Infuriating: Detroit says it will take a pause for legal review before enforcing a new zoning ordinance that would ban homeowners through much of the city from accepting AirBnB rentals. The ordinance would interpret rentals as home-based businesses, which are disallowed in residential zones, and on its face appears to prohibit taking in even friends or relatives to share quarters if the person pays rent. Following a public outcry, the city council put out word that it does not intend to ban AirBnB and will amend the ordinance if necessary to avoid that. [Tom Perkins/Metro Times, Robin Runyan, Curbed Detroit, Deadline Detroit]
The negligence claims over the Las Vegas mass shooting could exceed $1 billion, with effects on some sectors of the liability insurance market as a whole [Sonali Basak and Hannah Levitt, Bloomberg/Insurance Journal]
- Canada: passenger sues saying low-cost airline boasted of “champagne service” but served only sparkling wine [The Points Guy]
- Not just air: balloon makers face serious copyright issues [Timothy Casey (Baker & Hofstadter), Balloon Professionals Magazine via @JenniferMRomig on Twitter]
- Noteworthy: Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.), citing due process concerns, vetoes state bill adopting into law Obama-era guidance on campus sexual misconduct [Emily Yoffe, The Atlantic]
- New electronic logging mandate eliminates fudge factor for independent and big-fleet truckers alike. What could go wrong? [Alan Smith and Forrest Lucas, The Hill]
- San Diego: “Artist Says Hotel Damaged His Work, Let It Be Used in Porn” [Victoria Prieskop, Courthouse News]
- “U.S. Withdrawal from UNESCO Is A Good Start” [Marian Tupy, Reason]
“Tens of thousands of UK tourists have put in for compensation [for food poisoning] in the past year, even though sickness levels in resorts have remained stable,” reports the BBC, in what Mark Tanzer, chief executive of trade travel association Abta, says is “one of the biggest issues that has hit the travel industry for many years”. Travel firm Tui “said it had experienced a 15-fold rise in holiday sickness claims in the past year, costing between £3,000 and £5,000 a time.”
Joel Brandon-Bravo, managing director of Travelzoo UK, told BBC Radio 5 live’s Wake Up To Money that the upward trend was being driven by claims management companies.
“People are being called when they get back from holiday and encouraged to make claims and we’ve also seen evidence of them employing touts outside resorts encouraging people to make a claim and walking them through the process to make it easy for them,” he said….
Abta says the cases usually involve holidaymakers who have been abroad on all-inclusive deals, who argue that because they only ate in their hotel, that must have been the source of their alleged food poisoning.
Sometimes it is possible to cast doubt on the claims, per a report by Tanveer Mann at Metro:
Two British tourists who claim they were left ‘bed-ridden’ as a result of food poisoning actually had more than 100 drinks while on an all-inclusive holiday in Gran Canaria, according to their hotel bill….
The CEO of [defendant] Jet2holidays, Steve Heapy, said: ‘The sharp rise in the number of sickness claims is costing hoteliers and travel companies dearly, and it’s frustrating when so many are made a year or more after the holiday has ended.
There is also fear that some overseas resorts will begin barring access to British holidaymakers entirely as unprofitable.
In the BBC report, Abta “says laws designed to stop fraudulent claims for whiplash have instead pushed the problem of false insurance submissions on to overseas holidays instead. This is because of a cap on the legal fees that can be charged by law firms pursuing personal injury cases at home.”
Suppose you’re devising an security attack on the hospitality and restaurant industry meant to get unwary email recipients to click on an infected file, thus unleashing malware capable of stealing banking records. What do you think would be a good psychological pitch for you to use? [Dan Goodin, ArsTechnica]
One variation started with an e-mail threatening a lawsuit because a visitor got sick after eating at one of the company’s restaurants. To increase the chances the attached Microsoft Word document is opened, the attackers personally follow up with a phone call encouraging the recipient to open the booby-trapped file and click inside. The attacker calls back a half-hour later to check if the recipient has opened the document. The attacker immediately hangs up in the event the answer is yes.
