John K. Ross, Short Circuit: “When tenants fail to pay gas bills, Philadelphia’s municipal utility allows debts to pile up for years without notifying landlords, then puts a lien on the property—effectively making the landlords liable for the debt. When landlords complain, the utility tells them to file a complaint with a state agency that has no jurisdiction to address their complaints. Third Circuit: No due process problem here.” [Augustin v. City of Philadelphia]
Home-stealing through the filing of false deeds and other legal documents is a problem that goes way back in Philadelphia. And it’s still happening. Ask Tonya Bell, who went to City Hall three years ago and found that she had been declared dead, and that someone else had taken possession of an empty house she owned. [Craig R. McCoy, Philadelphia Daily News]
- “Prosecutors say use of condoms manufactured outside state made sex crime a federal offense” [ABA Journal]
- Philadelphia family court judge, much criticized in course of appellate review, now subject of probe by state Judicial Conduct Board [Samantha Melamed, Philly.com]
- Check out illustration: would you be likely to confuse cartoon beaver with cartoon alligator? Texas jury in trademark dispute thinks you would [Lowering the Bar]
- Panels at Federalist Society’s annual Executive Branch Review Conference tackle disparate impact, litigation and regulatory reform, and civil service reform, including participants like Gail Heriot, Roger Clegg, Stuart Taylor, Jr, and Philip K. Howard;
- British restrictions on trial reporting wrongly infringe on liberty of press, but at core of Tommy Robinson affair is old-fashioned contempt of court [Daniel Hannan, Washington Examiner]
- Animal Legal Defense Fund argues animals should have standing to sue persons who abuse them, opening many new employment opportunities for lawyers at places like ALDF [KATU; related, recent Ninth Circuit monkey-selfie ruling]
- Critique of Obama-era Education Department initiative on racial disparities in school discipline [Gail Heriot and Alison Somin, Texas Review of Law and Politics forthcoming/SSRN] Minnesota among states riding herd on local disparities [Roger Clegg; related, Federalist Society podcast with Roger Clegg and Jason Riley]
- Pointed questions asked about Broward County handling of future shooter before rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school [Paul Sperry, Real Clear Investigations; Max Eden, City Journal; Valerie Richardson, Washington Times; earlier]
- A contrasting view: “Parkland Shooting Doesn’t Justify More Cops and Harsh Discipline” [RiShawn Biddle, Dropout Nation]
- “Philly Schools Tormented by Decision to Reduce Suspensions” [Max Eden, Philadelphia Inquirer/Manhattan Institute]
- DeVos urged to rescind Obama guidelines [Bloomberg editors (“School Discipline Isn’t Washington’s Business,” calling current policy “a classic case of Washington overreach”); Valerie Richardson, Washington Times]
- Authorities often refuse to back up teachers assaulted by students [Madeline Will, Education Week]
A federal court rejects claims from Philadelphia cab companies: “Exposing Taxis to Competition from Uber and Lyft Is Not a Taking that Requires Compensation Under the Constitution” [Ilya Somin, Reason]
THEY ARE NOT MESSING AROUND WITH THE NEW SUGAR TAX IN SEATTLE pic.twitter.com/xqmj7940y2
— hayden ? (@HaydenBedsole) January 5, 2018
The city of Seattle has now put its stiff new 1.75 cents per ounce tax on sugary beverages (text of bill) into effect, and Costco managers in the tech city, much to their credit, have not hesitated to post signs informing shoppers of its impact. According to a reporter’s photo, the sign atop a Gatorade Frost Variety Pack lists the regular Costco price of $15.99 along with $10.34 in newly added Seattle tax for a total of $26.33. Helpfully, an adjacent sign advises shoppers that the same item “is also available at our Tukwila and Shoreline locations without City of Seattle Sweetened Beverage Tax.”
- “First they interview people at the Costco who are rightfully shocked at how high prices on soda and sports drinks are now (they are almost doubled).”
- “Then they interview a public health advocate who says ‘that’s right! We want these prices to change people’s behavior and slow sales!’”
- “Then they talk to the consumer, ‘think you’ll change your behavior, maybe even shop somewhere else?’ And she’s like, ‘ya the Tukwila store is close enough.’ Then they ask a city council member if this will hurt local biz, who says ‘there is no data’ suggesting that.”
- “Then the SAME public health advocate says that people won’t respond to price increases, shopping elsewhere because it isn’t ‘worth their while.’”
- “You can’t have it both ways people! The tax is either big enough to elicit behavior change, which would slow sales and hurt local biz and potentially reduce calories, or it isn’t. Get your stories straight!”
