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Craigslist

If you hire some consenting but unlicensed neighbor for a not-very-big repair or construction job in California, there’s now a greater chance he or she will be headed for jail, no matter how happy you may be with the quality of the work. Gov. Jerry Brown has signed S.B. 315 (text, progress, promotional fact sheet), described by its sponsor, Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Beverly Hills), as a measure “to help curb California’s underground economy.” The measure would step up penalties and enforcement against persons who advertise for, or perform, repair and construction work with a value of $500 or more, counting parts and material as well as labor. (By its terms, the bill appears to apply to someone who offers to do a $500 job for your office that consists of procuring a $400 item and adding $100 for the labor of installing it.) First offenses are subject to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine, and subsequent offenses are treated yet more harshly.

There’s more. The bill, according to its legislative summary, “would additionally require that the enforcement division, when participating in the activities of the Joint Enforcement Strike Force on the Underground Economy, be granted free access to all places of labor,” at least in business locations. (Yes, “all”; you only thought your property was private.) And although the literature on the bill refers repeatedly to the need to curb “cheating” contractors, the penalties apply no matter how satisfied you may be with the contractor’s work.

That’s because protecting customers isn’t actually the point. Such is the political grip of occupational licensure lobbies that the bill passed unanimously in both houses of the California legislature with support from licensed repair and construction contractors. Lieu: “Groups supporting SB 315 are: Contractors State License Board (sponsor); Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors Association; Air Conditioning Sheet Metal Association; American Subcontractors Association, California Inc.; California Chapters of the National Electrical Contractors Association; California Landscape Contractors Association; California Legislative Conference of the Plumbing, Heating and Piping Industry; California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors; United Contractors.”

In short, this is the sort of thing the California legislature does when it wants to think of itself as pro-business: it extends criminal liability for doing business in any other than the authorized way.

More: I’ve got some further thoughts at Cato at Liberty: “The costs of occupational licensure are many. Not least is that it gives established businesses a stake in making government more powerful and invasive.” And am I the only one who interprets the bill as aimed at Craigslist and at sharing-economy interfaces that match odd jobs with persons willing to do them, even if it is not announced as such? More on the law from Steven Greenhut (who was on the story before I was).

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The things you find on Craigslist (via Gregory Angelo):

Join us in a civil litigation against a well-known Bank on behalf of o (Midtown)

Join us in a civil litigation against a well-known Bank on behalf of over a dozen Clients!

Bringing suit against a well-known bank who constantly fails to provide fair and timely services to their customers not only brings excitement and glory to your litigation career, but also benefits both parties.

Extraordinarily experienced litigators familiar with banking laws and settlement negotiations are greatly welcomed to join us to fight for dozens of clients on contingency basis.

If interested, please send your resume and cover letter to : [redacted]

Principals only. Recruiters, please don’t contact this job poster.
do NOT contact us with unsolicited services or offers

On the other hand, this one (“a lawyer is needed to take a case to the united states supreme court. … appeal was declined on 3/27/14″) is kind of sad. It seems unlikely that many Supreme Court advocates sift through Craigslist to find cases, but I guess it only takes one.

An Ohio jury found in 2011 that an apartment owner “had not violated federal law in running the Craigslist ad that read: ‘Our one-bedroom apartments are a great bachelor pad for any single man looking to hook up.'” Now an appeals court has ruled that the judge gave improper jury instructions and that the nonprofit Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, which claimed the ad violated the rights of families and women, can get another trial. [Associated Press]

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Some politicians just want there to be random shortages [WSJ editorial]:

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has subpoenaed the Craigslist website for the identities of people who advertised gas for sale at high prices. Mr. Schneiderman is doing this in the name of a New York law that forbids charging an “unconscionably excessive price” during an “abnormal disruption in the market.”

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July 14 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 14, 2011

  • “Battle of the tort reform flicks”: trial-bar-backed “Hot Coffee” documentary said to be more entertaining than U.S. Chamber-backed “InJustice” [TortsProf, Abnormal Use, Daily Caller, Frank/PoL, Above the Law, Fisher, LNL] Memo to liberal studio heads: c’mon, now’s the time to greenlight more business-bashing flicks [Alyssa Rosenberg, TP]
  • Interlock makers join forces with MADD to lobby for new federal DUI mandates [Luke Rosiak, Wash Times] More: Greenfield.
  • Consumer found liable after posting gripes about driveway contractor on Craigslist [Minneapolis Star-Tribune] P.S.: Default judgment, not merits [h/t ABA Journal]
  • Angelos law firm obtains $1 billion+ punitive award in Exxon Baltimore gasoline leak case, bringing total to $1.5 billion+ [AP, earlier]
  • Taiwan: “Jail Time (And $7000 Fine) for Saying a Restaurant’s Dishes Were ‘Too Salty'” [Volokh]
  • Headed for SCOTUS? Sixth Circuit panel strikes down Michigan law banning discrimination in higher ed admissions and other state activities [Gail Heriot, Daily Caller; Hans Bader, CEI]
  • Court in British Columbia includes C$30,000 in damage award for injury plaintiff’s purchase of medical marijuana for pain management [Erik Magraken]

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September 13 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 13, 2010

