Posts Tagged ‘third party liability for crime’

Great moments in blame: prisoner cellphone access

Prison inmate orders attack on guard at guard’s home in Bishopville, South Carolina. Surviving guard Robert Johnson and wife “did not, however, sue the typical defendants – i.e., the shooter or any prison inmate or employee. Rather, the Johnsons sued several cellular phone service providers and owners of cell phone towers. According to the Johnsons, these defendants are liable for Mr. Johnson’s injuries because they were aware that their services facilitated the illegal use of cellphones by prison inmates and yet failed to take steps to curb that use.” [Fourth Circuit opinion in Johnson v. American Towers LLC, et al., affirming district court’s dismissal of claim on the merits]

“Slain basketball player’s family files suit against Dallas ISD”

“The mother of slain Wilmer Hutchins basketball star Troy Causey Jr. has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that illegal recruiting practices at Dallas ISD schools led to her son’s death a year ago. … [She] alleges that coaches visited her 18-year-old son while he was in custody at Dallas County Youth Village during an eight-month stint there following an assault arrest and convinced him to play basketball.” Subsequently, Causey died after a beating at his residence, and a roommate who also played basketball for another Dallas school was charged with manslaughter in the case. Lawyers for the mother, Tammy Simpson, said school sports officials had helped place many players in such private living arrangements and should have known they were dangerous. [WFAA]

Schools roundup

  • Many states have liberalized rules on family homeschooling, now comes the backlash from proponents of tighter regulation [NY Times]
  • Kansas Supreme Court decrees higher school spending, estimated taxpayer cost upwards of $500 million [Greg Weiner, Law and Liberty, Wichita Eagle; earlier] After all, judicially directed school munificence worked so well in nearby Kansas City, Missouri [via @David_Boaz]
  • Scaring ourselves to death: the insanity of school active shooter drills [Radley Balko]
  • University of Virginia’s resistance to assault hoax weaker than Duke’s, possibly because pressure on skeptics to shut up has intensified [KC Johnson/Stuart Taylor, Jr./Real Clear Politics] Hans Bader on curious provisions of feds’ settlement with Harvard [Examiner, earlier]
  • “Oklahoma court declines to order [high school] football game replayed for blown call” [Paul Cassell, more]
  • Ohio judge rules principals, superintendent open to being sued personally over school shooting [Insurance Journal]
  • “Wow. How fun is this? A merry go round welded stationary. So kids don’t get hurt. Way to go, New York!” [Lenore Skenazy]

Judge allows case to proceed arguing that mass theater shooting was foreseeable

A federal judge has declined to award summary judgment to Cinemark Holdings against a claim that it should have foreseen a madman’s mass shooting rampage at its Aurora, Colo. theater two years ago. [Deadline Hollywood] Ken White at Popehat corrects some media misapprehension about the difference between a summary judgment motion and disposition of the merits, but as a commenter points out, much of the practical damage is indeed done when a judge declines summary judgment in such a case, since the defendant then faces not only the substantial cost of trial but also the unpredictability of a jury faced with very sympathetic plaintiffs and a deep-pocket defendant; there is nothing either unusual or untraditional about judges’ averting these costs by ruling out particular liability theories as a matter of law.

More from Scott Greenfield: “The biggest growth job in America will be armed guard. … A theater showing a movie, even a Batman movie at midnight, is not a crazy killer magnet such that Cinemark could have possibly anticipated what would happen…. The law shouldn’t impose a duty that suggests otherwise.”

August 13 roundup

  • Texas jury awards $27 million against McDonald’s in negligent security case [Bloomberg]
  • NYC cop sues after being acquitted on rape charges, and from the difference in coverage between the NY Daily News and Slate, you might not realize it was the same case;
  • “Obamacare was no inartful compromise; it was a brutal cramdown.” [Michael Greve, Law and Liberty, on Halbig]
  • American Tort Reform Foundation nominations of “judicial hellholes” this year include Louisiana, South Florida and NYC [Abnormal Use]
  • Antitrust’s awful academics [Tom Bowden, Ayn Rand Institute]
  • New York Assembly Speaker Silver “earned up to $750,000 in 2013 working a few hours per week” at prominent tort firm [NY Daily News]
  • Europe: Gardeners with sit-on lawnmowers face buying motor insurance [Telegraph]

Torts roundup

  • Celebrated as the “most insane amusement park ever,” New Jersey’s notorious Action Park reopens, minus some of its most extreme hazards [National Post]
  • Insurance industry study finds attorneys getting into higher share of auto crash claims [IJ]
  • Medical monitoring cases, once seen as wave of future, have not fared well in court [Steven Boranian, DDL]
  • “Florida high court’s irrational ‘rational basis’ rejection of state tort reform undermines Rule of Law” [William W. Large, Washington Legal Foundation]
  • For a sense of where tort pressure is being felt, list of litigation groups at AAJ (including newly formed groups) often provides clues;
  • Los Angeles jury finds team partly liable in $14 million negligent security award for man beaten in Dodger Stadium parking lot [AP]
  • “Perhaps this is the first of a wave of hose-entanglement cases” [Lowering the Bar, Louisiana]

Parents sue hot dog shop after son’s shooting death

The parents of a man killed in a 3 a.m. altercation outside the Original Hot Dog Shop in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood have sued the shop’s owners, saying the failure to provide security personnel “was an outrageous, reckless and callous act, in disregard for the safety of its patrons.” [Paula Reed Ward, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Jovan Belcher’s mother sues Kansas City Chiefs

“Jovan Belcher’s mother has filed a wrongful-death suit against the Chiefs, seeking unspecified damages after the former linebacker killed his girlfriend and himself in December 2012. The lawsuit… also alleges that the team … knew, or should’ve known, that Belcher showed signs of cognitive and neuro-psychiatric impairment.” [Kansas City Star]

How tort law harms privacy

Per Eugene Volokh‘s new article, a wide range of actors from landlords to employers to colleges to product manufacturers correctly see themselves as being at legal risk if they don’t surveill, probe, and share information about those they deal with:

Gathering or disclosing information about people’s backgrounds, tendencies, and actions is increasingly inexpensive, and increasingly effective at helping avoid, interrupt, or deter harm. …Failure to take those precautions thus becomes negligent. … Failure to provide camera surveillance is now a common claim in negligence cases.

An especially fertile source of such incentives is the duty (much expanded by modern developments in liability law) to take reasonable precautions against criminal acts by others. It will soon be feasible at low cost, if it is not already, for automakers to install electronic components in new cars that send a warning communication — to police monitors, for example — when a motorist tries to drive at very high speed. What will happen after automakers begin to be sued after accidents for not installing such components?

“Jack in the Box ordered to pay St. Louis beating victim $20 M”

At 5 a.m., although the seating area of the fast-food restaurant was closed, the drive-through window was still filling orders. Some people were partying in the parking lot when Ali Aziz and a friend arrived. The friend got into an altercation with the partiers, Aziz stepped in and was beaten and nearly killed, suffering brain damage. Lawyers proceeded to argue that the fast-food chain should have trained its employees better and failed to follow its own procedures for handling disruptive customers. “The jury award was actually for $25 million but was reduced to $20.5 million because jurors found Aziz was partially to blame for his involvement in the fight.” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]