Carlson … for the Colorado Shootings”
Auburn University has lost a major case involving free speech after a jury ruled in favor of Prof. Michael Stern, a tenured economics professor. The jury ruled that Auburn retaliated against Stern for his public criticism of the school’s treatment of student athletes, particularly their alleged favored treatment in the College of Liberal Arts. Notably, the jury awarded punitive damages against the university, a relative rarity for juries but well deserved in this case. Continue reading “Stern Rebuke: Auburn University Hit With Punitive Damages in Free Speech Case”
Parental rights are becoming one of the defining issues for 2024. Building from Glenn Youngkin’s 2021 gubernatorial victory in Virginia, school boards races and educational initiatives have become some of the most fiercely contested areas on local and state ballots. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Cal.) weighed in this week into the area with a curious attack on parents demanding more say in the education of their children. The California Democrat insisted that it is akin to “Putting patients in charge of their own surgeries? Clients in charge of their own trials?” These were curious analogies to draw since patients and clients are in charge of the key decisions in their surgeries and trials. What Rep. Swalwell is missing is called informed consent.
We previously discussed the litigation and criminal investigation surrounding the fatal shooting on the set of “Rust.” Alec Baldwin and others are being sued for negligence in the death of cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins. Now Baldwin has filed a countersuit against the first assistant director, armorer, ammunitions supplier and prop master in Los Angeles Superior Court. The case may turn dramatically on California’s comparative negligence rules. Continue reading “Crossfire: Alec Baldwin Countersues Over “Rust” Fatal Shooting”
It is a little early to do our Christmas torts column, but this scene out of London is worth sharing: people had to flee giant rolling baubles that broke free of a decoration. The two giant baubles then rolled menacingly through a part of London.
There was an interesting torts question raised last week over an abortion rights video ad shared by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, and others. The video was made to support Proposition 1, a pro-choice amendment to the California State Constitution. Macy Petty is a pro-life activist who was falsely portrayed as crying outside of the Supreme Court after its overturning of Roe v. Wade this year. The video ad was reportedly paid for by the California Democratic Party.
There is a bizarre political controversy out of Colorado that may raise some interesting defamation and criminal law questions. Both the Colorado GOP and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) are calling for Democrat Adam Frisch to withdraw from the race. The basis for the demand is a Breitbart story detailing the claim of a local businessman that he successfully blackmailed Frisch to change his vote on a key bill in order to avoid the disclosure of a sexual affair. Local media has reported a denial from Frisch. If untrue, this businessman could face a major defamation action, but Frisch has not indicated whether he will contest the allegation in court. Continue reading “Colorado Candidate Accused of Yielding to Blackmail While on the Aspen City Council”
There is an interesting ruling in Amor v. Conover on the definition of a limited public figure for defamation. United States District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Judge John Gallagher (E.D. Pa.) ruled that Dr. James Amor and Ms. Patricia Amor are limited public figures subject to a higher standard of proof due to their roles as performance directors of the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival as well as playing the King and Queen at such costumed faires. Continue reading “Ye Ole Defamation: Renaissance Faire’s King and Queen Found to be Limited Public Figures”
A tragedy in North Carolina could present rather difficult torts questions in a wrongful death case for a grieving family. Phillip Paxson, 47, is a father of two who died after he drove his Jeep at night over an inoperative bridge in Catawba County. His GPS took him on the route and neither the GPS nor the bridge had any warnings that the bridge was destroyed in heavy flooding in July 2013. While his death was due to the negligent lack of road barriers, his family will face considerable legal barriers to recovery that could prove insurmountable. Continue reading “North Carolina Man Killed After GPS Sends Him Over Destroyed Bridge”
Former President Donald Trump is suing CNN in a $475 million defamation lawsuit, according to a complaint filed in federal court in the Southern District of Florida on Monday. The lawsuit faces significant challenges under the governing precedent for public figures. For counsel, those challenges likely seem steeper in a week when Trump unleashed reckless and offensive attacks on Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and his wife former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao as well as journalist, Maggie Haberman. It is not exactly the context that counsel would want when seeking to hold CNN liable for defamatory comments in a difficult legal action. Continue reading “Trump Sues CNN for $475 Million in Defamation Lawsuit”
The undocumented migrants who were transferred to Martha’s Vineyard have quickly adopted one common American practice: litigation. A firm, Lawyers for Civil Rights, in conjunction with the migrant-led nonprofit Alianza Americas, filed the action on behalf of Yanet Doe, Pablo Doe and Jesus Doe who are using pseudonyms for the action “on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated.” The filing is a Jackson Pollock of legal claims with twelve claims thrown against Florida from false imprisonment to intentional infliction of emotional distress to misuse of the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund. The splattering of claims face considerable legal barriers based on the consent of the migrants, as shown in a waiver released by Florida.
The long and vengeful campaign of Oberlin College against a small family-owned grocery has come to an end at the cost of a breathtaking $36 million for defamation. The Ohio Supreme Court had rejected what should be Oberlin College’s final appeal of a verdict in favor of Gibson’s Bakery. The bakery has been the target of an unrelenting attack by the school after it had the temerity to fight a false charge of racism in a shoplifting case involving Oberlin students who later pleaded guilty to criminal charges. Oberlin President Carmen Twillie Ambar and the Board burned through millions in litigation costs above the damages rather than admit that the college was wrong in the targeting of this grocery. That money could have been used for scholarships and other worthy purposes. Instead, Amber and the Board will simply ask alumni to foot the bill for a legal effort that seems to become little more than a revenge fetish. Continue reading “Oberlin’s Revenge Mania: College Finally Runs Out of Appeals in Campaign Against Family-Owned Bakery”
There is a major verdict in a free speech case out of Texas where Charlene Carter, a former Southwest flight attendant won a verdict of more than $5 million for her wrongful termination after a posting on social media criticizing her union on its abortion stand. Both Southwest and the Transportation Workers Union of America (TWU) (Local 556) are named as defendants. Ironically, the TWU insists that it is “offering working people a voice.” However, it is accused of working with the company to terminate this worker who spoke up against the union.