Posts Tagged ‘Baltimore’

NAACP to pursue reparations claims

“Absolutely, we will be pursuing reparations from companies that have historical ties to slavery and engaging all parties to come to the table,” says the group’s interim president, Dennis C. Hayes. The definition of historical ties is conveniently elastic, too:

James Lide, director of the international division at History Associates Inc., a Rockville firm that researches old records, said determining how many U.S. businesses are linked to slavery depends upon definition.

Almost every business has at least an indirect link to slavery, he said. For example, some railroad and Southern utility companies can trace their roots to businesses that used slave labor. Textile companies, for example, use cotton that was grown on Southern plantations.

“There’s never going to be a solid number because the idea of how you connect a company to slavery is more a political one than a historical one,” Mr. Lide said.

(Brian DeBose, “NAACP to target private business”, Washington Times, Jul. 12). Ironically or otherwise, large American businesses — including some of the same ones targeted in the reparations demands — are already the NAACP’s biggest source of financial support. “We will take your money today,” said Hayes, “and sue you tomorrow.” (Greg Barrett and Kelly Brewington, “Corporate Funding Raises Ethical Questions For NAACP”, Baltimore Sun, Dec. 13, 2004). More on reparations: Jun. 10 (again), Jul. 7, Jul. 9 and many more.

Deep Impact Update

With yesterday’s successful crash into a comet by NASA’s “Deep Impact” probe, the press is remembering a Russian astrologer’s nine-billion-ruble lawsuit in Moscow court claiming that the mission will “deform her horoscope.” (She claims it’s not about the money.)

We covered this on May 19, and the press reports that the case is scheduled for trial July 28. NASA representatives did not attend a July 4 hearing. Russian law supposedly allows “plaintiffs to recover an amount equal to the cost of the undertaking that allegedly does the harm.” (“Lawsuit aims to halt comet bomb”, Baltimore Sun, Jun. 27; AP, Jul. 5; Itar-TASS, Jul. 4).

Claim: beer label a hate crime

The Lost Coast Brewery in Humboldt, Calif. says it will take off the shelves its Indica India Pale Ale, whose label currently depicts the Indian elephant-god Ganesh “holding a beer in one of his four hands, and another in his trunk”. Although brewery co-owner Barbara Groom said her Hindu friends don’t mind the label, a California man named Brij Dhir sued the brewery, along with other defendants such as the Safeway supermarket chain, claiming that it is offensive and intimidates Hindus from practicing their religion. “Dhir seeks at least $25,000 and his lawsuit mentions that $1 billion would be appropriate to compensate Hindus around the world.” “It’s a hate crime”, Dhir told the Contra Costa Times. (“Brewery pulls label showing Hindu god”,, May 9). (& welcome visitors from Blog Mela, the periodic tour of India-related blogs, hosted this time by Shanti Mangala, and from Sepia Mutiny). And: reader Rich B. from Baltimore is reminded of the recent post (Mar. 17) on the theme of how we’re lucky we don’t have blasphemy laws the way Europe does, and asks: why make a law when you can just sue about it?

Welcome Baltimore Sun readers

On Thursday the Baltimore Sun quoted me saying unflattering things about Stephen L. Snyder, the successful local attorney who’s taken out very costly ads ostensibly aimed at attracting a $1 billion case (see Feb. 16). I said Snyder has probably has made it onto the Top Ten list of tasteless lawyer-advertisers, having particularly in mind the cheesy way his website flips off would-be clients whose cases, however meritorious, lack a big enough payoff (Jennifer McMenamin, “In search of a $1 billion case, fielding 100 calls”, Baltimore Sun, Feb. 16)(reg). A week earlier the same paper quoted me commenting on the likely impact on civil litigation of a federal grand jury’s indictment of the W.R. Grace Co. and seven of its current or former executives; the charges arise from the widely publicized exposure of townspeople and others to asbestos hazards from the company’s vermiculite mine at Libby, Montana. (William Patalon III, “Grace’s plight made worse”, Feb. 9).

And: Rob Asghar of the Ashland (Ore.) Daily Tidings devoted two recent columns to the problem of overlawyering and was kind enough to quote my opinions (“Law and disorder”, part 1 (Feb. 7) and part 2 (Feb. 14)). NYC councilman David Yassky, sponsor of the let’s-sue-over-guns ordinance that I criticized in the New York Times two weeks ago (see Feb. 6), responds today with a letter to the editor defending the legislation (Feb. 20). My Manhattan Institute colleague Jim Copland, writing in the Washington Times on the passage of the Class Action Fairness Act, quotes my Feb. 11 post on the subject (“Tort tax cut”, Feb. 15). Finally, the New York Sun covers a recent Institute luncheon at which I introduced ABC’s John Stossel (Robert E. Sullivan, “John Stossel Chides the ‘Liberal’ Press for Spinelessness”, Feb. 9)(sub-$).

