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San Diego

California: “A jury has awarded a local mother more than $185 million in damages in a pregnancy and gender discrimination case against her former employer AutoZone.” [KGTV, auto-plays]

More: Jon Hyman (damage to company’s reputation likely more serious than eventual actual payout).

  • New Cato paper finds little evidence that pot legalization in Colorado has much affected rates of use, traffic safety, violent crime, ER visits, health, education outcomes [Jeffrey Miron working paper via Jacob Sullum]
  • Ferguson narrative changes as new evidence supports officer’s story on Michael Brown confrontation [Washington Post, Marc Ambinder/The Week, New Republic]
  • Why Obama was smart to choose Loretta Lynch as AG rather than knocking Republicans’ cap off with a pick like Thomas Perez [Cato; Todd Gaziano on confirmation questions]
  • Plea bargaining system: “Why Innocent People Plead Guilty” [Judge Jed Rakoff, New York Review of Books]
  • “There’s not much to do about catcalling, unless you’re willing to see a lot more minority men hassled by the police” [Kay Hymowitz, Time] Peer pressure seems to be a factor in restraining it [Andrew Sullivan] The “practice of catcalling is most taboo among members of the upper classes.” [Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, earlier]
  • San Diego says it retains discretion over when to release cop camera footage [Radley Balko] How body cameras can vindicate cops [same]
  • Elderly Wisconsin man “was never considered dangerous, [but] was known to be argumentative,” so send in the armored vehicle [Kevin Underhill, Lowering the Bar, related] “The [SWAT-raided] Tibetan monks were here on a peace mission, for Christ’s sake. Well, not for Christ’s sake, but you know what I mean.” [same] Sen. Coburn quotes Madison: standing military force with overgrown executive will not long be safe companion to liberty [WSJ]

Police and prosecution roundup

by Walter Olson on September 11, 2014

  • Enviro activists unlawfully block coal ship, Massachusetts prosecutor expresses approval by dropping charges [James Taranto, Jacob Gershman/WSJ Law Blog, ABA Journal]
  • Unfortunately-named Mr. Threatt charged with “robbery that happened while he was in jail” [Baltimore Sun via @amyalkon]
  • “How conservative, tough-on-crime Utah reined in police militarization” [Evan McMorris-Santoro, BuzzFeed] More: What if we needed it someday? San Diego Unified School District defends acquisition of armored vehicle [] And Senate hearing [AP]
  • “Machine-based traffic-ticketing systems are running amok” [David Kravets, ArsTechnica]
  • Thanks, Fraternal Order of Police, for protecting jobs of rogue Philadelphia cops who could cost taxpayers millions [Ed Krayewski; related earlier]
  • Study: returning from 6- to 12-person juries could iron out many racial anomalies at trial [Anwar et al, Tabarrok]
  • Courts can help curb overcriminalization by revitalizing rule of lenity, mens rea requirement [Steven Smith]

They appear to have gotten one very conservative San Diego judge exiled to traffic court [Will Baude]

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Disabled rights roundup

by Walter Olson on September 25, 2013

  • A rein on line-jumping by disabled tour guides? Walt Disney World changes ride admission policy [WKMG Orlando, earlier here and here]
  • Every body into the ADA: Michael Stein, Anita Silvers, Brad Areheart, and Leslie Francis in U. Chi. Law Review are latest to propose “universal” right to accommodation [Bagenstos]
  • Speaking of which, everyone interested in disability law should be following Prof. Sam Bagenstos’s Disability Law Blog, the ultimate source of many articles linked in this space. I’m honored that Prof. Bagenstos has invited me to speak to his disabilities law class today at the University of Michigan (sorry, it’s not a public event), all the more so since we regularly square off on opposite sides of these issues;
  • “First ADA suit since AMA’s obesity policy: Is this the start of something big?” [HR Morning via Eric B. Meyer]
  • “Disability Groups Defend California’s LSAT Anti-Flagging Law” [Karen Sloan, NLJ]
  • “Student Sues Kaplan For Not Providing Sign Language Interpreter” [Florida Daily Business Review] Another movie theater captioning suit [Connecticut Law Tribune]
  • Rep. Tammy Duckworth vs. putative set-aside “disabled vet”: “I’m sorry that twisting your ankle in [prep] school has now come back to hurt you in such a painful way” [Daily Caller]
  • From the rumor mill: Senate Foreign Relations Committee may hold hearings next month on ratification of Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, much criticized in this space; here’s a pro-ratification Facebook group and a John Kerry op-ed to the same effect.
  • From historic Julian, Calif. to Philadelphia, we all pay price of ADA’s coercive utopianism [Mario Loyola and Richard Epstein, The American Interest]


