Breaking into amusement park, taking ride on slide does not end well

Visiting Myrtle Beach for a wedding, two New York women walk by a closed amusement park in the early morning hours and resolve on a joyride:

“Even though it was closed, the plaintiffs were easily able to move the unsecured gate at the entrance to the Pipeline Slide and climb the stairs to the top of the slide,” claims the lawsuit. “Without any employees present to instruct them, the plaintiffs were not aware that they needed to have the slide sprayed with water, nor did they know that they needed a burlap sack to safely go down the side.”

“Without these safety precautions, the plaintiffs slid down the slide at a very high velocity, colliding with the metal barrier at the bottom of the slide,” the lawsuit also claims. “As a result of the collision, both plaintiffs sustained significant injuries.”

Now they want damages against the park on a variety of theories, including punitive damages. [WBTW]

Employment discrimination law roundup

  • Employee with (per Costco) history of “serious misconduct and insubordination” wins $750K after being fired for speaking at too loud a volume, the result she said of deafness-related difficulty in modulating her voice [Jon Hyman]
  • “Now What? Disciplining an Employee with a Suspected Addiction or Substance Abuse Issue” [Dale Deitchler and Jeffrey Dilger, Littler]
  • ADA: “6th Circuit says full-time work is not an essential function of every full-time job” [Jon Hyman] “So, you want to change the essential functions of a particular job, do you? Let’s talk ADA.” [Eric B. Meyer]
  • “Our group member has a fragrance sensitivity – and we’re supposed to be hugged to check for any scents” [Alison Green, Ask a Manager via Hyman]
  • “Is the sexual harassment “groundswell” starting?” [Robin Shea, Constangy; state agency volume] “Bracing For The Deluge Of EEOC Lawsuits” [Gerald Maatman, Seyfarth Shaw; EEOC filings rise]
  • “Why Doesn’t Diversity Training Work?” [Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev, Anthropology Now; related, Amy Alkon (counterproductive “privilege checking”)]
  • Arbitrator orders Oregon town of West Linn to pay $100,000+ to cop fired after incendiary, racially charged Facebook posts [Everton Bailey Jr., Oregonian]

Justin Driver, The Schoolhouse Gate

The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, The Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind, a new book by Justin Driver of the University of Chicago Law School, is a cross-cutting look at the constitutional law of American public schools — a change from the usual format of broad constitutional law scholarship, which tends to stick closely to doctrinal categories such as criminal procedure or equal protection. Introduced by Will Baude, Driver guest-posted at the Volokh Conspiracy in September on why the Supreme Court has made a difference; the high-water mark and retreat of student speech rights; corporal punishment; Plyler v. Doe on the education of undocumented minors; and transgender student restroom cases. He also summed up some of his work in a New York Times op-ed.

Symposium at Cato Unbound: “Children, Parents, and Child Protective Services”

This month I’m participating in a Cato Unbound symposium on Child Protective Services and family rights. In its lead essay, attorney Diane Redleaf details some of the ways in which CPS agencies can arm-twist parents into so-called interim placements and safety plans that separate families with little or no judicial review.  Participant James G. Dwyer, in a response essay, takes a relatively positive view of the agencies’s work. My essay, by contrast, generally backs up Redleaf’s critique of CPS as a species of government enforcement agency gone wild: far too often, these agencies seize children from parents based on flimsy evidence, second-guess everyday parental behavior and decisions, or act on misguided Drug War zeal.

Redleaf in her essay then goes on to raise distinctive objections about how the agencies negotiate with parents before a judge has ruled on their cases, which I paraphrase thus:

…what sorts of policy response should apply to agencies’ practice of proffering to parents ostensibly voluntary interim placements and “safety plans”? What happens when parents regret—the next month, or the next day—having agreed to those conditions? Can they reopen the concessions they made, and how? Does it matter whether the agency has withheld information from them or menaced them with worst-case scenarios?

In my response essay, I argue that the problems with these practices are real but that legal attack on the voluntariness of interim plans is likely to be of at best limited helpfulness because our courts follow a strong presumption of enforcing settlements as written. More promising in the long run, I argue, may be to impose direct obligations on agencies to respect families’ autonomy without attacking the settlement process as such. “Safeguarding every family’s rights will, as one of its benefits, shore up families against unwise surrenders of their rights.” [cross-posted from Cato at Liberty]

Orange County voters boot District Attorney Tony Rackauckas

Orange County, California voters have declined to re-elect District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, whose doings have provided repeated grist for this space. His successor and former protege sounds like a possible source of grist too: “A Wahoo’s employee told the deputy Spitzer decided to handcuff the preacher because he kept looking at Spitzer.” [Nick Gerda, Voice of OC; R. Scott Moxley, OC Weekly]

Court dismisses suit claiming McDonald’s should have discounted hold-the-cheese orders

“The court slapped down a South Florida couple’s putative class action lawsuit, which sought $5 million in damages and claimed McDonald’s was wrong to force diners to pay for cheese on Quarter Pounder and Double Quarter Pounder burgers, whether or not they wanted it.” [Raychel Lean, Daily Business Review/Law.com, earlier here and here]

“Is this picture of a falcon illegal?”

Animal-welfare regulation vs. rights of expression: “State and federal falcon-speech regulations fall into four categories: (1) generally banning images of falcons in all expression that is not about falcons; (2) specifically banning commercials that feature falcons but are not about falcons; (3) limiting compensation for falcon-related expression; and (4) dictating the content of falcon education programs.” So many different First Amendment problems there, and now “a new lawsuit filed by Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of the American Falconry Conservancy and its members aims to strike down those anti-speech regulations.” [Jim Manley, Pacific Legal]