Category: Torts

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.

Continue reading “Rob Riggle Accuses Estranged Wife Of Possible Criminal Conduct”

Dr. Fauci Emerges As An Unlikely Witness For Trump In The “China Flu” Case

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the statement of Dr. Anthony Fauci and others that the origin of Covid-19 could well have been the virology lab in Wuhan, China. The increasing recognition of that theory could make a recent lawsuit against former President Donald Trump more of an opportunity than a liability. Indeed, Trump’s counsel may secretly want the flawed complaint by the Chinese American Civil Rights Coalition to survive standing and other threshold challenges in order to secure a ruling on the use of terms like the “China flu.”

Here is the column:

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New Lawsuit Against Trump Could Backfire Over The Use of Labels Like “China Virus” and ‘Wuhan Flu”

A new lawsuit by the Chinese American Civil Rights Coalition has garnered national attention in the media where former President Donald Trump is being sued for his use of such terms as the “Chinese Virus,” “China Virus,” “Wuhan Flu,” and “Kung Flu.” What is most interesting about this lawsuit is how it is arguably meritless under both tort and constitutional law. However, there has been little pushback from a host of lawyers who have spent months calling for sanctions against Republican lawyers for filing lawsuits viewed legally or factually meritless. This lawsuit seems designed to amplify a public relations campaign without substantial legal support. The question is whether it states just enough to avoid sanctions and whether the Trump team wants to seek such sanctions under Rule 11.  Trump is being sued in his official and personal capacities.

Continue reading “New Lawsuit Against Trump Could Backfire Over The Use of Labels Like “China Virus” and ‘Wuhan Flu””

Justified Shooting: North Carolina District Attorney Announces That No Charges Against Officers In Brown Case

We previously discussed the shooting of Andrew Brown, 42, one of a number of recent police shootings sparking protests. The body camera footage has now been released with a decision not to charge any officer. The finding of a justified shooting is based on facts that are sharply different from those reported at the time in media coverage. It appears that Brown did come into contact with officers with his car, though Brown appears to be trying to evade the officers who surrounded the car.  The Brown family previously declared that the videotape showed that he did not drive toward the deputies which now does not appear to be the case.

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Houston Man Arrested As Police Continue Search For Missing Tiger

A story in Houston has everything you would want in a legal controversy: a murder, a mysterious figure known only as “D”, a missing Bengal tiger named India and even Carole Baskin of Tiger King fame.

That is the situation facing the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office after picking up Victor Hugo Cuevas, 26, after a bizarre incident involving a wayward tiger.  For Cuevas, there is no good option. To quote that other Victor Hugo “If I speak, I am condemned. If I stay silent, I am damned!” Continue reading “Houston Man Arrested As Police Continue Search For Missing Tiger”

Bad Bet: Who Can Gamblers Sue For Losing Money On A Doped Horse?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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”

Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks