masthead-highres

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tort Reform Would Save $54 Billion in Health Care Expenses

So says the Congressional Budget Office.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:56 AM

Friday, August 21, 2009

What's Happening Now

Is national health insurance Constitutional? No. Not convinced yet? Go here then.

"It's almost as if the president has no experience..." Ya think?

What planet is this guy on?

Independence Institute: Medical coverage is like a game show. (90 sec. video)

Write about the Fifth Amendment, get sued.

Death panels are real.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:46 PM

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What's Happening Now

If you like Fanny Mae, you'll love Fanny Med.

What is "de-developing" and why does President Obama's science advisor want to do it to the United States?

Vote for the most ridiculous lawsuit of the month. (I voted for the Katy Perry lawsuit; but was tempted by the Jose Canseco lawsuit.)

California's yearly pension fund contribution rose from $321 million to $7.3 billion in 8 years. The state pays over 5,000 people more than $100,000 annually in pensions.

Parody: "Nothing irritates me more than the pitter-patter of little carbon footprints."

Obama, Democrat leadership blame the GOP for good done by Dem Blue Dogs in stopping health care bill. Accidental compliment?


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:06 PM

Friday, July 17, 2009

Outrage of the Day: Congress Kills Jobs; Doesn't Care

Neither the left nor the right has reason to oppose reform of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, foolish legislation adopted last year with little thought to its ramifications, but Congress won't reform it, and Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) of the House Energy and Commerce Committee continues to refuse to even hold hearings.

CPSIA reform wouldn't end the recession, but it would end some job losses at no greater cost than the passage of the bill. As Congress is going to pay itself anyway, why not?

Carter Wood of the Shopfloor.org blog more details in "CPSIA Update: Jobs Being Destroyed, Congress Looks Away," or visit my Outrage of the Day for March 16, "Waxman Drags Feet on Needed CPSIA Reform."


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:04 AM

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Very Strange Lawsuit

I won't even describe it.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:58 AM

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Diverse Coalition Appeals to Congress Regarding Unjust Provisions of Omnibus Land Management Act

Readers with an interest in property rights, civil rights or simply staying out of jail for doing something one has no idea is illegal will want to review the coalition letter sent to the Congressional leadership, the Attorney General and to President Barack Obama by the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences and the National Center for Public Policy Research during the last 24 hours.

The letter was organized by John Berlau of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Boehner,

Our respective organizations have diverse viewpoints, but we share a deep and abiding belief in due process under the law. We believe that that Congress should perform careful diligence before adding violations to the criminal codes, that federal crimes should be narrowly defined and show clear criminal intent, and that the use of asset forfeiture must be narrowly tailored so that it does not unduly punish the accused before a trial has proven their guilt. As such we have grave concerns about sections of the pending Omnibus Land Management Act of 2009, which passed the Senate last week as H.R. 146, regarding "paleontological resources preservation."

These sections, now contained in the bill under Subtitle Dof Title VI, seek to empower the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior to"protect paleontological resources on Federal land using scientific principles and expertise." We understand that preventing theft of and harm to important fossils on federal land is a serious objective. However, we are concerned that the bill creates many new federal crimes using language that is so broad that the provisions could cover innocent human error. There is also, in defining the crimes, a troubling lack of words such as "knowingly" that clearly establish criminal intent as a prerequisite for prosecution. As Georgetown University legal ethicist John Hasnas has written, to serve the greater goal of justice, all criminal laws must require the government to establish that "one had to knowingly or at least recklessly act in a morally blameworthy way to be subject of criminal punishment."

H.R. 146 would make it illegal to excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface or attempt to excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface any paleontological resources located on Federal land" without special permission from the government. Penalties for violations include up to five years imprisonment. "Paleontological resources" are loosely defined as all "fossilized remains ... that are of paleontological interest and that provide information about the history of life on earth." We are troubled by this definition that paleontological organizations say could cover many common rocks that adults and children collect. The Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences has warned that with this wording, it is easy to visualize "a group of students unknowingly crossing over an invisible line."

We are also concerned about the bill's prohibition against "false labeling" of fossil specimens, an offense that also carries criminal penalties. The bill makes it a crime to "make or submit any false record, account or label for, or any false identification of, any paleontological resource excavated or removed from federal land." This broad language could criminalize innocent misidentifications, limit scientific inquiry, and infringe on the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech. Fossil labeling is a complex process, and even the top museums of the world have been known to revise labeling in their exhibits upon scholarly review or new facts being discovered ..Thus, the fear of making an honest mistake in fossil labeling or even having fossil identifications proven "false" in light of new scientific discoveries could have a chilling effect on new research in paleontology.

We are pleased that the Senate recently improved provisions regarding forfeiture. Language in earlier versions of the legislation would have allowed government officials to engage in the pretrial seizure of "all vehicles and equipment of any person" accused of theft or harm to a "paleontological resource." Forfeiting a person's property without a conviction undermines the bedrock principle of our legal system: that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Past abuses of forfeiture led to bipartisan passage of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000, and we had feared that these provisions would go against the spirit of these reforms. The Senate heeded our concerns with an amendment, and as passed on March 20, "vehicles and equipment" were removed from the forfeiture language, so that the forfeiture provisions apply only to the "paleontological resources" taken from federal land. This is a marked improvement, and we would oppose any attempts to reinsert forfeiture of personal property in a revised bill.

Above all, we are concerned that a bill containing new federal crimes, fines and imprisonment, and forfeiture provisions may come to the House floor without first being marked up in the House Judiciary Committee. That committee is tasked with providing centralized oversight of criminal legislation, thereby enhancing the fairness and consistency of those enactments. As such we strongly urge that the criminal provisions of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act be stripped from any final legislation until they are subject to Judiciary Committee review and amendment."

Representatives of the signatory organizations of this letter would be happy to meet with you or members of your staff to address these concerns.

Sincerely,

Caroline Fredrickson
Director
American Civil Liberties Union
Washington Legislative Office

Tracie Bennitt
President
Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences

John Berlau
Director, Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Kyle O'Dowd
Assoc. Executive Director for Policy
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

David A. Ridenour
Vice President
The National Center for Public Policy Research

Cc: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
House Majority Whip James Clyburn
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers
House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith
President Barack Obama
Attorney General Eric Holder
For more information on this issue, see this blog's previous coverage of this here and here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:40 PM

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Businesses Strike Back

In an op-ed in the Charleston Daily Mail Tuesday, David Ridenour writes about a business that is fighting back against unfair lawsuits in a creative way:
West Virginia isn't "almost Heaven," but "almost Hell" where its judicial climate is concerned.

But finally, there's some good news on the horizon. After years of being battered by the state's bizarre system of jackpot justice, sucker-punched businesses are beginning to strike back.

In late May, the West Virginia Supreme Court, historically a good friend of the plaintiffs' bar, voted 5-0 to deny a request by two major natural gas providers - Chesapeake Energy Corp. and NiSource - to hear an appeal of a dubious $405 million jury verdict that found the companies underpaid landowners.

At issue was the firms' practice of deducting production and marketing costs from the royalties they paid.

The Roane County trial court inexplicably found that leases specifying that the royalties are "an amount one-eighth of the price, net all costs beyond the wellhead" and "less taxes, assessments, and adjustments" are ambiguous.

Ambiguous or not, the court interpreted the language in favor of the owner.

A week later, Chesapeake Energy countered with an eye-opening announcement: It was canceling a $35 million commitment to build a futuristic regional headquarters on the outskirts of Charleston's airport.

Chesapeake spokesman Scott Rotruck tied the decision directly to the high court's denial of an appeal request that would have been granted pro forma in most states...
Read the rest here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:46 AM

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Court Continues Welcome Trend of Reigning in Excessive Punitive Awards

From Research Associate Justin Danhof comes this look at the decision in Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, handed down June 25:
In 1989, the Exxon Valdez supertanker grounded on a reef off Alaska's coast, spilling millions of gallons of oil. Since that time, Exxon has spent $2.1 billion in clean-up efforts, $900 million to settle a civil lawsuit and $303 million in voluntary payments to private parties.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in the case of Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, that that is enough... almost.

The Supreme Court did rule that punitive damages are allowed under maritime law. In a 5-3 decision, however, the majority directed the lower court to reduce the punitive award from $2.5 billion to no more than $507.5 million.

The Court took a commonsense approach by aligning punitive damages with compensatory damages. Associate Justice David Souter, writing for the majority, rejected a hard cap for punitive damages and instead affixed the maximum punitive award to the compensatory award: a one-to-one ratio. Although these studies were not dispositive, the Court cited empirical studies showing that a one-to-one ratio is consistent with America's average punitive award.

The decision was made under maritime common law, not the due process clause under which most punitive challenges are brought. Justice Souter explained:
[t]oday's enquiry differs from due process review because the case arises under federal maritime jurisdiction, and we are reviewing a jury award for conformity with maritime law rather than the outer limit allowed by due process.
Although the decision did not set direct precedent for future constitutional claims, it offered guidance to lower courts and was instructive of the Court's position towards punitive awards generally.

