Category Archive 'Litigation Settlements & Awards'

31 Jul 2010

39,697 African-American Farmers, 86,000 Discrimination Claims

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!n 1997, attorneys signed up 400 black farmers to sue the Department of Agriculture for discrimination, claiming that they were denied loans or made to wait longer for loans because of bias. So the Clinton Administration simply chose to settle the case.

Wikipedia explains:

Under the consent decree, all African American farmers would be paid a “virtually automatic” US$50,000 plus granted certain loan forgiveness and tax offsets. This process was called “Track A”.

Alternatively, affected farmers could follow the “Track B” process, seeking a larger payment by presenting a greater amount of evidence — the legal standard in this case was to have a preponderance of evidence along with evidence of greater damages.

Originally, claimants were to have filed within 180 days of the consent decree. Late claims were accepted for an additional year afterwards, if they could show extraordinary circumstances that prevented them from filing on time.

Far beyond the anticipated 2,000 affected farmers, 22,505 “Track A” applications were heard and decided upon, of which 13,348 (59%) were approved. US$995 million had been disbursed or credited to the “Track A” applicants as of January 2009[update], including US$760 million disbursed as US$50,000 cash awards.[3] Fewer than 200 farmers opted for the “Track B” process.

Beyond those applications that were heard and decided upon, about 70,000 petitions were filed late and were not allowed to proceed. Some have argued that the notice program was defective, and others blamed the farmers’ attorneys for “the inadequate notice and overall mismanagement of the settlement agreement

So now the Obama Administration is piling a further dubious capitulation on top of the first (which awarded $1 billion), and is agreeing to pass out an additional $1.25 billion to people who applied too late, and an additional 70,000 “victims” are going to cash in, on top of the first 16,000.

It’s a game. Trial attorneys cook up an alleged class of victims, and sue the government. A democrat administration obligingly settles, and everyone gets rich, especially the trial lawyers. It’s easy to win when the other team is on your side, and is eager to throw the game.

Zombie at PJM discusses the implausibility of all of this.

18 Aug 2007

Yale Defies Hamas Libel Suit, and Wins

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Inside Higher Ed:

Yale University Press on Wednesday announced that a libel suit against it and one of its authors has been dropped, without any changes being made in the book or any payments to the plaintiffs. The book in question is about Hamas and comes just weeks after Cambridge University Press settled a libel case against it over a book about Islamic terrorism by promising to destroy remaining copies of the book.

The cases are notably different in that Cambridge was sued in Britain (where libel protections for authors and publishers are much weaker than those in the United States) and Yale was able to file motions in California courts, which have stronger libel protections for authors and publishers than much of the United States. But the fact that Yale took a strong legal stance on a book about Hamas is likely to cheer scholars of terrorism, some of whom have been deeply concerned that the Cambridge settlement would prompt other presses to back down if sued.

The book over which Yale was sued is Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad, by Matthew Levitt, who is director of the Stein Program on Terrorism, Intelligence and Policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. While some observers have distinguished between Hamas’s terrorist activities and the group’s social service activities with Palestinians, Levitt’s argument is that they are in fact intertwined. Yale’s description of the book says: “Levitt demolishes the notion that Hamas’ military, political, and social wings are distinct from one another and catalogues the alarming extent to which the organization’s political and social welfare leaders support terror. He exposes Hamas as a unitary organization committed to a militant Islamist ideology, urges the international community to take heed, and offers well-considered ideas for countering the significant threat Hamas poses.”

The libel suit was filed in California in April by KinderUSA, a nonprofit group that says it raises money for Palestinian children and families, and Laila Al-Marayati, the chair of the group’s board. They sued over two passages and related footnotes in the book about charitable groups in the United States that the author believes are linked to terrorist groups. The U.S. government has investigated some Muslim charities in the United States for such links, but also said that such probes do not suggest that all Muslim charities have such links. The lawsuit specifically objected to this passage: “The formation of KinderUSA highlights an increasingly common trend: banned charities continuing to operate by incorporating under new names in response to designation as terrorist entities or in an effort to evade attention. This trend is also seen with groups raising money for al-Qaeda.”

According to the suit, suggesting that KinderUSA “funds terrorist or illegal organizations” was “false and damaging” and libelous. The suit also alleged that Yale “did not conduct any fact-checking” for the book. KinderUSA asked the court for an injunction on its request that distribution of the book be halted, and also sought $500,000 in damages.

Since the suit was filed, Yale has indicated that it and its author stood behind the book. (Levitt was out of town Wednesday and could not be reached.) But in July, Yale raised the stakes by filing what is known as an “anti-SLAPP suit” motion, seeking to quash the libel suit and to receive legal fees. SLAPP is an acronym for “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” a category of lawsuit viewed as an attempt not to win in court, but to harass a nonprofit group or publication that is raising issues of public concern. The fear of those sued is that groups with more money can tie them up in court in ways that would discourage them from exercising their rights to free speech. Anti-SLAPP statutes, such as the one in California with which Yale responded, are a tool created in some states to counter such suits.

