- Advice to Mark Calabria, newly installed as head of the Federal Housing Finance Administration, or FHFA [Arnold Kling; more on what to do with Fannie and Freddie]
- Bad blood between Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren on consumer bankruptcy issue goes back decades [Matthew Yglesias, Vox]
- “Financial planning websites consistently emphasize paying off revolving high-interest debt before saving for retirement (unless a company offers a match rate).” But state-mandated auto-IRAs nudge workers the other way [Aaron Yelowitz, Cato, earlier]
- Competition for incorporation: “Nevada adopts fee-shifting: Should Delaware worry?” [Stephen Bainbridge]
- “The True Winners and Losers of Financial Regulation” [Diego Zuluaga] Fed vs. narrow banks [John Cochrane, more]
- FATCA was the bad fairy’s curse at the royal baby shower: “Welcome to Tax Hell, Little Earl of Sussex” [Suzanne Lucas, earlier]
MGM Resorts, which operates the Mandalay Bay hotel casino in Las Vegas, has invoked a law passed by Congress in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks to ask for a ruling that it is not liable to more than 1,000 victims of the Oct. 1, 2017, massacre during which a gunman in a Mandalay Bay room killed 58 people and injured nearly 500. The Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act of 2002 limits claims against some makers of security equipment and sends lawsuits against such firms by terror victims to federal court. According to a critic, MGM is taking a broad view of the law’s provisions, claiming its protection because it employed a security vendor with SAFETY Act certification and because the shooting was an act of “mass violence.” The U.S. Department of Homeland Security “has not designated the Las Vegas shooting a terrorist attack.”
The use of declaratory judgment and similar processes, familiar from fields like insurance law, can lead to public relations damage, especially if aimed at parties minding their own business who had not filed a claim or action and might never have done so. It is not clear from coverage how many of the 1,000+ persons named in MGM’s legal filings had evinced no intent to file claims or suits; a suit against MGM was filed last November on behalf of 450 victims. [Jason Tashea, ABA Journal; Rachel Crosby, Las Vegas Review-Journal] More: Howard Wasserman on jurisdiction.
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]
“That weekend, she called her parents several times. She also called two hospitals to see if they had been in an accident. She called their landlord, too, and he agreed to visit the house. He reported that there were no signs of them. She told her husband, ‘I think someone kidnapped my parents.'”
Of all the scams and outrages in the legal system that I’ve written about, few get me as angry as does guardianship abuse. Rachel Aviv’s New Yorker report from Nevada shines a light into some dark places of elder law and of the human heart. Earlier here and here (2009 Brooklyn), here (Connecticut), here (North Carolina), here, etc. (Bronx).
“For the second time this year, the federal government tried and failed to convict four men who joined the high-profile Bundy family in its 2014 [Nevada] standoff with federal agents in a dispute over grazing fees for cattle.” Two defendants were acquitted of all charges, and two others were acquitted of most with the jury hanging on the remainder. [Melissa Etehad and David Montero, L.A. Times] Both the armed Nevada standoff, and the later Bundy family takeover of the unoccupied Malheur wildlife refuge in Oregon, played at the time as big crisis stories. Despite the weakness of many of the underlying legal claims about land advanced by the protesters, federal prosecutors have struggled to obtain convictions; the Oregon takeover resulted in acquittals in October [our earlier coverage] [revised and corrected; an earlier version of this post had been based on confused chronology]
I’ve got two new pieces up at Cato at Liberty:
1) Following an outcry, Nevada lawmakers have dropped a plan to hobble ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber by requiring that their drivers wait at least 15 minutes before picking up a fare. The bill had been backed by a taxi union that donates heavily to lawmakers: all must be brought down to the level of the slowest in the name of a level playing field!
2) No one’s willing to come out and say that the North Carolina bathroom compromise signed yesterday by Gov. Roy Cooper is actually pretty good. But it is.
- How does your state rank on asset forfeiture laws? [Michael Greibok, FreedomWorks via Scott Shackford] Maryland delegate alleges that vetoed bill “would have made it easier for criminals to get their forfeited property back,” seemingly unaware that it focused on rights of owners *not* found guilty of anything [Haven Shoemaker, Carroll County Times] Arizona counties said to have nearly free rein in spending money [Arizona Republic via Coyote]
- I took part last week in a panel discussion in Washington, D.C. on civil asset forfeiture, sponsored by Right on Crime, and it went very well I thought [Sarah Gompper, FreedomWorks]
- “Nail Salon Owner Sues For Return Of Life Savings Seized By DEA Agents At Airport” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt] And: “A federal judge has just ordered the government to return $167,000 it took from a man passing through Nevada on his way to visit his girlfriend in California.” [Cushing]
- “How Philadelphia seizes millions in ‘pocket change’ from some of the city’s poorest residents” [Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post “Wonkblog”]
- IRS drops structuring forfeiture case against N.C. convenience store owner Lyndon McLellan, will return more than $107,000 it seized [Institute for Justice]
- Canada, too, has civil forfeiture when there has been no criminal conviction [British Columbia Civil Liberties Association]
- Michigan testimony: “After they breached the door at gunpoint with masks, they proceeded to take every belonging in my house” [Jacob Sullum]
- Town of Richland, Mississippi, population 7,000, builds $4.1 million police headquarters with forfeiture money. Thanks, passing motorists! [Steve Wilson, Mississippi Watchdog via Radley Balko]
- Driver’s license suspensions, which many states use to punish unpaid court debt and other offenses unrelated to driving skill, can accelerate spiral into indigency [New York Times]
- Your war on distracted driving: woman says she received $200 ticket “for putting on lip balm at a red light.” [KLAS Las Vegas, Nev.]
- “Of Course We Have No Ticket Quotas, But ….” [Lowering the Bar; Edmundson, Mo., in St. Louis County; Mariah Stewart, Huffington Post on revenue generation in Berkeley, Mo., and other neighboring towns; Scott Greenfield (“Ferguson: Where Everyone’s a Criminal”)]
- Yet more on St. Louis County: it started with a “defective muffler” stop in Florissant [Riverfront Times]
- NYC: “Speed cameras lead to surge in tickets and $16.9M in revenue for city” [NY Daily News]
- New Los Angeles parking signs explain it all for you, also recall design of craps table [Mark Frauenfelder, BoingBoing]
- Virginia: “How Police Drones and License-Plate Readers Threaten Liberty” [A. Barton Hinkle; related, Jim Harper/D.C. Examiner]
Is there someone in particular they’re hoping to shut up? [Popehat]
The courts themselves reacted vigorously against the legal shenanigans of a copyright-mill mass filing enterprise built on the IP rights of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Nevada bar discipline authorities, however, didn’t: “disciplinary matters have a higher standard of proof than almost all civil matters in a judicial setting.” [Nicole Hyland, Orange County Register, earlier]