The Court was mindful that punitive awards are often criticized for their unpredictability. This unpredictability runs counter to a main goal of punitive awards: to provide an example. The Court explained that,
...a penalty should be reasonably predictable in its severity so that even Justice Holmes's 'bad man' can look ahead with some ability to know what the stakes are when choosing one course of action or another.
This decision goes a long way towards achieving this goal.

The Court's decision continues a welcome trend of the court reigning in excessive punitive awards. In State Farm v. Campbell (2003), the Court held that a single-digit maximum (i.e., no greater than a nine-to-one punitive to compensatory ratio) is appropriate in all but the most exceptional cases. Indeed, the Exxon decision follows State Farm's guidance which suggested that,
[w]hen compensatory damages are substantial, then a lesser ratio, perhaps only equal to compensatory damages, can reach the outermost limit of the due process guarantee.
Justice Souter's majority opinion was joined by Justices Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas and Chief Justice Roberts. Justices Breyer, Ginsberg and Stevens dissented, arguing that the Court went too far in limiting punitive awards. Justice Alito, a holder of Exxon stock, took no part in the decision.

Excessive punitive awards are a scourge on the business community; reducing innovation, investment and economic growth. Today's decision sends an appropriate message that companies will be held accountable for their mistakes, but not bankrupt by untenable punitive award figures.

To contact author Justin Danhof directly,
write him at [email protected]

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:14 PM

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

How Trial Lawyers Threaten Patients' Health

Husband David has an op-ed on excessive lawsuits and our health care system in Investor's Business Daily today.

Check it out here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:04 AM

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Eliot Spitzer's Bigger Scandal

Senior Fellow Tom Borelli looks at an Eliot Spitzer scandal even larger than the one that caused him to resign as governor of New York State.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:11 AM

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Listing the Polar Bear Under the ESA Could Spell Disaster

From Peyton Knight:
In reaction to the Bush Administration's deliberation over whether to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act the Natural Resources Defense Council's Andrew Wetzler claims: "There's no reason for them not to finalize that decision now."

There are big reasons, one of which may explain the NRDC's zeal for a rush to judgment.

The polar bear population has doubled since 1965, from 10,000 to 20,000-25,000 today. Even the World Wildlife Fund, which advocates listing the bear, in 2006 said there are "at least 22,000 polar bears worldwide" and "the general status of polar bears is currently stable."

Further, listing the bear could spawn lawsuits and impose economy-crippling restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions. Because the ESA makes it a crime to "harm" a listed animal or its habitat, environmentalists could sue any public or private entity that emits CO2, which, they claim, causes global warming and harms the bear. NRDC and others already have successfully sued under the ESA to stop everything from military training to cattle ranching.

Listing the polar bear would benefit environmental activists, but would raise energy costs for consumers and harm our economy, while providing few if any benefits to the bears.
To contact author Peyton Knight directly, write him at [email protected]
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:41 PM

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Black Group Calls Senate Leaders "Hypocrites"

Project 21 thinks Harry Reid is a hypocrite:
Black Group Calls Senate Leaders "Hypocrites"

Liberal Senators Complaining About “Obstructionism" on Iraq Legislation Use the Same Tactic to Block Judicial Nominees

Project 21 members say the liberal Senate leadership, which has embarked on an overnight session to "highlight Republican obstructionism" on consideration to legislation to withdraw troops from Iraq, is hypocritical, as these senators have used the same tactics they now condemn to block the confirmation of President Bush's judicial nominations over the past six-and-a-half years.

"The immoral duplicity of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his henchmen once again unambiguously shows there are no depths too low for liberal politicians to plumb," said Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie. "It is extraordinarily incongruous that, on one hand, Reid would complain about a conservative filibuster against an arbitrary and predetermined withdrawal date in Iraq while he and his gang have stalled on the confirmation of people such as Judge Southwick since the day President Bush announced his judicial first nominees."

Beginning on the morning of Tuesday, July 17 and scheduled to last through the evening of Wednesday, July 18, the Senate is expected to remain in session for debate on a plan to remove U.S. forces from Iraq by May of 2008. Democratic leaders want a simple up-or-down majority vote on the amendment, and are protesting Republican use of Senate rules to require a vote of 60 members to end the debate.

The last all-night session of this sort was held Wednesday, November 12, 2003 to protest Senate liberals requiring 60-vote majorities for confirmation of President Bush’s judicial nominees.

Judicial obstructionism continues, with allegations this week concerning bad faith by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in scheduling a committee vote on the nomination of Judge Leslie H. Southwick to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Assistant Attorney General Peter Keisler, a nominee to the D.C. Court of Appeals, has waited more than a year for a committee vote on his nomination.

