“West Virginia courts have a well-deserved reputation for favoring plaintiffs, but the state’s Supreme Court may have gone too far this year when it said drug addicts who broke the law to obtain narcotics could sue the doctors and pharmacies who supposedly fed their addiction.” Rulings like that, writes Daniel Fisher, are one reason West Virginia perennially ranks at the bottom in the U.S. Chamber’s ranking of state legal climates, and did again this year. Louisiana, Illinois, and California are other cellar-dwellers, while Alabama and Texas, despite extensive reforms and the success of business-oriented candidates in many judicial races, also languish in the lower ranks with continuing problems such as the litigation atmosphere of east Texas [Lou Ann Anderson/Watchdog Arena] More: Bob Dorigo Jones. Related, from ALEC: State Lawsuit Reform.
“Interrupted mid-robbery, [serial bank robber Todd Kirkpatrick] ran from a Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy. In his attempt to escape, Kirkpatrick leveled his gun at the deputy, who shot him twice.
Now Kirkpatrick, an inmate at Clallam Bay Corrections Center, wants Snohomish County to pay him $6.3 million for his troubles.” [Everett, Wash. Herald]
West Virginia: “A state Supreme Court ruling says juries can decide if residents who have broken the law by obtaining and using prescription painkillers can sue physicians and pharmacies for their addictions.” [Chamber-backed W.V. Record]
Nigel Sykes, currently serving a 15-year sentence, is suing employees of Seasons Pizza in Newport, Del. who allegedly tackled him as he was robbing the pizzeria at gunpoint. His suit, filed without a lawyer, asks in excess of $260,000, saying employees of the dining establishment beat him up and poured hot soup on him. “While U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson tossed out several of Sykes’ claims, she allowed the case to move forward against the pizza employees, two arresting officers and Seasons.” Sykes, whom police linked to a series of robberies at a bank and various retail establishments, had filed an earlier suit with different factual allegations which was dismissed on procedural grounds. He has also claimed that he should be allowed to take back his plea in the criminal case, arguing in a motion, “I’m not good at making good choices.” [Sean O’Sullivan, Wilmington News Journal]
Queens, N.Y.: “A mailman who admitted making about $35,000 selling undelivered coupons wants $25 million-plus from JCPenney for blowing the whistle on his scheme. … it was unclear if Tang still works as a letter carrier.” [New York Post]
Justin Caldwell Somers, in jail for not paying a jaywalking fine, brutally murdered his sleeping cellmate by stomping him to death on the cement floor, but was found not criminally responsible because he had been acting under the influence of delusions and hallucinations. Now he is suing various personnel of the remand center for not preventing the incident, in part by not heeding the recommendation of a nurse and psychiatrist that he be housed alone: since the murder Somers “has experienced severe mental anguish and mental distress as a result of his role in causing the death of Mr. Stewart, as well as a result of the conditions of his incarceration.” [Edmonton Journal]
“Nearly 18 years after a man was convicted of murder, he filed a lawsuit against the murdered victim’s family.” [KING 5; Tacoma, Wash.] Larry Shandola alleged that Paula Henry, widow of the murder victim, had said defamatory things about him, impeding a prison transfer to his native Canada. A judge in the state of Washington has now dismissed the suit. [National Post]
“A repeat drunken driver convicted in a crash that killed two teenagers has sued his drinking buddy and two Santa Fe restaurants that served him alcohol.” James Ruiz, who has since been convicted and incarcerated, “was out on bond on his fifth DWI arrest” when he slammed into the car of the teens’ family. [AP/WHEC; Albuquerque Journal, with headline above; UPI]
“A woman who admitted to drowning her three young children in her bathtub in New Cassel nearly five years ago is telling a judge that she deserves some of the money from her children’s $250,000 estate. … [Innocent] Demesyeux [father of two of the three children] settled a lawsuit against [Nassau] county last year for $250,000, claiming that social services caseworkers could have done more to save his children.” A lawsuit on behalf of the third child is pending. [Newsday]
Well, yes, he would, wouldn’t he? “By suing the 90-year-old Greenbrae man he allegedly tried to kill during a burglary, Samuel Cutrufelli lit a roaring grease-fire of vitriol on social media, much of it from gun-rights advocates.” Attorney Sanford Troy said of his client that “Mr. Cutrufelli is entitled to the presumption of innocence” and expects to get six if not seven figures from Jay Leone, the elderly man who shot him. “The prosecution says Cutrufelli entered Leone’s house, put a gun to his head, tied his hands with a belt and rummaged through his bedroom for valuables” before Leone managed to wriggle free and defend himself. Troy said the shooting arose from a drug deal gone wrong. Complicating his efforts, however, a jury has now proceeded to convict Cutrufelli on all counts after a few hours deliberation. [Gary Klien, Marin Independent Journal: Oct. 23, Oct. 26, Oct. 31]