Craig Ehrlich’s law firm “has filed more than 550 ADA lawsuits in the North Georgia Judicial Circuit, 86% of which have been filed in the past two years. Most of those cases list one of a half dozen of Ehrlich’s testers as plaintiffs, some of whom are party to more than 100 lawsuits since 2017.” Overall, the number of ADA lawsuits filed in Georgia’s federal courts since 2015 is up 370% over the number filed over the preceding five years. Now a lawsuit filed on behalf of businesses he has targeted, many owned by immigrants, claims that Ehrlich has abused the system and is after settlements more than reform. “It’s only abusive if you think the ADA is not important,” retorts a lawyer for Ehrlich. Georgia State University Provost Wendy Hensel, “a law professor and ADA expert,” also defends the mass filings. [Chris Joyner, Atlanta Journal-Constitution; more on ADA filing mills]
“It can’t be overstated what a procedural and logistical nightmare it is to get a car impounded in the city of Chicago.” [C.J. Ciaramella, Reason] Related, Atlanta area: “Lawsuit claims Doraville officials writing tickets for profit, not enforcement” [WXIA, Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News] And Pagedale, Mo., a small St. Louis suburb, has agreed “to stop bankrolling itself by fining its residents into the poorhouse.” [Scott Shackford, Reason]
The Georgia high court has unanimously rejected a taxi industry suit arguing that the legalization of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, by undercutting the monopoly power of Atlanta taxi medallions and other legal entitlements, amounts to a taking for which the state owes them compensation [Nick Sibilla, Forbes]
This isn’t the first time Fulton County, which includes Atlanta, has come under suspicion of turning forfeiture proceeds into what one might call seizure slush funds. “According to guidelines published by the U.S. Department of Justice, agencies that participate in the federal equitable sharing program (like the Fulton County DA), must ‘avoid any appearance of extravagance, waste, or impropriety’ when spending forfeiture funds.” [Nick Sibilla, Institute for Justice]
P.S. In other forfeiture news, the U.S. Department of Justice has dropped efforts to seize/forfeit the property of landlords renting to California legal medical marijuana dispensaries [Nick Schou/OC Weekly, Reason] And [h/t commenter Gitarcarver] South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel has an expose of forfeiture doings in Sunrise, Fla. Yet more: Baltimore judge aims stinging criticisms at assistant U.S. attorney Stefan Cassella in seized-Mercedes case [Van Smith, City Paper]
Atlanta readers: a reminder that I’ll be speaking today at 12:15PM at Emory Law School, 1301 Clifton Rd. The closest visitor parking is at the Emory Hospital (map). Also speaking will be Prof. George Shepherd, who’s written extensively on legal education and law and economics and is co-author of the interesting new paper, “Law Deans in Jail” (and you thought I was the one critical of law schools). The Federalist Society chapter is sponsoring.
Kathryn Johnson, 92, “was shot and killed by police during a botched drug raid in 2006,” resulting in a payout of millions of dollars by the city. Now Rev. Markel Hutchins, who made public appearances as spokesperson for Johnston’s family, is suing her estate, saying he had an understanding to receive 10 percent of any recovery. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, WABE] (& note commented controversy over whether “botched raid” is accurate.)
- Many interesting reader comments on post about jury award against manufacturer over injury on bicycle motorized post-sale;
- Reimbursed for money never paid: “Calif. Trial Lawyers Welcome Latest Ruling on Recovery of Medical Expenses” [The Recorder]
- Update: Defamation suit against travel blogger Chris Elliott resolved successfully [Citizen Media Law, earlier]
- Podcast: Northwestern lawprof Steven Calabresi on McDonald (Second Amendment incorporation) case [Federalist Society]
- “Provost Umphrey claims banana picker reps siphoned clients, money” [SE Texas Record]
- Lawprofs in a NYT flutter about deductibility of punitive damages [Walk, Drug & Device Law] On the merits, Carter at ShopFloor: “Changing Tax Laws to Punish Businesses — Unless They Settle”
- Troubled Pacific Law Center to close in San Diego [ABA Journal, earlier]
- New York high court rules Atlanta exec cannot invoke New York’s pro-plaintiff state or city laws to contest firing [NYLJ]
Perhaps the most urgent question raised by this Atlanta Journal-Constitution story is not: how did Elijah Anderson manage to emerge from such a collision sufficiently unscathed to resume life as a normal kid, aside from a scar? Nor is it: why is his mother, represented by attorney Fred Lerner, planning to sue railroad CSX despite an investigative report exonerating the railroad and the general principle that right of ways are not for trespassing? No, the real question is: whose idea was it to take that camera shot of him on the tracks?