Among major non-judicial nominations, only 66 of 229 of the nominations made since January 7 -- 29 percent -- have received Senate votes.

"It's a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black," added Project 21's Massie, who participated in media events in the U.S. Capitol related to the 2003 judicial all-nighter. "If Harry Reid wants an up-or-down vote on Iraq, he should at least be willing to come to the table with an offer of the same regarding the judicial nominees to our already overworked courts."
Harry Reid has a hypocrisy problem, I think.

I enjoyed this take on Harry Reid's all-nighter, on the new blog The Tygrrrr Express.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:22 AM

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Winkelman v. Parma City School District

I've updated a past post about the couple that was threatened with a fine because they went to court on behalf of their minor son without hiring a lawyer.

In short, the U.S. Supreme Court has now weighed in on behalf of the parents.

Says Tony Mauro, writing for Legal Times:
Parents do not need to hire lawyers to litigate public school special education disputes involving their children, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The 7-2 decision in Winkelman v. Parma City School District says parents have “independent, enforceable rights” in a free, appropriate education for their children under the Individuals With Disabilities Act. As a result, they can pursue those interests not just at the administrative appeal stage, but into federal court as well.

“It is not a novel proposition to say that parents have a recognized legal interest in the education and upbringing of their child,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, adding that “a parent of a child with a disability has a particular and personal interest” in pursuing equal opportunities for the child.

The opinion did not disturb the longstanding rule that pro se litigants can only represent themselves, not others. Kennedy said there was no need to rule on that issue because the Court was saying that parents, in pursuing these claims, are enforcing their own rights, not just the rights of their children.

The ruling came in the case of Jeff and Sandee Winkelman, who were dissatisfied by the educational plan devised by the Parma, Ohio school district for their son Jacob, who has autism spectrum disorder. When administrative appeals ended, Sandee Winkelman, a nurse, schooled herself in legal procedure and took the case to federal court. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled that parents could not litigate under IDEA, setting the stage for their high court appeal.

School districts, claiming that the cost of special ed litigation goes up when parents rather than lawyers are involved, fought against parental representation. In some cases, local bar groups have also complained that parents without lawyers were engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.

But parents said the high cost of legal fees, as well as the dearth of lawyers willing to take on these often-complex lawsuits, made self-representation necessary...
There's more. Read the rest here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:29 PM

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Kelo v. New London Update

Tom Blumer at BizzyBlog provides a recap and and update to the events behind one of the most reviled U.S. Supreme Court decisions of recent years.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:59 PM

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

JPMorgan Chase Slavery Apology Criticized

Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli, acting on behalf of the National Legal and Policy Center, will present a shareholder proposal (pdf) at the company's annual meeting Tuesday that is critical of JPMorgan Chase’s apology for slavery.

A National Legal and Policy Center press release explains:
A shareholder proposal critical of the JPMorgan Chase's slavery apology will be considered at the company's annual meeting on Tuesday, May 15, 2007. The event will take place at 10 a.m. at the company's offices at One Chase Manhattan Plaza in New York City.

The company unsuccessfully sought to exclude the resolution by appealing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which ruled in favor of the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), the proponent.

The resolution will be presented by Deneen Borelli, a Fellow of Project 21, on behalf of NLPC.

Deneen Borelli said today, "It's absurd for someone to apologize for the transgressions of others committed hundreds of years ago. Slavery was an abomination and blemish on our Nation's history. JPMorgan Chase's apology for slavery, along with a $5 million donation for a scholarship fund, are the fruits of a shakedown. It is the looting of shareholder assets and sets a terrible precedent."

Peter Flaherty, NLPC President, said today, "If JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon were alive 200 years ago and owned slaves, the apology would be appropriate. Otherwise it is about as cynical and as hollow as you can get."

In a 2005 letter, then-Chairman & CEO William B. Harrison Jr. and then-President & COO Jamie Dimon stated, "We apologize to the African-American community, particularly those who are descendants of slaves, and to the rest of the American public..." This apology was accompanied by a Company pledge to establish a $5 million scholarship fund for African-Americans. Dimon now serves as Executive Chairman and CEO.

The apology and monetary pledge were apparently prompted by a Company-commissioned report produced in response to a municipal ordinance in Chicago, requiring firms doing business with the city to disclose their links to slavery. The report found only the most tenuous connections to slavery over 200 years ago by two banks whose successor banks had been acquired by the Company.

The supporting statement for the resolution points out that JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is currently being sued by plaintiffs seeking damages that they characterize as "slave reparations." The statement argues that the bank may be opening itself to lawsuits by the descendents of Irish, Chinese and Native Americans, whose ancestors also suffered injustice. For the complete proposal, supporting statement, and company response, go to www.nlpc.org.