“…Because it’s leverage in negotiating a more favorable sex-harassment settlement.” [Tim Noah] More: Ken at Popehat.


In many cases, I’m sympathetic when government defendants who get sued ask for their legal costs to be covered. Among other reasons: 1) claims against individual supervisors are regularly advanced tactically in cases that really arise from discontent aimed at the government as employer; and 2) the in terrorem effect of individual liability can otherwise create pressure for pre-emptive settlement. Does it make a difference when the alleged misconduct serves the purpose of personal gratification for the boss rather than advancing the interests of the government employer? Or — in the case of San Diego’s mayor — that his bad behavior toward women has apparently been an open secret in the city’s political circles for years? [San Diego Union-Tribune]


San Diego mayor Bob Filner says the city will discontinue its use of traffic cameras now that a contract is expiring. The cameras, which often resulted in $500 fines levied on tourists, produced $1.9 million in gross revenue in fiscal 2011, but the city was left with only $200,000 of that “after paying the officers who issued the tickets, a camera vendor and other costs.” [Union-Tribune]

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January 18 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 18, 2011

  • What, no more monkeys or snakes? Starting March 15 new federal regulation will restrict definition of “service animals” to dogs alone [Central Kitsap Reporter, earlier, more]
  • “Appeals court: SD prosecutor’s conduct denied man a fair trial” [San Diego Union-Tribune]
  • A tale of local regulation: “A septic system at the crossroads” [Roland Toy, American Thinker]
  • Firm sues Fark, Reddit, Yahoo, etc. etc. over 2002 patent on “structured news release generation and distribution,” draws rude reply from defendant TechCrunch;
  • UK schools minister: “no touching pupils” policy keeps music teachers from doing their job [Telegraph]
  • Legal ethicist Stephen Gillers hired at $950/hour to approve ethics of Ken Feinberg’s BP compensation fund work [two views: Andrew Perlman and Monroe Freedman; earlier, Byron Stier]. Per Ted at PoL, trial lawyers criticizing the arrangement “complain that BP is using the same tactic plaintiffs’ lawyers regularly use to prove their own ethics.”
  • Is WordPress’s quirky “Hello Dolly” plugin a copyright infringement? [TechDirt]
  • Congrats, you’re eligible for a job with the D.C. public school system [ten years ago on Overlawyered; more on criminal records and hiring, subject of a current EEOC crusade]


August 30 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 30, 2010


I’ll be on KOGO-600 AM’s Top Story with Chris Reed tonight at 6:35 pm Pacific discussing recent CCAF cases and the problem of bad class action settlement cases generally.


Alzada Knickerbocker’s bookshop in Davis Sacramento, California, the Avid Reader, was hit with a complaint from a serial ADA filer. She went on camera to explain what happened for the Sick of Lawsuits video series. More on ADA serial filers here. And the Desert Sun in southern California profiles the activities of San Diego resident Roy Gash, who “is or was the plaintiff in more than 200 ADA lawsuits,” and his lawyer Theodore Pinnock, whose San Diego firm Pinnock and Wakefield “has filed about 2,000 such suits.”

P.S. Thanks to commenter B.P. for correction: the suit was against the store’s Sacramento, not Davis, branch.

