Author Archive

Thank you and goodnight

Overlawyered.com readers, thanks for reading my posts and allowing me to invade your cyberspace. Thank you Mr. Olson for letting me sap your bandwidth on this site. Two things to leave you with, as The Monk’s one-week term as guest blogger ends:

1) This amusing entry from James Lileks regarding the social aspects of the various lawsuits urging that church-state separation means no “Christ” in Christmas.

2) Merry Christmas, Joy of the Season, All the Best and Happy New Year.

If it’s Tuesday, it’s time to sue Wal-Mart

From the “Must do more, somehow” column comes this tragedy-spawned lawsuit by a grieving mother following the suicide of her daughter. The daughter was a manic depressive schizophrenic who killed herself with a shotgun she bought from Wal-Mart. The Wal-Mart branch seven miles away had on file her prescription for anti-psychotic medication. The mother wants $25,000,000 from Wal-Mart for failing to prevent the tragedy by reviewing her daughter’s pharmacy records or its own store records (the daughter had assaulted another person at the store where her prescription was on file).

Problem 1 = Federal law prohibits revealing pharmacy records in running firearm background checks.

Problem 2 = Texas law prohibits the publication of mental health records without the patient’s approval.

Problem 3 = How does an attack on a third party result in any evidence that someone is suicidal?

Details are here.

America’s worst export?

One of the reasons that The Monk supported the revolutionary and quite extensive tort reform that the Texas Legislature passed last year (commonly still known as “House Bill 4”) is that trial lawyers have a tremendous capacity to find ways to, er, protect their clients’ interests no matter how many pathways to victory, loopholes in previous laws or damage caps are put in place.

And this ingenuity is being exported from US courts to international tribunals. As James Pinkerton’s column notes, “the trial lawyers, entrepreneurial as always, have found new courts – world courts – to play in. And they have found allies among activists and fortune-hunters who dismiss traditional democracy and diplomacy in pursuit of their goals.”

Yipes.

UPDATE: for more on the Inuit lawsuit noted in Pinkerton’s column, check out Point of Law’s item noted by this site’s editor here. For those of you just tuning in, Point of Law is Overlawyered’s companion site that (as its own description states) “is a web magazine sponsored by the Manhattan Institute that brings together information and opinion on the U.S. litigation system.”

Free Speech losing in the UK?

In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, a group of Sikh “protesters” forced the cancellation of a controversial play described as a “black comedy” that centered around rape and murder at a Sikh temple. The details are in this article (registration is gratis) and some outrage is in this short lead editorial.

Here is what is most worrisome — the notion that free speech must give way to the (violent) protests of the community (and the concurrent lack of protection by peace officers). The attitude is nicely encapsulated by these two reactions:

Read On…

Terror funding prevention

The Ninth Circuit reinstated indictments against seven defendants accused of financing a terrorist group. The ruling also reversed a district court ruling that invalidated the 1996 terrorism-financing law under which the US government had issued the indictments. The bush Administration has used the law as a tool to prosecute people who have allegedly bankrolled terrorist organizations by contributions to “charity” organizations. This ruling matches the outcome of a similar case before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Details are here.

The ruling is especially notable because the Ninth Circuit is generally considered the most liberal (and volatile) of the 12 regional circuit courts — it sits primarily in San Francisco and presides over appeals from US district courts in the far west and some mountain states; the Fourth Circuit is considered one of the two most conservative federal appeals courts and presides over appeals from district courts in the Carolinas, the Virginias and Maryland.

Real vote fraud

I wrote about the frivolous legal challenge to the Ohio presidential vote earlier today. But real vote fraud and voting shenanigans seem to be taking place in Washington state.

John Fund writes about a real threat to voting rights in Washington state — efforts to “find” votes for the gubernatorial candidates in what had been a close election, which became closer every time King County looked at its in-box.

UPDATE: And for more fun with voter intent and attempts to obtain executive office through fraud, check out the coverage of San Diego’s controversial mayoral election here.

Their own fault?

Sometimes, if a company ends up getting sued it’s its own blasted fault for failing to make a good product. That could be the case if Kia Spectra crashes start piling up.

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (home website here is a private organization funded by auto insurers that tests new and redesigned vehicles for crashworthiness. The IIHS tests are different than the ones that the National Highway Transportation Safety Authority (the agency within the US Department of Transportation) performs and have different rating systems primarily derived from the theoretical injury that the crash test dummy sustains in the IIHS test. IIHS ratings are Good, Acceptable, Marginal (in other words, barely meeting the test to keep the occupant safe) and Poor (read: car occupant will sustain injury in crash).

Read On…

Upholding democracy, frivolous election challenge thrown out

The Ohio Supreme Court’s Chief Justice threw out a lawsuit backed by Jesse Jackson and funded by a partisan Massachusetts election monitoring group. The lawsuit claimed that Pres. Bush unfairly won Ohio due to some indescribable fraud by his supporters as this excerpt from this article indicates:

The complaint questioned how the actual results could show Bush winning when exit-poll interview findings on election night indicated that Kerry would win 52 percent of Ohio’s presidential vote.

Without listing specific evidence, the complaint alleges that 130,656 votes for Kerry and John Edwards in 36 counties were somehow switched to count for the Bush-Cheney ticket.

The Ohio chief justice ruled that

Read On…

The New Highlanders?

From the ridiculous end of the sublime-to-ridiculous spectrum comes Curtis Blaine Storey, a man who lost his job and sued his employer for discriminating against him on the basis of national origin and religion. His employer gave him the sack for constantly displaying his Confederate flag at the workplace in violation of workplace rules.

Storey’s claimed national origin: Confederate Southern-American. His religion? The same. His lawyer’s rather inapt comparison, according to this article in the Legal Intelligencer, is that

Confederate Southern-Americans “endured a persecution similar to that suffered by the Highland Scots under English rule after the Jacobite uprising of 1745, or the Acadians of Canada.”

The district judge who heard this claim tossed it out. The Third Circuit agreed, upheld the dismissal but had a split vote.

Read On…

Divined intent?

The Australian state of Victoria, home to its second-largest city Melbourne, has a “religious vilification” law, which has now been tested and resulted in a conviction. The new criminals — pastors from the Catch the Fire Ministries. The crime, derogatory statements about Muslims and Islam (and very much so judging from this story).

Here is an excerpt from the judge’s ruling against pastors Daniel Nalliah and Daniel Scot:

Read On…