Slavery "apologies" or other expressions of regret have been recently adopted or are being considered by Congress, a number of state legislatures and several cities. Banks that have apologized for alleged links to slavery also include the Bank of America, Wachovia and Lehman Brothers.

NLPC promotes ethics in public life, and sponsors the Corporate Integrity Project. The group has published a monograph titled The Case Against Slave Reparations that may be downloaded as a pdf file at http://www.nlpc.org/pdfs/Final_NLPC_Reparations.pdf.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:01 AM

Friday, April 20, 2007

Suing for a Lap Dance

A quadriplegic man sues a Florida strip club for failing to provide a handicapped-accessible "lap dance" area.

Lap Dancing Location Leads to Lawsuit

Edward Law, who has been a quadriplegic since a diving accident in 1987, visited the Wildside Adult Sports Cabaret, a strip club in West Palm Beach, Florida, in May and June of 2002. A month later, he sued the club in U.S. District Court. He claimed it had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act because the room reserved for "lap dances" was inaccessible to the disabled. Law claims that the stage where dancers perform is too high and blocks the view from his wheelchair.

In order to get a lap dance, Law did not have to sue the club. Bret Rudowsky, Wildside's general manager, said that because of Law's disability, he would have allowed Law to receive erotic private time with a dancer in other areas of the bar. Before the lawsuit was filed, Rudowsky had never received a complaint from a disabled customer.

Steve Howells of the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities believes that lawsuits should be one of the last resorts used to resolve ADA-related complaints. If a disabled person is unsatisfied with a business' accommodations, Howells says, individuals should complain to the management. Had Law done this, the club would have complied with his request. Instead, Law hired Anthony Brady, Jr., a lawyer who has sued more than 100 companies for ADA violations, to represent him in court. They filed a lawsuit requesting compliance with the law as well as an unspecified amount of money in attorney's fees. Since the only difference between what could be done in and out of court is money, suspicion was raised that the lawsuit was more about personal gain than protecting the rights of the disabled. Law also filed a lawsuit against another West Palm Beach strip club, the Landing Strip. Both of Law's suits were voluntarily dismissed in 2002.

In response to these and other ADA-related lawsuits, including a high-profile suit filed against a hotel owned by actor/director Clint Eastwood, the ADA Notification Act was introduced in February 2003 and reintroduced in June 2005. The bill would require a person to contact a business and explain how it violated the ADA's accessibility provisions before filing a lawsuit. The business would then have 90 days to correct the violation before a lawsuit can be filed.

Sources: Adult Industry News (July 15, 2002), Ragged Edge Online (July 22, 2002), Thethoughtpolice.com, The Washington Times (February 13, 2002)

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:59 PM

Thursday, April 19, 2007

ADA Lawsuits Cost Businesses $309.1 Million to Win

To comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the owner of a historic California candy store is forced to build a $14,000 handicapped-accessible entrance ramp.

Candy Store Owner Takes a Licking

Lanny Rose has owned the Cottage of Sweets, a candy store in Carmel, California, for more than 24 years. He says he values every customer who visits his store, noting, "My specialty store is small enough that I make it a point to take care of each of my customers."

Constructed in 1922, the building measures just 325 square feet and is designated as historic. Due to its historical classification, Rose has always been extremely careful not to remodel or alter any structural aspect of the building without the appropriate approvals.

In March of 2003, Rose received a demand that physical changes to his building were necessary. He was being sued over his business' failure to comply with Title III provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Enacted by the federal government in 1990, the ADA - and specifically Title III - prohibits discrimination against the disabled, and requires public places and commercial facilities to meet various "accessibility standards." For Rose, the step leading into his store was the cause of the complaint.

To Rose's surprise, he and several other local business owners were being sued by Joseph Tacl, a 52-year-old handicapped man who had visited Carmel in 2002. Along with the Cottage of Sweets, Tacl - who became disabled in a car accident in 1993 - sued seven other downtown Carmel shops, claiming "numerous architectural barriers" prevented him from "fully and safely" visiting them. Gene Zweben, Tacl's attorney, called Carmel one of California's "least accessible towns." Zweben said the defendants in the cases were "businesses that my client had attempted to go to but was discriminated against because he wasn't able to go inside the way everybody else can."

Rose does not recall Tacl's visit, but says he and his employees have always tried to cater to the needs of handicapped customers seeking to patronize the store. He said, "We have our own store policy where we will go outside to assist our handicapped patrons into the store. We try to be helpful and give all the assistance that we can."

