Posts Tagged ‘Colorado’

Boulder joins suits demanding climate damages from energy companies

The litigation campaign had previously recruited several California cities and New York City, and now three local governments in Colorado, the City of Boulder, Boulder County, and San Miguel County, are joining in demanding recoupment of moneys spent because of climate change. I’m quoted in Michael Sandoval’s account in Western Wire:

Walter Olson, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, told Western Wire that besides pushing for settlement, an additional objective is implementing new regulation via the courts, rather than legislation or administrative rulemaking….

The multi-state, multi-pronged approach is key, Olson said, given the differences between states on everything from recovery to discovery procedures.

“The strategy in these cases is typically to recruit as many plaintiffs as possible, with an emphasis on actions in different states. States have, e.g., different consumer laws to sue under that may allow different theories of recovery, or different procedures each of which may place the defendants at some particular kind of disadvantage,” Olson said….

“Typically the government plaintiffs are offered a deal of ‘no fee unless successful,’ just as in the ads on late-night TV,” Olson said….

Olson said that the approach in Colorado may be slightly different, given the reaction to the lawsuits filed in California and New York City that have been viewed simply as money-grabs.

“The first wave of these climate suits have gotten a reputation in the press as organized by law firms seeking contingency fees who intend to run the actions for maximum cash payout,” Olson said. “Involving EarthRights and a community like Boulder could be an effort to change this image by introducing more of an idealistic non-profit tone and maybe a suggestion that the goal isn’t just to squeeze money out in a settlement and then return to business as usual, which is basically what happened with the tobacco settlement,” he concluded.

I also mention that speculative litigation of this sort is made vastly easier by our lack of a loser-pays rule.

A very different view — and one with which, needless to say, I disagree — from the Niskanen Center, which is participating in the suits.

“Colorado: Where Anyone Can Squelch Political Speech”

“Colorado’s byzantine system of campaign and political finance regulations not only [turns] a blind eye to First Amendment concerns, but actively incentivizes politically motivated, retaliatory litigation. Colorado is unique in being the only state to effectively outsource enforcement of its campaign finance regulations by allowing ‘any person who believes’ that campaign finance laws are being violated” to initiate litigation by filing a complaint. Now a court is considering an outside group’s motion to seal the records of one such case. Opening up such proceedings to public scrutiny could work to counteract abuse by documenting the law’s chilling effect and its use to squelch the speech of opponents, as in the case at issue, in which a local citizen found herself denounced to authorities after buying a newspaper ad commenting on a slate of candidates in a school board election. [Trevor Burrus and Meggan DeWitt on Cato objection, jointly with Reason Foundation, in Holland v. Williams]

“‘Somebody’s got to stop this’: New wave of ADA lawsuits hit Colorado, Southwest U.S. hard”

ADA filing mills have hit Colorado, with mom-and-pop businesses the prime targets, according to an investigation by The Denver Channel:

Now, people who call themselves disability advocates have filed a new wave of lawsuits across the Denver metro demanding settlements and claiming businesses are inaccessible to people with disabilities. …One case in Bailey, Colorado forced a man to shut down his restaurant indefinitely.

In this latest round of litigation, a woman from Arvada has filed nearly 70 cases in less than two months. There’s evidence to show the complaints are connected to a lawsuit-filing machine across the Southwest United States….

After Denver7 approached [plaintiff Melissa] Umphenour, her attorney asked the court to seal some of her new cases. The attorney did not want them to be subject to public inspection….

H.R. 620, a bill introduced in Congress with cosponsors from both political parties, would provide that persons seeking to file accessibility lawsuits of this sort “would have to write a demand letter to a business first. They could file a lawsuit only if the business fails to respond in writing within 60 days. If the business responds, it would have 120 days to fix to compliance issues or, at the very least, show substantial progress.”

Switcheroo: newspaper publisher threatens to sue politician for libel

A Colorado state senator disparaged his hometown paper, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, as “fake news” (as well as “very liberal”). The publisher of the family-owned newspaper then responded with an editorial that struck a threatening tone: “see you in court.” [Corey Hutchins, Columbia Journalism Review]

More from Ken at Popehat to newspaper publisher: stop making things worse.

