In New York, unlike some other states, the law permits liberal use in business lending of a device called confession of judgment, in which borrowers “sign a statement giving up their right to defend themselves if the lender takes them to court.” Among the consequences: the lender may hold the wherewithal to seize the borrower’s assets unilaterally upon filing affidavits. Following the growth of lenders who advance cash to small businesses at extremely high interest rates, tens of thousands of business borrowers have experienced enforcement actions, often filed in upstate New York counties with little connection to either lender or borrower. Sharp practices? “In dozens of interviews and court pleadings, borrowers describe lenders who’ve forged documents, lied about how much they were owed, or fabricated defaults out of thin air.” [Zachary R. Mider and Zeke Faux, Bloomberg, in what is billed as the first of a series on the merchant cash advance industry] More: Scott Greenfield.
- A win for class action objector Ted Frank as Seventh Circuit allows him to challenge what he described as “objector blackmail” payments to other intervenors [Amanda Bronstad, National Law Journal, Pearson v. NBTY]
- City of Seattle pays $13 million to settle suit alleging negligent probation supervision of drunk driver [Jessica Lee, Seattle Times, Brian Flores, KCPQ, my 2005 take on Washington’s unique rules on sovereign immunity and more]
- “Family sues Dum Dum lollipop maker over son’s alleged choking incident” [Alexandria Hein, Fox News]
- Thanks to New York’s Scaffold Law, co-op and condo boards “can be held liable for millions of dollars in damages – even if the injured worker was drunk or failed to use safety equipment.” [Habitat mag] “Coverage for East Side Access [infrastructure project] has surpassed half a billion dollars” [Will Bredderman, Crain’s New York]
- As Brett Kavanaugh’s SeaWorld dissent shows, he’s a judge who takes assumption of risk seriously [ABA Journal, SeaWorld v. Perez]
- Twiqbal pleading standards continue to do good, this time in New York state courts [Drug & Device Law]
- Activist high court, no-fault PPI auto insurance, assignment-of-benefits (AOB) claims helped Florida win top Judicial Hellhole ranking from American Tort Reform Foundation [Amy O’Connor, Insurance Journal]
- Maybe getting people interested in the age-old ethical dangers of champerty and maintenance would be easier if litigation finance were framed as a Chamber of Commerce vs. Peter Thiel match-up [Jacob Gershman, WSJ] “Prosecutors Investigate Firms That Offer Plaintiffs Early Cash” [Matthew Goldstein and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, New York Times]
- Seventh Circuit: parents, not Starbucks, bore duty of protecting 3-year-old from harm resulting from playing on crowd-control stanchions [Roh v. Starbucks]
- British Columbia is only Canadian province without limits on soft-tissue injury claims after car crashes, and now fiscal implosion at province-owned auto insurer ICBC may force leftist NDP government to reconsider that [Mike Smyth/The Province, Jason Proctor and Karin Larsen, CBC]
- “NYS Exposed: The one law adding $10,000 to the cost of a new home” [WHEC, New York Post editorial on scaffold law and other elements of state liability scene, earlier]
- “Former South Carolina Lawmaker Sentenced for Improperly Using Office to Help Trial Lawyers” [U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform; Glenn Smith, Post and Courier; John Monk, The State]
- Chicago mayor not the only one pushing this awful idea: New Mexico lawmakers propose requiring high school grads to apply to college or file alternate life plan [Dan Boyd, Albuquerque Journal]
- “New York’s Bid to Control Religious Schools” [Avi Schick, WSJ/Yeshiva World]
- “Couple’s three girls were taken away after Walmart reported innocent bath time photos” [Derek Hawkins, WaPo/The State, Jacob Sullum, Reason]
- Also soliciting public comment: “Education Department delays Obama rule encouraging racial quotas in special ed” [Jerome Woehrle, Liberty Unyielding; Erica L. Green, New York Times; Hans Bader/CEI last fall] “Civil Rights Commission Takes on Issue of Minorities in Special Education” [Christina Samuels, EdWeek] And: “Federal Special Education Law and State School Choice Programs” [Tim Keller and Nat Malkus, Federalist Society]
- New from Cato, edited by George H. Smith and Marilyn Moore: “Critics of State Education: A Reader.”
