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Hawaii

If blaring your stereo around the neighborhood gets you sent up for disorderly conduct, do you risk seizure of just your radio? Or maybe your whole car? “Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth has lambasted the bill as ‘draconian.’ Meanwhile, state Sen. Russell Ruderman called SB 1342 ‘outrageous,’ telling Big Island Now that ‘we should have more safeguards, not less, to protect people from forfeiture abuses.’” [Nick Sibilla, Institute for Justice]

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“Hawaii needs to rethink the ‘Steven Tyler Act.’ States can promote the right of privacy while ensuring freedom of speech.” [Josh Blackman/Ilya Shapiro, USA Today]

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Protectionism for real estate agents [Coyote]:

In legislation that reminds me of stuff from the 1990s when businesses tried to fight Internet-driven disintermediation, Hawaii is proposing to force non-Hawaiians to use a local broker to list their rental properties. Apparently local residents can still list their properties on low-cost Internet sites, but folks on the mainland (also known as “the United States”) must use a high-cost locally licensed broker, who typically charge 50% of rental fees as a commission. … Only by structuring this law to apply to those annoying out-of-staters could it ever be passed.

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May 29 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 29, 2012

  • Congress again debates bad idea of race-based government for native Hawaiians [Ramesh Ponnuru, Ilya Shapiro/Cato; earlier here, etc.]
  • “I could have been killed for blogging.” [Patterico, Scott Greenfield] Latest blogger “swatting” (bogus police call) hits RedState’s Erick Erickson [same] Incivility is a hazard for bloggers, but fear for families’ physical safety shouldn’t be [Jonathan Adler, Amy Alkon] Dear authorities in Montgomery County, Md. and elsewhere: you should know it’s not every day Radley Balko calls for tougher law enforcement. Earlier here and here.
  • More dying from guns than from car crashes? Eugene Volokh skewers some misleading arguments from the Detroit Free Press;
  • Mississippi: Judge dismisses Dickie Scruggs’s motion to vacate bribery conviction [AP; Tom Freeland and more]
  • Washington Times kindly cites coverage in this space on Maryland “structuring” prosecutions [editorial]. Maryland delayed foreclosures and is now paying the price in slower housing recovery [Hayley Peterson, Examiner]
  • Andrew Pincus defends arbitration and SCOTUS decision in Concepcion [NYTimes "DealBook"; NLJ] Effort in Florida to ease use of arbitration in med-mal disputes [Miami Herald]
  • Michigan Supreme Court judge Diane Hathaway, elected via 2008′s most unfair attack ad, is now in a spot of ethical bother [Ted Frank]

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February 24 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 24, 2012

  • Melissa Kite, columnist with Britain’s Spectator, writes about her low-speed car crash and its aftermath [first, second, third, fourth]
  • NYT’s Nocera lauds Keystone pipeline, gets called “global warming denier” [NYTimes] More about foundations’ campaign to throttle Alberta tar sands [Coyote] Regulations mandating insurance “disclosures” provide another way for climate change activists to stir the pot [Insurance and Technology]
  • “Cop spends weeks to trick an 18-year-old into possession and sale of a gram of pot” [Frauenfelder, BB]
  • Federal Circuit model order, pilot program could show way to rein in patent e-discovery [Inside Counsel, Corporate Counsel] December Congressional hearing on discovery costs [Lawyers for Civil Justice]
  • Trial lawyer group working with Senate campaigns in North Dakota, Nevada, Wisconsin, Hawaii [Rob Port via LNL] President of Houston Trial Lawyers Association makes U.S. Senate bid [Chron]
  • Panel selection: “Jury strikes matter” [Ron Miller, Maryland Injury]
  • Law-world summaries/Seventeen syllables long/@legal_haiku (& for a similar treatment of high court cases, check out @SupremeHaiku)

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November 29 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 29, 2011

  • UK: “Premiums to soar as accident claims lawyers push up cost of motor insurance, MPs hear” [Telegraph]
  • John Stossel on death by FDA [Reason] Disapproving stance on e-cigarettes might cost lives [Balko] Company abandons pioneering stem-cell research after running up $45 million in costs to win FDA approval of initial safety tests [Technology Review] NYT can be obtuse about regulatory costs [Cowen]
  • No, we’re not allowed to let you out of the van to relieve the call of nature [Ted at PoL]
  • “Economic Damages Are Affirmed Though Plaintiff’s Earnings Rose After Accident” [NJLJ]
  • A shame about the business climate in Hawaii [Inverse Condemnation]
  • “Massachusetts Lawyer Loses License for a Year for Charging $93.8K Contingent Fee, Absent a Contingency” [Martha Neil, ABA Journal]
  • Movement “rapidly gaining steam” in U.S. to prohibit anonymous sperm donation [Glenn Cohen, Prawfs]

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November 22 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 22, 2011

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“Finding that Google has no duty to provide accurate content on its website, a Utah judge has thrown out the novel case of a woman who claimed that faulty walking directions on Google Maps caused her to be hit by a car.” [OnPoint News, earlier here, etc.] The same post, updating another story we’ve noted, reports that a bill to make guidebook publishers liable for some injuries to tourists has died in the Hawaii legislature.

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A proposed Hawaii law would assign liability to guidebook writers for some injuries at risky tourist sites [WSJ]

Eugene Volokh is troubled by a Hawaii tort case (Touchette v. Ganal, 922 P.2d 347 (Haw. 1996)) with admittedly unusual facts.

Do as we say, not as we do?

Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann is leading a group of 18 state Attorneys General seeking a ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court that employees can not be retaliated against by their bosses for filing a sexual harassment complaint.

The case comes at an ironic moment for Dann, as his office is investigating claims by two 26-year-old women who work at the Attorney General’s office that they were sexually harassed on and off the job by their boss, Anthony Gutierrez, a close friend of Dann’s who shared a Columbus condominium with him.

(“Dann Defends Woman Amid Own Office’s Sexual Harassment Flap”, Fox8 Cleveland, Apr. 16; Mark Rollenhagen and Reginald Fields, “Employee in Ohio attorney general’s office files police report”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Apr. 19). Amid talk of a cover-up, Dann has also denied a request from the Columbus Dispatch under the state’s public records law “to review three months’ worth of e-mail messages between him and his then-scheduler, Jessica Utovich,” both of whose names turn up as possible witnesses in colorful text messages offered as evidence in the claims. “Dann in the past has said e-mails are public records and also has sought troves of messages from public offices when he was a state senator and the Democratic candidate for Ohio’s top legal office.” (James Nash, “Dann won’t release e-mails”, DispatchPolitics (Columbus Dispatch), Apr. 13; Julie Carr Smyth, “Sexual complaint probe at top cop’s office intensifies”, AP/Akron Beacon Journal, Apr. 18; Mark Naymik, “Dann has habit of hiring his friends; some have proved to be embarrassments”, Openers (Cleveland Plain Dealer blog), Apr. 12; Reginald Fields, “Dann employee files complaint with police”, Openers, Apr. 18).

After initial resistance, Dann did release some information that raised reportorial eyebrows:

In a surprising reversal, Attorney General Marc Dann’s office released 12 pages of notes that detail allegations of repeated sexual harassment and possibly an attempt to destroy text messages that may document the incidents. …

Dann’s Equal Employment Opportunity officer, Angela Smedlund, interviewed Cindy Stankoski and Vanessa Stout on March 31 about problems they had had with their boss, Anthony Gutierrez, who is Dann’s friend and former roommate.

Smedlund’s notes reveal the following:

Stankoski agreed to go out for drinks with Gutierrez last Sept. 10, but said she soon “felt tipsy and trapped.” She agreed to go to an apartment Gutierrez shared with Dann and Communications Director Leo Jennings III. She called and text-messaged friends that night.

In the margin, Smedlund wrote: “Leo & Tony destroyed texts Tony admitted to Charlie.” The notes do not identify Charlie’s last name.

Jennings and Gutierrez are now both on paid administrative leave.

(Laura A. Bischoff, “Dann’s office unveils documents detailing harassment report”, Lebanon, Oh. Western-Star, Apr. 16; Rollenhagen/Fields, “Reports show Dann was aware of Gutierrez’s history of troubles”, Cleveland Plain Dealer/Youngstown Vindicator, Apr. 18; Bertram de Souza, “Will Dann survive the crisis?”, StirFry (Youngstown Vindicator), Apr. 17). Perhaps unfortunately in retrospect, the noisily anti-business Dann had been lionized in the New York Times after his election as a possible “next Eliot Spitzer“.

