Category: Torts

NYT: The “ISIS-K Planner” Killed By The Administration Was A Former U.S. Aid Worker Loading Water Containers

During the debacle in the withdraw from Afghanistan, the Biden Administration claimed to have killed an “ISIS-K Planner” but curiously refused to give his name despite repeated media requests. It was odd because clearly he knew about it as did his colleagues. Ten innocent people (rather than three claimed by the Administration) appear to have also died in the attack. However, now the New York Times reports that we may have vaporized an innocent person who was loading water rather than munitions into his car. Indeed, the newspaper suggests that he is a former U.S. Aid worker. If so, the report could trigger a compensation demand. We just discussed such compensation system in my Torts class. Continue reading “NYT: The “ISIS-K Planner” Killed By The Administration Was A Former U.S. Aid Worker Loading Water Containers”

Australia High Court Delivers Major Blow to Free Speech In Defamation Ruling

Free speech has always held a precarious position in Australia which does not have an equivalent to the First Amendment in guaranteeing free speech as a constitutional right. Despite this history, a new decision out of the High Court is still shocking in its implications for further attacks on free speech. The court ruled that newspapers and television stations that post articles on social media sites like Facebook are liable for other third party comments on those posts. The ruling, if replicated in other countries, could accelerate the censorship of viewpoints on the Internet. Continue reading “Australia High Court Delivers Major Blow to Free Speech In Defamation Ruling”

Louisiana Police Arrest Man In Staged Hit-And-Run Case

In torts, we often discuss strike suits and slip-and-fall actions designed to force settlements from litigation-wary companies.  In Louisiana, police arrested a man,  Arthur Bates Jr., 47, who they allege staged such an accident. The problem is that it was caught on videotape by the Tesla driver. Such staged accidents are also the work of professional gangs who work with unscrupulous lawyers, including staged moving accidents to force unsuspecting drivers into rear-end collisions.

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Tennessee Prosecutor Accused of Telling Deputies to Destroy Pictures of Brutal Beating

A very disturbing case of alleged police brutality just got far worse after defense counsel for Jim Jones, 62, alleged in open court that a prosecutor with the District Attorney for Lawrence County, Tennessee told a deputy sheriff to delete pictures of the beaten Jones.  The prosecutor “has been terminated” but the question is whether the disclosure will feature in a trial for civil damages.

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Klacik v. Owens: GOP Congressional Candidate Sues Conservative Commentator For Defamation

We have been following a slew of defamation lawsuits by political figures over the last few years. (See, e.g., here and here and here and here and here and here and here). As a torts professor, it has been a bonanza for my students to see different issues raised in such cases involving public officials and public figures. The latest such case is between two well-known Republican women and commentators: Kimberly Klacik and Candace Owens. Former Republican congressional candidate Klacik is suing commentator Candace Owens for defamation in alleging that she has committed criminal acts, money laundering used drugs, and workers at a strip club.  Klacik is seeking $20 million in damages.  The filings raise some interesting questions for tort actions between two public figures. Continue reading “Klacik v. Owens: GOP Congressional Candidate Sues Conservative Commentator For Defamation”

Two “Widows,” Two Funerals, and a Lawsuit: Baltimore Funeral Home Sued In Bizarre Alleged Bait-and-Switch

In my torts class, we discuss liability for the mishandling of corpses as well as torts like the intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress related to deceased remains. The latest such example could well be a torts final hypothetical. Wylie Funeral Homes in Baltimore is accused of giving a widow an empty urn and lying about the handling of the remains of her deceased husband. It only gets more bizarre from there. We will be discussing this case in class for years to come.

Continue reading “Two “Widows,” Two Funerals, and a Lawsuit: Baltimore Funeral Home Sued In Bizarre Alleged Bait-and-Switch”

Better Sooner Than Later? Oklahoma Coaches Claim Right to Discipline Players For Unpopular Viewpoints

There is an interesting case developing in the University of Oklahoma on free speech on campuses. Volleyball Player Kylee McLaughlin sued coaches Lindsey and Kyle Walton after she was allegedly excluded from the team for expressing conservative or unpopular views. What is notable is that, in the motion to dismiss, the coaches argue that they have a right, if not an obligation, to exclude players who are unpopular due to their views. According to the complaint, they further suggested that such action prepares “Sooner” athletes for the real world. While the case has drawn little attention beyond the site The College Fix, it raises serious issues for academia and free speech (as well as an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim). Continue reading “Better Sooner Than Later? Oklahoma Coaches Claim Right to Discipline Players For Unpopular Viewpoints”

Pennsylvania Woman Killed By Roommate’s Three Pit Bulls

We have previously discussed animal liability in torts. There is a tragedy in Pennsylvania which could present difficult questions for such cases after Rhoda Wagner, 60, was killed by three pit bulls. She was watching the dogs for her roommate. If litigated, the state’s nuanced dog liability laws would come into effect.

