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transit

Following up on the sensational Blue Line crash at the Chicago Transit Authority’s O’Hare Airport terminus: “The CTA’s contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union authorizes the agency to fire rail operators who have had two serious safety violations in a short period of time [emphasis added], and officials said the two incidents when [Brittney] Haywood dozed off qualify her for termination.” Falling asleep just once at the controls of a train wasn’t enough! [CBS Chicago] More: Bill Zeiser, American Spectator.

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…circa 1897,” in Chicago. It is well recognized that a legal culture of entrepreneurial claims-making and suit-filing, especially as regards road and transport mishaps, had emerged in some large American cities by the early Twentieth Century. But its development in all likelihood can be traced to even earlier points than that, perhaps stimulated in part by the widespread electrification of urban streetcar lines (previously animal-drawn) in the early 1890s. [Kyle Graham]

“A Connecticut man who says he was injured on New York City’s Citi Bike has filed a $15 million lawsuit against the bike-share operator. … His attorney says the 73-year-old now suffers from traumatic nerve palsy that left him unable to smell or taste.” [AP, NY Daily News]

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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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[Yasmin] Rahman tried to commit suicide in 2001 by jumping in front of a subway train. NYPD officers saved her life. She was 15. Now, 27, she’s suing the city for $7 million, claiming the city and the NYPD posted pictures, police reports and hospital records of her failed suicide attempt on a database open to the public. She claims that has prevented her from obtaining a job.

Although her lawsuit alleges that the publication of the material has prevented Rahman from “obtaining any type of job,” a reporter “found that she actually did have a job from 2010 to 2012,” among other difficulties with the story. Rahman’s lawyer, Andrew Schatkin, commented on the $7 million demand: “I put a large figure in because if I put a small figure in I would only get that small amount. It’s not that I’m making an outsized or frankly a lie about it for a better word. I’m simply enabling a figure that would get her as much compensation as possible.” [MyFoxNY.com; Eric Turkewitz on ad damnum clauses in New York]

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Maurice Owens fell down dramatically in an elevator at Washington, D.C.’s Potomac Avenue Metro station, and blamed it on a banana peel. Authorities say that not only did a surveillance camera show him dropping the peel himself, it also caught him glancing up at least three times at the camera itself before the incident. [Washington Post]

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Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on July 3, 2013

  • State attorneys general and contingent-fee lawyers: West Virginia high court says OK [WV Record] Similar Nevada challenge [Daniel Fisher]
  • Driver of bus that fatally crushed pedestrian fails to convince court on can’t-bear-to-look-at-evidence theory [David Applegate, Heartland Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly]
  • UK uncovers biggest car crash scam ring, detectives say County Durham motorists were paying up to £100 extra on insurance [BBC, Guardian, Telegraph]
  • “A Litigator Reviews John Grisham’s The Litigators” [Max Kennerly]
  • Quin Hillyer, who’s written extensively on litigation abuse, is putting journalism on hold and running for Congress from Mobile, Ala. [American Spectator]
  • Not clear how man and 5-year-old son drowned in pool — he’d been hired for landscaping — but homeowner being sued [Florence, Ala.; WAFF]
  • “U.S. Legal System Ranked as Most Costly” [Shannon Green, Corp Counsel] “International comparisons of litigation costs: Europe, U.S. and Canada” [US Chamber]

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We’re previously noted the activities of ArrivalStar and related entities, which have filed numerous suits against enterprises over alleged infringement on vehicle-tracking technology. Now one of its frequent targets, public transit systems, is striking back: the “American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has teamed up with the Public Patent Foundation (PubPat) … [and] have sued to knock out the ArrivalStar patents.” [Joe Mullin, Ars Technica] Also: “F.T.C. Is Said to Plan Inquiry of Frivolous Patent Lawsuits” [New York Times]

How solid were the safety numbers underpinning the Department of Transportation’s high-profile crackdown on so-called Chinatown buses and other low-cost intercity bus services? [Marc Scribner, CEI; Jim Epstein, Reason]