We’ve had a lot of Montgomery Blair Sibley coverage over the years:
- His meritless suit against the DC Circuit (followed by a self-defeating appeal to the Supreme Court, where there was no quorum because he had sued seven of the justices)
- his follies in the Palfrey case and in an earlier 2006 Florida prostitution case; and
- his vexatious pro se work in family court.
And we didn’t even mention his work representing Larry Sinclair (the fellow who unsuccessfully sued Barack Obama for denying Sinclair’s implausible claim that he had engaged in a homosexual tryst with him) in a lawsuit against three anonymous bloggers. (DBKP blog, Mar. 14.)
After years of over-the-top abusive litigation, the state bar finally took action, and he has been suspended by the Florida bar for three years. No doubt, this will result in a new round of frivolous pro se collateral litigation. It took a contempt-of-court citation for failure to pay child support before the Florida bar took action, so this can hardly be considered a rousing success of the bar in policing its own, even for someone as over-the-top as Sibley. (Florida Bar v. Sibley; ABA Journal, Apr. 25; MPGS blog, May 14; h/t S.G.).
Update: Two commenters (who never appeared on Overlawyered before) implausibly defend Sibley, both posting from BellSouth accounts in Atlanta, GA. Nothing about a divorce requires one to sue seven Supreme Court justices for “judicial treason” for denying a (frivolous) certiorari petition from a frivolous lawsuit. He should have been disbarred a long time ago; that he is only being suspended, and then only because of failure to obey court orders, is appalling. He’s been a hazard to his clients and to taxpayers; so, no, I don’t think he’s a “damn good lawyer.”
Update, May 16, 2:45 AM: We originally repeated a second-hand report sent to us that Sibley had also been suspended in DC as part of reciprocal discipline. It is possible that our correspondent confused a Rule 8.1 report, made by the DC Bar counsel recommending reciprocal suspension, with an actual suspension. If a Rule 8.1 report was filed, Sibley is entitled to file a response; no oral argument is scheduled at this time (though none is required to be scheduled) and no DC Board on Professional Responsibility report is listed as having issued with respect to Sibley. Rule 8.4 of the DC Board on Professional Responsibility Rules of Procedure is titled “Conclusive Effect of Adjudication in Other Jurisdiction,” which would appear to give Sibley nothing to argue in DC, and would likely make discipline inevitable, but the District of Columbia, in its typical competence, has posted the wrong text for 8.4 on its website, so I cannot say that for certain. Montgomery Sibley is, as of May 16, still listed on the DC Bar’s website as a member in good standing. If the error is ours, rather than that of the DC Bar website, we regret the error. Without written confirmation of the suspension, we retract the original statement that the DC Bar has suspended Sibley in response to the Florida bar’s three-year suspension of Sibley.
Update, May 20: We were right the first time.
We’ve covered the litigious inmate fantasist before, but this is still a striking statistic: “Thirty-nine percent of the 491 cases filed so far this month in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia have been filed by one man: Jonathan Lee Riches. …Some of Riches’ prior complaints have been dismissed, including a $662 trillion suit filed in the Northern District last summer against Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. The suit alleged that Vick was attempting to ‘kidnap’ Riches’ mind and to force him to lose weight, and demanded that the $662 trillion be delivered — in ‘British gold’ shipped via truck — to the front gates of the prison where Riches is incarcerated.” (Janet L. Conley, “Inmate’s Frequent Filings Take On Targets Ranging From Spitzer to Van Halen”, Fulton County Daily Report, Mar. 25).