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Denver

A federal judge has declined to award summary judgment to Cinemark Holdings against a claim that it should have foreseen a madman’s mass shooting rampage at its Aurora, Colo. theater two years ago. [Deadline Hollywood] Ken White at Popehat corrects some media misapprehension about the difference between a summary judgment motion and disposition of the merits, but as a commenter points out, much of the practical damage is indeed done when a judge declines summary judgment in such a case, since the defendant then faces not only the substantial cost of trial but also the unpredictability of a jury faced with very sympathetic plaintiffs and a deep-pocket defendant; there is nothing either unusual or untraditional about judges’ averting these costs by ruling out particular liability theories as a matter of law.

More from Scott Greenfield: “The biggest growth job in America will be armed guard. … A theater showing a movie, even a Batman movie at midnight, is not a crazy killer magnet such that Cinemark could have possibly anticipated what would happen…. The law shouldn’t impose a duty that suggests otherwise.”

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Turned down by all 150 (or however many) Denver bakers in their quest for a wedding cake, this couple had no choice but to sue. Oh, not really: they had an endless supply of perfectly good alternative options, but they apparently wanted to make a point by suing, as did the ACLU which represented them. [Associated Press; earlier here, here, etc.]

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“A group of Spanish-speaking custodial workers in Colorado have filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that the Auraria Higher Education Center in Denver discriminated against them by failing to provide Spanish translations.” [Caroline May, Daily Caller; Denver Post]

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Property rights roundup

by Walter Olson on September 18, 2012

  • “Property Rights Panel at the Cato Institute’s Constitution Day” [Ilya Somin] Related: “Sackett v. EPA and the Due Process Deficit in Environmental Law” [Jonathan Adler]
  • Feds’ fishy forfeiture attack on Massachusetts scallopman [Ron Arnold, Examiner]
  • California politicos seek crackdown on lenders’ supposed “retaliation” against municipalities considering seizing mortgages by eminent domain: “You Can’t Use Voluntary Action to Try to Stop Government Coercion” [Coyote; earlier here, here, here] Will Congress step in to shut down the grab? [Kevin Funnell]
  • “The government of Honduras has signed a deal with private investors for the construction of three privately run cities with their own legal and tax systems.” [A Thousand Nations, Todd Zywicki, FedSoc Blog]
  • A Philadelphia business owner decides to clean up and improve an adjacent, neglected city-owned lot, and soon has sad cause for regret [Philly Law Blog]
  • Georgia claimant: “Hi, I own your land although I have no evidence of that” [Lowering the Bar, update]
  • “Blight” condemnation could stymie hopes for historic preservation in Denver [Castle Coalition]

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Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on September 14, 2012

  • Chamber of Commerce’s annual survey of which states businesses consider unfair in litigation: where does yours rank? [survey, PoL]
  • “Toothless cootie” in Denver: “Jury Says PI Firm Must Pay Ex-Client $2M for Pressuring Her to Settle Auto Case for Too Little” [ABA Journal, WestWord]
  • “Thoughts on Reporters Reading New Lawsuit Filings” [Jim Dedman]
  • Cruise line, defending lawsuit: no, our ship didn’t pass stranded boat [AP/KATU]
  • Two Harvard lawprofs on why it’s time to get rid of the interference-with-inheritance tort [Juan Antunez, Florida Probate Litigation Blog]
  • New Jersey high court rejects loss-of-pet emotional-distress damages [NJLRA]
  • “An Alternative Explanation for No-Fault’s ‘Demise'” [Nora Engstrom, SSRN]

They may not be as numerous as L.A.’s, but they include some individual doozies [Denver Post via Radley Balko; earlier]

“A police lieutenant, fired for covering up a hit and run crash involving a fellow officer [she] was involved in a relationship with, has been reinstated following an arbitration decision that chastised the city’s Police Commission.” Christine Burns also got six months back pay. The arbitrator found that Burns’s boyfriend had been treated leniently, drawing only a one-year unpaid suspension despite serious misconduct, which in turn deprived her of her right to be treated “evenhandedly and without discrimination.” [Connecticut Post]

And while we’re at it: Police union defends Denver cop fired for driving drunk at 143 mph [Tina Korbe, Hot Air; The Truth About Cars]

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Today I’m talking to state legislators courtesy of the American Legislative Exchange Council. Next week I head off for luncheon talks about my new book Schools for Misrule before Federalist Society lawyers’ chapters in Greenville, S.C. on Wed. Dec. 7, and Charlotte, N.C. on Thurs. Dec. 8. And then the following week I keynote the annual luncheon of the Colorado Civil Justice League Dec. 13 in Denver. If you’re in the audience, do introduce yourself!

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I’m currently planning speaking trips that will take me to Chicago Nov. 7-8, Greenville, S.C. Dec. 7, Denver Dec. 13, and possibly Phoenix Dec. 1. If you’ve got a speaker’s series or organization that’s in one of these places or an easy travel jump away, consider saving on travel expenses by booking me for a talk around these dates. You can contact me directly at editor – [at] – overlawyered – dot – com or Diane Morris at the Cato Institute: dmorris – [at] – cato – dot – org.