In 2016 I wrote about Philadelphia’s soda tax that “while all taxes are evaded to some extent, excise taxes are especially subject to evasion based on local geography”, and followed up on the Philly measure’s possible openings for unlawful evasion and eventual public corruption. Seattle authorities intend to use the hoped-for $15 million revenue stream to fund various causes and organizations including an effort to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to urban neighborhoods, even though the once-voguish “food deserts” theory blaming dietary choices on the retail environment has sufferedone debunking after another in recent years. [cross-posted and expanded from Cato at Liberty]
P.S. I used to see this constantly from trial lawyers and their advocates on the question of whether it was a good thing for liability insurance rates to rise reflecting the big liberalization of tort recovery that was going on when I wrote The Litigation Explosion. Higher rates were socially desirable, they would say, because they would expose and discourage dangerous actors, such as incompetent doctors and drivers. There followed a big public reaction when it turned out it was not so easy to pick out bad apples ahead of time and that entire specialties like obstetricians and neurosurgeons were having to pay massive premiums. They then switched to the position that there was no connection between expected future payouts and liability premiums, that the problem was insurance companies being greedy, and that liability insurance rates should be frozen by law.
P.P.S. “Philadelphia implemented a 1.5-cent tax on soda in January of last year. …By August, the marketing firm Catalania found a 55 percent decline in the sale of carbonated soft drinks within the city limits — and a 38 percent jump in stores just outside of Philadelphia. Revenue from Philadelphia’s soda tax has also proven disappointing, coming in at $7 million below projections for fiscal year 2017.” [Christian Britschgi, Reason]
Does the provision of Philadelphia’s Bill 170963 intended to curb the use of bulletproof glass in stores run afoul of language in the Pennsylvania constitution asserting “inherent and indefeasible” rights of “defending life” and “protecting property”? Our earlier post (and see update) mentioned that Eugene Volokh had written about the contours of a constitutional right to self-defense, and now the UCLA lawprof (at the newly un-paywalled site of his Conspiracy) has sketched a possible argument against the Philly Plexiglass measure along those lines.
By a 14-3 vote, the Philadelphia city council has approved a bill one of whose objectives is to require “stop and go” convenience stores to take down Plexiglass (“bulletproof”) partitions between cashiers and customers [Max Marin, City and State PA; Nicole Darrah, Fox News] Store owners talk back on the glass ban [Adam Xu, Philadelphia Inquirer; Julie Shaw, Philadelphia Daily News (state legislator plans to file bill to protect workers); my earlier take here and at the New York Post]
Today the Philadelphia city council may vote on a bill to ban bulletproof glass at hundreds of small delis. My New York Post take: are they crazy?
“Have you ever been served food at a sit-down restaurant establishment through a solid barrier? That is not acceptable.” There’s an “indignity” to it, she adds, and it happens “only in certain neighborhoods.” Hence : “No more normalization of receiving food or drink through a prison-like solitary confinement window. What message does it send our children? What are we conditioning them for?”
Well, it sends several messages.
One is a moral that echoes down through the ages: Human beings threatened with violence have the right to protect themselves.
Another is that no matter how many of your neighbors may be personally liked and trusted, it takes only a few bad actors for you to live in a rough neighborhood. Acting as if it isn’t — or that police will always arrive in time to stop an assault — is playing pretend.
Predictably, some of the store managers say if their glass comes down they will start carrying guns to defend themselves….
Some sources: Philadelphia Inquirer coverage and editorial; Councilwoman Cindy Bass on Twitter; Joe Trinacria/Philly Mag; local WTXF and more, WPVI; draft ordinance; local commentary by Christopher Norris (sends a “damning message”: “The presence of bulletproof glass in corner stores promotes the dehumanization and distrust of the poor, while centering the privilege of its erector.”)
Note also UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh’s argument that a right of self-defense may be implicit in the U.S. Constitution as an unenumerated right, as it is explicit under many state constitutions.
- Multi-district litigation still a Wild West realm: “Lawyers for Civil Justice Urges Reform of MDL Procedures” [request for rulemaking via TortsProf] “Multidistrict Litigation Reform: The Case for Earlier Application of Federal Pleading Standards” [James Beck, WLF]
- Lawyer vs. lawyer: “Philadelphia Injury Firm Sues Morgan & Morgan for False Advertising” [P. J. D’Annunzio, The Legal Intelligencer]
- Trespasser injured climbing electrical tower loses suit against Metro-North railroad and utility [Robert Storace, Connecticut Law Tribune; Daniel Fisher, Legal NewsLine, earlier] “Ohl was walking along the train tracks with earbuds in on March 2”; family now suing CSX [Amanda C. Coyne, Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
- “The U.S. Supreme Court Reins in Discovery Sanctions” [Phil Goldberg and Kathryn Constance, IADC]
- Annual state lawsuit climate survey from U.S. Chamber is out; could be a “wake-up call” for Delaware, assumed to have pro-business courts [Zoe Read, Newsworks]
- Boom in third-party litigation finance continues apace [Longford Capital]