In Yale’s response, it noted that KinderUSA has been reported to be the subject of investigation by federal authorities, that these investigations have received detailed press coverage (prior to the book), and that the views of the book were legitimate and contained no errors of fact that meet the test for libel. Yale noted that the book was subject to peer review and copy editing and that the author verified that he had fact-checked the book. A Yale editor certified that he had no knowledge that anything in the book was incorrect. Yale’s brief called the suit a “classic, meritless challenge to free expression,” and sought the suit’s dismissal and legal fees. While Yale’s motion was not heard in court, the suit was withdrawn shortly after it was filed. …

Todd Gallinger, a lawyer for KinderUSA, confirmed that the suit had been withdrawn. He said that his clients decided to do so not because of “anything we perceive in weaknesses in the actual case,” but out of a desire to focus the group’s “limited resources” on its mission of helping “Palestinian children in need.” Asked if Yale’s anti-SLAPP motion influenced the decision, Gallinger said that “Yale came at us hard.”

27 Mar 2007

The Tort Tax

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Lawrence J. McQuillan and Hovannes Abramyan have done a study of the economic impact of American Tort litigation. Their conclusions are more than a little appalling.

Economists have long understood that America’s tort system acts as a serious drag on our nation’s economy. Although many excellent studies have been conducted, no single work has fully captured the true total costs, both static and dynamic, of excessive litigation.

The good news: We now have some reliable figures. The bad news: The costs are far higher than anyone imagined.

Based on our estimates, and applying the best available scholarly research, we believe America’s tort system imposes a total cost on the U.S. economy of $865 billion per year. This constitutes an annual “tort tax” of $9,827 on a family of four. It is equivalent to the total annual output of all six New England states, or the yearly sales of the entire U.S. restaurant industry.

Anything useful you could do with an extra $9827 a year?

Read the whole thing.

27 Sep 2006

EU Rules Britain Must Pay Traitor (for Violating His Human Rights!)

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The Telegraph today contains an item featuring European Union Pecksniffery at its worst.

A band of seven well-grown judicial imbeciles, sitting in Strasbourg, has ruled that “the law’s delay” in attending to the efforts of Mr. (excuse me, former KGB, now SVR Colonel of Foreign Intelligence) George Blake, convicted traitor, prison escapee, and resident (since 1966) of Moscow, to reclaim frozen royalties to his autobiography on Britain’s part had breached the EU’s Human Rights Convention. The EU judges concluded that Blake suffered distress and frustration thereby, and ordered Britain to pay him âu201a¬5,000 in damages and âu201a¬2,000 in costs.

The dozens? of MI6 agents betrayed by Blake (he was rumored to have received an unprecedentedly severe 42 years sentence, representing one year for every agent killed as the result of his treachery) were not compensated.

30 Aug 2006

Fact Checking a Liability Lawsuit

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Ted Frank, at Overlawyered, demonstrates that you don’t have to go all the way to Lebanon to find the mainstream media failing to apply the slightest critical standards to news items originating from the kinds of sources to whom they are sympathetic. Hezbollah and liability lawyers have a friend in the MSM. Read the whole thing.

26 Jan 2006

America, Land of Opportunity

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The streets of the United States may not be paved with gold, but the America culture of complaint can be awfully lucrative.

Two Salvadoran illegal immigrants found themselves confronted in 2003, upon making their way informally into the United States, by pistol-wielding Casey Nethercott, a member of Ranch Rescue, a right-wing volunteer group trying to protect private property along the Southwestern US border from incursions by illegal aliens.

Fatima del Socorro Leiva Medina and Edwin Alfredo Mancia Gonzales accused Nethercott of pistol-whipping them, and he was acquitted of the charge, but (thanks to the intervention of the Southern Poverty Law Center) the lucky Salvadorans get to stay in the United States as “crime victims,” and they are also now property owners.

A Cochise County judge awarded the pair ownership of Mr. Nethercott’s 70 acre ranch near Bisbee, Arizona, when Nethercott, now serving a five year term in Texas for illegal possession of that pistol (having had some sort of previous conviction), failed to contest their lawsuit asking for $500,000 in damages. It appears that no legal do-gooding organization was assisting Mr. Nethercott.

APKLTV

07 Dec 2005

Misinterpretation Good for Big Bucks

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Walter Olson reports that two secretaries will share a settlement of around $450,000 from the Atlantic City, N.J. school district and its insurer after filing sexual-harassment charges based on a fallacious interpretation of an assistant superintendent’s remark.


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