Antitrust law trips up pillar-of-counterculture-journalism Village Voice Media, cont’d: “San Francisco Superior Court Judge Marla Miller raised the amount the Weekly [SF Weekly] must pay in damages to the Bay Guardian — from $6.3 million to $15.9 million — for undercutting its rival with below-cost ads.” (Meredith May, “Judge raises damages in case against SF Weekly”, San Francisco Chronicle, May 21; earlier; sample SF Weekly business-bashing piece, channeling plaintiff’s lawyers’ contentions in Parmalat case). “Predatory pricing — selling ads below cost with the goal of putting your competition out of business — is typically something alt weeklies cover, not something they get caught and fined for.” (Josh Feit, TheStranger.com (which competes with VVM’s Seattle Weekly), Mar. 5).
John Leo has some further thoughts on the lawsuit discussed in this space Jan. 20, in which m-to-f San Franciscan Charlene Hastings is suing the Catholic hospital that (unlike many other hospitals in the Bay Area) declines to perform a breast augmentation on a patient born male (“Orwell Lives”, City Journal, Feb. 4).
- “Woman who ‘lost count after drinking 14 vodkas’ awarded £7,000 over New Year fall from bridge” [The Scotsman]
- Bar committee recommends disbarment for Beverly Hills lawyer who “played the courts like a bully in a child’s game of dodgeball” [Blogonaut (with response by attorney) via ABA Journal]
- Shot and paralyzed in parking lot of South Florida strip club, cared for back home in Tunisia, Sami Barrak is now $26 million richer by way of his negligent-security suit [Sun-Sentinel] Earlier Florida negligent-security here, here, and here.
- Canadian government orders airlines to stop charging the severely obese the price of a second seat [Winnipeg Free Press; earlier]
- Study of head-injury victims in Spain finds “nearly half of the people who go to court feign psycho-cognitive disorders with the objective of profiting from this in some way.” [Science Daily]
- Federal judge vacates $1.75 million verdict, questions reliability of expert testimony in Nebraska recovered-memory sex abuse case [Lincoln Journal-Star, AP/Sioux City Journal]
- Confess your thoughts, citizen: Ezra Levant on his interrogation by official panel in Canada for publishing Mohammed cartoons [Globe & Mail; earlier]
- Class-action lawyers continue to hop on glitches with Xbox Live, Halo 3 and related Microsoft gaming systems [Ars Technica, News.com; earlier here and here]
- Bay Area proposal to ban much burning of wood in fireplaces and stoves (Nov. 30, etc.) draws strong reactions both ways [SF Chronicle]
- Harder to get into Ringling Bros.’s Clown College than law school, says man who attended both [six years ago on Overlawyered]
In order to enhance diversity, it was necessary to suppress it dept.: “She feels as if she’s been treated as if she has no rights,” said the attorney for m-to-f transgender San Francisco resident Charlene Hastings, who’s suing Daughters of Charity/Seton in Daly City alleging harassment and discrimination because it’s not among the many Bay Area hospitals that would be happy to assist in Hastings’s breast augmentation procedure. (Melissa Underwood, “Transgender Woman Sues Catholic Hospital for Refusing Breast Augmentation Surgery”, FoxNews.com, Jan. 18; Barbara Feder Ostrov, “Transgender woman sues Seton hospital”, San Mateo County Times/InsideBayArea.com, Jan. 6). [Title edited after commenter pointed out inaccuracy]
The Dhaliwal brothers prefer to have attorney Mark Geragos do the talking, greatly frustrating investigators trying to reconstruct what happened in the zoo mauling. (Jaxon Van Derbeken, “In ambulance, survivors of S.F. tiger attack made pact of silence”, San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 5; “San Francisco Authorities Seek to Inspect Tiger Attack Victims’ Cell Phones”, AP/FoxNews.com, Jan. 5; Patricia Yollin, Tanya Schevitz, Kevin Fagan, “S.F. Zoo visitor saw 2 victims of tiger attack teasing lions”, San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 3; Jacob Sullum, “The Buck Keeps Moving”, syndicated/Reason, Jan. 2). Earlier: Jan. 3.
