- Furor continues over insider trading by Congress [Roger Parloff/Fortune, Bainbridge (“unimpressed” with reform proposal entitled STOCK Act), earlier] Rep. Bachus disputes claims in Peter Schweizer book [AW, Perry]
- “Fort Hood victims’ families seek $750M from feds” [Kenneth Timmerman, Daily Caller]
- “Chicago Lawyer Sues Southwest, Says Airline Breached Free-Drink Coupon Contract” [ABA Journal]
- “Lawyer Solicitation: Penn State Sex Abuse Edition” [Turkewitz] Slate slags Merck CEO [Ted Frank]
- Akaka Hawaii-racialization bill, smuggled in through the back door? [Ilya Shapiro, background]
- Suits over Hurricane Irene electrical outages expected to spread [Connecticut Law Tribune, Chris Powell]
- Fiasco envy? “RIAA Thinking Of Backing Righthaven” [Masnick, TechDirt] “Righthaven ordered to pay nearly $120,000 in attorney fees, court costs” [VegasInc., Ars Technica, American Power Blog]
“Finding that Google has no duty to provide accurate content on its website, a Utah judge has thrown out the novel case of a woman who claimed that faulty walking directions on Google Maps caused her to be hit by a car.” [OnPoint News, earlier here, etc.] The same post, updating another story we’ve noted, reports that a bill to make guidebook publishers liable for some injuries to tourists has died in the Hawaii legislature.
A proposed Hawaii law would assign liability to guidebook writers for some injuries at risky tourist sites [WSJ]
Do as we say, not as we do?
Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann is leading a group of 18 state Attorneys General seeking a ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court that employees can not be retaliated against by their bosses for filing a sexual harassment complaint.
The case comes at an ironic moment for Dann, as his office is investigating claims by two 26-year-old women who work at the Attorney General’s office that they were sexually harassed on and off the job by their boss, Anthony Gutierrez, a close friend of Dann’s who shared a Columbus condominium with him.
(“Dann Defends Woman Amid Own Office’s Sexual Harassment Flap”, Fox8 Cleveland, Apr. 16; Mark Rollenhagen and Reginald Fields, “Employee in Ohio attorney general’s office files police report”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Apr. 19). Amid talk of a cover-up, Dann has also denied a request from the Columbus Dispatch under the state’s public records law “to review three months’ worth of e-mail messages between him and his then-scheduler, Jessica Utovich,” both of whose names turn up as possible witnesses in colorful text messages offered as evidence in the claims. “Dann in the past has said e-mails are public records and also has sought troves of messages from public offices when he was a state senator and the Democratic candidate for Ohio’s top legal office.” (James Nash, “Dann won’t release e-mails”, DispatchPolitics (Columbus Dispatch), Apr. 13; Julie Carr Smyth, “Sexual complaint probe at top cop’s office intensifies”, AP/Akron Beacon Journal, Apr. 18; Mark Naymik, “Dann has habit of hiring his friends; some have proved to be embarrassments”, Openers (Cleveland Plain Dealer blog), Apr. 12; Reginald Fields, “Dann employee files complaint with police”, Openers, Apr. 18).
After initial resistance, Dann did release some information that raised reportorial eyebrows:
In a surprising reversal, Attorney General Marc Dann’s office released 12 pages of notes that detail allegations of repeated sexual harassment and possibly an attempt to destroy text messages that may document the incidents. …
Dann’s Equal Employment Opportunity officer, Angela Smedlund, interviewed Cindy Stankoski and Vanessa Stout on March 31 about problems they had had with their boss, Anthony Gutierrez, who is Dann’s friend and former roommate.
Smedlund’s notes reveal the following:
Stankoski agreed to go out for drinks with Gutierrez last Sept. 10, but said she soon “felt tipsy and trapped.” She agreed to go to an apartment Gutierrez shared with Dann and Communications Director Leo Jennings III. She called and text-messaged friends that night.
In the margin, Smedlund wrote: “Leo & Tony destroyed texts Tony admitted to Charlie.” The notes do not identify Charlie’s last name.
Jennings and Gutierrez are now both on paid administrative leave.
(Laura A. Bischoff, “Dann’s office unveils documents detailing harassment report”, Lebanon, Oh. Western-Star, Apr. 16; Rollenhagen/Fields, “Reports show Dann was aware of Gutierrez’s history of troubles”, Cleveland Plain Dealer/Youngstown Vindicator, Apr. 18; Bertram de Souza, “Will Dann survive the crisis?”, StirFry (Youngstown Vindicator), Apr. 17). Perhaps unfortunately in retrospect, the noisily anti-business Dann had been lionized in the New York Times after his election as a possible “next Eliot Spitzer“.
More: Above the Law, John Phillips (“Other key words are pajamas, condo, inappropriate text messages, Hawaiian pizza, booze, passing out in a bedroom, unbuttoned pants upon waking up, and nothing on but his underwear.”), Law and More. Update: Dann’s emails with scheduler released (Dispatch via Genova)
“The builders of the world’s biggest particle collider are being sued in federal court over fears that the experiment might create globe-gobbling black holes or never-before-seen strains of matter that would destroy the planet. … The Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, is due for startup later this year at CERN’s headquarters on the French-Swiss border.” Among the concerns of critics who are suing in federal court in Hawaii: “Could quarks recombine into ‘strangelets’ that would turn the whole Earth into one big lump of exotic matter?” (Alan Boyle, CosmicLog, MSNBC, Mar. 27; Dennis Overbye, “Asking a Judge to Save the World, and Maybe a Whole Lot More”, New York Times, Mar. 29).
