Posts Tagged ‘third party liability for crime’

“Idaho inmates: The beer made us do it”

“[Keith Allen] Brown and four other inmates at Idaho’s Kuna facility are suing major beer companies, blaming their crimes on alcoholism and claiming that the companies are responsible because they don’t warn consumers that their products are addictive.” The laudatory Nicholas Kristof column practically writes itself, though one should note that the inmates “do not have attorneys and drafted the lawsuit themselves.” [Idaho Statesman]

Washington: “high court allows lawsuit over 911 response”

“The family of a man shot and killed by his neighbor in Skagit County can proceed to trial on claims that the county’s emergency communications center mishandled its response to his panicked 911 call, Washington’s Supreme Court ruled.” According to his family, a 911 operator told William Munich that help was on the way but did not code the call as an emergency; a sheriff’s deputy showed up 18 minutes later, by which time Munich had been shot by the irate neighbor. “I am concerned the majority’s decision will put unwarranted pressure on every statement made by 911 operators, straining communications that depend on the free flow of information,” wrote dissenting Justice James Johnson. [KOMO; Munich (Gayle) v. Skagit Emergency Communications Center, holding, dissent (wrong link fixed now); background on Washington’s unusual approach to sovereign immunity]

P.S. Another Washington sovereign liability case of interest: Robb v. City of Seattle, “Whether the city of Seattle may be liable in an action for wrongful death brought by the survivor of a murder victim based on the failure of police to confiscate ammunition while detaining the murderer for questioning just before the murder occurred.” [Temple of Justice]

Torts roundup

  • Adventures in causation: Per $19 million Mississippi verdict, fumes from leftover gasoline caused birth defects, asthma [Insurance Journal]
  • Legal academia watch: lawprof proposes massive expansion of liability for parents [TortsProf]
  • University of Virginia’s torts giant: “A Tribute To Jeffrey O’Connell” [U.Va. Dean Paul Mahoney, Virginia Law Review (PDF) via TortsProf]
  • “Proposed civil justice reform in Canada” [Ted Frank]
  • “Town Owes $10M To Pupil Paralyzed In School Beating” [New Jersey Law Journal; Irvington, N.J.]
  • Businesses steer clear of Philadelphia litigation climate [Jim Copland, Inquirer; Trial Lawyers Inc. update]
  • Longtime West Virginia attorney general Darrell McGraw, disliked by business, toppled in re-election bid [Charleston Gazette-Mail]

October 31 roundup

“I believe that the primary responsibility at this point rests with Cinemark”

Yes, it’s a lawyer — and from a reasonably well-known New York firm at that — blaming the theater operator for the Aurora, Colo. attack [Abnormal Use (“It is interesting that Mr. Bern chose to say the ‘primary responsibility’ for the shooting lies with Cinemark. I would have probably placed the primary responsibility on the guy with the gun who was actually doing the shooting”), earlier; BBC]

Long-necked beer bottle maker not liable for barroom assault

A Texas appeals court has affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit seeking to hold Anheuser-Busch liable for an assault suffered by a bar patron. The suit alleged that the long-neck design of the bottle made it too attractive for assailants seeking a weapon; the court agreed with the brewer that the plaintiff had failed to make out a sufficient case to avoid summary judgment. [Wajert, Mass Tort Defense]

By reader acclaim: first suit filed in Colorado theater shooting

Attorney Donald Karpel, representing a theatergoer, plans to sue the theater in Aurora, Colo., the doctors who prescribed medications for the killer, and Warner Brothers, for “rampant violence” in its Batman movie. [TMZ] Suits against movie studios, at least, unlikely to prevail, so let’s be thankful for small sanities [Reuters] “That a cinema should prepare to repel a concerted paramilitary attack is only reasonable In Times Like These.” [George Wallace] More: Ken at Popehat.

“Thanks for saving my life. That’ll cost you $5 million.”

Ellen Shane, 62, of Carteret, N.J., was taken hostage at knifepoint by a parolee at Woodbridge Center Mall and was freed only when a police officer shot the criminal dead. Now she “plans to sue the township for $5 million, claiming it failed to protect public safety and that she was injured as a result of the officer’s acts. Both Shane and her husband, Ronald Shane, ‘are suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome and both have been dramatized from this incident,’ according to the tort claim notice filed by their lawyer, David Corrigan of Eatontown’.” It alleges that the officer should “attempt[ed] to resolve the situation” by other means before shooting. [Tom Haydon, Newark Star-Ledger via AnnMarie McDonald, NJLRA, from which the headline is taken]

Reluctant to recant rape accusation

Brian Banks served more than five years in prison after an old friend “falsely accused him of attacking her on their high school campus”:

In a strange turn of events, the woman, Wanetta Gibson, friended him on Facebook when he got out of prison.

In an initial meeting with him, she said she had lied; there had been no kidnap and no rape and she offered to help him clear his record, court records state.

But she refused to repeat the story to prosecutors because she feared she would have to return a $1.5 million payment from a civil suit brought by her mother against Long Beach schools….

It was uncertain Thursday whether Gibson will have to return the money.

[AP via Balko, Volokh; & welcome Reddit readers] Update 2014: School district obtains default judgment against Gibson; contrary to reports at the time, the amount paid in the original settlement is now reported at $750,000 rather than $1.5 million.

Meanwhile, on the opposite coast, high-profile Brooklyn sex crimes prosecutor Lauren Hersh has resigned following a furor over a sex trafficking case in which “prosecutors had held on to documents showing the victim recanted rape allegations one day after making them.” [NY Post, more] P.S. Daniel Fisher reminds us of Hersh’s “starring role in New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s expose of Backpage, the Village Voice’s online personals section.”