The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, recently in the news for ordering Melissa and Aaron Klein to pay $135,000 for not wanting to make cake for a commitment ceremony, in 2013 ordered the owner of the Twilight Room Annex, a gay-friendly bar in North Portland, to pay $400,000 for disinviting a trans club from meeting at the nightclub on Friday nights after business from other customers dropped off [Oregonian]
Has anyone noted that the “Ferguson syndrome” of ruinously escalating fines for petty violations [covered widely in the liberal press, and here previously], and Oregon’s ordering of a couple to pay $135,000 for not complying with a request to bake a cake (being covered at AP, widely in the conservative press, and here previously, with related], might actually amount in part to the same issue?
P.S. On Twitter, colleague Jason Kuznicki and I discuss the issue a little further. He writes: “Can’t say I agree. Punitive fines are really hidden taxes. The bakery issue is about punishing crimethink.” I respond: “But with sensible damages calculation (i.e. circa zero) the bakery action would lose much of its power to intimidate. Also, there’s debate: are oppressive local fines ‘just’ a revenue abuse (typically our side’s view) or a wider #NewJimCrow? Or to put it yet another way: once you allow oppressive fines, don’t be surprised if they are used to oppress.”
“A woman dining alone on Valentine’s Day has filed a $100,000 lawsuit against the Northeast Portland restaurant she tried to eat at claiming they were rude and upset her.” She is representing herself. [Oregonian]
Maria Francisco fell off her bus seat and was injured when an Alameda-Contra Costa transit bus driver, according to Francisco’s lawyer, took a speed bump at 30 mph. Francisco can walk, but has been awarded $15 million for her injuries, and her daughter, then 4, a further $1 million for witnessing her mom’s fall. I’m quoted in Britain’s Daily Mail expressing misgivings about the level of damages (“spin to win”).
An undecillion is 1,000 decillion, a decillion being represented by a 1 with thirty-three zeroes after it, which means an undecillion would have thirty-six zeroes. A pro se litigant is demanding that amount from Au Bon Pain, the City of New York, and various other defendants over alleged indignities that took place at LaGuardia Airport and elsewhere. [Lowering the Bar, including a discussion of earlier lawsuits with demands in the quadrillions and septillions; XKCD with a discussion and cartoon of just what it would take to reach a total of 2 undecillion dollars, culminating in a galaxy filled with Ted Olsons]
Music rights organization BMI has sued a Cleveland bar seeking up to $1.5 million over one night’s performance by a cover band that allegedly performed ten well-known songs without paying license fees, including “Bad Moon Rising,” “You Really Got Me,” and “Some Kind of Wonderful” [OnStage]
In a lawsuit charging negligent maintenance of a tractor-trailer truck, a part of which broke off and killed the driver of a second vehicle. [Insurance Journal]
[Yasmin] Rahman tried to commit suicide in 2001 by jumping in front of a subway train. NYPD officers saved her life. She was 15. Now, 27, she’s suing the city for $7 million, claiming the city and the NYPD posted pictures, police reports and hospital records of her failed suicide attempt on a database open to the public. She claims that has prevented her from obtaining a job.
Although her lawsuit alleges that the publication of the material has prevented Rahman from “obtaining any type of job,” a reporter “found that she actually did have a job from 2010 to 2012,” among other difficulties with the story. Rahman’s lawyer, Andrew Schatkin, commented on the $7 million demand: “I put a large figure in because if I put a small figure in I would only get that small amount. It’s not that I’m making an outsized or frankly a lie about it for a better word. I’m simply enabling a figure that would get her as much compensation as possible.” [MyFoxNY.com; Eric Turkewitz on ad damnum clauses in New York]