More: Sundries Shack (“For goodness sake, one of the plaintiffs calls himself an ‘author and researcher on time travel'”); Adler @ Volokh. The liberal site Lawyers, Guns & Money, perhaps serving in this instance as a Strange Attractor, attracts a commenter who seems to agree with the lawsuit-filers that it’s better to be safe than sorry — the Precautionary Principle lives! And from our comments, links to the complaint, Ted on jurisdiction, and thoughts on the effectiveness of litigation in obtaining free publicity.
- Bogus Michael Boyle v. Ford verdict tossed by appellate court. [Law.com]
- More on the Patent Troll Tracker lawsuit. [Law.com]
- Federal district court rejects challenge to Michigan Proposition 2 ban on racial set-asides after far too much litigation over the voter initiative. [Open Market Blog]
- Criminal charges reinstated against Empire State Building parachutist. [Turkewitz]
- In the other Mississippi judicial bribery scandal (Oct. 12, Sep. 8, etc.), two judges report to federal prison. [Law.com/AP]
- Hawaii tort reform bill dead after all. [Torts Prof]
- Judge allows lawsuit to go forward as class action claiming consumers defrauded because gasoline expands in summer heat and so there’s less in a “gallon” [KC Star, TodaysTrucking.com; earlier at PoL]
- Online speech: when a lawprof says it silences someone not to let them sue for defamation, it’s time to check definitions [Reynolds, Bainbridge, Volokh]
- Should a law school invite Lerach of all people to teach legal ethics? [Massey/Faculty Lounge; earlier] Plus: Congress should investigate how widespread Lerach-style abuses were at other law firms [Columbus Dispatch editorial]
- Usually no one gets hurt when a physician dodges having to deal with a litigious patient, but then there are those emergencies [Brain Blogger]
- A lesson for Canada: judged by results in places like Kansas, the American approach to hate speech (i.e., not banning it) seems to work pretty well [Gardner/Ottawa Citizen]
- “Way way too egocentric”: a marketing expert’s critique of injury law firm websites [Rotbart/LFOMA via ABA Journal]
- More students are winding up in court after parodying their teachers on the Internet [Christian Science Monitor]
- Money in the air? It happens the quiet little Alaskan Native village suing over global warming is being represented by some lawyers involved in the great tobacco heist [NY Times]
- Ninth Circuit panel hands Navy partial defeat in enviro whale sonar suit; ditto federal court in Hawaii [Examiner; earlier]
- Le Canard Noir “Quackometer” flays pseudo-science, some of its targets complain to ISP which then yanks the site: “We do not wish to be in a position where we could be taken to court” [Orac; earlier]
- Hans Bader guestblogged at Point of Law last week, on such subjects as: courts that decide punishment before damages; presumed guilty of child abuse? inconsistent straight/gay treatment in sexual harassment law; and signs that today’s Supreme Court doesn’t exactly show a pro-business bias in discrimination cases.
- Oregon Supreme Court plays chicken with SCOTUS over $79.5 million punitive damages award in Williams v. Philip Morris case. [Sebok @ Findlaw; Krauss @ IBD; POL Feb. 1]
- Speaking of punitive damages, I did a podcast on Exxon Shipping v. Baker. I can’t bear to listen to it, so let me know how I did. [Frank @ Fed Soc]
- Arkansas case alleged legal sale of pseudoephedrine was “nuisance” because meth-makers would buy it; case dismissed. [Beck/Herrmann]. This is why I’ve stockpiled Sudafed.
- Lawyers advertise for refinery explosion victims before fire goes out. [Hou Chron/TLR]
- Connecticut Supreme Court: cat-attack victim can sue without showing past history of violence by animal. [On Point] Looking forward to comments from all the anti-reformers who claim to oppose reform because they’re against the abrogation of the common law.
- Op-ed on the Great White fire deep pockets phenomenon. [SE Texas Record; earlier: Feb. 2]
- “FISA lawsuits come from Twilight Zone.” [Hillyer @ Examiner]
- Legislative action on various medical malpractice tweaking in Colorado, Hawaii, and Wyoming. [TortsProf]
- Request for unemployment benefits: why fire me just because I asked staffers for a prostitute? [Des Moines Register]
- “So much for seduction and romance; bring in the MBAs and lawyers.” [Mac Donald @ City Journal; contra Belle Lettre; contra contra Dank]
- Where is the Canadian Brandeis standing up for free speech? [Kay @ National Post]
- In defense of lobbying. [Krauthammer @ WaPo]
- Law firm of King & King in D.C. lost its chance at a contingency fee when its client elected not to pursue the case, so naturally it sued the client [Robert Loblaw @ eNotes; D.C. Circuit ruling for client, PDF]
- How hot is the sausage gravy at Bob Evans? $5,000 worth of hot, says wrist-burned West Virginian [W.V. Record]
- Kid on bicycle suffers catastrophic head injury, lawsuit blames road’s steepness and “dangerous wooden posts” alongside [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
- Genarlow sprung [Volokh and everyone else; earlier]
- Better hope you make it to Chapel Hill: Fayetteville, N.C. loses 24-hour neurosurgery cover [F’ville Observer via KevinMD; trial lawyers’ response]
- Fans sue Aerosmith over canceled Maui concert [AP/IHT]
- Class action over poor-quality Kia brakes yields $5.6 million jury verdict, but do lawyers really deserve $4.1 million? [Legal Intelligencer] More: whoops, covered already just below;
- We don’t care what your wishes might be, we’re putting you on the ventilator to protect ourselves [RangelMD]
- Tawdry sex angles aside, this really sounds like a cautionary tale of the dangers of liberal amendment of pleadings [Lat]
- Observation on traffic-cams: “I’m sick of living in a world in which legal trouble can be generated by robots.” [Scheie via Reynolds]
- Read all about it: we side with Paul Krugman and Atrios [four years ago on Overlawyered]