- New York City embarks on extensive new regulation of freelance work [Jennifer A. Williams, Ford Harrison]
- “Maryland Decriminalizes Unlicensed Barbering; Jacks Up Fines for Unlicensed Barbering” [Eric Boehm, Reason] “A New Jersey Bill Protects Pool Owners from Low Prices” [Shoshana Weissman, NRO on licensing of pool/spa service contractors and installers]
- “Lawsplainer: How The Seventh Circuit Decided That Sexual Orientation Discrimination Violates Federal Law” [Ken at Popehat, earlier here, here, and here]
- New Jersey taxpayers pay $100 million+ a year to resolve public worker lawsuits [Mark Mueller, NJ.com]
- “How the Fair Labor Standards Act Hurts Women” [Heather Owen/Constangy Brooks, thanks for mention] More on comp time: Diana Furchtgott-Roth, WSJ MarketWatch; Connor Wolf, Inside Sources.
- Browning-Ferris at the NLRB: “Predictable, Uniform Standard Needed for Who Is a Joint Employer” [Michael Lotito and Missy Parry, WLF, earlier here, here, here, here, here, and here]
On Sunday Anderson Cooper at CBS “60 Minutes” covered one of our favorite issues: the way lawyers and clients sue retail businesses by the dozens or hundreds over defects in ADA accessibility compliance and then cash in the complaints for quick settlements. Actually entering the business is not always necessary: it can be enough to drive around the parking lot spotting technical violations.
South Florida store owner Mike Zayed says “no disabled customer had ever complained about the ramp, the sign, or the parking space,” which failed to comply with ADA specs. Zayed “doesn’t think the person who sued him was a real customer because the man claimed he encountered barriers inside the store that didn’t exist.” And now we’re beginning to see “Google lawsuits” in which the complainant consults online aerial maps to discover, for example, which motel owners haven’t yet installed the pool lifts that federal law recently made obligatory. The same attorney using the same client sued more than 60 defendants in 60 days over lack of pool lifts. “At last count, that attorney has sued nearly 600 businesses in just the last two years, many for not having pool lifts.” [Dec. 4 segment and script; full show here (segment begins 32:47).
Reports Angus Loten in the WSJ:
Small-business owners face a growing number of disabled-access lawsuits in the wake of a recent appeals-court ruling giving rise to disabled “testers,” as well as the release of detailed federal specifications for curb ramps, self-opening doors and other standards.
…A November 2013 decision by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in a case against Marod Supermarkets found that someone who isn’t necessarily a patron could be a “tester” of disabled-access compliance. That cleared the way for individual plaintiffs to bring dozens, even hundreds, of lawsuits against multiple businesses, as serial testers….
The litigation upswing also follows the Justice Department’s release of a set of compliance standards for the 24-year-old federal disability law. Those standards, which came into force in March 2012, include detailed specifications for long-standing requirements, such as the allowable slope of a wheelchair ramp and the exact height of towel dispensers in accessible restrooms. They also introduced a new requirement for hotels with pools to provide a “pool lift” for disabled guests, which went into effect last year.
Some business owners say the lawsuits accomplish little more than providing revenue to attorneys. …
We warned about the pool-lift requirement multiple times. The article reports that plaintiffs are filing multiple suits against hotels in Florida for not having the lifts; along with Florida, California and New York account for a high share of all accessibility actions against local businesses and retailers, in part because of favorable state and city laws that increase complainants’ legal and financial leverage.
Australian journalist Jo Abi is perfectly serious about the idea:
Drowning is one of the leading cause of death in children under five with majority of those deaths occurring in backyard pools. So why haven’t backyard pools been banned? If any other product or activity caused so many injuries and deaths in our most vulnerable they would be banned, there would be lawsuits, there would be outrage. Except backyard pools are an intrinsic part of Australian culture, and it’s costing us children’s lives.
One who isn’t persuaded is Lenore Skenazy, who quotes a commenter at the Australian iVillage site:
I understand one always wants to take measures to prevent deaths, but 16 deaths a year is 0.00000064% of the population. …
We really need to be careful with these kind of ideas, it might not be the banning of cars but the amount of rules that can be added in the name of safety is and will continue to spiral out of control. People seem to want a zero fatality society yet this is not only impossible, the quest for it will create a culture and country based on fear and draconian governance. Given the rules in place now, and articles like this asking for more, 100 years from now you won’t be allowed to swim at all or build, play outside, run, experience anything really.
Lenore Skenazy will be speaking at Cato tomorrow (Wednesday)(Update: postponed to March 6 due to weather). To attend, register here.
More from comments, Bill Poser:
There’s a factor missing from this discussion. The dangers of backyard pools have to be balanced against the dangers of not having them. It seems likely that backyard pools contribute to public health in two ways: (a) by increasing the cardiovascular fitness of the people who use them, who might exercise less if they did not have access to backyard pools; (b) by teaching children to swim and keeping up the swimming ability of adults. Here again, one can learn to swim elsewhere, but it is likely that the availability of backyard pools brings about swimming instruction and practice that would otherwise not occur. We can’t formulate an intelligent policy without knowing the marginal increase in deaths from heart attacks and drownings due that would be incurred by banning backyard pools.
