Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

December 19 roundup

Citing 2002 federal law, MGM Resorts names Las Vegas shooting victims in suit

MGM Resorts, which operates the Mandalay Bay hotel casino in Las Vegas, has invoked a law passed by Congress in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks to ask for a ruling that it is not liable to more than 1,000 victims of the Oct. 1, 2017, massacre during which a gunman in a Mandalay Bay room killed 58 people and injured nearly 500. The Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act of 2002 limits claims against some makers of security equipment and sends lawsuits against such firms by terror victims to federal court. According to a critic, MGM is taking a broad view of the law’s provisions, claiming its protection because it employed a security vendor with SAFETY Act certification and because the shooting was an act of “mass violence.” The U.S. Department of Homeland Security “has not designated the Las Vegas shooting a terrorist attack.”

The use of declaratory judgment and similar processes, familiar from fields like insurance law, can lead to public relations damage, especially if aimed at parties minding their own business who had not filed a claim or action and might never have done so. It is not clear from coverage how many of the 1,000+ persons named in MGM’s legal filings had evinced no intent to file claims or suits; a suit against MGM was filed last November on behalf of 450 victims. [Jason Tashea, ABA Journal; Rachel Crosby, Las Vegas Review-Journal] More: Howard Wasserman on jurisdiction.

First Amendment roundup

  • Dangerous and misguided: Michigan pursues prosecution on charges of jury tampering of man who handed out “jury nullification” pamphlets on public sidewalk outside courthouse [Jay Schweikert, Cato; Jacob Sullum, earlier here, here, etc.]
  • “‘Worst of Both Worlds’ FOSTA Signed Into Law, Completing Section 230’s Evisceration” [Eric Goldman] Among first casualties: Craigslist personals [Merrit Kennedy/NPR, Elizabeth Nolan Brown] And Elizabeth Nolan Brown joins (no relation) Caleb Brown on a Cato Daily Podcast;
  • Is reprinting thumbnail headshots fair use? [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]
  • “16 Pulse survivors sue Google, Facebook, Twitter for ‘supporting’ ISIS” [Daniel Dahm, WKMG Orlando]
  • Not the group it used to be: ACLU calls for government-owned broadband, claims First Amendment may require as opposed to forbid state-operated communications infrastructure [Randolph May and Theodore Bolema, Free State Foundation] More: Scott Greenfield;
  • Cato amicus commercial speech triple-header: Virginia’s ban on promoting happy hours (bars may hold them, but not promote them off premises) is an irrational leftover of Prohibition [Ilya Shapiro] While some commercial speech can be mandated, Ninth Circuit goes too far in upholding government-ordered scripts [Shapiro and Meggan Dewitt on structured-mortgage-payment case Nationwide Biweekly Administration v. Hubanks] Sign laws face tough scrutiny under 2015’s Reed v. Town of Gilbert, and Tennessee’s billboard law, which applies even to noncommercial speech, may run into trouble [Shapiro and Aaron Barnes]

Free speech roundup

  • “Lucha Underground Wrestling Sends Legal Threat To Journalists For Publishing ‘Spoilers'” [Tim Geigner, TechDirt]
  • Watch what you say about lawyers: politically active Baton Rouge trial lawyer threatens political blog The Hayride over critical coverage [The Hayride, Robert Davis/Louisiana Record]
  • Update: Stanford’s Mark Jacobson drops defamation lawsuit against other scientists [Jonathan Adler, earlier]
  • Update: federal judge tells town of Sibley, Iowa to stop threatening resident who runs website complaining about way town smells [ACLU of Iowa, earlier]
  • Recent topics in FIRE “So To Speak” podcast series include Great Firewall of China, interview with former Evergreen State professor Bret Weinstein, Masterpiece Cakeshop case at SCOTUS, Is there a campus free speech crisis?
  • “Spanish Hate/Anti-Terrorism Speech Laws Doing Little But Locking Up Comedians, Artists, And Dissidents” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt; a recent Scottish case]

Liability roundup

  • Another dubious lawsuit blaming terrorism on social media from law firm with phone number for a name [Tim Cushing]
  • Courts reverse two big talc/baby powder jury verdicts against Johnson & Johnson [Tina Bellon and Nate Raymond, Reuters ($417 million, California); Insurance Journal ($72 million, Missouri)]
  • “US-Based Tech Companies Subject to Worldwide Jurisdiction as Judicial Comity Takes a Back Seat” [Moin Yahya, WLF on Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Google v. Equustek Solutions]
  • Richard Epstein wrote the Encyclopedia of Libertarianism’s entry on liability, tort and contract;
  • Asbestos: “Judges and juries should learn about a plaintiff’s entire exposure history so they can apportion liability appropriately.” [Phil Goldberg, Forbes]
  • Study of contingent fee litigation in New York City: few cases resolved on dispositive motions, lawyers nearly always take the maximum one-third permitted by law [Eric Helland et al., forthcoming Vanderbilt Law Review/SSRN]

Facebook prevails in another pair of abetting-terrorism suits

“A federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, has dismissed two lawsuits that claimed Facebook should be liable for allowing terrorists to use its platform to advance violence….The plaintiffs had claimed that Palestinian terrorism organizations used the social media platform to incite and organize attacks.” [Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal; Eugene Volokh (federal judge ruled “in my view quite correctly”)]

“Families of San Bernardino Shooting Sue Facebook, Google, Twitter”

“Family members of three victims of the December 2015 shooting rampage in San Bernardino, California, have sued Facebook, Google and Twitter, claiming … that by allowing Islamic State militants to spread propaganda freely on social media, the three companies provided ‘material support’ to the group and enabled attacks.” [Reuters, ABA Journal]

January 18 roundup

  • Another day, another lawsuit charging a social media company with material support for terrorism. This time it’s Twitter and IS attacks in Paris, Brussels [Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare; Tim Cushing, Techdirt] More: And yet another (Dallas police officer versus Twitter, Facebook, and Google; listed as one of the filing attorneys is 1-800-LAW-FIRM, no kidding, complaint h/t Eric Goldman);
  • “Woman Sues Chipotle for $2 Billion for Using a Photo of Her Without Consent” [Petapixel]
  • “Hot-Yoga Guy and His Cars Are Missing” [Lowering the Bar, earlier]
  • From Backpage.com to unpopular climate advocacy, state attorneys general use subpoena power to punish and chill [Ilya Shapiro]
  • Dept. of awful ideas: California assemblyman proposes registry of hate crime offenders [Scott Shackford]
  • But oh, so worth it otherwise: “Not one Kansas state senator is a lawyer, making compliance with obscure statute impossible” [ABA Journal]