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Chicago

Following up on the sensational Blue Line crash at the Chicago Transit Authority’s O’Hare Airport terminus: “The CTA’s contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union authorizes the agency to fire rail operators who have had two serious safety violations in a short period of time [emphasis added], and officials said the two incidents when [Brittney] Haywood dozed off qualify her for termination.” Falling asleep just once at the controls of a train wasn’t enough! [CBS Chicago] More: Bill Zeiser, American Spectator.

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Not an April Fool’s: we’ve covered the saga of Judge Cynthia Brim in two earlier posts. Chicago voters re-elected her to the bench despite troubles which eventuated in a successful defense to misdemeanor battery charges on the ground of insanity. [Chicago Tribune, auto-plays annoyingly]

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Martha Neil at the ABA Journal reports on a setback for one fast-out-of-the-gate filing over the fate of Flight 370:

“These are the kind of lawsuits that make lawyers look bad—and we already look bad enough,” Robert A. Clifford, one of Chicago’s best-known personal injury lawyers, told the Chicago Tribune earlier, calling Ribbeck’s filing “premature.”

Much more from Eric Turkewitz.

P.S. Representatives of American law firms swarm bereaved families in Peking and Kuala Lumpur, talk of million-dollar awards: “a question of how much and when.” [Edward Wong and Kirk Semple, NY Times]

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…circa 1897,” in Chicago. It is well recognized that a legal culture of entrepreneurial claims-making and suit-filing, especially as regards road and transport mishaps, had emerged in some large American cities by the early Twentieth Century. But its development in all likelihood can be traced to even earlier points than that, perhaps stimulated in part by the widespread electrification of urban streetcar lines (previously animal-drawn) in the early 1890s. [Kyle Graham]

The practice of destroying guns seized by police makes approximately as much sense as shredding money that falls into local governments’ hands, unless, like the Chicago police department, you adopt the view that “guns are the equivalent of free-roaming cobras, being lethal and unmanageable by any means except elimination.” [Steve Chapman, syndicated]

Banking and finance roundup

by Walter Olson on September 17, 2013

  • “You can’t prove that favoritism influenced FDIC” in going easy on brass at Chicago bank [Kevin Funnell]
  • Securities and Exchange Commission won’t give up bid for more power in stale cases despite 9-0 SCOTUS loss [my new Cato Institute]
  • Is JP Morgan paying an enforcement price for Dimon’s outspoken criticism of regulators? [Prof. Bainbridge; WSJ (reporting claims that "it took Mr. Dimon too long to shed a combative stance with regulators... In April the bank's two top regulators told Mr. Dimon and his board that they had lost trust in management.")] More on Standard & Poor’s claims that it was targeted for retaliation by federal government [Peter Henning, NYT DealBook, earlier]
  • Judge rules against law passed by Chicago on bank-owned vacant buildings [Chicago Real Estate Daily]
  • Post-merger derivative claims: “Delaware refuses to feed the sharks” [Bainbridge]
  • Payday lending fight pits New York regulator against some Indian tribes [Funnell, Native American Financial Service Association]
  • Stay on the line to learn more about the Verizon/Vodafone deal, or just press the star key to sue now [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]

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Schools roundup

by Walter Olson on May 16, 2013

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At Cook County Judge Cynthia Brim’s trial this week, “she was found not guilty of misdemeanor battery because she was ‘legally insane’ at the time.” Cook County voters re-elected Brim in November despite reports of her troubles [South Bend Tribune/Chicago Tribune, earlier]

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Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on January 22, 2013

  • “City to pay $22.5 million to bipolar woman released in high-crime area” [Chicago Sun-Times, Greenfield]
  • On Medicaid settlement clawback evasion, Obama acts in line with wishes of both plaintiff’s and defense sides, though against interests of federal Treasury [Ted Frank] Michael Greve on Delia v. EMA, the Medicaid recoupment case before SCOTUS [Law and Liberty]
  • From Sasha Volokh, a Glee-ful Torts exam [Volokh]
  • Congrats to Abnormal Use, repeat winner in Torts category of ABA Journal Blawg 100;
  • UK: personal injury firms say they’ll need to lay off workers if government carries through on reform of civil suits [Law Gazette]
  • “How the First Amendment affects tort law” [Beck, Drug and Device Law]
  • Bummer: after involuntary pot brownie incident, lawsuit names club where incident took place [NJLRA]