- “Everybody Hates DC’s Proposal Forcing Daycare Workers to Get College Degrees” [Eric Boehm, Reason, earlier here and here]
- Among this administration’s most notable accomplishments — hurrah for Labor Sec. Alex Acosta and team — is to ditch its predecessor’s horrible overtime rules [Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post on opinion letters and internships] DoL rollback of Obama rules on tip pooling is fully justified [Christian Britschgi]
- “A Seattle Game-Changer? The latest empirical research further underscores the harm of minimum wage laws” [Ryan Bourne, Regulation mag] “Report: California’s $15 Minimum Wage Will Destroy 400,000 Jobs” [Scott Shackford]
- It just couldn’t have been Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne’s fault that some donut-franchise workers saw benefits and breaks trimmed after a minimum wage hike. “Instead, she attacked the employers.” [David Henderson; Robyn Urback/CBC and May Warren/Toronto Metro on changes by owners of some Tim Horton outlets]
- Study: grocery stores hike prices when minimum wage rises, “poor households are most negatively affected” [Tyler Cowen on Renkin, Montialoux, and Siegenthaler paper] New York enacts a minimum wage law applying to restaurant chains with at least 30 outlets, and presto-change-o, some upstate pizzerias have new names and are now separate businesses [Geoff Herbert, Syracuse.com]
- “Employer Responsibilities under the Fair Labor Standards Act After a Disaster” [Annamaria Duran, SwipeClock, promotional material for software product but informative even so]
- If lawsuits succeed in forcing ridesharing into employment mold, many will find it less attractive to earn money by driving [Coyote]
- Citation nation: abuse of fees and fines erodes legitimacy and accountability in local government [C. Jarrett Dieterle, City Journal]
- If concept of obstruction of justice is not to do injustice itself, it must be confined to a limited number of well-defined offenses [Tim Lynch, Cato]
- “Drug recognition experts” deployed at traffic stops have a reliability problem, and that can put innocent people behind bars [11Alive Atlanta, Ed Krayewski] Zero-tolerance THC: Unimpaired driver gets six months for fatal crash she did not cause [Jacob Sullum]
- New York Senate approves bill to make police protected group for purposes of hate crime law; similar proposals have become law in Louisiana, Kentucky, and Mississippi [Tim Cushing/TechDirt, earlier here and here]
- Now renamed “trafficking”: “Why Governments Always Exaggerate the Prostitution Threat” [Camilo Gómez, FEE, related Libertarianism.org podcast with Elizabeth Nolan Brown]
- Some problems with requiring “racial impact statements” for new bills on criminal justice [Roger Clegg and Hans von Spakovsky, NRO, James Scanlan, Federalist Society blog]
“Ross M. Cellino Jr. and Stephen E. Barnes — known by many in New York and elsewhere simply as Cellino and Barnes, thanks to the infectious jingle that has made the two personal injury lawyers a single, household name — have been in practice together for decades.” Now they appear to be headed to court, but against each other. [Jonah Engel Bromwich, New York Times] Earlier coverage of the Buffalo-based firm, including some ethical scrapes of its principals, here, here, here, here, and generally here.
I’ll be giving the luncheon keynote address and doing a book signing at the annual meeting of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York in Albany on Thursday, November 10. Details and registration here.
- Finally, Republicans introduce bill to stop Obama’s overtime edict [SHRM, Connor Wolf, Veronique de Rugy] “Congress realizes new overtime rules stink” at least as applied to themselves [Suzanne Lucas, Evil HR Lady, earlier] Knowing whether you’re in FLSA compliance can be tricky enough to fool HR specialists [Eric Meyer]
- “German army forced to lay down weapons due to ‘overtime limits'” [Telegraph, U.K.]
- “Minimum Wage Hike Kills Popular Upstate NY Eatery” [Legal Insurrection] “Please don’t be the reason the future of our farm ends here and now” [WENY, upstate New York]
- “How raising the minimum wage hurts disabled workers” [Naomi Schaefer Riley, Philanthropy Daily] Maryland moves to end exception that allowed workshop programs for the disabled to pay subminimum wages, and if clients sit at home as a result, at least they’ll have their rights on [Capital News Service]
- Proposed D.C. ordinance restricting “predictive scheduling” of employee hours would snarl retail and restaurant operations [E. Faye Williams, Huff Post]
- “Economically, minimum wages may not make sense,” said Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown, and then proceeded to sign the bill [Scott Shackford, Reason] “UC Berkeley Touts $15 Minimum Wage Law, Then Fires Hundreds Of Workers After It Passes” [Investors Business Daily]
So does this mean better days ahead for New York, a terribly misgoverned state? As one who has been writing about New York politics since way back, I can’t bring myself to be too optimistic.
I got interested in Silver originally because of his distinctive role as protector of New York’s trial lawyers… But legal policy was only one of the many pots in which Silver kept his fingers, as Steven Malanga and Seth Barron detail in separate articles at City Journal. New York sluices huge amounts of money in its gigantic social services apparatus through non-profits, and friends of Sheldon were there to profit. Real estate development in New York is subject to famously convoluted restrictions, and huge sums are at stake in its rent control and rent stabilization system. Again and again, Silver was there to broker deals for his friends behind the scenes….
So long as New York pursues failed policies like rent control, it will open huge leeway for hidden favoritism. And then, sure as day, in will move the Sheldon Silver types.