Posts Tagged ‘Bay Area’

Liability roundup

Judge Alsup rules against Oakland, San Francisco climate suits

“A federal court in California dismissed climate change lawsuits by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland against five oil companies, saying the complaints required foreign and domestic policy decisions that were outside its purview.” [Reuters; opinion in Oakland v. BP] Judge William Alsup of the federal district court in San Francisco had gathered extensive evidence before granting the defendants’ motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

Andrew Grossman has a thread (courtesy ThreadReaderApp) quoting high points from the ruling, including the “breathtaking” scope of plaintiffs’ theory (“It would reach the sale of fossil fuels anywhere in the world”), the circumstance that all of us, as distinct from some defendant class only, have benefited from the use of energy, the suitability of the problem for a legislative or international solution rather than judicial invention of new law, and the flagship status of the case (The San Francisco and Oakland suits were the most high-profile so far, and Judge Alsup is well known and respected).

More: Tristan R. Brown, Real Clear Energy; Federalist Society written debate on climate change as mass tort, with Dan Lungren, Donald Kochan, Pat Parenteau, and Rick Faulk; earlier here, here, here, here, here, here, and generally]

Judges under fire in California

On California judicial elections and the Judge Aaron Persky recall, it looks as if Berkeley law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and I come down on the same side [Maria Dinzeo, Courthouse News]:

“I want judges deciding cases based on the law and the facts, not public opinion,” he said in an interview Thursday.

Chemerinsky, who has denounced the recall effort against Persky as misguided, again came to the judge’s defense and called the move to unseat him [over a sexual assault sentence perceived as lenient] “troubling.”…

Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Robert Levy Center for Constitutional Studies, said situations like Persky’s can be an easy launchpad for agitators looking to whip up voters.

“It’s very common and easy for rulings that other judges of many different stripes and philosophies agree was the correct decision to get turned into something people can rail against, like saying they’re soft on crime or soft on sexual assault,” Olson said. “It’s easy to make judges look bad for doing what may be a good job.

…“We don’t want a judiciary that keeps an eye on popularity polls when deciding guilt or innocence.”

Four incumbent judges on San Francisco Superior Court are also being targeted at the polls for defeat because, although Democrats themselves, they were appointed by former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Housing roundup

  • “One year ago, Portland enacted inclusionary zoning. One year later, “apartment construction in Portland has fallen off a cliff.”” [@michael_hendrix citing Dirk VanderHart, Portland Mercury] Better policy is to focus on building supposedly unaffordable housing [Scott Sumner]
  • Intractable problems of residential zoning and of public schooling in the U.S. have a great deal to do with each other [Salim Furth, American Affairs]
  • New NBER study “suggests building energy codes hurt the poor, too” [Vanessa Brown Calder, Cato]
  • Upzoning of Dumbo helped catalyze Brooklyn’s revival [Ira Stoll] How Henry George and followers influenced NYC property and tax policy, and the tax deal that helped touch off the Manhattan building boom of the 1920s [Daniel Wortel-London, The Metropole]
  • How to live in some apartments forever without paying, and more tips for unscrupulous NYC tenants [Jeremiah Budin, Curbed]
  • For “but,” read “therefore”: “Marin County has long resisted growth in the name of environmentalism. But high housing costs and segregation persist.” [David Henderson, quoting]

Liability roundup

  • Hoping to blame Pacific Gas & Electric power lines for Northern California fires, lawyers from coast to coast descend on wine country [Paul Payne, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat]
  • Courts should police lawyers’ handling of class actions, including temptation to sweep additional members with doubtful claims into class so as to boost fees [Ilya Shapiro, Trevor Burrus, and Reilly Stephens on Cato certiorari amicus in case of Yang v. Wortman]
  • “Seventh Circuit Curtails RICO Application to Third-Party Payor Off-Label Suits” [Stephen McConnell, D&DL] “Here Is Why The False Claims Act Is An ‘Awkward Vehicle’ In Pharma Cases” [Steven Boranian]
  • Litigation finance moves into car crash business [Denise Johnson, Insurance Journal]
  • Slain NYC sanitation worker’s “frequent advice to Sanitation colleagues about how to save for the future helped persuade the jury that Frosch had a viable career ahead of him in financial planning,” contributing large future earnings component to $41 million award [Stephen Rex Brown, New York Daily News]
  • “Ninth Circuit Overturns State Licensing Scheme Forcing Businesses to Incorporate in California” [Cory Andrews, WLF]

Labor and employment roundup

Great moments in privacy

After a Saturday evening incident in which 40 to 60 teenagers invaded an Oakland, Calif. rapid transit station, robbing and beating riders, a spokesman for BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) says surveillance videos of the flash-mob robbery will not be made public because people committing crimes appear to be minors. [Demian Bulwa and Michael Cabanatuan, San Francisco Chronicle via Ann Althouse]

Did ADA serial claimant pay taxes on his loot?

“IRS and federal prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into serial disability access plaintiff Scott Johnson, who has moved his lawsuit operation to the Bay Area in recent months, to determine whether he has paid taxes on his alleged millions of dollars in settlements, multiple sources told this newspaper.

“Unless a plaintiff suffered physical injuries as a result of a civil settlement, that individual must pay taxes on the monetary award, tax experts said. It is unclear whether Johnson paid any taxes on any of his Americans with Disabilities Act settlements with thousands of businesses in California that he alleged obstructed his access as a paralyzed customer using a wheelchair. He and his attorney did not return requests for comment.” [San Jose Mercury-News, more of its coverage on Scott Johnson, earlier on ADA filing mills generally and on Johnson in particular here, here, here, here, and here]