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Netherlands

“A Romanian man who has admitted to stealing masterpieces by Gauguin, Monet and Picasso on Tuesday threatened to sue the Dutch museum he took them from for making his robbery too easy.” [AFP/ArtDaily]

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In the case of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, scheduled for argument Tuesday, the Supreme Court will consider curbing the modern scope of the Alien Tort Statute, which asserts U.S. jurisdiction over various human rights controversies arising within the bounds of other countries. [Reuters, earlier] Considering that it amounts to the Law of the Hegemon, the Statute is oddly popular in some Left circles [Kenneth Anderson/Volokh] European governments (Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands) have filed amicus briefs on the defense side [John Bellinger, Lawfare; more, WaPo]

More: The New York Times’s Room for Debate discussion includes a contribution by my Cato colleague Ilya Shapiro. And Point of Law is having a featured discussion on the case with David Weissbrodt of the University of Minnesota and Julian Ku of Hofstra.

Prosecutors say the evidence does not support convicting prominent Dutch politician Geert Wilders of violating hate speech laws. [Dutch News] On the other hand, Andy McCarthy points out that the Dutch legal system — which obviously differs on this point from our own — allows judges to force the case to continue notwithstanding the prosecutors’ view that it should be dropped. [NRO "Corner"]

Forwarded by Pete Warden with the comment, “This post sums up why I’m a pretty liberal guy *and* a strong supporter of Overlawyered.”

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And then came the second look [Scott Greenfield]

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  • Transportation Security Administration detained comic book artist based on art he was carrying with him [Popehat]
  • More unease over Federal Trade Commission move to regulate bloggers’ freebies [Citizen Media Law, CEI "Open Market", earlier] “I could care less that Milly the Yarn Spinner at millysworldofyarn.com is getting free samples of yarn to review on her blog.” [John Dvorak, PC Mag]
  • “Judge Calls Frivolous Suits Against Attorneys a ‘Disturbing Trend’” [NYLJ; Staten Island, N.Y.]
  • Sad news: Excellent online music service Pandora, unable to negotiate rights affordably, shuts down for customers outside the U.S. [Prefixmag, earlier]
  • Joseph Stiglitz says the UN has a key role to play in “reforming the global financial and economic system”, which “is a bad idea. It is a very bad idea.” [Tyler Cowen]
  • All assemble for trial: more installments in White Coat’s saga of his malpractice case [Emergency Physicians Monthly, parts seven and eight]
  • Netherlands: site gets sued because of the way Google indexed it [TheNextWeb.com]
  • Phone company faces grievance after disallowing workers’ metal facial jewelry as electricity-conducting risk [eight years ago on Overlawyered]

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March 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 20, 2009

  • Elena Kagan’s changing views of Senate confirmation process: “Lobster in Pot Re-Evaluates Pro-Boiling Stance” [Spruiell, NR "Corner"]
  • “Federal Courts React to Tide of Pro Se Litigants” [NLJ]
  • We get permalinks in nice places including a prominent Dutch business paper [NRC Handelsblad]
  • Someone who needs research done should snap up Kathleen Seidel, model practitioner of citizen journalism on autism-vaccine fray [Neurodiversity] When she got a call from a charity telemarketer recently, she began checking them out online. Results? Devastating. [Neurodiversity, Popehat]
  • How far does Britain’s new animal welfare law go? Does it really cover little Nicholas’s pet cricket? [Never Yet Melted]
  • Constitutionalizing judicial ethics: Caperton v. Massey case before Supreme Court is a bit more complicated than you’d think from the NYT editorial [Point of Law]
  • If you’re not in favor of government cracking down on what is said in online forums, are you “trivializing women’s harms”? [Danielle Citron/ConcurOp, Scott Greenfield] On the other hand, it doesn’t take a commitment to feminism to note that there are online bullies and they’re a nasty, overwhelmingly male lot [Popehat, language]
  • Attorney walks away from a whole bunch of cases after accusation he bribed a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line employee, and his troubles may not be over yet [Florida Daily Business Review]

