By most injury-suit standards, it’s hardly exorbitant: “Curtis Brooner is only seeking $9,026.16. That is still a lot given the nature of the alleged injury, namely being locked for an hour in the bathroom of a Burger King in Wood Village, Oregon. … Here, though, it’s not the amount but how it was calculated: Mr. Brooner is demanding the equivalent of one Whopper meal per week for the duration of his remaining life expectancy, which he and his attorney estimate will be another 22 years.” [Kevin Underhill, Lowering the Bar]
- Uphill battle in Congress for bill to “prohibit federal courts from issuing awards that consider the victim’s race or gender, among other demographic variables” [Kim Soffen, Washington Post on “Fair Calculations Act”]
- Normalizing champerty, the Ann Arbor way: University of Michigan endowment to take stake in litigation finance fund [Janet Lorin, Bloomberg News]
- Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA), restoring sanctions for groundless litigation, cleared House committee vote last month [@HouseJudiciary]
- “Lynch’s Doubling of False Claims Act Fines Could Be Bonanza for Trial Lawyers” [Joe Schoffstall, Washington Free Beacon]
- “Katrina victims shocked by small payments in levee failure case they ‘won’ – $118 each, on average” [David Hammer, WWL-TV]
- Advisory Committee on Civil Rules considers revising Rule 23 on class actions [Washington Legal Foundation comments]
“Ahmed Mohamed, the Irving teenager who made national news after he was suspended for bringing a clock to school, is seeking $15 million in damages from the city of Irving and the Irving school district.” After the handcuffing incident in September, in which public opinion sided strongly with the youngster, he was widely praised for his interest in science, appeared on Good Morning America and was invited to the White House; his lawyers now say, however, that Mohamed’s “reputation in the global community is permanently scarred.” [Sacramento Bee via Sam Ro (“Now you know for sure he’s an American.”)]
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, recently in the news for ordering Melissa and Aaron Klein to pay $135,000 for not wanting to make cake for a commitment ceremony, in 2013 ordered the owner of the Twilight Room Annex, a gay-friendly bar in North Portland, to pay $400,000 for disinviting a trans club from meeting at the nightclub on Friday nights after business from other customers dropped off [Oregonian]
Has anyone noted that the “Ferguson syndrome” of ruinously escalating fines for petty violations [covered widely in the liberal press, and here previously], and Oregon’s ordering of a couple to pay $135,000 for not complying with a request to bake a cake (being covered at AP, widely in the conservative press, and here previously, with related], might actually amount in part to the same issue?
P.S. On Twitter, colleague Jason Kuznicki and I discuss the issue a little further. He writes: “Can’t say I agree. Punitive fines are really hidden taxes. The bakery issue is about punishing crimethink.” I respond: “But with sensible damages calculation (i.e. circa zero) the bakery action would lose much of its power to intimidate. Also, there’s debate: are oppressive local fines ‘just’ a revenue abuse (typically our side’s view) or a wider #NewJimCrow? Or to put it yet another way: once you allow oppressive fines, don’t be surprised if they are used to oppress.”
“A woman dining alone on Valentine’s Day has filed a $100,000 lawsuit against the Northeast Portland restaurant she tried to eat at claiming they were rude and upset her.” She is representing herself. [Oregonian]
Maria Francisco fell off her bus seat and was injured when an Alameda-Contra Costa transit bus driver, according to Francisco’s lawyer, took a speed bump at 30 mph. Francisco can walk, but has been awarded $15 million for her injuries, and her daughter, then 4, a further $1 million for witnessing her mom’s fall. I’m quoted in Britain’s Daily Mail expressing misgivings about the level of damages (“spin to win”).
An undecillion is 1,000 decillion, a decillion being represented by a 1 with thirty-three zeroes after it, which means an undecillion would have thirty-six zeroes. A pro se litigant is demanding that amount from Au Bon Pain, the City of New York, and various other defendants over alleged indignities that took place at LaGuardia Airport and elsewhere. [Lowering the Bar, including a discussion of earlier lawsuits with demands in the quadrillions and septillions; XKCD with a discussion and cartoon of just what it would take to reach a total of 2 undecillion dollars, culminating in a galaxy filled with Ted Olsons]
Music rights organization BMI has sued a Cleveland bar seeking up to $1.5 million over one night’s performance by a cover band that allegedly performed ten well-known songs without paying license fees, including “Bad Moon Rising,” “You Really Got Me,” and “Some Kind of Wonderful” [OnStage]