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According to the retailers group [Illinois Retail Merchants Association], Mr. [Stephen] Diamond’s Chicago law firm, Schad Diamond & Shedden P.C., has filed no fewer than 238 lawsuits in recent years against retailers small and large, which in its view failed to collect said shipping-and-handling sales taxes. Since the suits have been filed under a “whistle-blower” section of law, the firm is entitled to as much as 30 percent of any recovered taxes as well as attorneys’ fees for its trouble. And because it’s often easier and cheaper for defendants to settle rather than continue to fight, Schad Diamond reportedly has pocketed millions of dollars.

The office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says the whistleblower provisions were intended for use by insiders disclosing misconduct rather than by outsiders, while “Illinois Revenue Director Brian Hamer says [the wave of suits] ‘has given Illinois a black eye’ and victimizes those who have made only an ‘inadvertent’ mistake.” [Greg Hinz, Crain's Chicago Business]

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I’ve expanded into a longer Cato post my item about how (according to the New York Times) incoming French president François Hollande demanded and got the dismissal of the editor of Le Figaro, the leading opposition (conservative) newspaper. If you think such things would never happen in this country, you might want to catch up on a couple of stories from Chicago and Boston. The post is here.

P.S. They’re still fighting in Washington over media cross-ownership rules.

“Behold the power of incumbency,” including Judge Cynthia Brim’s successful campaign to retain her $182,000/year job; her “18-year tenure,” as the Chicago Tribune puts it with wry understatement, “has been marked by controversy.” [Above the Law]

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Public employment roundup

by Walter Olson on November 5, 2012

October 2 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 2, 2012

  • CFPB hopes to fix regulation that has prevented stay-home moms from getting credit [Bloomberg Business Week, earlier]
  • Uncertified class action: “Federal judge orders cost-shifting for fishing expedition” [PoL] Ted Frank objects to $10 million fee in “cosmetic” Johnson & Johnson settlement [Daniel Fisher, PoL]
  • “Accused of Providing Blank Arrest Warrants to Police, Georgia Magistrate Resigns” [ABA Journal]
  • Lester Brickman, Peter Schuck in new podcast on Brickman’s book Lawyer Barons [Federalist Society]
  • “Wright and Ginsburg on Behavioral Law & Economics” [NW Law Review and SSRN via Adler]
  • “17th injury claim in 12 years got Chicago cop her disability deal” [Sun-Times]
  • “Injured while working for the Empire? Call Lando Calrissian.” Law firm ad parody [YouTube]

Chicago teachers’ strike

by Walter Olson on September 13, 2012

It’s so obvious that teachers’ strikes hurt kids (not to mention adults) that even the New York Times’ editorialists, even Kevin Drum at Mother Jones, can’t really stomach this one. It’s likely to heighten the contradictions within the Democratic Party, which is simultaneously expected to represent the interests of public employees and of big city dwellers. It will also further questions (raised by my Cato colleague Andrew Coulson) about unions’ role in keeping American education monopolistic. And it’s already evoking the example of earlier officials who vindicated the rights of the public against such unions, including Calvin Coolidge, Ronald Reagan, and Scott Walker. Is Rahm Emanuel made of that kind of stuff?

A couple of videos, one from the Illinois Policy Institute:

And from Reason.tv:

Andrew Grossman: “Chicago parents: Stand in solidarity with your fellow workers and refuse to teach your children. Don’t be a scab!”

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A “federal lawsuit filed Wednesday on the 12-year-old’s behalf alleged that the Girl Scouts abruptly disbanded Megan [Runnion's] Schaumburg troop early this year in retaliation for her mother’s efforts to keep the 100-year-old organization paying for the interpreter.” [Chicago Tribune]

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No mercy to errant vehicles, bank accounts, pharmacy shelves or medical marijuana dispensaries: “The Justice Department’s asset forfeiture fund under President Obama is the largest it’s ever been, having grown from $500 million in 2003, to $1.8 billion in 2011, according to a new report from the GAO.” [Mike Riggs, Reason]

P.S.: Scott Greenfield on rational forfeiture in Chicago.