Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #6-13
There Outghta Be a Law ...
The Illinois budget battle has reached the courts, but not through legal challenges to laws that have been passed. Instead, legislators and the governor have taken to suing each other over the disagreement.
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) has sued Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D), alleging Madigan is "eviscerating the governor's constitutional and statutory powers" to call special legislative sessions. The governor is asking the Sangamon County Circuit Court to order Madigan to call a special session at a time and place chosen by the governor.
The governor called the legislature into special session nearly every weekend in July and August, which some legislators said was punishment for not passing the state budget he wanted. Blagojevich's budget included a new $8 billion tax on Illinois business, which the legislature balked at passing. It looks like the taxpayers will pay, one way or another, starting with the parties' legal fees.
Source: Jeffrey Meitrodt, "State power struggle spills into 3rd branch; Governor sues over special sessions," Chicago Tribune, August 28, 2007
Really Bad Judgment
A Pennsylvania appellate court judge facing federal charges for defrauding an insurance company through fake personal injury claims won't be facing the voters for reelection this November. That means he will no longer have his state Mercedes Benz and his $165,343 yearly paycheck, and his paycheck-based pension may also be at risk. All for a $440,000 settlement from the insurance company.
Prosecutors say the judge told the insurer, on his official judicial letterhead, he was unable to play golf, scuba drive, exercise, or even hold a cup of coffee during a three-month period as a result of a car accident. He said he was suffering constant neck and back pain, insomnia, anxiety, and short-term memory loss, the Legal Intelligencer newspaper said. The insurance company paid up promptly.
But meanwhile, federal prosecutors contend, the judge played golf, went scuba diving in Jamaica, renewed his diving instructor's certificate, and bought a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a share in a small Cessna, all during the same three-month period in which he supposedly was incapacitated.
The judge will lose his pension for sure if he is convicted and may lose it even if he is not, if state pension officials find he engaged in conduct bringing the judiciary into "disrepute."
Sources: Peter Hall and Asher Hawkins, "Federal Indictment Looms Over Pa. Superior Court Judge's Retention Race," The Legal Intelligencer, August 17, 2007; Paula Reed Ward, "Indicted judge won't seek retention," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 21, 2007
A suburban Chicago school official who searched a student's home and found the knife with which the student allegedly threatened another child has now been sued for at least $500,000 in damages by the student's parents. Another parent reported the alleged threat to school officials, who then took the student home and searched the house with the student's permission.
The knife was found, but the parents were not notified of the search until later. They claim that's worth a half-million dollars. We'll bet a lot of people would allow the school to search their homes for a fraction of that.
Source: "Lawsuit says 7th grader was illegally questioned," Chicago Tribune, September 5, 2007
Stop Me Before I Bet More!
An Indiana woman is blaming her bad luck on the casino where she gambled and lost the $125,000 it loaned her. The casino is now suing to collect the debt, and the woman's defense is to blame the casino.
She claims the casino knew or should have known she had a gambling problem because she filed for bankruptcy in 2002, listing the casino's parent company as one of her creditors. It's now up to the court to decide which of the two parties was more irresponsible, and therefore responsible for her debt.
Source: "Problem gambler says casino made her do it," Associated Press, September 5, 2007
They'll Be Watching Now
Motel owners are liable for $480,700 in damages to a woman raped in one of their motel rooms, a Pennsylvania court has ruled in a 2-1 decision that aided and abetted the woman's apparent search for a deep pocket.
The majority's reasoning went like this: The motel owners rented two rooms to a fraternity for a party; they owed persons "invited" to the party by the fraternity a duty of reasonable care; that duty included preventing "any possible injury" to partygoers; it was foreseeable there would be underage drinking at the party; it was foreseeable the woman guest would drink excessively and go to another room, unoccupied, to rest; it was foreseeable she would be followed to the room by a male partygoer who would then sexually attack her; it was foreseeable she would repeatedly pass out during the attack; and the attack could have been prevented if the motel had had an employee on duty.
One judge dissented, finding lack of supervisory personnel was irrelevant because the rape would have occurred anyway: "the sexual assault occurred in an unoccupied room that had been rented by the fraternity. It did not occur in an area in which Appellants' personnel would have been patrolling." They weren't "patrolling" rooms then, but they probably are now.
Source: Paliometros v. Loyola, 2007 PA Super 242 (Pa. Super. 2007)
Where's the Love?
August 31 was "Love Litigating Lawyers Day," though it may have passed unnoticed, as it did in 1993:
Blogger David Giacalone celebrated with a medley of quotations about the law and lawyers, including:
- "A lawsuit is a fruit-tree planted in a lawyer's garden," Italian proverb;
- "Lawyer: A fellow who is willing to go out and spend your last cent to prove he's right," Anon.;
- "For certain people after fifty, litigation takes the place of sex," Gore Vidal
Source: David Giacalone, "Not quite ready for love lawyers day," f/k/a, September 2, 2007, http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/ethicalesq/
Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly
Published by The Heartland Institute (312/377-4000), a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization founded in 1984.
Phone 312/377-4000, fax 312/377-5000
Back issues are available online at http://www.heartland.org
Publisher: Joseph L. Bast
Editors: Maureen Martin, Diane Carol Bast
Information on lawsuit abuse can be found on these Web sites:
The Heartland Institute
19 South La Salle Street #903
Chicago, Illinois 60603