January 29 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 29, 2009

  • Free class-action swag if you bought department store cosmetics between 1994 and 2003; not that they’re giving away the very best stuff or anything [Tompkins/Poynter, California Civil Justice, WSJ Law Blog, settlement site] We’ve been covering the story for quite some time;
  • Law school “can be a financial disaster” for unwary students [Law and More] Law schools not immune from economic downturn [Above the Law]
  • Bruce Bawer on Dutch prosecution of Islam-criticizer Geert Wilders [City Journal]
  • More on possible passenger suits after the miracle Hudson-landing USAir Flight #1549 [USA Today, earlier] Update: NY Post, NY Mag.
  • Bad news for patients and other living things: Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen somehow got named to a key FDA panel during the late Bush administration [Point of Law, Postrel, Bernstein/Volokh, Hooper & Henderson/Forbes]
  • “Friends weren’t really trying to reach me!” class action against Reunion.com encounters another setback [Spam Notes]
  • Stand and deliver it back: “Minnesota: $2.6 Million in Red Light Camera Tickets Refunded” [The Newspaper]
  • Gary, Indiana’s is the last standing of what were once thirty “gun sales = nuisance” suits filed by cities; now Indiana high court says it can go to trial [Point of Law]

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July 15 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 15, 2008

  • New York attorney suspended from practice after attempting as guardian to extract $853,000 payday from estate of Alzheimer’s victim [ABA Journal, Emani Taylor]
  • Bought a BB gun to fend off squirrels, now his 20-year-old son faces three years for bare possession [MyCentralJersey.com via Zincavage]
  • U.K.: “Sports clubs face being put out of business following a landmark court ruling forcing them to be liable for deliberate injuries caused by their player to an opponent.” [Telegraph]
  • Prosecutors in Norwich, Ct. still haven’t dropped their case against teacher Julie Amero in malware-popup smut case. Why not? [TalkLeft, earlier]
  • Dealership protection laws, deplored earlier in this space, work to make a GM bankruptcy both likelier and messier [The Deal]
  • Strange new respect for talk show host Joe Scarborough in quarters where conservatives are ordinarily disliked? Some of us saw that coming [NYMag]
  • Following Rhode Island rout of lawsuit against lead-paint makers, Columbus, Ohio drops its similar case [PoL, Akron Beacon Journal editorial]
  • In latest furor over free speech and religious sensitivity in Europe, Dutch authorities have arrested cartoonist “suspected of sketching offensive drawings of Muslims and other minorities” [WSJ; "Gregorius Nekschot"]

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February 6 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 6, 2008

  • Calling it “oppressive”, committee chair in Mississippi legislature vows to defeat proposal to ban restaurants from serving obese patrons [AP/Picayune-Item; earlier]
  • Latest in whales vs. sub sonar: judge deep-sixes Bush’s attempt to exempt Navy from rules against bothering marine mammals [CNN; earlier]
  • Much-criticized opener of ABC’s new series Eli Stone aired last Thursday, and Orac takes a scalpel to the vaccine-scare script [Respectful Insolence, which also covers new autism studies]
  • Scary proposal approved by California assembly would strong-arm larger private foundations — and businesses that deal with them — into “diversity” numbers game [Lehrer/Hicks @ L.A. Times]
  • New Dutch study finds thin people and nonsmokers cost health system more in long run than obese and smokers — theories behind Medicaid-recoupment litigation are looking more fraudulent every day, aren’t they? [AP]
  • Late, but worth noting: blogger nails John Edwards’s demagoguery on Nataline Sarkisyan case [Matthew Holt @ Spot-On, via KevinMD; more here, here, and from Ted here]
  • Puff piece on food-poisoning lawyer William Marler [AP/KOMO]
  • Ready, set, all take offense: Sen. McCain likes to tell lawyer jokes [WSJ law blog]
  • In suit charging UFCW with “racketeering”, Smithfield cites as an underlying offense union’s having lobbied city councils to pass resolutions condemning the meatpacker; company has hired Prof. G. Robert Blakey, who denies the RICO law he drafted is a menace to liberty [Liptak, NYT; some earlier parallels in federal tobacco suit]
  • Golden age of comic books was 1930s-1950s, but golden age of comic book litigation is now [NLJ]
  • New at Point of Law: Hillary’s “disastrous” mortgage scheme; Qualcomm sanctions ruling could curb discovery abuse; if Mel Weiss has been kind to you, why drop him down memory hole?; new academic theory on uniformity of contingency fees; the trouble with patenting tax avoidance strategies; and much more [visit][bumped Wed. a.m.]

