Category Archive 'Litigation'
20 Dec 2010

Holiday Viral Email

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Please accept with no obligation implied or explicit,

my best wishes for an environmentally conscious,

socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive,

gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday,

practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the

religious persuasion of your choice, with respect for the

religious / secular persuasion and/or traditions of others,

or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and

medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset

of the generally accepted calendar year 2010,

but not without due respect for the calendars of choice

of other cultures whose contributions to society and science

have helped to make America great. Not to imply that America

is or is not greater than any other country,

nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere.

These wishes are made without regard to the race, creed,

color, age, physical ability, education, religious faith,

political affiliation or sexual preference of the wishee.

These wishes are intended for the sole pleasure of the intended addressee,

and is not for re-distribution or resale.

Please destroy after expiration date.

…and may all your batteries be included.

Please Read Carefully:











Hat tip to Matthew Klein.

16 Dec 2010

State Employee Sues McDonald’s

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Walter Olson reports that those who know better than the rest of us what’s good for us have struck at an important target menacing life as we know it in America: McDonald’s Happy Meals.

With perfect Grinch timing, a consumer group has sued McDonald’s demanding that it take the toys out of its Happy Meals.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group, claims it violates California law for the hamburger chain to make its meals too appealing to kids, thus launching them on a lifelong course to overeating and other health horrors. It’s representing an allegedly typical mother of two from Sacramento named Monet Parham. What’s Parham’s (so to speak) beef? “Because of McDonald’s marketing, [her daughter] Maya has frequently pestered Parham into purchasing Happy Meals, thereby spending money on a product she would not otherwise have purchased.”

You’re probably wondering: How is this grounds for a lawsuit? No one forced Parham to take her daughters to McDonald’s, buy them that particular menu item, and sit by as they ate every last French fry in the bag (if they did).

No, she’s suing because when she said no, her kids became disagreeable and “pouted” – for which she wants class action status. If she gets it, McDonald’s isn’t the only company that should worry. Other kids pout because parents won’t get them 800-piece Lego sets, Madame Alexander dolls and Disney World vacations.


The really interesting thing about all this was discovered by Ira Stoll. Monet Parham is actually a California state employee, posing as an aggrieved ordinary citizen aided by liberal advocacy organizations in an attempt to use the courts to further coercively the “healthy lifestyle” agenda she is paid to advocate by the state.

Ms. Parham is the same person as “Monet Parham-Lee”. Monet Parham-Lee is an employee of the California Department of Public Health. Interestingly, her name has been scrubbed from the website of Champions for Change, the Network for a Healthy California. She has given numerous presentations and attended conferences on the importance of eating vegetables and whatnot.

She presents herself as an ordinary mother. She is not. She is an advocate, and an employee of a California agency tasked with advocating the eating of vegetables.

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.

30 Jul 2010

9th Circuit Upholds Disabled Americans’ Right To Watch Dinner Preparation

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A typical Chipotle Mexican Grill in operation

Walter Olson, now operating out of CATO, who makes something of a specialty of chronicling the most spectacular cases of legal absurdity, was (quite deservedly) particularly proud of finding this one yesterday.

The Chipotle Mexican Grill heralds its “Chipotle Experience,” in which customers can watch their food being made behind a glass partition. Now a Ninth Circuit panel (including famously liberal judges Stephen Reinhardt and Dorothy Nelson) has ruled that the “experience” violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, to quote the AP, “because the restaurants’ 45-inch counters are too high. The company now faces hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.” The ruling arrives just in time for the ADA’s 20th anniversary, which, as the Washington Post notes, is serving as the occasion for a virtual binge of new regulation-making by the Obama Administration and Congress.

Online reaction to the Chipotle case is tending toward the negative if not incredulous, even at places like the San Francisco Chronicle (“Good Lord, people are complaining because they can’t see a taco, get a life.”) But it’s also worth noting this significant passage (via Ted Frank at Point of Law) from the court record that the Ninth Circuit panel had to overcome:

    The [district] court found that [wheelchair-using complainant] Antoninetti had failed to show irreparable injury because he had not revisited either restaurant after Chipotle adopted its written policy and because his “purported desire to return to the [r]estaurants is neither concrete nor sincere or supported by the facts.” It also stated that Antoninetti’s “history as a plaintiff in accessibility litigation supports this Court’s finding that his purported desire to return to the [r]estaurants is not sincere. Since immigrating to the United States in 1991, Plaintiff has sued over twenty business entities for alleged accessibility violations, and, in all (but one) of those cases, he never returned to the establishment he sued after settling the case and obtaining a cash payment.”

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are endowed by their Creator with the right to be entertained by watching their burrito being prepared.”