  • “Court Vacates $99,000 Fee to Counsel for Plaintiff Who Won $650″ [NJLJ]
  • Libel-suit target: “Author Simon Singh Puts Up a Fight in the War on Science” [Wired]
  • No, they weren’t “worst”: RIP injury lawyer who hyped “10 Worst Toys” list each Christmas [WSJ Law Blog]
  • New credit card regulations squeeze small business [John Berlau letter in Washington Post]
  • District attorney’s case intake desk should screen out many unjust prosecutions, but often doesn’t [Greenfield]
  • AGs’ campaign to drive sex pros off Craigslist has failure built in [William Saletan, Slate; LNL; Declan McCullagh]
  • “Nursing Home Company Settles $677 Million Lawsuit for $50 Million” [AP]
  • “Judge accused of sexual harassment once helped women sue” [Orlando Sentinel]

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September 9 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 9, 2010

  • “Bullying Busybody for Senate: How Connecticut’s attorney general beat Craigslist into submission” [Sullum, Harper] Blumenthal’s Senate campaign sputtering despite huge advantages [Jack Fowler, NRO] Lloyd Grove interview with challenger Linda McMahon [Daily Beast]
  • “How Much Does Defensive Medicine Cost? One Study Says $46 Billion” [WSJ Health Blog, NY Times] Plus: a cardiologist’s comment;
  • “Man sues over parking ticket, says it disclosed too much info” [Obscure Store, suburban Chicago Daily Herald]
  • New allegations emerge in much-discussed “rape by deception” case in Israel [FrumForum, earlier, an academic comments]
  • A Connecticut village turns down money from Hartford and tackles a historic preservation project on its own [me at Cato]
  • NY Governor signs bill giving housekeepers, nannies new powers to sue employers for overtime, vacations [Workplace Prof] Plus: Hans in comments wonders whether the duty to avoid “hostile environment” harassment will collide with the right of free speech on sexual matters taken for granted (heretofore, at least) in a home environment.
  • “Lawyers sue Facebook for letting kids like advertisements” [Gryphon, PoL]
  • Per his foes, Gilded Age NYC trial lawyer William Howe used onion-scented handkerchief to summon tears at command [five years ago at Overlawyered]

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May 5 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 5, 2010

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The “grandstanding” Connecticut attorney general, notes Mike Masnick at TechDirt, is now publicly decrying Craigslist for turning a profit from sex ads. Why is it turning a profit? Well, the ads used to be free, but Craigslist started charging fees after Blumenthal himself (with fellow AGs) demanded that it do so, the idea being that a credit card trail would scare off some illegal users and make it easier for police to crack down on others.

Blumenthal, a longstanding bete noire of this site, is now running for the U.S. Senate seat held by the departing Chris Dodd. More: New York Times on his Senate bid (rough start, “Martha Coakley in pants”).

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Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley nails twenty property owners and real estate agents over “no kids”, “no Section 8″ language in Craigslist ads [Legal NewsLine]

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The grandstanding sheriff of Cook County, Ill. is thrown out of court. More: Eugene Volokh, Citizen Media Law.

July 30 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 30, 2009

  • Federal judge throws out wrongful-termination suit filed by pants suit judge Roy Pearson, he’ll probably appeal [D.C. Examiner] More: Lowering the Bar.
  • Sebelius signs documents providing lawsuit immunity for swine flu vaccine developers [Orato]
  • How Sacha Baron Cohen keeps from getting sued, part umpteen [The Frisky]
  • More on British Chiropractic Association’s defamation suit against skeptic Singh [Citizen Media Law, Orac/Respectful Insolence; earlier here, here, and here]
  • Next round of lawsuits against Dov Charney’s American Apparel may allege “looks discrimination”, though that’s probably not actually a relevant legal category [Gawker, Business Insider, earlier here, etc.]
  • Demand that Chicago set aside municipal contracts for gay-owned businesses [Sun-Times]
  • “Grandstanding anti-Craigslist politicians still not satisfied” [TechDirt, TG Daily]
  • Judge Kozinski: this is America, behaving disrespectfully toward a cop isn’t a crime [Greenfield]

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Eugene Volokh and Mark Hamblett of the New York Law Journal cover the opinion (PDF) in Gibson v. Craigslist (S.D.N.Y.) A sentence from the plaintiff’s opposition to the motion to dismiss: “For public policy concerns, [Craigslist] must be immediately regulated or shut down.” Earlier: Sept. 7, 2008.

The online service has gone to court seeking a declaratory judgment against South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster. [Citizen Media Law, Jim Buckmaster/Craigslist blog] Earlier here and here.

May 14 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 14, 2009

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Dan Bader came to be “embroiled in a messy dispute with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the Fair Housing Council of Orange County” when he used Craigslist to advertise a rental unit in his Newport Beach home as “Well suited for professional adults” and “Perfect for 1 or 2 professionals.” As the Orange County Register relates, it never resulted in an actual courtroom loss; the process was the punishment. Bader has a website on the experience: StateGoneCrazy.com (more on Craigslist and the wording of housing ads here, here, etc.).

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Things are getting serious, the newest report being that “South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster sent a letter to craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster threatening company management with ‘criminal investigation and prosecution'”. Earlier here, here, etc.

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