  • Great moments in union contracts: “Many Suburban Cops Allowed To Work ‘Half Drunk’” [NBC Chicago]
  • California high court imposes arbitrary damage-splitting rule on mixed-motive firings [Cheryl Miller, The Recorder]
  • More tales of much-forgiven Broward County bus drivers [Sun-Sentinel, background]
  • Sixth Circuit: SEIU robocalls to harass hospital CEO don’t violate TCPA [Littler]
  • Judge rejects EEOC position against alcohol testing of steelworkers in safety-sensitive posts [Paul Mirengoff, PowerLine, Reuters]
  • “NYFD made written test impossible to fail, but diversity recruits in Academy can’t meet physical standards either.” [Ted Frank/PoL]
  • “The March Toward a Bullying Cause of Action Continues” [Michael Fox, Employer's Lawyer; TheDenverChannel.com]
  • T’wasn’t easy for White House to find a new Labor Secretary to the left of Hilda Solis, but meet Tom Perez [WaPo]

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There’s nothing new about the impulse to call in the cops against wolves, mashers, and fresh guys on street corners and public conveyances [Alexis Coe, The Atlantic]:

As early as 1897, Missouri representative Prichard B. Hoot introduced a bill that sought to regulate flirting on trains, but the endeavor ultimately proved unsuccessful. That same year, Senator James G. McCune recommended Virginia make flirting a misdemeanor; like his earlier proposal to outlaw football, this bill did not come to fruition.

Broward County, Fla. transit bus driver Larry Moore “was disciplined 19 times” and “was held responsible for nine accidents with other South Florida drivers.” After a so-called last-chance warning in 2008 he “went on to be disciplined seven more times, for five preventable accidents and two clashes with customers, county personnel records show.”

The Sun Sentinel reported earlier this month that one driver, Charles Butler, who cost taxpayers $73,005 in a lawsuit settlement, was involved in 21 accidents while driving a county bus. Twelve were deemed preventable, and 10 involved him hitting another driver. He is still driving, despite having reached the firing threshold. …

[Transit director Tim] Garling said the county follows the union contract, which calls for progressive levels of discipline.

[Sun-Sentinel, newspaper's earlier coverage of Butler case here and here]

Civil liberties roundup

by Walter Olson on January 7, 2013

  • Drones in domestic policing a liberty danger, warns NYT [editorial, earlier]
  • When prosecutors freeze bank accounts, high-level targets can’t hire the best lawyers to defend themselves. Regrettable unintended etc. [Silverglate]
  • On criminalizing false statements to federal agents [Scott Greenfield vs. Bill Otis]
  • “Congress Has Enough Time to Keep Spying on You, Forever” [Matt Welch; Cato video with Julian Sanchez]
  • More on Philadelphia forfeiture [John K. Ross, Reason, earlier]
  • Homeland Security program: “Public Buses Across Country Quietly Adding Microphones to Record Passenger Conversations” [Kim Zetter/Wired via Fountain]
  • Does Brooklyn indictment signal U.S. claim of universal jurisdiction over acts hostile to its foreign policy, anywhere in world? [Eugene Kontorovich/Volokh]

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Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on December 14, 2012

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For many towns and cities, the cost of building to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements can put the price of bus shelters out of reach. However, there’s no legal requirement to build such shelters in the first place. So bus patrons are free to go right on standing outside in the chilly rain or hot sun [Matt Caywood, Greater Greater Washington]

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…and how he spends his Unruh Act windfall results in — did you guess? — more legal complications. [Gendy Alimurung, L.A. Weekly via @andrewmgrossman; Nowell's earlier legal battles here and here]

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In Rockville, Maryland, a ten-year-old kid is riding the city bus [Free-Range Kids]

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Snags for the D.C. subway system [Washington Post via @andrewmgrossman]

The first shipment of the new [SmarTrip card] machines did not have the audio and Braille features required under the Americans with Disabilities Act. But Metro thought it could roll out the machines and add the audio and Braille a couple of months later. When disability advocates raised concerns, Metro realized that going forward would violate the ADA, and the transit agency halted the rollout.

So nearly three weeks after every station was to have its own SmarTrip card dispenser, riders at nearly half of the stations in the Metrorail system are out of luck if they need to buy a card.

Riders who stay with paper Farecards are charged an extra dollar a trip.

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