Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘lawsuit abuse’

Self-censorship

Posted by Richard on February 8, 2012

Nick Cohen writing in Literary Review:

The grand posture of writers in liberal democracies is that they are the moral equivalents of dissidents in repressive regimes. Loud-mouthed newspaper columnists claim to ‘speak truth to power’. Novelists, artists, playwrights and comedians announce their willingness to transgress boundaries. Their publishers look for controversy like boozers look for brawls because they know that few marketing strategies beat the claim that a courageous iconoclast is challenging establishments and shattering taboos.

To maintain the illusion that they are part of some kind of radical underground, intellectuals must practise a deceit. They can never admit to their audience that fear of violent reprisals, ostracism or crippling financial penalties keeps them away from subjects that ought to concern them – and their fellow citizens.

Although it is impossible to count the books authors have abandoned, radical Islam is probably the greatest cause of self-censorship in the West today. …

Read the whole thing. Cohen is mistaken in one respect, however. He states that:

… It is a mistake to think of repression as repression by the state alone. In much of the world it still is, but in Britain, America and most of continental Europe the age of globalisation has done its work, and it is privatised rather than state forces that threaten freedom of speech.

That may be true of the fear of having your throat slit by some random Islamofascist. But state forces are clearly at work in his other example, Britain’s egregious libel laws (which he correctly describes as “(c)ontrary to common law and natural justice”).

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2007’s wackiest warning labels

Posted by Richard on December 14, 2007

Speaking of year-end best and worst lists, Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch (M-LAW) has announced the winners of the 11th annual Wacky Warning Label Contest. The first place winner submitted a tractor label that warns "Danger: Avoid Death."

Personally, I like the runner-up, a Shrek iron-on T-shirt transfer that cautions "Do not iron while wearing shirt." See it and the other winners here.

The wacky folks who hang out at Fark posted some wacky warnings of their own (some real, others Photoshopped). And if you're not reading my blog regularly, you may have missed the wacky German biting trout warning.

 

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Pearson loses pants suit

Posted by Richard on June 26, 2007

Well, it's nice to know that the legal system isn't totally dysfunctional. Judge Roy Pearson, who sued his dry cleaner for more than $60 million, lost his case. And it only took D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff ten days of agonizing deliberation to finally rule in favor of the defendants, Custom Cleaners and its owners, the Chung family.

Marc Fisher at WaPo called Judge Bartnoff's 23-page decision "extremely cautious and detailed" and noted that:

… the judge found that there is "nothing in the law" to support the foundation of Pearson's case, the notion that a sign saying "Satisfaction Guaranteed" is an absolute, unconditional guarantee that the merchant will do anything and everything a customer demands to create satisfaction. To the contrary, Bartnoff said, the law is clear that any claim of an unfair trade practice is limited to what a reasonable person would expect.

Gee, and just when I was beginning to despair that the "reasonable person" rule had become totally passé. 

But it's too soon to celebrate the return of sanity to our courts — if you doubt me, just spend a few minutes reading some of the recent posts at Overlawyered.

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Lawsuit abuse, squared

Posted by Richard on April 27, 2007

Marc Fisher at The Washington Post has the story of a Washington, D.C., lawsuit that must rank among the most insane, over-the-top, spiteful, and abusive court actions ever:

When the neighborhood dry cleaner misplaced Roy Pearson's pants, he took action. He complained. He demanded compensation. And then he sued. Man, did he sue.

Two years, thousands of pages of legal documents and many hundreds of hours of investigative work later, Pearson is seeking to make Custom Cleaners pay — would you believe more than the payroll of the entire Washington Nationals roster?

He says he deserves millions for the damages he suffered by not getting his pants back, for his litigation costs, for "mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort," for the value of the time he has spent on the lawsuit, for leasing a car every weekend for 10 years and for a replacement suit, according to court papers.

Pearson is demanding $65,462,500. The original alteration work on the pants cost $10.50.

By the way, Pearson is a lawyer. Okay, you probably figured that. But get this: He's a judge, too — an administrative law judge for the District of Columbia.

I'm telling you, they need to start selling tickets down at the courthouse.

Go read the rest. The story is compelling, the details are just unbelievable, and the way Pearson arrived at his $65 million damage claim is simply breathtaking. Judge Roy Pearson should become the national poster child for tort reform.

 

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Muslim group defends passengers

Posted by Richard on March 25, 2007

Remember the imams who were removed from a US Airways flight in Minneapolis? They did virtually everything they could to make themselves appear suspicious and frightening, in what I and many others believe was a deliberate attempt to create an incident. Several passengers reported their behavior (members of the air crew had already identified the imams as highly suspicious).

The imams are suing not only US Airways, but also the "John Doe" passengers who reported the suspicious behavior, which is what air travelers are asked to do. 

Rep. Steve Pearce has introduced a bill in Congress to protect airline passengers from lawsuits for reporting suspicious behavior. A religious liberties group that's litigated on behalf of Muslims in the past has condemned the CAIR-backed lawsuit:

"This is a first for us," Kevin Hasson, president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, wrote in a letter to Nihad Awad, president of CAIR. "We have never opposed someone else's claim for religious discrimination.