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You can’t win if you don’t play: “A Dutch woman who claimed she suffered emotional damages due to not winning the lottery missed the jackpot in court too. Amsterdam District Court judges Wednesday rejected the claim of Helene de Gier, who said she was traumatized by not winning the country’s National Postcode Lottery, which she didn’t enter, while her neighbors did.” DeGier said one lucky neighbor had rubbed in his good luck by showing off a new Porsche, and claimed lottery ads had engaged in “emotional blackmail” by suggesting that non-entrants like herself might be sorry afterward. (AP/IHT, Reuters).

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February 12 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 12, 2007

  • Divorcing Brooklyn couple has put up sheetrock wall dividing house into his and hers [L.A. Times, AP/Newsday]

  • Boston Herald appeals $2 million libel award to Judge Ernest Murphy, whom the paper had portrayed as soft on criminals (earlier: Dec. 8 and Dec. 23, 2005) [Globe via Romenesko]

  • Updating Jul. 8 story: Georgia man admits he put poison in his kids’ soup in hopes of getting money from Campbell Soup Co. [AP/AccessNorthGeorgia]

  • Witness talks back to lawyer at deposition [YouTube via Bainbridge, %&*#)!* language]

  • Prominent UK business figure says overprotective schools producing generation of “cotton wool kids” [Telegraph]

  • State agents swoop down on Montana antique store and seize roulette wheel from 1880s among other “unlicensed gambling equipment” [AP/The Missoulian]

  • “You, gentlemen, are no barristers. You are just two litigators. On Long Island.” [Lat and commenter]

  • Some Dutch municipalities exclude dads from town-sponsored kids’ playgroups, so as not to offend devout Muslim moms [Crooked Timber]

  • As mayor, Rudy Giuliani didn’t hesitate to stand up to the greens when he thought they were wrong [Berlau @ CEI]

  • Australia: funeral homes, fearing back injury claims, now discouraging the tradition of family members and friends being pallbearers [Sydney Morning Herald]

  • Asserting 200-year-old defect in title, Philly’s Cozen & O’Connor represents Indian tribe in failed lawsuit laying claim to land under Binney & Smith Crayola factory [three years ago on Overlawyered]

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Partners in crime dept.: “A Dutch man who served time in jail and was deported for running one of the largest escort services in the Southeast has sued six former customers.” Arthur Vanmoor, 46, who used aliases such as “Big Pimpin’ Pappy” and whose South Florida enterprise “accounted for up to 90 percent of the escort service listings in Broward County’s 2002 Yellow Pages”, claims his customers got him in trouble by breaking the law and violating their contracts with him. “To pay the $245-per-hour escort fee, the men signed a credit card slip that said, ‘Cardholder states that this transaction is not for illegal activity,’ said Vanmoor’s attorney, Montgomery Sibley.” (AP/NBC6.net, Feb. 27).

Montgomery Sibley, attorney for Vanmoor, appeared on Tucker Carlson’s “The Situation” Mar. 1 to explain his client’s case; see this amusing account with video. A Google search reveals that a Florida attorney named Montgomery Blair Sibley, proceeding pro se, sued federal judicial officials including the nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court (including “Steven” Breyer) demanding a million dollars in damages from the Justices individually for various purported offenses which included not granting certiorari review to a domestic dispute Sibley was involved in. Sibley took his case up to the Eleventh Circuit (PDF), but did not prevail.

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “Vanmoor is known for his litigious nature. In the past decade, he has been a plaintiff or defendant in 29 lawsuits in Broward County alone. He has sued businesses that challenged him, police departments that investigated him, an assistant state attorney who prosecuted him and journalists who reported on him.” (Sean Gardiner, “Man charged in Broward prostitution ring sues his clients”, Feb. 27). The alleged johns have not been named in the latest round of news coverage, so far as a cursory search of coverage reveals. One wonders whether the possibility of such publicity might be one factor influencing the prospective settlement value, if any, of the new round of suits.