More: Above the Law, John Phillips (“Other key words are pajamas, condo, inappropriate text messages, Hawaiian pizza, booze, passing out in a bedroom, unbuttoned pants upon waking up, and nothing on but his underwear.”), Law and More. Update: Dann’s emails with scheduler released (Dispatch via Genova)

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“The builders of the world’s biggest particle collider are being sued in federal court over fears that the experiment might create globe-gobbling black holes or never-before-seen strains of matter that would destroy the planet. … The Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, is due for startup later this year at CERN’s headquarters on the French-Swiss border.” Among the concerns of critics who are suing in federal court in Hawaii: “Could quarks recombine into ‘strangelets’ that would turn the whole Earth into one big lump of exotic matter?” (Alan Boyle, CosmicLog, MSNBC, Mar. 27; Dennis Overbye, “Asking a Judge to Save the World, and Maybe a Whole Lot More”, New York Times, Mar. 29).

More: Sundries Shack (“For goodness sake, one of the plaintiffs calls himself an ‘author and researcher on time travel’”); Adler @ Volokh. The liberal site Lawyers, Guns & Money, perhaps serving in this instance as a Strange Attractor, attracts a commenter who seems to agree with the lawsuit-filers that it’s better to be safe than sorry — the Precautionary Principle lives! And from our comments, links to the complaint, Ted on jurisdiction, and thoughts on the effectiveness of litigation in obtaining free publicity.

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March 21 roundup

by Ted Frank on March 21, 2008

Updates galore:

March 4 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 4, 2008

  • Judge allows lawsuit to go forward as class action claiming consumers defrauded because gasoline expands in summer heat and so there’s less in a “gallon” [KC Star, TodaysTrucking.com; earlier at PoL]
  • Online speech: when a lawprof says it silences someone not to let them sue for defamation, it’s time to check definitions [Reynolds, Bainbridge, Volokh]
  • Should a law school invite Lerach of all people to teach legal ethics? [Massey/Faculty Lounge; earlier] Plus: Congress should investigate how widespread Lerach-style abuses were at other law firms [Columbus Dispatch editorial]
  • Usually no one gets hurt when a physician dodges having to deal with a litigious patient, but then there are those emergencies [Brain Blogger]
  • A lesson for Canada: judged by results in places like Kansas, the American approach to hate speech (i.e., not banning it) seems to work pretty well [Gardner/Ottawa Citizen]
  • “Way way too egocentric”: a marketing expert’s critique of injury law firm websites [Rotbart/LFOMA via ABA Journal]
  • More students are winding up in court after parodying their teachers on the Internet [Christian Science Monitor]
  • Money in the air? It happens the quiet little Alaskan Native village suing over global warming is being represented by some lawyers involved in the great tobacco heist [NY Times]
  • Ninth Circuit panel hands Navy partial defeat in enviro whale sonar suit; ditto federal court in Hawaii [Examiner; earlier]
  • Le Canard Noir “Quackometer” flays pseudo-science, some of its targets complain to ISP which then yanks the site: “We do not wish to be in a position where we could be taken to court” [Orac; earlier]
  • Hans Bader guestblogged at Point of Law last week, on such subjects as: courts that decide punishment before damages; presumed guilty of child abuse? inconsistent straight/gay treatment in sexual harassment law; and signs that today’s Supreme Court doesn’t exactly show a pro-business bias in discrimination cases.

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March 1 roundup

by Ted Frank on March 1, 2008

  • Oregon Supreme Court plays chicken with SCOTUS over $79.5 million punitive damages award in Williams v. Philip Morris case. [Sebok @ Findlaw; Krauss @ IBD; POL Feb. 1]
  • Speaking of punitive damages, I did a podcast on Exxon Shipping v. Baker. I can’t bear to listen to it, so let me know how I did. [Frank @ Fed Soc]
  • Arkansas case alleged legal sale of pseudoephedrine was “nuisance” because meth-makers would buy it; case dismissed. [Beck/Herrmann]. This is why I’ve stockpiled Sudafed.
  • Lawyers advertise for refinery explosion victims before fire goes out. [Hou Chron/TLR]
  • Connecticut Supreme Court: cat-attack victim can sue without showing past history of violence by animal. [On Point] Looking forward to comments from all the anti-reformers who claim to oppose reform because they’re against the abrogation of the common law.
  • Op-ed on the Great White fire deep pockets phenomenon. [SE Texas Record; earlier: Feb. 2]
  • “FISA lawsuits come from Twilight Zone.” [Hillyer @ Examiner]
  • Legislative action on various medical malpractice tweaking in Colorado, Hawaii, and Wyoming. [TortsProf]
  • Request for unemployment benefits: why fire me just because I asked staffers for a prostitute? [Des Moines Register]
  • “So much for seduction and romance; bring in the MBAs and lawyers.” [Mac Donald @ City Journal; contra Belle Lettre; contra contra Dank]
  • Where is the Canadian Brandeis standing up for free speech? [Kay @ National Post]
  • In defense of lobbying. [Krauthammer @ WaPo]

