Kent and Surrey, England: “Police have told residents to stop putting wire mesh on their garden shed windows – because they could be sued if a burglar is injured.” [Telegraph]
According to London Mayor Boris Johnson, writing in the Telegraph, the recent case of a man who is charging a 68-year-old female colleague with unconsented rump-slapping shows that Britain’s employment tribunal system leaves much to be desired:
This could turn out to be a ground-breaking case in the advancement of workers’ rights against the unfeeling boss class. But I sincerely doubt it. It sounds to me like a perfect indication of the levels of barminess now being attained by our system of employment tribunals. The hearing continues, it says at the bottom of the reports, and my first thought is how mad, how incredible it is that this poor man’s grievance – whatever it really is – has come to court.
The hearing continues, while across the country thousands of similar hearings drag their weary length before the matchstick-eyelid tribunals of Britain. Millions of man-hours are wasted, as business people are obliged to give evidence rather than getting on with their jobs. Huge fees are racked up by lawyers and “expert witnesses”, who are called on to pronounce on the exact meaning of an insult, and on all the unverifiable aches and pains and stresses that may constitute a disability.
The total cost of the system has been put at £1 billion for British business, and it is rising the whole time. …
Last month Prime Minister David Cameron proposed relaxing — though only slightly — the tribunals’ grip over firing, hiring, claims of harassment and other workplace matters.
- What, no more monkeys or snakes? Starting March 15 new federal regulation will restrict definition of “service animals” to dogs alone [Central Kitsap Reporter, earlier, more]
- “Appeals court: SD prosecutor’s conduct denied man a fair trial” [San Diego Union-Tribune]
- A tale of local regulation: “A septic system at the crossroads” [Roland Toy, American Thinker]
- Firm sues Fark, Reddit, Yahoo, etc. etc. over 2002 patent on “structured news release generation and distribution,” draws rude reply from defendant TechCrunch;
- UK schools minister: “no touching pupils” policy keeps music teachers from doing their job [Telegraph]
- Legal ethicist Stephen Gillers hired at $950/hour to approve ethics of Ken Feinberg’s BP compensation fund work [two views: Andrew Perlman and Monroe Freedman; earlier, Byron Stier]. Per Ted at PoL, trial lawyers criticizing the arrangement “complain that BP is using the same tactic plaintiffs’ lawyers regularly use to prove their own ethics.”
- Is WordPress’s quirky “Hello Dolly” plugin a copyright infringement? [TechDirt]
- Congrats, you’re eligible for a job with the D.C. public school system [ten years ago on Overlawyered; more on criminal records and hiring, subject of a current EEOC crusade]
- Making the rounds: letter on NFL stationery telling off lawyer over nastygram [DeadSpin, language]
- Suburban Detroit man faces possible 5-year sentence for reading wife’s email [Free Press, Volokh]
- U.K.: Scout Association found liable for injury sustained in scramble-in-the-dark game [Andrew Hough, Telegraph via Lenore Skenazy]
- Florida appeals court orders environmental groups to compensate taxpayers for unfounded complaint [Ryan Houck, TampaBayOnline]
- “Fix It Yourself Garage” self-service auto repair shop hopes it’s beaten the liability curse [McClatchy; Charlotte, N.C.]
- Much more from Peter Schweizer and Lee Stranahan at Big Government on dubious Pigford farmer settlement (“attempting to farm;” recruiting and “brokering” claims; FBI said to be interested; problems within USDA?; lawyer says Pigford clients often got away with faulty claims; earlier);
- “Faux concern for judicial ethics” [Jonathan Adler, Volokh, on Constitutional Accountability Center campaign against judges’ seminars]
- Founder of much-loved musical parody series thanks real-life artists whose works are being spoofed: “Without their reluctance toward lawsuits there would certainly be no Forbidden Broadway.” [six years ago on Overlawyered]
A British town replaces an outdoor fireworks show with indoor images of fireworks on a projector screen, prompting critics to warn of a “cotton-wool culture” of child overprotection [Free-Range Kids]
- Simon Singh on need to reform UK libel law [BoingBoing]
- Complaint: Scalia’s too darned principled on religious liberty [rebutted by Ponnuru at NRO]
- Air Force sued after teenage rave in abandoned bunker turns bad [PoL]
- Scathing Kleinfeld dissent in Ninth Circuit Alien Tort case [Volokh, Fisher, Recorder]
- “Law Firm Accused of Requiring Heels, Then Discriminating When Injury Occurred” [ABA Journal]
- Parent’s angry letter to Kansas City school board complaining that teacher laid hands on son; best part are the demands [Something Awful forums]
- Australia: “Iconic Merry-Go-Round Is Deemed an Insurance Liability” [Free-Range Kids]
- “Meatpacker to pay $3m for using strength test” [five years ago on Overlawyered]
The venerable British newspaper — at least someone there in charge of selecting pictures and captions — seems to have fallen for an old bit of fiction about an insurance customer who supposedly tried to collect on the loss of his cigars via fire, as an example of “odd American lawsuits.” One wonders why papers fall back on hoary email legends when they could have readily found hundreds upon hundreds of genuine examples of odd American lawsuits right here.
Incidentally, the reader who makes it through the underlying opinion piece (by Neil Rose) does eventually learn that the cigar fable is one of a class of stories “most of [which] are apocryphal or didn’t get anywhere, such as the case against the dry cleaners.” This is not really up to snuff as a way of warning readers off the cigar tale, and it’s grossly misleading as a description of the Roy Pearson dry-cleaners pants suit, which Pearson kept going for years at a very real and serious cost to his targets, the Chung family. Much of the point of the Neil Rose article seems to be to assure British readers that the American way of litigation may be safely emulated, since its costs are not really so bad. If that’s the argument, shouldn’t the piece convey a fairer picture of those costs?
“Councils have ripped up or paved over acres of traditional cobblestones from streets across Britain, amid fears of compensation claims from people who trip over on them.” [Telegraph]
For more than three years a Sikh religious leader, styled by some “Third Holy Saint,” has been suing lone journalist Hardeep Singh under United Kingdom libel law over a critical article printed in the Sikh Times, drawing an outcry from some libel-law reformers there [Jack of Kent, Index on Censorship]