Posts Tagged ‘NYC’

“The Met wins admission charge lawsuit, but lawyer may rack up $350K”

“The big winner from a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Museum of Art over its recommended $25 admission charge is the plaintiffs’ lawyer — who is seeking a staggering $350,000 fee for handling a case that resulted in a nonmonetary settlement.” [Julia Marsh, New York Post]

More: Center for Class Action Fairness has objected.

NYC responds to jury verdict on speeder-friendly street design

After a biker was badly injured by a speeding motorist on Gerritsen Avenue in Brooklyn, a jury in 2011 held New York City legally responsible for not having more speeder-unfriendly street design. The city is now instituting such changes, which according to one advocate should no longer be deemed “subject to debate.” The city was held 40 percent liable, but paid 95 percent or $19 million of a $20 million settlement. “‘This ruling from New York’s highest court puts an end to the notion that traffic safety improvements should be subject to debate and contingent on unanimous local opinion,’ said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. ‘The scientific verdict has been in for several years: traffic calming works to save lives and prevent injuries.'” [Alissa Walker, Curbed]

Manhattan eatery: overregulation did us in

Loyal patrons of well-known Manhattan restaurant China Fun were surprised by “the restaurant’s sudden Jan. 3 closing,” explained by owners’ son Albert Wu in a goodbye letter citing ten categories of regulation-driven cost including health insurance, insurance, and the minimum wage [New York Daily News]. The “endless paperwork and constant regulation that forced the shutdown accumulated over the years”:

“The climate for small businesses like ours in New York have become such that it’s difficult to justify taking risks and running — nevermind starting — a legitimate mom-and-pop business,” read a letter posted by the owners in the restaurant’s front door.

“The state and municipal governments, with their punishing rules and regulations, seems to believe that we should be their cash machine to pay for all that ails us in society.” …

Wu cited one regulation where the restaurant was required to provide an on-site break room for workers despite its limited space. And he blamed the amount of paperwork now required — an increasingly difficult task for a non-chain businesses.

“In a one-restaurant operation like ours, you’re spending more time on paperwork than you are trying to run your business,”

A spokesman for the office of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city offered small business free help from compliance advisers.

In Albany talking New York’s lawsuit mess

I joined Thomas Stebbins and host Liz Patterson on Wednesday to discuss municipal liability on New York Time Warner Cable’s Capital Tonight, with the conversation reaching such perennial Overlawyered topics as trees and playgrounds. I was in Albany to keynote (and sign books at) the annual meeting of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, which Stebbins directs; my talk mentioned the recent Saratoga County case in which an adult woman sued her brother after a trampoline injury, Ralph Nader’s Museum of American Tort Law, and many other topics.

The $720 million that New York City paid out in judgments and claims in fiscal 2016 amounts to more than the payouts of the next 19 biggest cities combined, writes Thomas Stebbins in a piece for the Progressive Policy Institute based on a new Governing magazine article by Mike Maciag on the burdens of municipal liability. (Four of the nation’s 24 biggest cities did not respond to the Governing survey and are not included in the calculation.) Trial lawyers’ political clout in New York — which has preserved such throwbacks as the notorious “scaffold law” in construction — is a prime reason, and it doesn’t help that the state’s highest court has begun regularly handing down verdicts driving the law in a pro-plaintiff direction. While serious police brutality suits are only too common in the city, flimsy ones are too:

In past years, New York often agreed to pay out small settlements just to make cases go away. Elizabeth Daitz, who heads the police department’s legal unit, says it got to the point to where protesters would taunt police officers at rallies, telling them about settlements they’d received and threatening to sue again. One settlement in early 2015 drew particular ire from officials. A man wielding a machete had threatened police officers and was shot in the leg during an altercation; the man then accused the police of wrongdoing. The city agreed to a $5,000 settlement, even though the man had plead guilty to menacing an officer. Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to make changes. “Unfortunately, the reality is, if we stand and fight, we will be spending a lot of time in court, using up a lot of lawyers, and it will cost a lot of money,” he told reporters after the settlement was announced. “But it’s worth it to end the madness of these frivolous lawsuits, which are not fair to the city, and not fair to the officers involved.”

One favorable trend for New York City: payouts by its Health and Hospitals Corporation declined somewhat after the city put the entity in charge of its own legal cases.

“Points For Honesty: Pool Contractors Want to be Licensed so They Can Charge Higher Prices”

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]

October 12 roundup

  • RIP automotive journalism legend Brock Yates, an incisive critic of auto safety scares [Christopher Smith, CarThrottle, Corvair Alley]
  • New California law regulating trade in autographed collectibles might have unintended consequences [Brian Doherty]
  • Federal magistrate judge approves service of process via Twitter; suit alleged terrorism finance [US News]
  • Cf. Tom Wolfe, Mau-Mauing the Flak-Catchers: groups that “shut down” NYC planning hearing are funded by none other than city taxpayers [Seth Barron, New York Post]
  • Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., sometimes known in this space as America’s Most Irresponsible Public Figure, has taken job with personal injury firm Morgan & Morgan, known for billboards and TV ads [Daily Mail]
  • “The Coming Copyright Fight Over Viral News Videos, Such As Police Shootings” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]

NYPD: accounting for all the cash we seize would crash our servers

“The New York City Police Department takes in millions of dollars in cash each year as evidence, often keeping the money through a procedure called civil forfeiture. But as New York City lawmakers pressed for greater transparency into how much was being seized and from whom, a department official claimed providing that information would be nearly impossible — because querying the 4-year old computer system that tracks evidence and property for the data would ‘lead to system crashes.'” [Sean Gallagher, ArsTechnica]

“Family of NYC autistic teen found dead to get $2.7M”

14-year-old Avonte Oquendo left his school in Queens without permission and was later found dead. “A law passed after his death required schools to install audible door alarms.” [Associated Press]

Update Sept. 17: Original link above now broken, but many other links to the same AP coverage remain active as of this writing [NBC New York, Insurance Journal, Chicago Tribune, WPIX, etc.] The New York Post’s coverage is here.

Environment roundup

July 27 roundup

  • It’s against the law to run a puppet show in a window, and other NYC laws that may have outlived their purpose [Dean Balsamini, New York Post]
  • L’Etat, c’est Maura Healey: Massachusetts Attorney General unilaterally rewrites state’s laws to ban more guns [Charles Cooke, National Review]
  • Appeal to Sen. Grassley: please don’t give up on Flake-Gardner-Lee venue proposal to curtail patent forum shopping [Electronic Frontier Foundation, Elliot Harmon]
  • Oil spill claims fraud trial: administrator Ken Feinberg raised eyebrows at news that Mikal Watts “was handling claims from 41,000 fishermen.” [Associated Press, earlier]
  • By 70-30 margin, voters in Arizona override court ruling that state constitution forbids reduction in not-yet-earned public-employee pension benefits [Sasha Volokh]
  • Google, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood appear to have settled their bitter conflict [ArsTechnica, earlier]