Posts Tagged ‘Bay Area’

Did ADA serial claimant pay taxes on his loot?

“IRS and federal prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into serial disability access plaintiff Scott Johnson, who has moved his lawsuit operation to the Bay Area in recent months, to determine whether he has paid taxes on his alleged millions of dollars in settlements, multiple sources told this newspaper.

“Unless a plaintiff suffered physical injuries as a result of a civil settlement, that individual must pay taxes on the monetary award, tax experts said. It is unclear whether Johnson paid any taxes on any of his Americans with Disabilities Act settlements with thousands of businesses in California that he alleged obstructed his access as a paralyzed customer using a wheelchair. He and his attorney did not return requests for comment.” [San Jose Mercury-News, more of its coverage on Scott Johnson, earlier on ADA filing mills generally and on Johnson in particular here, here, here, here, and here]

Who’s to blame for San Francisco’s housing cost spiral?

Bay Area progressives are fond of blaming new-arriving rich techies for the dizzying rise in San Francisco housing costs. Yet the trail just as plausibly leads back to the door of some of the same people doing the demonizing, who have resisted the building of serious new housing capacity in the city. [Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic]

Like me, Friedersdorf was also struck by the story (told on public radio’s This American Life) of a San Francisco after-school program’s school musical, an anti-“gentrification” propaganda effort, which trained kids as young as six to go on stage in a production portraying their parents’ class as moral monsters. Shouldn’t that wait for college?

“Artist Sues Oakland Auto Dealer Over Mural’s Removal”

Muralist Dan Fontes “is seeking $400,000 in damages from the current and former operators of Autocom Nissan at Broadway and 27th Streets in Oakland.” His lawyer “argues that when the dealership painted over the mural in 2013, they violated the U.S. Visual Artist Rights Act (VARA), a law dating back to 1990. Among other things, the law requires a building owner to give an artist a 90-day notice before the mural is removed or painted over, so the artist can take back or at least document the work.” The mural itself predates VARA by three years — it was painted in 1987 — but the lawyer is taking the position that the 1990 law stripped rights from owners of existing mural works that had not changed ownership before the law’s passage, and reassigned them to original artists. [KQED, Contra Costa Times] We’ve covered VARA and the misnamed concept of “moral rights” before.

Environment roundup

  • I own a Volkswagen clean diesel myself, and can recommend its terrific fuel economy and peppy performance. It’s almost too good to be true [Clive Crook on policy background] Class action lawyers expect huge payday from scandal, but their emissions might not be very reliable either [Daniel Fisher] More from Fisher: will VW owners actually take their vehicles in for the recall? and more on litigation prospects [More: Car and Driver];
  • Housing advocates looking for plaintiffs to sue Bay Area town that refuses to make its housing supply denser [CityLab]
  • Behind court’s strikedown of NYC Styrofoam ban [Erik Engquist, Crain’s New York; Entrepreneur]
  • “Did Flint, Michigan Just Lead Poison Its Children? Doctors Think So.” [Russell Saunders, The Daily Beast]
  • “Global regulatory norms” favored by pontiff “would globalize Argentina’s downward mobility.” [George Will]
  • After long silence, Hillary Clinton declares opposition to Keystone XL pipeline [Politico, more]
  • Houston: “For the most part, we don’t look all that different from other big cities that do have zoning.” [The Urban Edge; Kinder Institute, Rice U.]

July 10 roundup

  • Supreme Court agrees to hear case in which feds claim right to ignore deadlines for suit-filing because of Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act (WSLA), passed in 1942 [my new Cato post, earlier]
  • As we’ve advised before, don’t run 10K races while your claim of low-speed-crash injury is pending [Philly.com]
  • Incentivizing complaint-filing: State Bar of California pushes “urgency legislation” empowering it to collect $2500 per enforcement action from targets of its efforts against unauthorized practice of law; association of non-lawyer preparers of legal documents calls it “a cleverly designed effort by the Bar to seek additional revenue from non-members of the Bar.” [Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee via KafkaEsq]
  • Feds get earful on Hawaiian tribalization plan [KHON, Indian Country Today, more, earlier]
  • BP: “Legal feeding frenzy continues four years after the spill” [Melissa Landry, The Hayride]
  • Danke schön! “Overlawyered ist übrigens ein vorzügliches Blog, das sehr oft sehr gute Postings hat zu den Irrungen und Wirrungen des US-amerikanischen Rechtssystems” [Lawblog.de comment]
  • There’ll always be a Berkeley: California city requires medical marijuana dispensaries to set aside some product for free use by indigent and homeless [Reason, KCBS]

Bay Area mom thrown off bus seat awarded $15 million

Maria Francisco fell off her bus seat and was injured when an Alameda-Contra Costa transit bus driver, according to Francisco’s lawyer, took a speed bump at 30 mph. Francisco can walk, but has been awarded $15 million for her injuries, and her daughter, then 4, a further $1 million for witnessing her mom’s fall. I’m quoted in Britain’s Daily Mail expressing misgivings about the level of damages (“spin to win”).

One reaction via @LauraKMcNally on Twitter: “Compare re: soldier injury comp.”

“Brady Campaign To Honor Yee For Violence Prevention”

That was in happier days, when California State Sen. Leland Yee was winning national applause for his gun-control efforts. Yesterday the San Jose Mercury-News reported:

In a stunning criminal complaint, State Sen. Leland Yee has been charged with conspiring to traffic in firearms and public corruption as part of a major FBI operation spanning the Bay Area. … Yee asked whether he wanted automatic weapons, and the agent confirmed he did — about $500,000 to $2.5 million worth.”

Is it time to retire our “Do as we say” tag yet? Eliot Spitzer got exposed after crusading for longer sentences for “johns.” Czars of alcohol-abuse programs keep getting nabbed on the road after having a half dozen too many. Rep. Bob Filner groped his way to the podium to chair hearings on women’s issues.

Now there’s this. Maybe Sen. Yee came down so hard on private gun dealers because he wanted to muscle into the business himself.

The entire criminal information, which beggars belief in its colorful detail (Chinese gangs, Russian arms runners, Muslim insurgents in the Philippines) is here, with highlights summarized by Scott Lucas of San Francisco magazine. The San Francisco Chronicle editorialized: “Few observers of San Francisco politics are surprised by [Yee’s] arrest on corruption charges.” Then there’s this sidelight: “Keith Jackson, accused by the FBI on Wednesday of being involved in a murder-for-hire scheme and a gun- and drug-trafficking conspiracy, was San Francisco’s top elected educator during the late 1990s.” [San Francisco Chronicle]

Great moments in defense law

Menlo Park, Calif.: A 90-year-old lawyer’s BMW SUV jumped the curb and pinned two 6-year-old twin brothers against a wall, seriously injuring them. Now the driver, Edward Nelson, “states in his response to the lawsuit that the plaintiffs ‘carelessly, recklessly and negligently conducted and maintained themselves’ in a way that contributed to the accident. Furthermore, ‘knowing the probable consequences thereof, (they) placed themselves in a position of danger and voluntarily participated in all the activities,’ and so assumed any related risks. Finally, the plaintiffs failed to ‘reasonably mitigate’ any damages they sustained.” [Sandy Brundage, The Almanac (Peninsula communities, Bay Area)]