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Oklahoma Man Shoots Unarmed Woman in the Back After She Tears Down His Nazi Flag

There is a no stand-your-ground case out of Oklahoma where Alexander Feaster, 46 is claiming that he shot Kyndal McVey, 27, in the back while she ran away as an act of self-defense. McVey had just torn down Feaster’s Nazi flag and he claimed that he was in fear of an “imminent Antifa attack on his home” last June, according to a court motion in the case. Continue reading “Oklahoma Man Shoots Unarmed Woman in the Back After She Tears Down His Nazi Flag”

Lawyer Sues Legal Aid Society For Discrimination After Being Attacked For Her Criticism Of Critical Race Theory

Maud Maron is a public interest lawyer who is now at the center of a firestorm in New York. A Bernie Sanders donor and public interest volunteer, she is the classic image of a Manhattan liberal.  Maron is also someone with the type of resume that should bring pride to any school. She is a mother of four who graduated from Cardozo Law School and became a public defender with the Legal Aid Society. By every indication, she is a dedicated public interest lawyer.  Her life changed, however, after, as a mother of four public school kids, she criticized the teaching of what is commonly referred to as critical race theory in public schools. That led to her colleagues labeling her a racist and demanding her removal. She has now filed a lawsuit that claims that she was effectively forced out of her job by fellow lawyers and the union. Continue reading “Lawyer Sues Legal Aid Society For Discrimination After Being Attacked For Her Criticism Of Critical Race Theory”

The Illusion of Action: Cuomo’s New Gun Manufacturer Liability Law is a Colossal Misfire

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the declaration of a gun violence emergency by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.  The centerpiece of Cuomo’s plan is a new law to allow victims of gun violence to sue gun manufacturers under a nuisance theory. If it sounds familiar that is because it is painfully familiar.  It has failed repeatedly in various states, including New York. It is doubtful that Cuomo truly believes that the law will make a significant, if any, impact on gun violence. However, that is not the point. The point is the appearance of action, not the ultimate result of such action.

Here is the column: Continue reading “The Illusion of Action: Cuomo’s New Gun Manufacturer Liability Law is a Colossal Misfire”

Court Rules Air Force Is More At Fault For Mass Shooting Than The Shooter

There was a remarkable decision by a Texas federal judge this week when U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez for the Western District of Texas ruled that the Air Force was legally at fault for the 2017 mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas by Devin Patrick Kelley.  The Air Force failed to enter a prior offense into the federal background check database to bar him from purchasing a firearm. The liability alone is notable but Rodriguez found the Air Force more at fault that Kelley for the killing of 26 people and wounding of 22 others in the massacre at the First Baptist Church.

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Former Cub Ben Zobrist Sues Former Pastor For Sleeping With His Wife and Stealing Money

There are just some legal controversies that hit all of my buttons.  As a diehard Cubs fans (and the fan personally responsible for breaking the Billy Goat curse before the World Series in 2016), the lawsuit from former Cub and World Series MVP Ben Zobrist brings together the Cubs and torts.  It also happens to be really quite interesting in seeking tortious liability. Continue reading “Former Cub Ben Zobrist Sues Former Pastor For Sleeping With His Wife and Stealing Money”

Indianapolis Police Officer Sues NFL For Defamation in Anti-Racism Campaign

Screenshot from federal complaint

There is an interesting lawsuit out of Indiana where Indianapolis Metro Police Department Officer De’Joure Mercer is suing the National Football League (NFL) for defamation after the NFL claimed that his shooting of an African American man was due to “systemic racism.”  (Officer Mercer is also African American).The suspect, Dreasjon Reed, reportedly fired repeatedly at Mercer before he killed him — a shooting found to be justified by a review board.  A special prosecutor also announced that a grand jury rejected any charges against Mercer.

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Rob Riggle Accuses Estranged Wife Of Possible Criminal Conduct

There is an interesting controversy in the news related to former Daily Show “correspondent” Rob Riggle who appears to be in the midst of a divorce that makes the Depp-Heard divorce look like an amicable split. The recent reported discovery by Riggle of a surveillance camera raises some interesting criminal and tort dimensions to a divorce that seems to be snowballing out of control.

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