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Richard Kreimer

August 10 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 10, 2011

  • Maine Supreme Court agrees that not having to show up in court might be reasonable accommodation for plaintiff claiming PTSD disability [Volokh]
  • Guess how much Richard Kreimer, the New Jersey homeless guy, has made in his many lawsuit settlements [Newark Star-Ledger, PoL]
  • Given the problems with business-method patents, you can see why banks would want to dodge them [Felix Salmon]
  • Contempt: “Calling the jailing of a person ‘civil’ doesn’t mean they put curtains on the cell windows.” [Greenfield]
  • “Class Counsel Request $90.8M In Fees In Black Farmers Case” [BLT]
  • Law school accreditation, recusal standards, international law among topics in new issue of Federalist Society’s ABA Watch;
  • Electricity-wise, EPA puts the squeeze on the juice [Andrew Grossman, Heritage; Weston Hicks, AgendaWise; Tatler]

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New Jersey’s most famous homeless litigant has reached an “amicable settlement” with the Seattle Cafe and Grill at Hoboken Terminal, the Hoboken Now blog reported in April (via). “Kreimer said an employee falsely accused him of stealing an apple and had cops frisk him to keep him from coming to the shop. ‘I was dirty and disheveled. … It was homeless profiling,’ he said”. Kreimer’s many lawsuits have apparently been a mixed blessing for him: per the Hoboken blog, he’s made so much in settlements that he’s lost his Medicaid eligibility. Some of Kreimer’s earlier exploits are here.

Former federal Judge H. Lee Sarokin, now a blogger, defends his decision in the Kreimer case (Mar. 17, 2005; Feb. 25):

I concede that I have made some mistakes (what judge hasn’t), had some reversals and wish I could revise some decisions, BUT no matter how many times they say that I ruled that a “smelly, homeless” man could annoy and drive patrons out of the Morristown library and harass women, it won’t be true. I declared a regulation invalid on the grounds that it was too vague and broad in giving librarians the discretion to oust or forever bar patrons. I never made any ruling about the individual involved or his conduct. It was a decision on the law not on the facts.

This is a dodge: Sarokin ruled that the library could not have a blanket rule excluding members of the public for poor personal hygiene, because such a rule would be too vague. So Sarokin did rule that it was impermissible for a library to bar someone for being so smelly as to be a nuisance. Also unmentioned is that Sarokin was wrong on the law, to boot: the Third Circuit eventually overturned Sarokin’s decision:

While the district court was probably correct that the rule may disproportionately affect the homeless who have limited access to bathing facilities, this fact is irrelevant to a facial challenge and further would not justify permitting a would-be patron, with hygiene so offensive that it constitutes a nuisance, to force other patrons to leave the Library, or to inhibit Library employees from performing their duties.

Alas, this decision on the injunction came too late: taxpayers had already shelled out $230,000 to Kreimer in a settlement of the pending damages claims, having already been held liable by Sarokin. See Kreimer v. Bureau of Police for the Town of Morristown, 765 F. Supp. 181 (D.N.J. 1991), rev’d 958 F.2d 1242 (3d Cir. 1992).

Richard Kreimer, the homeless man who made headlines in 1991 when he won $230,000 from officials of the Morristown, N.J. public library, who had ejected him for his strongly offensive body odor and for repeatedly staring at patrons, has now obtained a settlement in his lawsuit against a New Jersey bus company whose drivers allegedly refused to let him board their vehicles for similar reasons (see Mar. 17, 2005). Kreimer says that as a condition of receiving money he is bound not to discuss the terms of the settlement. He still has individual lawsuits pending against the two bus drivers involved, as well as a separate federal lawsuit pending “against NJ Transit, the city of Summit, and others, alleging he was wrongly ejected from train stations because he is homeless.” Although a court later overturned the ruling on which the 1991 settlement had been based, it proved impossible to reclaim the $230,000 settlement paid him, which according to AP was spent about half on lawyers’ fees and half on Kreimer’s living expenses. (Wayne Parry, “Homeless man settles lawsuit against bus company”, AP/NJ.com, Feb. 17; New Jersey for Change, Feb. 18)(& welcome Fark readers — and apologies for the practice of Hosting Matters, which, we just now learned, blocks referrers from that popular site because it doesn’t want to process the burst of traffic. If you get a blocking message, try “refresh/reload” or go to our main page and scroll down).

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New Jersey: “A homeless man who sued and received $230,000 after being ejected from a library in Morris County is now suing NJ Transit for kicking him and other homeless people out of train stations.” Richard Kreimer, who has filed many suits over the years, is asking for $5 million. (“Homeless man who sued library takes on NJ Transit”, AP/Asbury Park Press, Mar. 15; John Cichowski, “Some riders wear suits, some file them”, Hackensack Record, Mar. 15; Ronald Smothers, “Homeless Gadfly Returns, Warming Up Lawsuits”, New York Times, Jan. 21). “‘As soon as you walk into a train station and you look like a bum, the cops come right over to you,’ Kreimer said.” (“Homeless Man At Home In Court”, New York Post, Mar. 15). For more background, see John Cichowski, “Duffel-bag lawyer takes on the City of Brotherly Shove”, Hackensack Record, Feb. 26, 2004. Update Feb. 25, 2006: Kreimer obtains settlement from bus company.