Those efforts apparently were unknown or not enough for Tacl. In his complaint to the U.S. District Court for Northern California in San Jose, Tacl claimed he received "unlawful discrimination and unfair treatment." As part of the settlement eventually reached by the parties, Rose was forced to undertake a $14,000 construction project to transform the store's circular step into a slightly ramped walkway that complies with ADA's Title III provisions. Rose's insurance company, The Hartford, also paid Tacl monetary damages. Neither side will disclose the exact amount paid in damages.

It turns out Tacl is no novice when it comes to filing ADA complaints. As of April of 2003, Tacl had filed nearly 100 lawsuits against businesses in Northern California. This identifies the potential for abuse of the law. "The ADA is supposed to provide protection for the disabled, not provide an incentive or an excuse for people to sue a small business owner," says Representative Sam Graves (R-MO). "Every time this law is abused and a frivolous lawsuit is filed, small businesses and their employees are left to pay the bill." Representative Graves' office says that during the ADA's first eight years, businesses prevailed in 92 percent of ADA cases, for a total cost to them of $309.1 million, or approximately $25,000 per lawsuit.

Sources: Statement of Representative Sam Graves (R-MO) (April 28, 2003), Carmel Pine Cone (April 4-10, 2003; July 23, 2004), The Cottage of Sweets, Gene Zweben, Lanny Rose, MonterreyHerald.com (April 4, 2003), U.S. Department of Justice

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 AM

Monday, April 16, 2007

100 Tales of Dangerous Government

Today begins a new blog series: Reprinting stories from the new, fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Visit the blog every weekday for more stories or, if you just can't wait, purchase a print copy online for just $15 here, including postage and handling.

Because we want to get the important message of this book -- that excessive regulation harms people and communities -- to as many people as possible, we've also made available free PDF copies here. You can download the entire book, identical to the print edition, read it yourself, and share as many copies as you like with others. You can even post copies on your own blog or website if you like (just don't change the PDF, please!)

Here's more about the book:
"The fight for freedom begins at home. It's good to know The National Center for Public Policy Research is standing guard."
-Ted Nugent, from the Foreword

"The National Center for Public Policy Research is fighting for the freedom of all Americans. It is doing an excellent service in bringing these victims and their stories to light. Shattered Dreams is a must read for all patriots and policy makers who care deeply about America's future and yearn to right her path."
-Judge Andrew Napolitano, from the Introduction

Government Gone Wild!!!
100 Tales of Outrage to Make Your Blood Boil


As Ronald Reagan once said, the nine scariest words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." And an important new book, just out from the National Center for Public Policy Research, shows how on the mark the Gipper was. SHATTERED DREAMS: ONE HUNDRED STORIES OF GOVERNMENT ABUSE gives a hundred reasons why government left unchecked can harm even innocent, law-abiding citizens.

With a foreword by Ted Nugent and an introduction by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, SHATTERED DREAMS serves a cautionary note against those who would expand government's powers and increase its scope over our lives and livelihoods. A team of researchers and experts at the NCPPR provide a rap sheet of government's regulatory missteps, from the merely comic (like the Minnesota girl harassed for running an unlicensed lemonade stand) to the truly horrific (children ripped from the loving arms of parents whose only crime was wanting a quality education for their kids).

SHATTERED DREAMS paints a picture of government at all levels that too often is arbitrary, irrational, petty, vindictive, capricious, shortsighted, avaricious, and nasty. And the book shows these government abuses taking a significant toll in human terms-not just incurring heavy costs, but often destroying lives, wrecking communities, and occasionally even imperiling national security. The NCPPR team provides example after blood-curdling example of government breaking the law it sets, terrorizing innocent, law-abiding citizens.

SHATTERED DREAMS offers short, easily accessible tales, written in a lively style that shines a spotlight on a host of corrupt and dangerous government practices, and a slew of preposterous, ineffective, and costly regulations.

Each entry is backed up with extensive research and source notes. The book breaks down into a wide variety of sections. One shows the folly of taking endangered species protection to extremes. Another provides a mind-numbing catalog of eminent domain abuses. Still others detail the assault on private property rights or on Americans' abilities to engage in routine commercial activities.

Next time you hear someone in the news call for government "to act," keep in mind that its actions often bring with them dire consequences for ordinary (and innocent) Americans. SHATTERED DREAMS shows just how dangerous government can be, even in a "free" society.

Quotes About the Fifth Edition of Shattered Dreams:

"Wherever unaccountable, unelected bureaucrats enforce an increasing number of unconstitutional rules and regulations, the human cost is high. Shattered Dreams should alarm every citizen about the real and potential abuse by their own government."

