Author Archive

Fraud week III: jump-ons

Jumping onto the hood of an oncoming car is one way of getting into claims fraud with minimal commitment, but there are many other ways, some of them quite complex and diabolical. After air crashes in Latin America in which U.S. residents lost their lives, it was noticed that a number of youthful claimants appeared on the scene whose mothers described them as the unacknowledged out-of-wedlock children of American men reported as lost on the ill-fated plane. These children, living in countries like Mexico and Guatemala, would then file claims in U.S. court against the airline, aircraft maker, and other potentially liable parties for cash settlements over the loss of what was said to be their father. These claims would come as bewildering, even horrifying news to the wives, children, and other family members of the deceased, who had to consider the possibility that the men they thought they knew so well had been living an undisclosed second life. At least one survivor — who probably had better reason that most to doubt the veracity of the claim — decided to fight:

In one case, a 53-year-old San Francisco man who perished on the doomed flight is alleged to have recently fathered two Latin American children who deserved to collect for his decease, a story that ran into trouble when his outraged gay partner of twenty years, Dale Rettinger, 63, stepped forward to challenge it.

For a defense by a Florida lawyer who had been involved in the filing of multiple surprise-heir claims, follow the above link. And more conventional jump-on fraud occurs when, say, a city bus with 15 passengers on board gets in an accident and by the time the police arrive the number of passengers is up to 30. (From 2014: Jackson, Miss. driver leaves scene of accident and returns accompanied by more victims.) And it even happens with cruise ships.

Fraud week II: caught on camera

Yesterday we posted about the North Carolina man who prosecutors say had the poor judgment to post YouTube videos of his staged crashes. It is continually surprising that people keep right on posting YouTube videos of themselves doing things inconsistent with their disability or injury claims. Don’t they expect anyone to watch? As for persons intending to commit claims fraud in stores, many appear entirely unaware that there are security cameras there to catch them doing things like “carefully positioning the spills on which they intended to slip.”

Dashcam videos are a genre to themselves, and popular compilations abound (Russia is a leader in the field) of footage of spectacular accidents, poor driving and road hazards as seen from the front of a speeding car. One reason dashcams are popular in many countries (often more so than here) is that they serve to document accident fault, including deliberately caused or simulated accidents. This American video (by a company promoting sale of its dashcams) gives a flavor.

Fraud week at Overlawyered

I’m on the road (Bay Area) and don’t expect to do new postings this week, but to pass the time while I’m away I’ve set the site up to re-run a number of oldie posts on a perennial topic in any legal system, the problem of fraud. It pokes its head in frequently on this site, from the $46,000 damage claim in the Gulf Coast oil spill aftermath that prosecutors say was filed on behalf of a dog, to the occasional stories about persons imprudent enough to enter marathons, bodybuilding contests, and other tests of athletic prowess while drawing full workplace disability or while their soft tissue injury claim from a low-speed auto crash is pending.

Before we turn to the old cases, however, here’s a good one that’s new: “A North Carolina man will spend at least a year in prison after prosecutors said he intentionally caused 12 wrecks, filming many of them on a dashboard camera and uploading the footage to the internet.”

I’ll be returning on or about Friday, July 1, which also represents the anniversary of Overlawyered’s founding on July 1, 1999.

Explaining misprision

There has been speculation about whether the wife of the Orlando shooter, who according to reports may have accompanied him on visits to at least one gun store and known that he was meditating violence, might be charged with an offense. According to Jack Chin at PrawfsBlawg, the offense of misprision (as distinct from aiding/abetting) as currently defined requires that the subject have taken affirmative steps to conceal another’s crime, not just failed to speak up on knowing.

Fog in Channel, Continent cut off

Britain has voted Leave in its European Union referendum. The Euro cause, though strong in London and environs, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and university towns, failed to carry substantial cities like Birmingham and Sheffield and was shellacked in the industrial north and across many other parts of England. Remain — a position backed by the large majority of educated commentators, by business and cultural notables, and by the leadership of the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Scottish Nationalist parties — has been reduced to what the funeral industry calls cremains.

The successful vote will begin an undefined dance of negotiation with Brussels, which has a hundred ways of stalling and complicating that process. Following earlier anti-EU votes in member countries, in fact, Brussels simply ignored the voters and came back a while later to ask again for the answer it wanted. Should the British political leadership want the negotiations to lead nowhere, it has many ways to connive at that. However, both Conservative and Labour parties must now confront a crisis of revolt from their members. The issue is particularly acute for the Tories because Prime Minister David Cameron led the Remain cause, and rival Boris Johnson, the former London mayor, made a compelling alternative leadership figure for Leave.

One theme on Twitter last night was curious: a number of commenters chided Wales for voting Leave even though it receives substantial regional subsidies from the European Union. (See here, here, and here.) In short, subsidies don’t always buy love. On balance, though, isn’t it probably a good thing if such programs fail to purchase local political sentiment?

Follow-up: Alberto Nardelli, BuzzFeed on the mechanics of separation and re-negotiation of trade relations; Mark Elliott on public law questions.

Supreme Court roundup

  • High court should review Washington coastal exaction as a taking without just compensation [Ilya Shapiro and Jayme Weber, Cato, on Common Sense Alliance v. San Juan County]
  • Redistricting: unanimous Court declines to strike down population variance that may have assisted Arizona plan in VRA compliance [ABA Journal]
  • “Supreme Court Should Protect Workers Against Government-Union Collusion” [Ilya Shapiro and Jayme Weber, Cato on D’Agostino v. Baker, challenge to Massachusetts law designating day-care providers as state employees for purposes of unionization]
  • Followup on CRST Van Expedited v. EEOC: “An open love letter to Justice Clarence Thomas” [Marcia McShane, earlier]
  • “Supreme Court declines to reconsider deference to agency interpretations of agency regulations” [Jonathan Adler on cert denial in United Student Aid Funds, earlier here and here]
  • “Supreme Court Kills Minimum Wage Lawsuit Against Seattle” [Connor Wolf/Daily Caller, earlier]