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New Jersey

How far can an employee go in ADA demands before finally going too far? [Charles Toutant, New Jersey Law Journal]

The lawyer, a deputy attorney general known as E.H. in court papers, made 30 requests for special treatment in the course of his first year on the job—ranging from reserved indoor parking, adjusted timing on elevator doors, a grab handle in the rest room and transportation to court appearances—all of which were granted.

He sued because his 31st request—for a personal assistant who would “function as his shadow”—was refused.

On Thursday, an appeals court ruled that the Attorney General’s Office did not violate laws against disability discrimination. The court said deference was due the findings of the Civil Service Commission that an assistant was not warranted because it would not help E.H. address his weak job performance.

When the Americans with Disabilities Act was new, there was hopeful talk among some disability advocates of what some wary employers nicknamed “two-for-one” hiring — demands that a second employee be put on payroll to assist the first. While courts have generally declined to go along with this idea, it is sobering to think the issue might be close enough that the worker’s very poor job evaluations might have mattered one way or the other.

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Unwed dads in court

by Walter Olson on March 13, 2014

A New Jersey judge has ruled that a mother-to-be doesn’t have to notify the estranged unwed father that she is going into labor or let him into the delivery room [ABA Journal] Meanwhile, a suit filed on behalf of unwed fathers is challenging Utah’s adoption laws, which they say improperly enable mothers from out of state to visit Utah for purposes of depriving unwed fathers of rights of notification or objection they would otherwise enjoy under their home state’s law [Salt Lake Tribune]

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“A New Jersey couple does not have to pay — for now — for their 18-year-old daughter’s college education, a judge ruled Tuesday evening.” [CBS New York, ABC News, NY Daily News, AP]

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March 5 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 5, 2014

  • U.S. Commission on Civil Rights commissioners Gail Heriot, Peter Kirsanow: Administration’s new policy on race and school discipline likely to make schools more chaotic [Robby Soave, Daily Caller, 2011 related, earlier here, etc.]
  • French court: fan club members suffered legally cognizable emotional damage from Michael Jackson’s death [Lowering the Bar, earlier]
  • “The Newkirk incident demonstrates why cameras in the courtroom are a bad idea” [James Taranto, includes bonus New York Times disgrace]
  • Claim: advocates stymied firearms research over most of past two decades. Accurate? [Fox News]
  • Another look at the CPSC’s war on former Buckyballs CEO Craig Zucker [Jim Epstein, Reason, earlier]
  • Chris Christie use of monitorships in white-collar prosecutions draws renewed scrutiny [New Republic, earlier]
  • In which I am included in a list with George Will and Heather Mac Donald, all very flattering etc. etc. [Charles C. W. Cooke, NRO]
  • D.C.: disbarred lawyer sat for years as workers comp judge [Washington City Paper]
  • “German home-school family won’t be deported” although Supreme Court declines to hear asylum appeal [AP; discussion in comments earlier]

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Close-to-home plaintiffs

by Walter Olson on January 22, 2014

Weirdly, or tellingly? “Weirdly, two of [the New Jersey bridge plaintiffs] work for the attorney who’s representing them” [John Culhane, Slate via Howard Wasserman, Prawfs, earlier]

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Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on January 15, 2014

  • Setback for climate scientist Michael Mann in defamation suit against critics [Jonathan Adler, Mark Steyn, earlier here and here; update, Mann wins a round] Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has taken interest on defendants’ side [Steyn] “Blogger’s Incarceration Raises First Amendment Questions” [NYT on Shuler case in Alabama, on which earlier; more]
  • Religious liberty: “When thought is a crime, no other freedom can long survive.” [Doug Bandow]
  • Nigeria’s new jail-the-gays law is brutally repressive toward speech and association. Oil-rich country gets upwards of $500 million in US foreign aid a year [Reuters, AP and followup, Al-Jazeera]
  • Members of Ramapough tribe in New Jersey sue Hollywood over “Out of the Furnace” depiction [AP]
  • “California’s New Law Shows It’s Not Easy To Regulate Revenge Porn” [Eric Goldman]
  • Catching up on the Ampersand case, where the NLRB got slapped down trying to restrict newspaper owner’s First Amendment rights [Harry G. Hutchison]
  • Video interview with noted civil libertarian Harvey Silverglate [Cato]

The lawsuit, which contends that the politically motivated closure of two bridge lanes from Fort Lee by Christie advisors with resulting traffic jams was a deprivation of “liberty,” was filed by attorney Rosemarie Arnold, who’s run some attention-getting TV ads in the past. [UPI]

P.S. From Widener lawprof John Culhane, a more serious look. “IRB/Human Subjects form from the Chris Christie bridge scandal” (humor, Kieran Healy) And Steve Chapman: “Anytime someone wants to expand some power of government, here’s what you should assume: [Bridget Anne] Kelly and [David] Wildstein will be the ones exercising it.”