It’s a wonder that, in California in particular, the blind don’t get to sue Hollywood for making moving pictures they cannot see, and the deaf don’t get to collect penalties from concert venues and the opera.

29 Jul 2010

Case of Student Expelled From Master’s Program For Disapproval of Homosexuality Dismissed By Federal Judge

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One can see in the case of Julea Ward versus Eastern Michigan University the way in which progressive academic institutions, professional organizations, and judges can all collaborate in defining educational requirements, professional standards, and the law in a such a fashion as to outlaw non-progressive opinion in the academic world as well as denying access to practice of professions to non-progressives.

Detroit News:

A federal judge [on wednesday] dismissed a lawsuit brought against Eastern Michigan University by a master’s student who said she was removed from the school’s counseling program because of her strong religious views against homosexuality.

As part of her course work, Ward had refused to counsel homosexual clients, saying she believed homosexuality was morally wrong.

The university removed Ward from the counseling program after determining her actions violated university policy and the American Counseling Association (ACA) code of ethics.

Julea Ward sued the university in 2009, alleging violation of her First Amendment and religious rights.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh ruled in favor of the university and granted it summary judgment.

“The university had a rational basis for adopting the ACA Code of Ethics into its counseling program, not the least of which was the desire to offer an accredited program,” Steeh said in a 48-page opinion.

“Furthermore, the university had a rational basis for requiring its students to counsel clients without imposing their personal values.

“In the case of Ms. Ward, the university determined that she would never change her behavior and would consistently refuse to counsel clients on matters with which she was personally opposed due to her religious beliefs — including homosexual relationships.”

The judge said Ward’s “refusal to attempt learning to counsel all clients within their own value systems is a failure to complete an academic requirement of the program.”

2005 ACA Code of Ethics (pdf)

Personal Values

Counselors are aware of their own values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors and avoid imposing values that are inconsistent with counseling goals. Counselors respect the diversity of clients, trainees, and research participants.


A similar case is underway involving a student in the counseling program at Augusta State University in Georgia.

25 Jul 2010

Legal Contest Over Jim Thorpe’s Remains

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At the eastern edge of the Anthracite Coal Region, just west of the Poconos, lies the county seat of Carbon County, a town founded in 1818 with the colorful Indian name of Mauch Chunk (Delaware Indian: “Bear Mountain”).

Mauch Chunk has a scenic location in a mountain gap along the Lehigh River, and its higher-than-usual in the neighborhood surrounding mountains led to the town being referred to in tourist slogans as the “Switzerland of Pennsylvania.”

Mauch Chunk was prominent in the 19th century industrial development of the country. It became an important railroad and canal transportation center, shipping coal mined in the nearby mountains to the cities and manufacturing centers of the East. The industrialist Asa Packer, founder of the Lehigh Railroad and Lehigh University, had his mansion there, and his family built and endowed the architecturally impressive Episcopal Church. One group of Molly Maguire terrorist bandits was hanged at the local courthouse in the 1870s.

The Anthracite mining industry was in the process of being destroyed by post-WWII water pollution regulations as the country switched over from coal to oil for domestic heating, when the state of Oklahoma declined to erect a memorial to the famous athlete and Olympian Jim Thorpe in the immediate aftermath of his death in 1953.

Hoping to promote tourism at a time when the regional economy was sinking fast, the town fathers of Mauch Chunk approached the family offering to build a monument and rename the town after Jim Thorpe, if the great athlete would be buried there. Thorpe’s third wife agreed to the deal, and despite the fact that Jim Thorpe probably never even visited Mauch Chunk, the town assumed his name.

In 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated, the former borough of Mauch Chuck offered the same deal to Jacqueline Kennedy, who declined in favor of burial in Arlington.

In the latest development in the saga, Jim Thorpe’s son is suing the borough of Jim Thorpe via the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 for repatriation of his father’s body to Oklahoma.

I’m on Jack Thorpe’s side. I’ve always like the name Mauch Chunk better, and I thought the name change deal was ridiculous. Jim Thorpe had not actually lived in Oklahoma for many decades at the time of his death, but he was born there, his family is buried there, and he never had the slightest real connection to Mauch Chunk.

20 Jun 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

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Ouch! I don’t get to type this often…: “He had acetylene torch injury to the penis.”


John Hinderaker from Power-Line, respects Obama’s behavior.


Conservative cultural commentary venues The Notes and Culture11 went under. (link 1 & link 2).

Some people think they were not populist enough, but I am inclined to believe that the fact I never previously heard of either one of them could be part of the problem.


Cigarettes $10 a pack in NYC.

New Yorkers ought to take up chewing tobacco.


Write fiction based on your own life experience and they’ll sue you.