Welcome Dutch readers

by Walter Olson on September 18, 2005

We’re one of the “Wekelijkse aparte links” on the Netherlands portal Leukestart.nl. If this is your first time here, our page on personal responsibility is especially popular with readers; we’ve also got pages on, among many other topics, Great Britain, lawsuits against schools, and aviation.

The 11-minute film on the subjection of women in fundamentalist Muslim communities, for which the Dutch filmmaker was murdered by an Islamist assassin, may be viewed here (via Andrew Sullivan). Instapundit has a link roundup (Nov. 9).

While national alcohol prohibition in the US is widely (if not quite universally) regarded as a failure, there remains substantial support for our current tragic folly, drug prohibition. The respective prohibitions are not identical, however, and I want to point out two ways in which drug prohibition is worse than alcohol prohibition. First, during alcohol Prohibition, purchase and (for the most part) possession of alcohol were not crimes. (People often seem surprised to learn this these days, as if the drug war has made a firm link in their minds between prohibition and the criminalization of possession and purchase.) In other words, what we refer to as a “decriminalization” regime with respect to drugs today is pretty much what we had with alcohol prohibition: drug prohibition is much more severe than alcohol Prohibition.

The second major difference is that alcohol prohibition was restricted to a handful of countries, whereas drug prohibition is global. As a result of the limited geographical scope, there was plenty of legally produced alcohol during Prohibition, such as that made in Canada (and then illegally smuggled into the US) by Seagrams. But more importantly, the fact that other countries had legal alcohol — and were often just as successful in reducing consumption and alcohol-related problems as the US — provided ongoing evidence of the extent to which Prohibition was a policy blunder. With global drug prohibition, we are very limited in the types of policy experiments that can be run; even in the Netherlands, marijuana is technically just as illegal as it is in the US. This helps to explain the odd “self-justifying” nature of drug prohibition. Bad outcomes under drug prohibition should tend to discredit prohibition as a policy. This is what would likely occur if there were a visible alternative policy with outcomes that were better. Instead, bad outcomes under drug prohibition are met with the logic that if there were fewer drugs, there would be fewer bad outcomes. So to reduce bad outcomes under prohibition, we need… a stronger, more committed prohibition!

A 1-in-a-googol claim

by Ted Frank on May 17, 2004

In the late 1930s, Edward Kasner was asked to come up with the name for a large number; as legend has it, he asked his nine-year old nephew, who said “googol,” and Kasner’s 1940 book “Mathematics and the Imagination” popularized the term for the number 1 followed by a hundred zeroes. Over a half century later, a variation of that word was used to name a popular search engine, which you may have heard is going public in an e billion dollar offering.

Now Kasner’s great-niece, Peri Fleisher, is going public herself, complaining that her family hasn’t been compensated for Google’s choice of a name, and “exploring” the possibility of legal action. Fleisher has said that she would settle for being allowed to participate as an “insider” in the IPO; the interviewer, either out of ignorance or charity, doesn’t point out that because the Google IPO is a “Dutch auction,” Fleisher already has the right to participate as an “insider” (presuming she means a “friends and family offering”), which is merely the right to buy shares in an IPO at the issuing price. (Gerald P. Merrell, “Have your Google people talk to my ‘googol’ people”, Baltimore Sun, May 16).

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Blessed are those who just don’t get involved in the first place dept.: “Relatives of victims of Europe’s bloodiest post-war massacre are to sue the United Nations and the Dutch government for ?370 million.” Since no adequate recovery is to be had from Bosnian Serb war criminals for the Srebrenica massacre, reparations lawyers now wish to extract money from the well-meaning neutrals and noncombatants whose bungling efforts failed to prevent it. That should provide a good incentive for anyone to volunteer as peacekeepers in future, no? U.S. lawyers are said to be involved. (“Srebrenica relatives sue UN and Dutch for ?370m”, Daily Telegraph, Nov. 10).