The guy had reposted a photo belonging to the Denver Post, a newspaper that’s among the clients of the copyright-enforcement mill [Westword via Romenesko, USWGO]

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August 11 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 11, 2010

  • General Mills sends lawyers after local “My Dough Girl” Bakery [Consumerist via Amy Alkon]
  • But he can reapply in five years: “Lawyer Takes Plea in Case Over His Hardball Litigation Tactics, Will Be Disbarred” [ABA Journal, California]
  • “Shame on Elie Wiesel” for threatening a lawsuit over his fictionalization in a stage play [Terry Teachout]
  • State AGs dive into HIPAA and health privacy enforcement [Nicastro, Health Leaders Media]
  • More highlights from Daniel Okrent book on Prohibition [Tabarrok]
  • Denver school board investment fiasco [Popehat]
  • Russell Jackson on the Yoo-Hoo chocolate beverage class action [Consumer Class Actions and Mass Torts, earlier]
  • California court rules state’s Moscone (“little Norris-LaGuardia”) Act unconstitutional [Workplace Prof]

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CPSIA has come at a steep price for the Northwest Denver Toy Library, which has had to throw out nearly 400 of the 500 toys in its stock because it has no way of being sure that they comply with the 2008 federal law. [9News.com Denver]

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March 17 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 17, 2009

  • Asks to have $12.6 million verdict set aside because juror Twittered about the case [Little Rock, Ark.; AP/Yahoo]
  • Florida legislator opposes “animal husbandry,” thinks it’s sin forbidden in Book of Leviticus. And “Larcenia” is probably the most perfect first name for a politician I’ve ever heard [Popehat]
  • Eleventh Circuit upholds most charges against Alabama ex-Gov. Don Siegelman [AP/New York Times, earlier]
  • D.C. Council member bullies tiny non-profit paper, says advertiser “will be held responsible” [Marc Fisher, WaPo; Brookland Heartbeat]
  • “Worst teachers are rarely formally removed from the classroom” [Denver Post]
  • Blogger calling fashion model a skank makes an unsympathetic figure, but the implications for blog anonymity could be serious [NY Post, Scott Greenfield, (Cit Media Law, earlier]
  • Barbie says, “Governing West Virginia is hard!” [@cathygellis; Lowering the Bar; earlier]
  • Student journalists are blogging dismissed professor Ward Churchill’s lawsuit against the Univ. of Colorado [Race to the Bottom via Ambrogi, Legal Blog Watch]

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In Boulder, Colorado, hair salon owner Joy Douglas “received a $1,000 ticket from an animal-control officer for coloring her white poodle, Cici, pink by using organic beet juice.” Everyone seems to agree that the dye job is not physically harmful to the pooch, who is well cared for in other ways, but Boulder has a town ordinance against animal-dyeing, aimed at Easter-season tormentors of bunnies and chicks, and several residents ratted Douglas out. She says the idea of the pink fur was to raise awareness for breast cancer. (“Boulder’s pink poodle owner preps for legal fight”, Denver Post, Mar. 11).

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Radio today

by Walter Olson on March 11, 2008

This morning I was a guest on WTKK’s “Michael Graham Show” out of Boston to discuss the Spitzer scandal. I was also the guest of Mike Rosen on Denver’s KOA for a discussion of the case of the New York lawyer who’s suing casinos for $20 million after her out-of-control gambling ruined her career.

U. S District Court Judge Robert Matsch recently got so infuriated by the conduct of McDermott, Will and Emery attorneys Terrance McMahon and Vera Elson that he overturned a jury’s $51 million verdict, then ordered the lawyers to pay the fees and costs of the opposing lawyers, a sum that could total several million dollars. (Denver Post, Feb. 25)

From the decision (Medtronic Navigation, Inc. v. BrainLAB Medizinische, 2008 WL 410413):

In essence, the response from the plaintiff and MWE, through new counsel, is that the Court had the obligation to stop any trial conduct that stepped over the line of zealous advocacy. In short, they argue that they should not be held responsible for what they were able to get away with during the trial presentation. The adamant denial that there was any abuse of advocacy in this case is in disregard of what this Court has already concluded and displays the same arrogance that has colored this case almost from its inception. Throughout these proceedings Medtronic and the MWE lawyers have demonstrated that when they are faced with adverse court rulings, they proceed undeterred, with only superficial observance of the court’s determinations. Such conduct supports the conclusion that after the Markman rulings, Medtronic’s primary objective in pursuing this litigation was to put economic pressure on its competitor in the market.

Medtronic’s counsel proceeded cavalierly, with reckless indifference to the merits of Medtronic’s infringement claims. The continued prosecution of a claim after its lack of merit has become apparent warrants sanctions under § 1927. At trial, MWE’s conduct was in disregard for the duty of candor, reflecting an attitude of “what can I get away with?” Throughout the trial, the MWE lawyers artfully avoided the limitations of the patent claims and created an illusion of infringement. They did so with full awareness that their case was without merit.

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Jeremy Meyer has this article in the The Denver Post about a proposed plan to offer pregnant teenage mothers 4 weeks of maternity leave as official school policy. It surely is commendable when schools allow new mothers time to be with their newborns and adjust to parenthood; yet to make such accommodations official policy essentially means that it becomes a right — and all rights are ripe for litigation.

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60-year-old David J. Pfahler of Allentown, Pa., has filed suit in Denver “claiming Scott Swimm, then 7, was skiing fast and recklessly when they collided in January” at Beaver Creek. Pfahler wants upwards of $75,000 over a torn shoulder tendon which necessitated “physical therapy, vacation time, nursing and medical services provided by Pfahler’s wife, and other expenses”. Scott’s mother says he weighs 48 pounds “and couldn’t have been going more than 10 mph. ‘Who in the world sues a child?’ she said. ‘It just boggles my mind every day.'” (“Man, 60, sues boy, 8, over ski collision”, AP/Boston Globe, Dec. 20; Steve Lynn, “Boy, 8, sued in Beaver Creek ski collision”, Vail Daily, Dec. 19).

Following widespread public anger, the plaintiffs say they have been subjected to harassment in what their lawyer, Jim Chalat, calls an “electronic tar and feathering” (“Couple that sued Eagle-Vail boy hears complaints”, Vail Daily, Dec. 26; letters, Dec. 24; more coverage, Dec. 27 and Mark Wolf’s Rocky Mountain News blog; Obscure Store).

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