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A New Jersey woman is claiming in a lawsuit that “who sold her the unit [in Mays Landing, N.J.] ‘knowingly concealed’ that a ‘dangerous individual’ would be her future neighbor, which she alleges is material misrepresentation and fraud, according to the lawsuit filed last week in Atlantic County Superior Court of New Jersey.” [ABC News]

A lawyer representing a fan has sued the National Football League for allegedly breaking New Jersey state law by making just 1 percent of Super Bowl tickets available to the general public at face value. A section of the state’s Consumer Fraud Act reads, “It shall be an unlawful practice for a person, who has access to tickets to an event prior to the tickets’ release for sale to the general public, to withhold those tickets from sale to the general public in an amount exceeding 5% of all available seating for the event.” (But does “person [with] access” refer to the original event organizers, or only to middlemen who acquire tickets for resale?) The lawsuit “says it’s on behalf of all ticket buyers who have paid more than face amount for their tickets, along with anybody who couldn’t afford to buy tickets in an exorbitant secondary market, but who still wanted them.” [NJ.com] More: the NFL made me do it! [Abnormal Use]

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January 3 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 3, 2014

  • Taxpayers on hook: “N.J. boy left blind and brain-damaged after being beaten by father awarded $166M by jury” [Newark Star-Ledger]
  • “Psychic Love Spell Center stole my money, lawyer alleges in lawsuit” [Houston; ABA Journal]
  • “You can’t win these suits… Move on with your life.” Good advice for someone falsely accused of rape? [Roxanne Jones, CNN]
  • Critical look at California judge’s lead paint ruling [Daniel Fisher/Forbes, earlier here, here]
  • $6 check and apology over “F-word”: “Pub owner’s sarcastic response to Starbucks cease-and-desist letter goes viral” [ABA Journal]
  • Suburb doesn’t want to accept public transit, but feds force its hand by use of controversial disparate impact theory [Dayton Daily News]
  • Randy Barnett: libertarianism as a vehicle for moderation, toleration and social peace [Chapman Law Review/SSRN; one of my favorite academic papers from last year]

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Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on December 30, 2013

  • Bad lawsuit on bad theory: “Cantor Fitzgerald, American Airlines Settle 9/11 Lawsuit” [Financial Advisor mag]
  • New Jersey court: only golfer, not his companions, responsible for yelling “Fore” to warn of errant ball [TortsProf]
  • “The New Lawsuit Ecosystem: Trends, Targets and Players,” 158-page report for Chamber of Commerce, topics include emerging areas of litigation (food class actions, data privacy); also lists leading plaintiff’s lawyers in various areas [Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform]
  • “Eleventh Circuit Stacks Deck Against Defendants in Never-Ending Engle Product Liability Litigation” [Cory Andrews, WLF]
  • Beck vs. Prof. Chemerinsky on prescription drugs and pre-emption [Drug and Device Law]
  • “Outrageous Court Decisions: O’Brien v. Muskin Corp.” [Schearer; above-ground pool dive defect claim, New Jersey 1983]
  • New York rejects medical monitoring cause of action [Behrens]

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December 23 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 23, 2013

  • Metro-North train crash spurs calls for mandatory crash-prevention devices. Think twice [Steve Chapman]
  • BP sues attorney Mikal Watts [Insurance Journal] Exaggerated Gulf-spill claims as a business ethics issue [Legal NewsLine]
  • Pot-war fan: “Freedom also means the right not to be subjected to a product I consider immoral” [one of several Baltimore Sun letters to the editor in reaction to my piece on marijuana legalization, and Gregory Kline's response]
  • Aaron Powell, The Humble Case for Liberty [Libertarianism.org]
  • Allegation: lawprof borrowed a lot of his expert witness report from Wikipedia [Above the Law]
  • Frivolous “sovereign citizen” lawsuits on rise in southern Jersey [New Jersey Law Journal, earlier]
  • Star of Hitchcock avian thriller had filed legal malpractice action: “Tippi Hedren wins $1.5 million in bird-related law suit” [Telegraph]

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Public employment roundup

by Walter Olson on December 13, 2013

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Quest for deep pockets: the homeowners’ insurer had already thrown in its policy limits over an accident in which an 18 year old guest allowed to consume alcohol at a private home had injured himself in a car crash. Now an Ocean County, N.J. judge has ruled that the party host’s auto insurer can also be obliged to provide coverage under a general liability endorsement, ruling it irrelevant that the accident had nothing to do with the insured’s own cars. [New Jersey Law Journal]

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Modern-day debtors’ prison, or a problem of his own making? “Those behind the state’s alimony reform movement say it should be easier for individuals to show that they can’t afford to pay court-ordered alimony and harder to jail a former spouse for failing to do so.” [ABA Journal]

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“In a case of first impression, a New Jersey appeals court has held that a remote texter can be held liable to third parties for injuries caused when the distracted driver has an accident,” if the third party has reason to know that the text will be read while driving. The court upheld a lower court ruling finding that not enough proof of such knowledge had been offered to defeat a motion for summary judgment. [ABA Journal, earlier here and here; related, Stoll] A different view: Eugene Volokh.

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After pleading guilty to driving under the influence, two New Jersey men “subsequently brought a product liability action against the company that made the breath-testing device used to establish their BACs as being in excess of .08%.” Asking for class action status on behalf of all New Jersey drivers convicted after blowing into the device, the “plaintiffs claimed that ‘the Alcotest 7110 contains latent design defects in that it is a piece of respiratory equipment that is not standardized at frequent intervals and there is no provision for calibration of its pulmonary reporting apparatus.’” A court ruled the complaint inadequate on the pleadings, though it has given them a chance to replead. [Steve McConnell, Drug and Device Law]

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“There is no reason in the world for a case to be tried 20 years after it was filed,” said Judge Deanne Wilson, who said she knew of nothing matching the case in the New Jersey courts. The judge was highly critical of the conduct of the defendants, a real estate family led by Minnesota Vikings owner Zygmunt “Zygi” Wilf, which she found had misappropriated funds owed to longtime business partners. [Ben Horowitz, Newark Star-Ledger, Minneapolis Star-Tribune and more, Field of Schemes]

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