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October 30 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 30, 2007

  • Law firm of King & King in D.C. lost its chance at a contingency fee when its client elected not to pursue the case, so naturally it sued the client [Robert Loblaw @ eNotes; D.C. Circuit ruling for client, PDF]
  • How hot is the sausage gravy at Bob Evans? $5,000 worth of hot, says wrist-burned West Virginian [W.V. Record]
  • Kid on bicycle suffers catastrophic head injury, lawsuit blames road’s steepness and “dangerous wooden posts” alongside [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
  • Genarlow sprung [Volokh and everyone else; earlier]
  • Better hope you make it to Chapel Hill: Fayetteville, N.C. loses 24-hour neurosurgery cover [F'ville Observer via KevinMD; trial lawyers' response]
  • Fans sue Aerosmith over canceled Maui concert [AP/IHT]
  • Class action over poor-quality Kia brakes yields $5.6 million jury verdict, but do lawyers really deserve $4.1 million? [Legal Intelligencer] More: whoops, covered already just below;
  • We don’t care what your wishes might be, we’re putting you on the ventilator to protect ourselves [RangelMD]
  • Tawdry sex angles aside, this really sounds like a cautionary tale of the dangers of liberal amendment of pleadings [Lat]
  • Observation on traffic-cams: “I’m sick of living in a world in which legal trouble can be generated by robots.” [Scheie via Reynolds]
  • Read all about it: we side with Paul Krugman and Atrios [four years ago on Overlawyered]

When Whale It End?

by David Nieporent on May 17, 2007

Environmental groups keep suing the United States Navy (See: Oct. 2004, Jul. 2006, and Mar. 2006) over its use of sonar, on the speculative theory that sonar hurts whales. Now they’re at it again, filing a lawsuit yesterday in federal court in Hawaii. This time it’s Earthjustice, suing on behalf of the Ocean Mammal Institute, the Animal Welfare Institute, KAHEA, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Surfrider Foundation, trying to stop naval exercises off the coast of Hawaii. (PDF copy of complaint.)

Regardless of what one thinks of the merits of using sonar or privileging whales over national security, it’s absurd that federal judges — experts, we think, neither in marine biology nor submarine warfare — should be the ones deciding these policy questions. But it’s more absurd that these issues get to be relitigated over and over and over again. Of course environmental groups are the ones filing these repeated lawsuits, but in the big picture, the blame for this situation should be laid at the feet of Congress, which passes vague environmental laws which create broad standing allowing infinite numbers of random bystanders to sue without having to suffer tangible personal harm. (“I like looking at whales.”) And, perhaps worse than the vagueness of the laws is the fact that so many of these laws simply exist to create a zillion procedural hoops to jump through. (To provide an idea of these hoops, this complaint alone alleges the following causes of action:

  • Failure to provide public notice and an opportunity to comment in violation of Administrative Procedure Act and National Environmental Policy Act
  • Failure to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in violation of Administrative Procedure Act and National Environmental Policy Act
  • Issuance of an inadequate Environmental Assessment in violation of Administrative Procedure Act and National Environmental Policy Act
  • Issuance of an inadequate Biological Opinion in violation of Administrative Procedure Act and Endangered Species Act
  • Failure to consult with the Hawaii State Coastal Zone Management Program For Undersea Warfare Exercises in violation of Administrative Procedure Act and Coastal Zone Management Act

Have your eyes glazed over yet?)

Whatever the appropriate policy balance to be struck here, it should probably be determined by Congress, and it should definitely be decided once and for all, rather than each and every time a submariner sneezes. If the Navy is to be required to use specific types of sonar or other equipment, or is to be denied permission to operate in certain locales, or whatever, then there ought to be a statute or regulation which spells these rules out explicitly, rather than allowing activist groups to rush to court on a weekly basis to get a judge to decide.

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…we debunked a debunking of Bodine v. Enterprise High School, the most famous burglar that fell through the skylight lawsuit. (The promulgator of the original fake debunking promised a comprehensive response “in the next week”, though, 26 weeks later, we haven’t seen it.)

Now, Hawaii is considering legislation similar to California’s that would give immunity to property-owners sued by people injured in the course of committing particular felonies, though it’s not clear to me that it would apply to unarmed burglary, which seems to only be a “Class C” felony in Hawaii.