Is $8M enough for being accused of sexual assault?

In December, Kevin Lindsey, a public school teacher and principal for thirty years, was arrested and “charged with two counts of child abuse, two counts of second-degree sex offense and one count of third-degree sex offense.” His name, and the allegations that he had abused two students in the late 1970s, made headlines in his community. Three weeks later, the charges were dropped because of a lack of evidence about the girls’ “recovered memories” and everything went back to normal for Mr. Lindsey. Right?

Not quite. Though he has been reinstated as the principal of his school after briefly being reassigned to the district office, one can only imagine the long-term damage done to his reputation. Now he has filed suit against the women, asking for $8 million for “malicious prosecution, defamation and invasion of privacy.” (Sara Neufeld, “Principal files lawsuit against accusers,” Baltimore Sun, Feb. 2).

Read On…

Matchmaker liability

Boy meets girl. Boy marries girl and later assaults her. Girl successfully sues Internet foreign-brides matchmaking agency Encounters International for as much as $434,000 before a Baltimore jury, “for failing to screen its male clients and failing to tell her about the so-called battered spouse waiver, a provision in immigration law intended to help foreign nationals escape abusive relationships without fear of automatic deportation.” (Eric Rich, “Battered Wife Wins Suit Against Md. Matchmaker”, Washington Post, Nov. 19). More: Nadya Labi covered the Fox-Spivack lawsuit in Legal Affairs’ Jan.-Feb issue. And the text of the 1996 federal law on mail-order brides is here.

Fall speaking schedule

I’ll be speaking this evening (Thurs. Sept. 30) in Baltimore as part of a dinner-hour panel discussion on medical malpractice reform sponsored by the Chesapeake Lawyers’ Chapter of the Federalist Society. Other events scheduled for this fall (sponsored by the Federalist Society unless otherwise specified):

* Mon. Oct. 11, Whittier Law School, Costa Mesa, Calif.

* Tues. Oct. 12, Chapman Law School, Orange, Calif. (lunch) and Trinity Law School, Santa Ana, Calif. (late afternoon)

* Thurs. Oct. 14, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington, D.C., Legal Reform Summit, debating Bob Levy of Cato on federalism and litigation reform

* Wed. Nov. 10, Cato Institute, Washington, D.C., commenting on publication of Bob Levy’s new book Shakedown

* Fri., Nov. 12, Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention, Washington, D.C., panel discussion on regulation by litigation with (among others) former Mississippi Attorney General Michael Moore and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Robert Young, Jr.;

* week of Nov. 15 (exact date TBA), Fordham Law School, New York City.

To inquire about our availability for speaking engagements, email editor – at – [this-domain-name] for me or tedfrank – at – [this-domain-name] for Ted.

More on Racial Profiling

Last night I mentioned some of the difficulties in trying to justify racial profiling on the grounds of efficient policing. I just wanted to add a few more comments. First, in my paper with Mike Alexeev, our generally anti-profiling “results” apply to situations where the probability of being stopped is relatively low, as it is in standard highway enforcement. If the police can stop a substantial proportion of folks (a’ la airport screening), then our results are not applicable. Second, choosing whom to stop is the first stage, but as or more important is the next stage, how those who are stopped are treated. Is the stop limited in time and intrusiveness? (Here’s one way not to treat people.) Further, is the goal that ostensibly is being served actually benefiting from the profiling? In a fine paper that looks very closely at Maryland’s I-95 stops, Samuel R. Gross and Katherine Y. Barnes attack Maryland’s stop-and-search policy partly on the grounds that it accomplishes essentially nothing in impeding the flow of drugs to Baltimore and Washington, DC. Third, I am almost ashamed to admit that my own views on racial profiling changed a bit when I found myself to be a “profilee.” (I briefly recounted the tale during an earlier guest-blogging appearance at Crescat Sententia — oh no, I don’t want to develop a reputation as someone who blogs around!) Funny how it is easier to suport a policy (our drug war comes to mind) when you are pretty sure that you and yours will not bear the costs of it.

Baltimore Sun on obstetrics

Who’s going to be left delivering babies? Maybe foreign medical graduates, who still perceive themselves as having fewer options than the U.S.-born medical students who are increasingly steering clear of obstetrics as a specialty. Of course there’s also the option of departing a state like Maryland, where the prevailing insurance premium for an ob/gyn is slated to rise this year to $160,130, and starting up practice instead in a state like Wisconsin, where tough tort reforms keep the corresponding figure to an average of $45,000 to $50,000, according to Dr. Douglas Laube, head of an American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists panel on obstetrics residency. (Jonathan Bor, “Obstetrics is failing to draw new doctors”, Baltimore Sun, Jul. 11).