- Sixth Circuit ruling breaks new ground in disturbing ways: employer can be sued under Fair Housing Act if it withdraws job offer based on disapproval of accepted applicant’s public position on a housing controversy [Linkletter v. Western Southern Financial Group Inc.; Chiodi]
- A request from blogger Coyote: he’s looking to interview folks who run 10-40 employee firms [details]
- “Massachusetts is just one of six states that prohibit employers from donating to candidates while allowing unions to donate,” and the only one that prohibits employers from administering a PAC [Paul Craney and James Manley, Commonwealth Magazine]
- California voters sought to fix gerrymandering in races for state and federal office, but omitted to address the county level. Guess what’s happening now? [AP] No one is really fooled by Maryland legislature’s pledge to reform redistricting if five (5) nearby states all agree to enact exactly the same reforms [Nancy Soreng and Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, Washington Post; Rachel Baye/WYPR and related audio, legislation]
- D.C. should concentrate on deregulating hotel and apartment provision, rather than try to choke off AirBnB. [David Alpert, Greater Greater Washington, rounding up various views] “California will audit Airbnb hosts for racial discrimination” [ABA Journal, Guardian]
- Securities class action settlements continue steep rise [Harvard Corporate Governance Project]
At the New York Times, Katie Benner investigates documents from the hotel industry’s intensive efforts to use government regulation to derail competition from AirBnB, which focused especially on cultivating “alliances with politicians, affordable housing groups and neighborhood associations” as well as hotel unions:
The association also sought help from politicians in Washington. In its documents, the group said it had worked with Senators Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Dianne Feinstein of California. The three Democrats sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission in July “raising concerns about the short-term rental industry,” one of the hotel association documents said.
More: Eric Boehm, Reason.
“Dozens of Miami property owners who rent their homes and duplexes to visitors through home-sharing platform Airbnb spent all day at City Hall on Thursday pleading with city officials to buck a legal opinion declaring their business an illegal nuisance. Instead, Miami commissioners reaffirmed that position in a 3-2 vote, threatened to sue Airbnb for promoting clandestine activity, and then told the hosts who placed their names and addresses on the record that they had outed themselves to code compliance.” [Miami Herald, Eric Boehm/Reason]
- Good news for Donald Trump! Sticking with speech-protective opinion rule, New York judge dismisses libel suit by PR consultant against him based on his derogatory tweets [ABA Journal]
- “Jawboning” at FCC, under which media companies bend to commissioners’ wishes on content and hiring rather than risk their disapproval, should be recognized as danger to both First Amendment and rule of law [Brent Skorup and Christopher Koopman, Regulation via Cato Institute Tumblr summary]
- The family of Ahmed Mohamed, of schoolboy clock fame, may have to pay $200,000 or more to targets of frivolous libel suits [Popehat]
- Harsh epithets, calls for investigation and accusations of whitewashing, rhetorical comparisons to infamous persons could all lead to media liability if D.C. Court of Appeals reasoning in Michael Mann case isn’t overturned [Ilya Shapiro and Thomas Berry, Cato, earlier]
- NYC, San Francisco criminalize listing property on AirBnB except on authorized conditions. A question of commercial speech [Glenn Lammi, WLF]
- Can Colorado regulate groups that run ads with the message “call your lawmaker to support this bill”? [Ilya Shapiro and Thomas Berry]
Sometimes the cartel-like effects of occupational and professional licensure are concealed by a sparkling reflective surface of consumer welfare talk. But sometimes, as in the case of remarks by the executive director of the Northeast Spa and Pool Association to a trade publication about a New Jersey proposal, you can spot them floating right there on the surface: “Frankly, we’re looking for a more professional industry — and you can raise the rates you’re charging because you’re … a (properly) licensed pool builder or service professional.” [Eric Boehm, Reason]
Related: “Hotel CEO openly celebrates higher prices after anti-Airbnb law passes” in New York City [Elizabeth Dwoskin, Washington Post] More: “Hotel Workers’ Union Gave $100K to Management’s Fight Against Airbnb” [Eric Boehm]