-Reagan Administration Attorney General Edwin Meese, III
Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow, The Heritage Foundation


"Most Americans are unaware of the massive attacks on our property rights and other personal liberties, and for a good reason; they are being confiscated bit by bit in a relatively unnoticeable way. The fifth edition of Shattered Dreams gives us case by case documentation of this unpleasant process."
-Walter E. Williams
John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics, George Mason University; Nationally syndicated columnist

"The National Center for Public Policy Research has performed a great service by cataloging the ways in which the growth of the regulatory state threatens our natural rights to 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' Anyone who wishes to understand how paternalistic government is crushing liberty needs to read this book!"
-Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX)

"It is inconceivable that the founders of our great republic would approve of modern government's meddling into ordinary Americans' daily lives. Shattered Dreams is a stunning, retail-level case study of the inequitable application of government power. Indeed, this book shows why far too many of today's wrongful federal and state regulations not only undermine constitutionally protected liberties in an abstract sense but also ruin the lives of countless numbers of Americans."

-Mark Levin, Nationally-syndicated radio talk show host and president of Landmark Legal Foundation

"Big government is wasteful, inefficient, sinister - and funny. Half of the tales of regulatory abuse in "Shattered Dreams" are hilariously absurd - like the little girl whose lemonade stand was deemed illegal and shut down because she had not applied for a $60 license. But funny or sinister -and other stories show regulatory abuse destroying lives and fortunes - this book reveals how Big Regulation increasingly throttles our freedom. Ignore it - and the laugh will be on you."
-John O'Sullivan, Author and Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute

"This collection of sometimes-funny, often-shocking horror stories should leave readers with one clear lesson: When Big Government comes knocking, don't be afraid. Be very afraid."
-Deroy Murdock, Nationally-syndicated columnist and
Senior Fellow, Atlas Economic Research Foundation; Distinguished Fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research


"Communities I represent in California, including Colton and Fontana, have been unable to move ahead with important development opportunities. Burdensome restrictions to protect an insect - the Delhi Sands Flower-Loving Fly - have prevented projects that could revitalize our cities, boost economic development and provide jobs for area residents."
-Congressman Joe Baca (D-CA)

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:20 PM

Monday, April 02, 2007

On Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency

The Supreme Court's decision is a victory for the bad guys in the battle over whether the American people will be governed by accountable elected officials or unaccountable judges. Unable to convince the Senate to vote upon, let alone ratify, the Kyoto global warming treaty, the left has adopted the Kyoto-by-stealth strategy of asking judges to force its version of science into the pocketbooks of the American people.

Shame on them. And shame on the five Justices who agreed to do so today.

We learn from Justice Stevens today that carbon dioxide is 'the most important... greenhouse gas.' Science cannot confirm the Justice's confident statement. The role of water vapor, the most plentiful greenhouse gas, is not yet understood. Nor is the role of carbon dioxide understood. Such uncertainty, among many others, is the reason scientists annually request and spend several billion dollars of funds supplied by hardworking U.S. taxpayers for research into climate change. Can the taxpayers now expect relief?

We shall see how many groups on the political left today ask: 'How many peer-reviewed papers has Justice Stevens published?'

U.S. policies relating to the alleged threat of global warming should, as Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito said in their dissent, be determined by the Congress and the Chief Executive. As the dissenting Justices also observed, '[Global warming] is not a problem that... has escaped the attention of policymakers in the Executive and Legislative Branches of our Government, who continue to consider regulatory, legislative and treaty-based means of addressing global climate change.'

The Supreme Court should have stayed out of the way. The legislative and executive branches are empowered by the Constitution with the duty of setting environmental policies, and, unlike our rapacious judicial branch, also are accountable to the American people.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:00 PM

Saturday, March 03, 2007

New Orleans is the Cindy Sheehan of Cities

Don Surber nails it when it comes to the $77 billion lawsuit the city of New Orleans has just filed against every American taxpayer.

New Orleans is the Cindy Sheehan of cities: Because it suffered a loss, most people are too kind to say anything about its outrageous behavior. I think maybe it is time to stop being kind.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:22 PM

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Crying Need for Lawsuit Abuse Reform

The Examiner had a very compelling editorial on the need for tort reform Monday. An excerpt:
That there is a crying need for lawsuit abuse reform is beyond question. ...there is substantial evidence of widespread abuse and even fraud at the highest levels of the trial lawyers bar.

The costs to consumers and taxpayers are enormous, as the American Tort Reform Association estimates:
* The cost of the U.S. tort system for 2003 was $246 billion, or $845 per citizen, or $3,380 for a family of four.

* U.S. tort costs increased 35.4 percent from 2000 to 2003.

* The growth of U.S. tort costs have exceeded the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2 to 3 percentage points in the past 50 years.

