March 13 roundup

  • Claimed prison guard punched him in face: “Man convicted in Chicago-area mass murder awarded $500,000” [WHAS, ABA Journal]
  • Ken White “immediately repulsed and enraged” by Mayer-Brown-repped suit seeking removal of Glendale, Calif. “comfort women” memorial [Popehat]
  • “Las Vegas: Man Sues Casino After $500k Loss ‘While Drunk'” [Sky News]
  • Regulators blame everyone but selves: “Drug Shortages Continue to Vex Doctors” [Sabrina Tavernese, NYT on GAO report, earlier here, here, etc., etc.]
  • Former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli to speak tomorrow on “dereliction of duty” of AGs who decline to defend laws deemed unconstitutional, hope someone brings up this and this [more background; and his successor Mark Herring’s view]
  • Oregon: “Portland State University will pay $161,500 to settle a lawsuit claiming it discriminated against disabled students who have service animals.” [AP/KOIN] Laws make it dangerous for business owners to draw line between legitimate, fake service dogs [L.A. Times]
  • Not The Onion: Canada telecoms regulator pushes XX cable channels to run more Canadian content [CBC, National Post]


  • The description her of the Degorski lawsuit states that he “claimed prison guard punched him in face.”

    This wording connotes some skepticism as to the claim. But the claim is undisputed. In fact, the linked articles show that the prison guard (Thomas Wilson) concedes he beat Degorski, who had facial fractures and required metal plates.

    Why is this lawsuit included in this site? The award, $500K, is certainly not excessive for the injuries, which are of an objective nature. If anything, the award is low for the injuries and circumstances reported. And unlike most other tortious injury awards, there is no question of causality and no reason to doubt the merits of the claim based on the facts in the articles linked to.

  • asdfasdf,

    Most of us would consider 500K to be excessive for facial injuries, without some permanent disability like blindness. That’s more money than a lot of people get for wrongful deaths. There’s also the question of just what will a convicted mass murderer do with that money, since it’s likely he will never get out of prison.

    I’m also confused because the article said the guard was acquitted and found not guilty of any misconduct. Yet he concedes he beat the prisoner up. So how can these things both be true at the same time? There is some disconnect here.

  • So, what’s so unique about Canadian porn? Do the actors and actresses exclaim “eh” between groans of ecstasy – “Oh!”- “eh”- “God!” – “eh” ?

  • John Rohan,

    $500K seems reasonable (actually quite low) to me for a willful, unprovoked attack causing facial fractures. Just the cost of medical bills, not to mention pain and suffering and punitive damages, leaving aside future medical problems, disfigurement, and so on. Certainly there is no a priori reason to think the amount of the award is excessive, unlike typical awards on this site.

    It is true that the prison guard was acquitted, but this is not particularly probative of civil liability in this context. It is difficult to know why the verdicts in the civil and criminal trials were different without more information than was in the linked articles, but that difference is not surprising, given the different evidentiary rules, prosecuting lawyers, and burdens of proof.

    Finally, you write that you are “confused” that the guard conceded beating the prisoner. As explained in both linked articles, the guard asserted self-defense (prisoner claimed attack was unprovoked).

    None of this addresses the question in my post: why is this story, with that headline, on overlawyered? Is there some insinuation about the verdict, and, if so, what?

  • The “dereliction of duty” view suffers from the same problem as rulings requiring bakers or photographers to serve customers they don’t want to serve: all three will simply do their jobs badly, and the people claiming a “right” to their services will have gained nothing except to show the world that they are jerks.

    This is why the Supreme Court’s ruling that authors of initiatives have no standing needs to be overturned, even if it takes constitutional change.

  • asdfasdf ,

    Whether the award is excessive or not is a matter of opinion. However, current and future medical bills are not a factor here. As an inmate for life, Degorski’s health care is fully covered by the Bureau of Prisons.