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July 27 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 27, 2009

  • High-profile Pennsylvania attorney John P. Karoly Jr. pleads guilty to tax evasion, faces possible prison term [Allentown Morning Call, Legal Intelligencer, Lehigh Valley Live, WFMZ, his website; earlier]
  • Tennessee congressman pushes to overturn NBA age limit [Fanhouse, Sports Law Blog]
  • $262 million in bankruptcy fees to date for Lehman, ultimate figure could approach $1 billion [Hartley]
  • Complaint by gay altar server to Ontario Human Rights Tribunal menaces church’s autonomy [National Post via Box Turtle Bulletin]
  • Lawsuit seeks shutdown of, private message board for Philadelphia cops that has had “racially offensive” posts and comments [CNN, Post @ Volokh] 2002 Sotomayor decision in Pappas v. Giuliani may be on point [Popehat, Kennerly]
  • New Jersey organ scandal should come as little surprise given our failed policies on kidney donation [Satel, WSJ]
  • Deputy D.A. arrested for drunk driving lands on her feet, hired by local DWI Resource Center [KRQE, Albuquerque]
  • “San Diego Judge Denies Class Action Motions in 2007 Wildfires” [California Civil Justice]

July 19 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 19, 2009

  • Federal court rules “shy bladder syndrome” an ADA-protected disability [World of Work via Hyman]
  • “Goldman Sachs Backs Down in Long Legal Battle With Blogger” [American Lawyer, WSJ Law Blog, Coleman, earlier]
  • San Diego: unforeseen consequences of “anti-blight” lender regulation [Outside the Box]
  • 1,000 lose jobs as environmental litigation halts Northern California refinery project [Wood, ShopFloor, update]
  • City of Detroit lawyers on ethical hot seat after former mayor’s texting coverup scandal [ABA Journal, earlier]
  • What happens when IP law firms breed homegrown patent trolls? [Ron Coleman]
  • “It’s kind of like the practice of law, except that the clients are more likely to leave happy.” [Glenn Reynolds being naughty on Instapundit]
  • U.K.: Owner of copyright to John Cage’s avant-garde “four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence” work sues later impresario whose album track includes one minute of silence [seven years ago on Overlawyered; New Yorker treatment]


We’ve been following Buell-Wilson v. Ford for some time, including the U.S. Supreme Court remand. Curt Cutting’s blog has the latest in two April posts here and here. Cal Biz Lit also has good commentary.

Mitchell W. Roth had offices in Sherman Oaks, San Diego, and Riverside, per the NLJ. Roth’s appearances on the Internet include and the “Middle Class Advocate” blog.

Curt Cutting at California Punitive Damages takes note of a jury’s very large verdict against San Diego Gas and Electric last month, including $40 million in punitive damages, after a helicopter fatally collided with a 130-foot utility tower located on the base at Camp Pendleton. “The plaintiffs claimed that SDG&E was negligent for not installing safety lights on the tower. SDG&E says the tower had been on the base for 25 years and they would have installed lights if the Marine Corps had asked. They contend the crash was the result of errors by the crew and they plan to appeal.” (Sept. 3; Tony Perry, “$55.6 million awarded in fatal Marine helicopter crash”, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 4). Bruce Nye at Cal Biz Lit calls the verdict a “stunner” (Sept. 8).

Otherwise, the employer may just be setting itself up for wage-hour suits based on the premise that the after-hours use constitutes uncompensated overtime, says Mitch Danzig, “an attorney in the San Diego office of Boston-based Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo. Danzig advises his clients to give BlackBerrys only to employees who are exempt from overtime laws. ‘Plaintiffs’ firms are trolling for this,’ he said. ‘Now what you’re seeing on [plaintiffs'] firms’ Web sites are, “Have you been assigned a BlackBerry or a phone? If so, give us a call.”‘” (Ashby Jones, WSJ law blog, Apr. 22; Tresa Baldas, NLJ, Apr. 28). More: Jeffrey Hirsch, Workplace Prof Blog.