“Half Moon Bay is wrestling with unpleasant options for responding to a court ruling that officials say threatens the ‘very existence of our city government’ – a $36.8 million judgment against the city for turning a proposed housing development site into wetlands.” The town’s annual budget is $10 million. The property in question had become unbuildable when protected wetlands appeared on it, as a result, the owner contended, of negligent town policies affecting water flow and retention. The plaintiff had bought the property in 1993 for $1 million. “Under the worst-case scenario, officials say, Half Moon Bay would become the first Bay Area city forced to dissolve, and the coastal town’s land would become an unincorporated part of San Mateo County.” (John Coté, San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 18).
Time running out to roast chestnuts by an open fire: “Under the auspices of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, ‘public hearings’ are being held to determine the fate of the family hearth. Those of us who live in rural areas have a pretty good idea what the outcome is going to be.” (Jeffrey Earl Warren, “Should fireplace fires be banned?”, San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 22; Jonathan Curiel, “Smog board wants to ban wood fires on bad-air nights in winter”, Nov. 6). This has been building for a while (Dec. 27, 2002; Dec. 24, 2001; Feb. 28, 2001). Related: Denis Cuff, “Air quality agency has beef with charbroiling smoke”, InsideBayArea.com, Nov. 28.
They’re doing it again in California: “State and federal authorities have opened an investigation into a Norco housewife, alleging that her vitriolic protests against a high-risk group home in her neighborhood may constitute housing discrimination.” Federal officials asked state fair housing regulators to investigate Julie Waltz, 61, who had protested plans to open a group house next to her home for developmentally disabled residents; among those eligible to reside there under state law would be persons deemed not competent to stand trial on sex crime charges. In 2000, the Ninth Circuit ruled that three Berkeley, Calif. neighbors’ rights had been violated by an “extraordinarily intrusive and chilling” investigation of whether their protests had been contrary to housing discrimination law. In that episode, as in the latest one, housing advocates had set the investigation in motion by filing complaints against the neighbors.
A spokesman for the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development acknowledged that in order to recommend the inquiry, it had to push aside internal guidelines that prohibit such an investigation because it infringes on the 1st Amendment.
The rules require that complaints of housing discrimination be investigated only in cases in which the alleged victim’s safety has been threatened.
No such allegation has been made against Waltz, but HUD opened an investigation into her and state investigators ordered her to respond to the complaint in detail because a preliminary review showed that someone else in the neighborhood may have made a violent threat, said HUD spokesman Larry Bush.
(Garrett Therolf, “Protester of group home is targeted”, Los Angeles Times, Mar. 20).
A beloved San Francisco tourist attraction, the birds roost in two ancient cypress trees whose owner says he can no longer afford the liability risk should they topple or shed branches on spectators. The city is stepping in to spare the axe by taking responsibility for the chance of injury. (Charlie Goodyear, “Preserving perches for wild parrots”, San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 14; “Buzz saws threaten home of Telegraph Hill parrots”, CBC, Nov. 3, 2005). A 2004 film about the parrots is available here on DVD.
“A jury ruled Friday that a labor union defamed Sutter Health with a mass mailing of postcards and awarded the Northern California health care organization almost $17.3 million in damages. The Placer County jury found that Unite Here, one of the nation’s largest unions that represents hotel, restaurant and laundry workers, defamed Sutter Health early last year by sending postcards to women of child-bearing age in Northern California claiming the organization’s hospitals used unclean linens. The union was in a labor dispute with the laundry service that cleaned the linens at the time.” (“Jury: Union defamed Sutter Health”, InsideBayArea.com (Hayward Daily Review), Jul. 23; Mehul Srivastava, “Jury award stings union”, Sacramento Bee, Jul. 22).