* The U.S. tort system is inefficient; it returns less than 50 cents on the dollar and less than 22 cents for actual economic loss to claimants.
Clearly, trial lawyers for too long have grown rich by using forum shopping, friends on the judicial bench and, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, fraudulent expert witnesses to make the mere prospect of litigation so costly that even Fortune 500 firms find it cheaper to settle than to seek their day in court.

The judicial system is thus seriously warped against providing justice for businesses and the consumers they serve...
Read it all here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:29 AM

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Parents May Be Fined for Helping Their Own Son

The Cleveland Bar Association has made an outrageous decision: It is attempting to get an Ohio couple fined because they went to court on behalf of their minor son without hiring a lawyer.

Says the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
The bar charged [Brian and Susan Woods] with unauthorized practice of law and threatened a $10,000 fine, saying that although the Woodses were allowed to represent themselves, they could not act as lawyers for their son. The charge is normally filed against nonlawyers who provide legal services for pay, but is rare against parents.
The parents largely won the case for their son, settling it after the school district agreed to send their son, who has autism, to a private school.

More from the Plain Dealer:
Michael Harvey, the Rocky River lawyer handling the charges for the bar association, said the goal is to protect the rights of children. Harvey said special education laws are so complex that children need experts, not untrained parents, looking out for their rights.

"You hope parents will do the right job for the child, but that's not always the case," Harvey said.

Harvey said that although the bar is officially seeking a $10,000 fine, it would be happy with an admission that the Woodses broke the law and an agreement not to do it again.

Brian Woods thinks he's being intimidated to prevent parents from handling cases themselves - and to protect the large fees lawyers charge for such cases, which can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
The parents, in suing the public schools, were suing the government. The government has a law saying they can't handle the case on the child's behalf without professional help -- apparently because the consequences to the child of losing to the government are excessively dire.

The government would do better to can the laws saying people need professional help to fight the government and instead run a government people don't need to fight.

Addendum, 10/30/06: On Oct. 27, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide if the parents had the right to appear in court without a lawyer.

An AP report says, in part:
Justices to Take Up Autism-Case Dispute

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 (AP) - The Supreme Court agreed Friday to consider an appeal by an autistic child and his parents, who want to sue over his school accommodations without hiring a lawyer.

The parents, Jeff and Sandee Winkelman, say they cannot afford a lawyer to argue their court case against the school district of Parma, Ohio, near Cleveland, over the education of their son, Jacob.

The federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled that the Winkelmans, suing under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, had to find a lawyer to represent Jacob, although other federal courts have ruled differently in cases involving that law.

The Bush administration then urged the justices to take the case, saying that in adopting the measure, Congress clearly intended that parents be able to represent their children in such court proceedings.

The Winkelmans’ suit contested Parma’s plan to educate Jacob at a public school. They wanted the district to pay his yearly tuition of $56,000 at a private school that specializes in educating autistic children.

Whether Jacob should have private schooling at public expense is not before the justices, only the question of his parents’ right to go into federal court without a lawyer....
Addendum, 5/23/07: The U.S. Supreme Court has now weighed in -- on behalf of the parents.

Says Tony Mauro, writing for Legal Times:
Parents do not need to hire lawyers to litigate public school special education disputes involving their children, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The 7-2 decision in Winkelman v. Parma City School District says parents have “independent, enforceable rights” in a free, appropriate education for their children under the Individuals With Disabilities Act. As a result, they can pursue those interests not just at the administrative appeal stage, but into federal court as well.

“It is not a novel proposition to say that parents have a recognized legal interest in the education and upbringing of their child,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, adding that “a parent of a child with a disability has a particular and personal interest” in pursuing equal opportunities for the child.

The opinion did not disturb the longstanding rule that pro se litigants can only represent themselves, not others. Kennedy said there was no need to rule on that issue because the Court was saying that parents, in pursuing these claims, are enforcing their own rights, not just the rights of their children.

The ruling came in the case of Jeff and Sandee Winkelman, who were dissatisfied by the educational plan devised by the Parma, Ohio school district for their son Jacob, who has autism spectrum disorder. When administrative appeals ended, Sandee Winkelman, a nurse, schooled herself in legal procedure and took the case to federal court. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled that parents could not litigate under IDEA, setting the stage for their high court appeal.

School districts, claiming that the cost of special ed litigation goes up when parents rather than lawyers are involved, fought against parental representation. In some cases, local bar groups have also complained that parents without lawyers were engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.

But parents said the high cost of legal fees, as well as the dearth of lawyers willing to take on these often-complex lawsuits, made self-representation necessary...
There's more. Read the rest here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:36 PM

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