Labor and employment roundup

  • “This One Simple Trick — Used by Colin Kaepernick — Will Make It Harder To Fire You” [Coyote] And on the topic of retaliation, Obama administration appointeees have been revising doctrine in a direction sharply unfavorable to employers both at the EEOC and at OSHA, the latter of which has legal authority to enforce the retaliation provisions of many laws like Dodd-Frank unrelated to conventional occupational hazard [Jon Hyman on EEOC and OSHA]
  • In $5 million award, Texas jury finds SEIU playbook on janitors’ campaign encouraged lawbreaking disruption of target business and its clients [Jon Cassidy and Charles Blain, WSJ]
  • Obama administration’s new blacklisting rule on labor violations gives unions a whip hand in negotiations with federal contractors, as if by design [Marc Freedman, U.S. Chamber]
  • Finally, a state appellate court pokes a hole in the bizarre California Rule under which public employers may not reduce future pension benefits even when based on work not yet performed [Dan Walters/Sacramento Bee, Scott Shackford, Reason]
  • Hearing over expanding employment-law damages in Colorado highlights shift in EEO law toward goal of money extraction [Merrily Archer]
  • Post-Friedrichs, the future of mandatory union dues in public employment [Federalist Society podcast with Scott Kronland and William Messenger] “Big Labor Tries To Eliminate Right-To-Work By Lawsuit” [George Leef]

Higher education roundup

  • Universities across the country steer mandatory student fee proceeds and other privileges to intensely ideological Public Interest Research Groups [David Seidemann, City Journal; PIRG’s crucial role in backing the truly ghastly CPSIA law on children’s products] When a university shuts off this money spigot, does the First Amendment cut more in favor of the group’s right to go on collecting money, or the rights of “students compelled to fund advocacy with which they may not agree”? [Short Circuit, scroll to 14th item on Ninth Circuit decision in Arizona Students’ Association v. Arizona Board of Regents]
  • Appeal to “personal experience, performance, and radical politics” changing college debate for the worse [John Hinderaker, PowerLine, 2014 (thanks commenter for spotting date)]
  • “The Perils of Writing a Provocative Email at Yale” [Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, on Nicholas and Erika Christakis case at Yale; Paul Caron/TaxProf with more links] More: Identity, activism. and sensitivity on campus: Nathan Heller report from Oberlin [New Yorker]
  • Government is our provider: new push to extend school feeding program into community colleges [George Leef, Pope Center]
  • University of Northern Colorado: “‘Bias Response Team’ Threatened Prof To Change His Lessons” [Jillian Kay Melchior, Heat Street] Candidates for tenure at Pomona College will need to explain what they are doing to promote diversity in classroom [Inside Higher Ed]
  • “When Social Justice Education Is Mandatory, But Math Is Not” [Robby Soave; University of Massachusetts, Amherst]

Free speech roundup

  • Sequel to Driehaus case on penalizing inaccurate campaign speech: “A Final Goodbye to Ohio’s Ministry of Truth” [Ilya Shapiro, Cato; earlier here, here]
  • FCC commissioner Ajit Pai: U.S. tradition of free expression slipping away [Washington Examiner]
  • Québécois comedian Mike Ward is already out $100,000 in legal fees after discovering how CHRC can stand for Crushes Humor, Ruins Comedy [Gavin McInnes, The Federalist]
  • 10th Circuit free speech win: Colorado can’t shackle small-group speech against ballot measure [Coalition for Secular Government v. Williams, earlier]
  • New York Times goes after publisher of “War Is Beautiful” book: are picture thumbnails fair use? [Virginia Postrel, earlier]
  • Constitutional? Not quite: Illinois bill would ban posting “video of a crime being committed” “with the intent to promote or condone that activity” [Eugene Volokh]

Religious discrimination claim at Colorado meatpacking plant

Some advocates have been billing it as a “Muslims not allowed to pray” story, but the actual story out of a Cargill Meat Solutions plant in Fort Morgan, Colorado is predictably quite a bit more complicated than that [Ian Tuttle, National Review; Eric B. Meyer, Employer Handbook]

P.S. And now a group Muslim prayer dispute has sprung up at Ariens, a Wisconsin maker of lawn mowers and snowblowers, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations vowing to file EEOC complaints [ABC News]