There is an interesting ruling expected in L.A. Superior Court where Judge Gregory Keosian has handed down a tentative decision that would dismiss Richard Simmons’ defamation suit against the National Enquirer and Radar Online. Those papers published a story that Simmons was transitioning to a woman. Simmons denied the account and sued for defamation. The decision is part of a trend away from such allegations as a per se form of defamation.
When I teach the reasonable person and the rational actors standards in torts and economics, I often remind my students that they will be shocked how many people fall well below such standards in their daily activities. This is a case in point. According to Forbes and other sites, hospitals report that they are treating people for eye damage after they put sun screen directly into their eyes to allow them to look at the recent solar eclipse. They said that they could not find special glasses.
An entire country mourned the death of Heather Heyer, a paralegal, who went to Charlottesville to protest the hateful march of neo-Nazis and clansmen — only to be murdered when James A. Fields, 20, allegedly rammed his car into protesters. Now the organizer of the racist march has sent out a tweet calling her a “fat, disgusting Communist” — a tweet he later blamed on being drugged out of his gourd. Jason Kessler explained that he has been doing some heavy drugs and drinking lately.
While people often chide the United States for our torts system and personal liability laws, occasional stories from other countries remind us of how important liability can be to influence accident avoidance. Sharon Regoli Ciferno, 50, a teacher at Charles A. Huston Middle School in western Pennsylvania, was vacationing in Mexico when she fell off a hotel roof that used a deck ledge as a bench. Ciferno laughed so hard that she lost her balance in throwing her head back and fell off the roof.
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals recently handed down a stinging rebuke of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and its deputies some of whom, Plaintiffs claim, lied about a field test of a suspected Marijuana product, finding evidence of marijuana grow derived from purchasing tools at a gardening retailer somehow established probable cause sufficient to send in a SWAT team to execute a search warrant and detain a couple for several hours.
The leafy green vegetable matter in question was not marijuana but tea leaves.
It is a classic example of department officials promising to make a publicity garnering drug sweep and when arrests are not made, someone must be sent to jail at all costs. And as can often be the case with such maligned efforts the end result was a civil rights lawsuit in federal court.
A lawsuit has been filed by Rod Wheeler, a former Fox contributor, that alleges that Fox News Channel and Ed Butowsky, a wealthy Trump supporter (who hired Wheeler to investigate the murder — a story involving the alleged murder of the Democratic National Committee aide. The bombshell part of the complaint is an email that states that President Donald Trump wanted the story to air to distract from the Russian investigation.
There is an interesting torts case out of Dallas where a couple was sued by a photographer after they trashed the photographer in the media for withholding their wedding album over $125 that the studio insisted had to be paid. The story was immediately gobbled up by the media and the studio lost business and eventually closed. Now, instead of $125, Andrew and Neely Moldovan will have to pay one million dollars in defamation damages.