- Minneapolis enacts major relaxation of residential zoning, issue has united ideological opposites [Ilya Somin; Christian Britschgi; Somin on developments elsewhere]
- “The Disconnect Between Liberal Aspirations and Liberal Housing Policy Is Killing Coastal U.S. Cities” [Better Institutions]
- “Steelmanning the NIMBYs” [Scott Alexander, and a response from Michael Lewyn] Ben Carson battles the NIMBYs [Christian Britschgi]
- “The use of new urbanist codes to promote inner-suburban renewal pose two distinct problems,” erosion of rule of law and high compliance costs [Nicole Garnett at Hoover conference on “Land, Labor, and the Rule of Law,” related video]
- Obscure zoning change could give NYC politicos a lot of new leverage over hotel developers [Britschgi]
- Cities are primarily labor markets, ordinances to suppress informal shanty town settlements commonly fail, and more insights from new Alain Bertaud book on markets and cities [Tyler Cowen]
- Maker of Steinway pianos threatens legal action against owners who advertise existing instruments for sale as used Steinways if they contain other-than-factory replacement parts [Park Avenue Pianos]
- When the Securities and Exchange Commission settles with defendants, it extracts gag orders forbidding them to talk about the experience. Is it constitutional for the government to do that? [Peggy Little, New Civil Liberties Alliance/WSJ] Update: Cato is suing about this on behalf of former businessman who wants to write book about his experience in court against the SEC [Clark Neily]
- Judge preliminarily enjoins New York City ordinance requiring home-sharing platforms like AirBnB to turn over to authorities “breathtaking” volume of data about users [SDNY Blog]
- U.S. Chamber’s top ten bad lawsuits of 2018 [Faces of Lawsuit Abuse] “The Most Important Class Action Decisions of 2018 and a Quick Look at What’s to Come” [R. Locke Beatty & Laura Lange, McGuire Woods]
- “Small aircraft engines are much less reliable than automobile engines. Why? Well, they all must be FAA certified, and it’s not worth the cost to certify, say, a new model of spark plug.” [John Cochrane, who gives HIPAA and military examples too]
- “Why logos and art are sometimes blurred on reality TV shows” [Andy Dehnart, Reality Blurred, 2017]
- Attempts to ban digital contraband are often fated to be both intrusive and futile [J.D. Tuccille]
- “The Gender Pay Gap: Why We Fight The Narrative” [Ryan Bourne, Cato]
- “He’s Back! Steven Wise’s Nonhuman Rights Project Seeks Habeas Corpus For An Elephant” [Ted Folkman, Letters Blogatory, Wise’s previous go and generally]
- Regulatory battles between hotel industry and AirBnB spread across U.S. [Robert McCartney, Washington Post]
- Concept of international human rights “has been swept into a broad river of campaigns for social justice, global economic development, environmental protection, multiculturalism, tolerance, access to water and sanitation, and more” and diluted in the process [James Kirchick, Commentary on new Aaron Rhodes book The Debasement of Human Rights: How Politics Sabotage the Ideal of Freedom; Cato forum from May with Rhodes, Kirchick, Roger Pilon, and Ian Vasquez; Rhodes interview with John Couretas and Caroline Roberts, Acton Institute]
- “Pro-tip from the Third Circuit for attorneys requesting fees: Don’t have a single-spaced, 6- to 8-point font, 44-page fee petition including ‘hundreds of inappropriate, unethical entries that would likely be illegal if billed to a client.’ You might find yourself facing no fees, a sanction, and a referral to the attorney disciplinary board.” [John K. Ross, IJ Short Circuit, on Young v. Smith]
- Great moments in public employee unionism, cont’d: D.C. Metro track inspector charged after derailment with falsifying records wins reinstatement and back pay in arbitration [Max Smith, WTOP, earlier here (similar after fatal smoke incident) and here] Could be permanent? “Bus drivers’ union threatens strike over driverless buses” [Jason Aubry, WCMH (Columbus, Ohio)]
- Letting guests skip housekeeping = grievance: “Union Threatens Strike over Marriott’s Green Initiative” [Darrell VanDeusen, Kollman & Saucier]
- Stephen Bainbridge series on what’s wrong with Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposals [earlier, etc.] continues with a post on labor co-determination and employee involvement in corporate governance;
- “Public Sector Unions Win Big at the California Supreme Court: California citizens must now meet and confer with union bosses before qualifying any compensation-related initiatives for the ballot.” [Steven Greenhut, Reason]
- My Frederick News Post letter to the editor opposing Question D (mandatory binding arbitration and collective bargaining for career firefighters). More on mandatory binding arbitration in the public sector: Ivan Osorio et al on California, for Cato (see pp. 12 et seq.); Steve Eide, Public Sector Inc., 2013.
- “Waikiki, Hawaii hotel workers decline to join union; the union demands they pay full dues anyway, starts process to garnish their wages. Does the union’s conduct amount to an unfair labor practice? NLRB: No, the union made an honest mistake. D.C. Circuit: That ‘makes no sense.’ The union never apologized or said it made a mistake. Its message to the workers was, ‘We can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way.'” [John Kenneth Ross, IJ “Short Circuit”]
- North Carolina’s heartbalm law strikes again, as judge orders man who slept with married woman to pay jilted husband $8.8 million [Virginia Bridges, Raleigh News & Observer, more on homewrecker tort]
- Cornell economist Rick Geddes explains the federal government’s postal monopoly [David Henderson]
- Trademark swagger: “Chicago Poke Chain Sends C&D To Hawaiian Poke Joint Demanding It Not Be Named ‘Aloha Poke'” [Timothy Geigner, Techdirt] “Shipyard Brewing Loses Its Lawsuit Over Ships and The Word ‘Head'” [same]
- “Man files lawsuit under False Claims Act against manufacturer of batteries for use in intercontinental ballistic missile launch controls, asks for $30 mil, settles for $1.7 mil. What follows is—in the trial court’s words—a “hellish” dispute over the man’s attorneys’ fees. Third Circuit: We feel you; the order reducing requested fees is affirmed in almost every respect.” [John K. Ross, Short Circuit, on U.S. ex rel. Palmer v. C&D Technologies]
- Using the law to suppress one’s competition: New York Taxi Workers Alliance cheers City Council’s move to cap Uber and ridesharing [Reuters] It’s totally normal and not at all suspicious that the city council president who wants tougher enforcement against Airbnb is also president of the state’s hotel lobby [Eric Boehm, Reason; Biloxi, Mississippi]
- For those still keeping score, it’s improper and prejudicial for the head of the nation’s law enforcement apparatus to declaim publicly against a criminal trial in progress, whether or not the defendant happens to be his own campaign manager [David Post, Volokh; April Post and podcast on inapplicable “fruit of the poisonous tree” claim]
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.