"But this tactic of threatening suit against ordinary citizens is so far beyond the tradition of civil rights litigation in the United States that we must oppose it to defend the good name of religious liberty itself," Mr. Hasson said.

A Minneapolis attorney offered to represent the passengers pro bono. But here's the really terrific news — a Muslim organization came to the defense of the passengers:

Meanwhile, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, based in Phoenix, said it will raise money for passengers' defense should they be named and targeted.

Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix doctor who is spokesman for the Arizona group, said the imams and their supporters at the Council for Islamic-American Relations in Washington, "are trying to exploit this situation for political ends."Who are the real victims here?" he said of the US Airways incident. "Airports are the front line in the war on terror, and it's outrageous that citizens acting in a neighborhood-watch fashion are targeted."

Bravo, Dr. Jasser! AIFD looks like a fine organization with admirable founding principles. Here's their mission statement (emphasis added):

We proud citizens of the United States of America join together as devoted and patriotic citizens and as devout Muslims in this forum in order to serve as a vehicle for the discussion and public awareness of the complete compatibility of America's founding principles with the very personal faith of Islam which we practice. 

AIFD supports the "separation of religion and state," "equality of the sexes," and the existence of Israel.

I've made a small contribution to AIFD. If, like me, you want the voices of moderate Islam to grow louder and stronger, why not do the same?

HT: LGF  

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Morally handicapped

Posted by Richard on October 30, 2006

You’re no doubt familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and you’ve probably read about some of its unintended consequences and litigation horror stories. California has an even tougher version called the Unruh Act, so it’s no wonder that the story of David Allen Gunther is from that benighted state (emphasis added):

Since 2003, Gunther has filed more than 200 lawsuits against small businesses for violations that have included accessibility barriers, no designated handicapped parking, heavy bathroom doors, or toilet paper dispensers mounted out of easy reach. Each violation carries a $4,000 fine. For all his hard work, it is estimated that Gunther has received more than $400,000 in the last 36 months, mostly from mom-and-pop shops.

Targets of Gunther suits included a car wash whose bathroom mirror was a few inches too high and a flower shop where he claimed he couldn’t find a wheelchair ramp — even though the shop owner herself was confined to a wheelchair and depended on the ramp. In both cases (and presumably the others as well), his court filings claimed these businesses caused him “anguish, anxiety, humiliation, anger, frustration, distress, embarrassment, apprehension and disgust.”

It looks like — maybe, just maybe — this litigation blizzard is too much even for California. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has met with a group of small business owners sued by Gunther, and he’s looking into what can be done about this litigation abuse. Gunther said he’s not worried because the law is on his side.

According to the OC Weekly, one of the people who met with Rackauckas was restaurant owner Jin Kim, who wept because he may lose his business:

… He recounted the shock of getting the lawsuit without warning, how Mehrban [Gunther’s attorney] had coldly refused to negotiate despite pleas, and that he had to sell his wife’s ring and a vehicle to pay Gunther $16,000—and his own attorney another $4,000 in fees. His crime? His restroom mirror was allegedly mounted a few inches too high and the door was a few pounds too heavy to push.

“Why did I get hit by this person?” Kim told the Weekly. “If he had asked for any help with anything, me and my wife would have gladly helped him. We work very hard to please our customers.”

The experience has likely ruined any chance for a profit this year. Kim thinks he may have to sell the restaurant that he’s poured his life’s savings into. “I told that lawyer [Mehrban] that I would immediately fix any problems he saw and give him $6,000, and on that same day he sued me again using Karl Roundtree for the same thing,” said Kim. “I was going to fight back, but there is so much money involved in fighting a lawsuit against these people. We get lots of senior citizens in here and nobody has ever complained before. Something is wrong in this country when that guy can get away with this. The whole thing has made me think about moving back to Korea.”

If you’re inclined to be sympathetic toward the disabled, restrain yourself. Gunther has been seen by credible witnesses getting out of his wheelchair and walking. He’s told multiple contradictory stories of how he was hurt. And his extensive adult record seems short only of honest work:

A Weekly investigation traced Gunther’s activities around the western U.S. during the last quarter of a century, uncovering evidence that not only has he exaggerated his reliance on a wheelchair, but he’s also whitewashed his own history of chronic unemployment, multiple drug addictions, narcotics trafficking, assaults, petty thefts, burglaries, a decade of missed child support payments, and more than a dozen arrests and stints in jail.

But here’s the punch line to the sordid story of David Allen Gunther and Morse Mehrban, the scumbag shyster who represented him in all these lawsuits: when Gunther meets with Mehrban, presumably it’s not in Mehrban’s office:

Ironically, one businessman he hasn’t sued is his own lawyer. Like so many businesses Gunther has sued, Mehrban’s Koreatown office is located in a converted house. It’s on the second floor, and to get there, a person in a wheelchair faces an insurmountable hurdle: 15 steps up a narrow hallway.

Mehrban says it would not be practical to make his office accessible to the handicapped.

Unbe-frickin-lievable.
 

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