Following a jail riot, Reggie Townsend, serving 23 years in a Wisconsin prison, was put in a segregation unit with “wet, moldy and foul-smelling” bedding which the jailer did not change despite his request. “Though he did not suffer any physical harm from the unsanitary bedding, Townsend was deprived of the ‘minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities,’ the jury decided after deliberating six hours,” and awarded him $295K. (The Smoking Gun, Sept. 19; AP/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Sept. 23).
Famous persons often attract the attention of serial or scattershot lawsuit-filers, including inmates filing handwritten complaints. Senators McCain and Obama are luckier than many defendants because of the principle cited by a federal judge as he dismissed one recent complaint: “Members of Congress are absolutely immune from lawsuits, such as this one, arising from the performance of their official duties.” But such suits do “require both the defendants and the judicial system to pay attention”, and sometimes employ attorneys to file multi-page formal motions in response. (Michael Doyle, McClatchy, Sept. 12 via How Appealing).
Old Master-of-the-Universe habits die hard? According to Law.com’s The Recorder, felonious class-actioneer Bill Lerach “was placed in administrative segregation — locked down for 23 hours a day — after he allegedly offered a corrections officer the use of his San Diego Chargers season tickets, say three people familiar with the situation. Should a formal administrative proceeding go against him, Lerach would likely be forbidden from returning to the [minimum-security Lompoc] camp, and would instead be placed in a higher-security facility. …Offering a staff member anything of value is considered a ‘high category’ offense for an inmate, according to [Bureau of Prisons] guidelines.” (Dan Levine, “Going Gets Rough for Lerach”, The Recorder, Sept. 9).
More: Karen Donovan at Portfolio recalls a Lerach comment about sports sections as currency in prison, perhaps more meaningful in retrospect.
- Two topics of recent interest on the site — cremation and service monkeys — together in one post [The Urn Garden]
- Please don’t tell us an aggressive stance by music copyright holders is going to kill Pandora radio, one of the bright stars of the Internet [WaPo, more]
- “Citizens in Chains: The High Cost of Prisoner Lawsuits to California Taxpayers” [CALA, PDF]
- Navajo plaintiffs: spraying artificial snow on our sacred mountain is spiritually injurious [Volokh]
- Remember those anti-poverty non-profit groups that were going to represent the culmination of John Edwards’ life work, aside from running for you-know-what? Him neither [Silverstein, Harper’s via Folo]
- Toxic tort class action in Saudi Arabia proves unsuccessful [Arab News]
- Fending off patent trolls has been expensive for high-tech Massachusetts firm Cognex [NLJ]
- Arizona law professor’s creative denials in paternity suit have furnished faculty-lounge chuckles for years [Caron/TaxProf, Jack J. Rappeport]
- New at Point of Law: big ruckus over proposal to compel accounting projections of lawsuit exposure; guestblogger Peggy Little on Connecticut vs. Countrywide, the ABA in judicial selection and more; cy pres litigation slush funds assailed as constitutionally dubious; Trial Lawyers Inc. series tackles the state of Ohio; MBIA mulls suing hedge fund that’s sniped at its stock; more on med-mal “loss of a chance”; and much more.
- Texas probate and estate lawyers seldom prosecuted when they steal funds, clients told they should just sue to get it back [Austin American-Statesman investigation]
- About a third of the way down the center strip, then just a bit to the right, you’ll find us on this much-linked map of the campaign season’s most influential websites [Presidential Watch ’08]
- Given the enormous liability exposure, would a doctor rationally want a major celebrity as a client? [Scalpel or Sword via KevinMD]
- The loser-pays difference: Canadian franchisees pursue failed class-action claim against sandwich shop Quiznos, judge orders them to pay costs of more than C$200,000 [BizOp via ClassActionBlawg]
- Annals of extreme incivility: judge condemns “heartless attack” at deposition on opposing lawyer’s pin honoring son killed in Iraq [Fulton County Daily Report]
- You keep an open wi-fi connection at home and your neighbor uses it to download music improperly. Are you an infringer too? [Doctorow via Coleman]
- As you’ve probably heard if you read blogs (but maybe not otherwise), one Canadian “human rights” tribunal has dropped action against Mark Steyn and Maclean’s; another still pursuing case [SteynOnline]
- Prison-overcrowding lawsuit could lead to early release of 27,000 California inmates [TalkLeft]
- “He absolutely would’ve gotten this DOJ job but for the anti-liberal bias … and he can’t land any other jobs?” [commenter KenVee on lawsuit over politicized Department of Justice Honors/Intern programs, Kerr @ Volokh, background]
On November 14, 1999, high-school dropout Rolando Domingo Montez, celebrating his 19th birthday, was arrested for public intoxication and trespass after the owner of the boat on which he and his friends were sitting complained. Police placed him in Cell No. 1 of the Port Isabel City Jail. The next morning, Montez was permitted to make some collect calls from his jail cell to seek bail money from his mother, Pearl Iris Garza. Mom, complaining that Montez was in jail again, refused. But she generously came to pick up Montez on the 16th when he was released on his own recognizance. Unfortunately, while Garza was waiting in the lobby, and while police were responding to a call for assistance regarding a suspicious vehicle, Montez hung himself with the 19-inch phone cord from the phone he had used to make the calls.
- “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]
413-pound Broderick Lloyd Laswell was arrested for robbing and murdering Randy Walker and setting Walker’s trailer home on fire, and has been kept in an Arkansas jail cell awaiting a capital trial. Eight months later, he’s down to 308 pounds, but he’s not grateful for the diet, and has sued for “hot meals” and more consistent portions. [AP/Arkansas Online, Apr. 27; Northwest Arkansas Morning News, Apr. 25 via ABA blog] Needless to say, the blogosphere isn’t impressed. (Update: Smoking Gun has court documents and mug shots.)
“Taxpayers have footed a £1 million compensation bill after almost 200 drug-addicted prisoners sued the Government, claiming that denying them a heroin substitute breached their human rights. The prisoners claimed that their rights were infringed when they were deprived of methadone and had to go ‘cold turkey’.” (Richard Ford, Times Online, Apr. 18).