- Bad lawsuit on bad theory: “Cantor Fitzgerald, American Airlines Settle 9/11 Lawsuit” [Financial Advisor mag]
- New Jersey court: only golfer, not his companions, responsible for yelling “Fore” to warn of errant ball [TortsProf]
- “The New Lawsuit Ecosystem: Trends, Targets and Players,” 158-page report for Chamber of Commerce, topics include emerging areas of litigation (food class actions, data privacy); also lists leading plaintiff’s lawyers in various areas [Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform]
- “Eleventh Circuit Stacks Deck Against Defendants in Never-Ending Engle Product Liability Litigation” [Cory Andrews, WLF]
- Beck vs. Prof. Chemerinsky on prescription drugs and pre-emption [Drug and Device Law]
- “Outrageous Court Decisions: O’Brien v. Muskin Corp.” [Schearer; above-ground pool dive defect claim, New Jersey 1983]
- New York rejects medical monitoring cause of action [Behrens]
- State attorneys general and contingent-fee lawyers: West Virginia high court says OK [WV Record] Similar Nevada challenge [Daniel Fisher]
- Driver of bus that fatally crushed pedestrian fails to convince court on can’t-bear-to-look-at-evidence theory [David Applegate, Heartland Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly]
- UK uncovers biggest car crash scam ring, detectives say County Durham motorists were paying up to £100 extra on insurance [BBC, Guardian, Telegraph]
- “A Litigator Reviews John Grisham’s The Litigators” [Max Kennerly]
- Quin Hillyer, who’s written extensively on litigation abuse, is putting journalism on hold and running for Congress from Mobile, Ala. [American Spectator]
- Not clear how man and 5-year-old son drowned in pool — he’d been hired for landscaping — but homeowner being sued [Florence, Ala.; WAFF]
- “U.S. Legal System Ranked as Most Costly” [Shannon Green, Corp Counsel] “International comparisons of litigation costs: Europe, U.S. and Canada” [US Chamber]
- For most private-sector employers it’s illegal to let workers take comp time off in lieu of overtime; H.R. 1406, the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013, would fix that [Hyman]
- Christine Quinn take note: laws requiring paid sick leave do not constitute social progress [Richard Epstein]
- Occupational hazards of bagpipe playing (other than being chased out of your neighborhood) [Donald McNeil Jr., New York Times]
- “Phoenix ‘Not Looking for Strong Swimmers’ for Lifeguard Jobs” [David Bernstein; earlier on discrimination against deaf lifeguards]
- Decline of full-time work in retail sector in response to ObamaCare: year’s biggest employment story? [Warren Meyer, FoxNews (largest movie theater chain cuts hours for thousands of employees)]
- City of Philadelphia not doing well on workers’ comp program, to say the least [Workers’ Compensation Institute]
- “New labor rule will violate attorney-client privilege” [Diana Furchtgott-Roth, D.C. Examiner]
- “Calling a Co-Worker ‘Stupid’ Not Enough to Prove ‘Disability’, Court Says” [Daniel Schwartz]
Yes, deaf lifeguard. The Sixth Circuit has ruled in favor of a would-be deaf lifeguard, saying not enough of an individualized inquiry was made into accommodating his possible placement in the life-saving position. Among the arguments the court found persuasive was that drowning persons typically do not call loudly for help, which of course leaves open the possibility that the calls for help might be coming from other persons. Some deaf persons have worked successfully as lifeguards, including Leroy Colombo, a championship swimmer who did rescues at Galveston, Tex. beaches. In the Sixth Circuit case, Oakland County, Mich., had cited safety concerns in not posting the applicant to a public wave pool. [Disability Law]
- Lawprof’s classic argument: you thought I was capable of going on a workplace rampage with a gun, and though that isn’t true, it means you perceived me as mentally disabled so when you fired me you broke the ADA [Above the Law, ABA Journal, NLJ]
- “Fragrance-induced disabilities”: “The most frequent MCS [Multiple Chemical Sensitivity] accommodation involves implementing a fragrance-free workplace [or workzone] policy” [Katie Carder McCoy, Washington Workplace Law, earlier here, etc.]
- Netflix seeks permission to appeal order in captioning accommodation case [NLJ, Social Media Law via Disabilities Law, earlier here, here and here]
- EEOC presses harder on ADA coverage for obesity [PoL, earlier here, here, here, etc.]
- Disability groups seek class action: “ADA Suit Claims Wal-Mart Checkout Terminals Are Too High for Wheelchair Users” [ABA Journal, Recorder]
- Crunch postponed until after election: “Despite delays, chair lifts coming to public pools” [NPR Morning Edition, earlier here, here, here, etc.] Punished for advocacy: disabled groups organize boycotts of “hotels whose leaders, they say, have participated in efforts to delay regulations.” [USA Today]
- Disabled student sues St. Louis U. med school over failure to provide more time on tests [St. L. P-D]