A big win for plaintiff’s lawyers: “Rewriting decades of established law in Illinois, the [state’] high court — by a 4-3 margin — repealed the public-duty doctrine that holds local government entities, including fire and police departments, owe their duty to protect to the general public, not individual citizens. The lawsuit opens the way for individuals to sue governmental entities based on some claim of harm caused to them as a result of the public entity’s negligence.” [Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, Cook County Record, Municipal Minute; some related issues of government duty-to-protect exposure from the state of Washington]
Deemed a “priority hire” for FDNY under a federal court order, “probationary firefighter Choeurlyne Doirin-Holder injured herself Monday while conducting a routine check of equipment at Queens’ Engine 308 in South Richmond Hill.” She had been on the job for ten days following a bumpy ascent that had included a failed pass at the academy, a previous injury, and the bending of physical test requirements. “Since she was injured on duty, she is eligible for a disability pension that would pay three-quarters of her annual salary, tax-free, if deemed unfit to return.” [New York Post; similarly two years ago] I wrote more on the watering down of firefighter physical tests to avoid screening out female applicants in my book The Excuse Factory, as briefly summarized in this 2007 post.
“The female FDNY probie who was allowed to graduate from the Fire Academy without passing a required running test has quit” after a sixth unsuccessful try to run a mile and a half in 12 minutes or less. Wendy Tapia will “return back to EMS ranks,” said a fire spokesman.
“It’s really not about her, it’s about preferential treatment,” said Paul Mannix, president of Merit Matters, a firefighter group that opposes hiring quotas. “People are encouraged that she won’t be fighting fires, not because she’s a woman, but because she couldn’t meet the standards.”
“Despite failing a required FDNY running test five times, Wendy Tapia was allowed to graduate from the Fire Academy and become a firefighter. On Dec. 2, she is taking the test for an unprecedented sixth time.” [New York Post] In The Excuse Factory, I told the story of how prolonged litigation from civil rights groups claiming to speak for the interests of female applicants had severely eroded testing for strength, endurance and agility among many urban fire, police and trash services.
- Great moments in union contracts: “Many Suburban Cops Allowed To Work ‘Half Drunk'” [NBC Chicago]
- California high court imposes arbitrary damage-splitting rule on mixed-motive firings [Cheryl Miller, The Recorder]
- More tales of much-forgiven Broward County bus drivers [Sun-Sentinel, background]
- Sixth Circuit: SEIU robocalls to harass hospital CEO don’t violate TCPA [Littler]
- Judge rejects EEOC position against alcohol testing of steelworkers in safety-sensitive posts [Paul Mirengoff, PowerLine, Reuters]
- “NYFD made written test impossible to fail, but diversity recruits in Academy can’t meet physical standards either.” [Ted Frank/PoL]
- “The March Toward a Bullying Cause of Action Continues” [Michael Fox, Employer’s Lawyer; TheDenverChannel.com]
- T’wasn’t easy for White House to find a new Labor Secretary to the left of Hilda Solis, but meet Tom Perez [WaPo]
In cases such as DeShaney v. Winnebago County (1989) and Castle Rock v. Gonzales (2005), the Supreme Court has declined to put police and other public authorities under any general duty to protect individuals from crime. The decisions have been broadly unpopular, but Mike McDaniel at PJ Media takes the Court’s side on policy grounds: “This [lack of a particularized duty] might seem absolutely outrageous, but it is logical, rational, and unquestionably necessary.”
At City Journal, Heather Mac Donald has an important article on the federal courts’ willingness to second-guess in great detail the hiring practices of the New York City fire department, in search of more hiring of black applicants. It is worth noting that fire departments are pressed to rely (and even perhaps over-rely) on written tests in assessing applicants’ suitability in part because traditional testing of physical skills such as the ability to wield a charged hose, get up a ladder quickly, and carry body-size weights has been extensively and successfully sued against by lawyers representing female applicants.
- Lawsuit of the Day: Partner Booted From Three Firms Sues ‘Em All! [Legal Blog Watch]
- Drawing wrong lessons from the Rutgers suicide [Greenfield and more (proposed “Tyler’s Law”), John Schwartz/NYT (quoting Orin Kerr), Volokh and more, Above the Law]
- John Sullivan leaving after 15 years at helm of Civil Justice Association of California [L.A. Times]
- Maybe consumers don’t feel so victimized by overdraft “protection” after all [Bank Lawyer’s Blog]
- Yes, it’s another dust-up pitting all sensible Supreme Court commentators against Dahlia Lithwick, if you like that sort of thing [Kerr, Bodie/Prawfs, Ponnuru, Frank; bonus, Richard Epstein on Erwin Chemerinsky and Hans Bader on a prize flight of Lithwick fancy]
- Blog post relatively sympathetic to Righthaven copyright trollery draws many responses [Robert Zelnick, Patently-O]
- “Should they have let the guy’s house burn down?” [Tyler Cowen; Firey, Cato]
- “Drunken man passes out, wins $850K from police” [six years ago on Overlawyered]
- Oh dear: Elena Kagan praised as “my judicial hero” Aharon Barak, ultra-activist Israeli jurist flayed by Posner as lawless [Stuart Taylor, Jr./Newsweek] Kagan and executive power [Root, Reason]
- More on efforts to get feds to redesign hot dogs and other choking-risk foods [NYT, earlier]
- Amid brouhaha over Rand Paul views, Chicago firefighter-test case provides reminder of how discrimination law actually plays out in courts today [Tabarrok, MargRev]
- So please, Ken, tell us what you really think of this Mr. Francis (“Girls Gone Wild”) and his nastygrams [Popehat]
- More on SEIU’s tactic of sending mob to banker’s home in suburban Maryland [Volokh and more, earlier]
- “Intensive Parenting Enforced: Parents Criminal Liability for Children Skipping School” [Gaia Bernstein, ConcurOp on a California bill]
- Julian Ku unimpressed with United Nations officials’ claims that Arizona immigration statute violates international civil rights law [Opinio Juris] Plus, a complaint to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights [Kopel, Volokh] Ilya Shapiro analyzes statute’s constitutionality [Cato]
- Bill moving through Congress would force states, localities to accept unionization, arbitration for public safety workforces [Fox, Jottings] And here comes the giant federal bailout of union pension funds [Megan McArdle]
- Trips over firefighter’s bag at rescue scene, now wants cash from city [Salem, Mass., News]
- Oh, my: “Bidens owe SimmonsCooper [huge mass tort firm in Madison County, Ill.] $1 million in hedge fund deal” [MC Record, earlier] Update: plenty more in a Wednesday WSJ editorial.
- Florida Supreme Court rejects latest attempt by attorney Montgomery Blair Sibley to resist discipline [North Country Gazette]
- “Women’s advocacy groups have persuaded Congress to begin intensive Title IX equity reviews of science programs.” Bad news for American academic science [Sommers, AEI/Teachers College Record]
- You may have run into everyone’s favorite fashion law blog. But did you know there’s also a furniture law blog? [Womble Carlyle; via Blawg Review #179 at Securing Innovation]
- Eavesdrop on jury deliberations, get wind of defense verdict, move quick to settle case? That would be a very naughty thing for a lawyer to do [American Justice Partnership]
- Myrhvold the last straw: “Up until now I have been criticized in many corners for taking the side of so-called patent trolls. …No tax policy could ever do as much damage to an economy.” [Gene Quinn, PatentFools.com, also via above]
- Okay, towns, build sidewalks or else [four years ago on Overlawyered]