Hat tip to Walter Olson.

21 Apr 2010

SEC Suing Goldman

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In a party line 3-2 vote SEC commissioners voted to sue Goldman Sachs. The SEC charges that Goldman fraudulently represented to investors that the mortgages underlying one of its residential mortgage-backed securities were being selected by an independent third-party. The mortgages, however, were selected by Paulson & Co., a hedge fund that also took a $15 million credit default swap position betting against the same residential mortgage-backed security.

The Epicurean Dealmaker puts the whole fuss wittily into perspective.

I have been reliably informed that something scandalous has recently been unearthed which involves a recurring target of Your Formerly Diligent Blogosopher’s ruminations. I even believe the word “fraud” has been bandied about liberally.

Given that a) I have been occupied elsewhere, and b) I really couldn’t give a flying fuck in a rolling donut whether the Great Vampire Squid of West Street (new digs, natch) vanishes into the singularity or not, I frankly have not paid much attention to the scandal beyond a cursory perusal of the headlines and a couple of blog posts. Honestly, life is just too short.

However, in the spirit of duty which compels Your Humble Servant to satisfy every bloggy whim my Peremptory Audience demands of me (and also because Natasha has temporarily left the hotel room to get more caviar and ice cubes), I will make the following brief observations:

The parties which Goldman supposedly defrauded were large and supposedly sophisticated financial institutions. The managers of these institutions were or should have been paid quite large sums of money to, among other things, protect their stakeholders from fraud, unethical sales practices, and general office supply stealing. I have no sympathy whatsoever for the knuckleheads at ACA or IKB. And, frankly, neither should you.

Whether the alleged fraud rises to the level of an actionable civil claim or simply represents unethical behavior is a question for a court of law. I am not qualified to judge, but the criteria which ultimately determine the nature of Goldman’s alleged offense will be legalistic ones, akin to judging exactly how many mortgage CDO investors’ brains can be fitted onto the head of a pin. While the answer may be definitive, it will not be particularly revealing to the vast majority of us who live outside the cloistered halls of Americus Litigalis.

I must agree with Felix Salmon and others, who claim that the real damage to Goldman Sachs has already been done, with its formerly venerated name being dragged publicly through the mud with an accusation of fraud. While this may have little effect on the majority of Goldman’s business on the sales and trading side of the house—where counterparties are generally too smart to raise a stink about the 800 pound gorilla of the global financial markets (and often too unprincipled themselves to care) — it should and will have an effect on Goldman’s extensive investment banking business with governments, corporations, and other entities.

The Squid has been living for years off the simple fact that, like the fabled IBM of yore, no-one ever got fired (or sued) for picking Goldman Sachs. That calculus has been changed, and I and every one of my red-blooded peers in the industry who is not currently drawing a paycheck signed by David Viniar are making damn sure that CEOs, CFOs, government officials, and Boards of Directors know it. For those of you who were wondering, this is the real reason why Goldman’s market capitalization has taken the vapors to the tune of more than ten billion dollars in response to an action likely to cost it no more than a tiny fraction of that amount: its reputation premium is quietly and rapidly evaporating. There is no shortage of competent investment banks and adequate investment bankers available to conduct the financing and M&A business of the global corporate and government economy. No longer can Goldman rest assured that it will win mandates simply because it is Goldman Sachs.

Hat tip to Walter Olson.

08 Jan 2010

Circus Elephants Cruelty Case Dismissed

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After dragging through the courts for nine years, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) lawsuit against Feld Entertainment, owner of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus, alleging that training and exhibiting circus elephants constituted cruelty to animals and represented a violation of the Endangered Species Act was dismissed by a federal judge after a six week trial, when the judge concluded that the key witness and joint plaintiff, a former Ringling Brothers employee and elephant handler named Tom Rider, had been paid by animal rights groups for his participation.

The Telegraph reports:

[District] Judge Sullivan.. dismissed the plaintiffs’ case after it emerged that Rider had been paid tens of thousands of dollars by the animal rights groups involved.

“The court finds that Mr Rider is essentially a paid plaintiff… who is not credible, and therefore affords no weight to his testimony,” he wrote in his verdict.

“Mr Rider’s self-serving testimony at trial about his personal and emotional attachment to these elephants also is not credible because he did not begin to make complaints about how Feld Entertainment treated its elephants until after he began accepting money from animal activists.”

Rider had compared his affection for the Ringling Bros elephants, which he called his “girls,” to his love for his own family, and claimed that he had left both Ringling and another circus due to the distress he suffered while working there.

Evidence produced by the defence, however, demonstrated that Rider had never communicated dissatisfaction with the animals’ treatment to any employer. He was unable to recall the names of all his former charges and in one photograph was even shown using a bullhook.

