Posts Tagged ‘police unions’

June 5 roundup

  • “I believe it’s frivolous; I believe it’s ridiculous, and I believe it’s asinine”: Little Rock police union votes lopsidedly not to join federal “don/doff” wage-hour lawsuit asking pay for time spent on uniform changes [Arkansas Democrat Gazette courtesy U.S. Chamber]
  • Must-read Roger Parloff piece on furor over law professors’ selling of ethics opinions [Fortune; background links @ PoL]
  • Too rough on judge-bribing Mississippi lawyers? Like Rep. Conyers at House Judiciary, but maybe not for same reasons, we welcome renewed attention to Paul Minor case [Clarion-Ledger]
  • American Airlines backs off its plan to put Logan skycaps on salary-only following loss in tip litigation [Boston Globe; earlier]
  • U.K.: Infamous Yorkshire Ripper makes legal bid for freedom, civil liberties lawyer says his human rights have been breached [Independent]
  • In long-running campaign to overturn Feres immunity for Army docs, latest claim is that military knowingly withholds needed therapy so as to return soldiers to front faster [New York Rep. Maurice Hinchey on CBS; a different view from Happy Hospitalist via KevinMD]
  • Profs. Alan Dershowitz and Robert Blakey hired to back claim that Russian government can invoke U.S. RICO law in its own courts to sue Bank of New York for $22 billion [WSJ law blog, earlier @ PoL]
  • Minnesota Supreme Court declines to ban spanking by parents [Star-Tribune, Pioneer Press]
  • Following that very odd $112 million award (knocked down from $1 billion) to Louisiana family in Exxon v. Grefer, it’s the oil firm’s turn to offer payouts to local neighbors suffering common ailments [Times-Picayune, UPI]
  • AG Jerry Brown “has been suing, or threatening to sue, just about anyone who doesn’t immediately adhere” to his vision of building California cities up rather than out [Dan Walters/syndicated]
  • Virginia high school principal ruled entitled to disability for his compulsion to sexually harass women [eight years ago on Overlawyered]

Great moments in public employee tenure

“Early in his career, officials found that Lieutenant [William] White had planted white powder on a suspect in a drug arrest, which cost him his job — though he won it back with the help of the police union.” White, who has headed the narcotics squad in the New Haven, Ct. police force, is now at the center of a widening corruption scandal. (Jennifer Medina, “For Connecticut Officer Charged With Theft, a Career of Ups and Downs”, New York Times, Mar. 15; “Bail set at $2 million for New Haven officer caught in sting”, AP/WTNH, Mar. 14; Mary E. O’Leary, “Ortiz: More arrests likely” (bail bonds angle), New Haven Register, Mar. 15).

Police officers, above the law

According to Newsday, reporting from Long Island, N.Y., the spring issue of the local union newsletter of the Police Benevolent Association ran an item by treasurer Bill Mauck advising members that in case the car stopped for a traffic violation happens to be that of a police officer, “you don’t summons another cop”. Questioned by the newspaper, union president Jeff Frayler confirmed that “it has been union policy to discourage Suffolk police officers from issuing tickets to fellow officers, regardless of where they work. ‘Police officers have discretion whenever they stop anyone, but they should particularly extend that courtesy in the case of other police officers and their families,’ Frayler said …. ‘It is a professional courtesy.'” Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy said he was appalled at the policy: “We can’t be sending the message that some are above the law.” (Joe Kelley’s The Sake of Argument, Apr. 5; via Charles Oliver, “Brickbats”, Reason, Apr.).

To protect, and serve, and sue

The traditional “firefighter’s rule” holds “that firefighters, police and rescue personnel accept an inherent risk of injury or even death in their jobs and generally cannot sue those they’re hired to protect. Their recourse is worker’s compensation claims, according to the rule. But lobbying by powerful unions and court decisions have led some states to limit the rule’s scope or rescind it altogether.” I’m quoted in the article criticizing recent moves away from the rule. “New Jersey is one of 11 states that allow police officers, firefighters and rescue personnel to file civil lawsuits when they’re injured through the negligence of individuals or entities.” (Tim Zatzariny Jr., “Police officers sue over injuries on job”, Camden (N.J.) Courier-Post, Aug. 30). For more, see Sept. 30, 2003; Apr. 1 and Jul. 16, 2004.

“Police can sue citizens for damages”

Since Florida’s repeal in 1990 of a little-known doctrine in state law known as the “fireman’s rule”, police officers and firefighters injured while responding to calls have been free to sue private parties for damages. “In the past month, a Jupiter motorcycle officer and a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy have sued people who called for help. In both cases, the officers blamed their injuries on the negligence of people they were dispatched to protect. Earlier this year, officers in Sunrise and Plantation filed similar suits after suffering serious injuries.” Although the fireman’s rule still exists in most states, it’s “being slowly eradicated state-by-state” according to one observer; in Florida, lobbying by a police union helped ensure its demise. And although the Florida police union claims it only wanted to open the gates for suits over gross negligence and the like, suits have become a growth area and often name deep-pocket bystanders. (Bill Douthat, Palm Beach Post, Sept. 30).