Feld Entertainment’s (FEI) attorney in the trial, Michelle Pardo of Fulbright & Jaworski, said that “the case uncovered a very curious and disturbing side about the agenda of some of these animal rights groups, and what they do with donors’ money”.

07 Dec 2009

British Restaurant Makes Customers Sign Plum Pudding Release

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Michael Simkins
is appalled at the point to which the contemporary nanny state has reduced Britain, a condition in which restaurants must ask patrons to sign a waiver of liability for a pudding.

The owners of the High Timbers (sic) restaurant, located in the heart of London, are insisting that customers sampling their festive menu sign a legal waiver before sitting down to eat.

The restaurant is currently offering plum pudding as part of its seasonal fare, which, as ancient custom (and the recipe) dictates, is prepared with the odd silver coin or lucky charm thrown into the mix.

But so wary have the management become of expensive lawsuits brought by any patron chipping a veneered tooth or choking on silver horseshoes that each portion arrives with both a jug of brandy sauce and a legal disclaimer.

25 Oct 2009

Visiting the American Nanny State

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Jeremy Clarkson, of the British television program Top Gear, visited the United States back in 2006. He didn’t like a lot of the same things about this country that I don’t like.

Step out of the loop, do something unusual and you’ll encounter a wall of low-paid, low-intellect workers whose sole job is to prevent their bosses from being sued. As a result, you never hear anyone say: “Oh I’m sure it’ll be all right.” …

You know the Stig. The all-white racing driver we use on Top Gear. Well, we were filming him walking through the Mojave desert when lo and behold a lorry full of soldiers rocked up and arrested him. He was unusual. He wasn’t fat. He must therefore be a Muslim.

It gets worse. I needed money to play a little blackjack in Vegas but because I was unable to provide the cashier with an American zip code he was unable to help. It’s the same story at the petrol pumps. Americans can punch their address into the key pad and replenish their tank. Europeans have to prove they’re not terrorists before being allowed to start pumping.

I seem to recall a television advertisement in which George W Bush himself urged us all to go over there for our holidays. But what’s the point when you can’t buy anything? Or do anything. Or walk across the desert in a white suit without being arrested.

The main problem I suspect is a complete lack of knowledge about the world. I asked people in the streets of Vegas to name two European countries. The very first woman I spoke to said: “Oh yes. What’s that one with kangaroos?”

Then you’ve got New Orleans, which, nearly a year after Katrina, is still utterly smashed and ruined. Now I’m sorry but insects can build shelter on their own. Birds can build nests without a state handout. So why are the people of Louisiana sitting around waiting for someone else to do the repairs? …

Among the things I don’t like is the way everyone over 15 stone now moves about in a wheelchair. As a result, it takes half an hour to get through even the widest door. And I really don’t like the way that every small town looks exactly the same as every other small town. Palmdale in California and Biloxi in Mississippi are nigh on identical. They have the same horrible restaurants. The same mall. The same interstate drone. Live in either for more than a week and you’d be stabbing your own eyes with knitting needles.

But it’s the idiocracy that really gets me down. The constant coaxing you have to do to get anything done. “No” is the default setting whether you want to change lanes on a motorway or get a drink on a Sunday. It’s like trying to negotiate with a donkey. Once, I urged a cop in Pensacola, Florida, to use his common sense and let me load a van in the no loading zone, since the airport was shut and it would make no difference. “Sir,” he said, “you don’t need common sense when you’ve got laws.”

19 Aug 2009

Obama’s OSHA Nominee and Gun Control

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David Michaels

Barack Obama’s appointments have, in several cases, been more extreme than most observers would have expected, selecting not just liberals, but figures on the left renowned for the extremism of their positions.

Walter Olson notes that Barack Obama’s nominee for head of the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration, politicized epidemiologist David Michaels is not only an activist ally of the Tort Bar, but actually has a record of advocating linking gun control to workplace safety regulation.

That Pennsylvania deer hunter who parks his pick-up at the plant in the morning with his .30-30 in a gun rack behind the seat, planning to get in an hour or two of hunting after work, could lose his job if David Michaels receives confirmation.

The controversial OSHA nominee and left-leaning public health advocate also seems to have strong views on firearms issues. That’s by no means irrelevant to the agenda of an agency like OSHA, because once you start viewing private gun ownership as a public health menace, it begins to seem logical to use the powers of government to urge or even require employers to forbid workers from possessing guns on company premises, up to and including parking lots, ostensibly for the protection of co-workers. In addition, OSHA has authority to regulate the working conditions of various job categories associated with firearms use (security guards, hunting guides, etc.) and could in that capacity do much to bring grief to Second Amendment values.

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