Does a New Breed of Pilot Error … Fighting Automation to the Ground … Need a New Kind of Pilot?

Photo originally published in CityWatch LA, 4/11/19.

Photo originally published in CityWatch LA, 4/11/19.

By Sara Corcoran, Courts Monitor Publisher

Statistically speaking, traveling by plane is the safest mode of transportation. However, when there’s a system challenge in flight, a pilot’s ability to quickly identify and respond to the issue can often be the difference between life and death.

Mid-air accidents are much more often than not the result of pilot error, and it is expected that the global aviation community will reaffirm the safety of the 737 MAX 8. 

A similar pattern of malfunctioning controls that automated unsolicited nose pitches while in flight occurred with Airbus back in 2008. Qantas flight 72 serves as a good case study on how pilots should respond when faced with what has become a catastrophic situation for others. Read more

Connecticut’s highest court rules against Remington over Sandy Hook

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts, as included in the report by Reuters on 3/14/19.

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts, as included in the report by Reuters on 3/14/19.

Remington Outdoor Co. Inc. can be sued for the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 school children aged 6 and 7 and six adult staff dead, a court ruled on March 14. 

This marks a “setback for gun makers long shielded from liability in mass shootings,” Reuters reported.

“In a 4-3 ruling widely expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Connecticut’s highest court found the lawsuit could proceed based on a state law protecting consumers against fraudulent marketing,” noted Reuters.

Litigants argued that Remington marketed its AR-15 Bushmaster rifle “based on its militaristic appeal.”

USA Today noted the larger ramifications of the ruling: “By ruling against a gun-maker, the Connecticut Supreme Court appears to have pierced a legal shield that could lead to more lawsuits and damaging disclosures involving the arms industry, gun control advocates say.”

The newspaper added that the method of marketing was questioned, quoting Justice Richard Powers in the majority opinion: “The regulation of advertising that threatens the public’s health, safety and morals has long been considered a core exercise of the states’ police powers.”

Testing the 1st Amendment: Journalism Becomes a Proving Ground for Anti-SLAPP Laws

by Sara Corcoran, Courts Monitor Publisher
(Originally published in CityWatch LA on 3/14/19)
 

Photo originally published in CityWatch LA, 3/14/19.

Photo originally published in CityWatch LA, 3/14/19.

On February 11, L. Lin Wood, an Atlanta based lawyer, filed a complaint in conjunction with Kentucky based lawyer, Todd McMurtry, in the Eastern District of Kentucky against the Washington Post (Wapo).

Kentucky does not have Anti-Slapp Laws — laws designed to allow for early dismissal of lawsuits related to Freedom of Speech. Mr. Wood is an experienced defamation litigator who has represented multiple high-profile clients, including accused Atlanta bomber Richard Jewell, former Congressman Gary Condit, and Burke Ramsey the brother of Jon Benet. 

The complaint was filed on behalf is Mr. and Mrs. Sandmann, as guardians of. The Plaintiff seeks $50 million in compensatory damages and $200 million in punitive damages for the harm Nicholas allegedly suffered as a result of the negligent, reckless, and malicious attacks both digital and in print. Sandmann asserts that these events have caused permanent damage to his life and reputation and were directed by malice. It is the events of January 18, 2019, that occurred on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. that serve as the basis for the civil complaint.  Read the full story …

Arbitration gains currency after Supreme Court decision

unnamed-4Employees trying to take companies to court face more likelihood of arbitration based on a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, The Recorder at law.com reports.

A string of U.S. Supreme Court decisions favoring arbitration contracts, including the recent split decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, changed the landscape of workplace litigation, the site notes.

“Claims of persistent sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, fast-food workers shorted on pay and gig economy contractors fighting for employee status have all been routed to arbitration in decisions citing Epic,” The Recorder notes.

“[Epic] changes the dynamics in a profound way,” Gerald Maatman, a partner at Seyfarth Shaw in Chicago told The Recorder. “It’s one of the most important decisions from the Supreme Court that impacts workplace issues.”

“In collaboration with San Francisco-based legal research company Casetext, The Recorder affiliate The National Law Journal analyzed 92 decisions from U.S. courts of appeal and federal district courts that cited Epic in the seven months between when it was handed down last May and the end of 2018,” the article notes. “Among those cases, 10 circuit court and 49 district court decisions centered on arbitration and dealt with workplace claims — and the majority either compelled arbitration or revived it as a live issue.”

Global warming, fossil fuels focus of new wave of lawsuits

 Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images, as reported by Vox, 2/22/19.


Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images, as reported by Vox, 2/22/19.

Fossil fuel producers could follow in the footsteps of tobacco companies, based on a new string of lawsuits targeting global warming, according to a Vox Media story.

“In 1998, 46 states and the District of Columbia signed on to the largest civil litigation settlement in US history, the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement,” Vox notes, referring to the litigation that forced tobacco companies to pay out more than $206 billion over 25 years.

“Now another wave of lawsuits is trying to hold powerful institutions accountable for an even bigger crisis, by making them pay and change their ways,” Vox reports. “At least eight US cities, five counties, and one state are suing some of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies for selling products that contribute to global warming while misleading the public about their harms. In parallel, 21 young people are trying to suspend fossil fuel development as part of their high-profile climate rights case, Juliana v. United States, against the government. (The case is currently awaiting a hearing at the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals.)”

Fossil fuel litigation could gain traction based on early precedents, Vox notes.

“The Environmental Protection Agency was forced to regulate carbon dioxide to fight climate change as the result of a 2007 Supreme Court decision in a lawsuit, Massachusetts v. EPA,” the site explains.

Yet, these broad lawsuits can backfire as well.

“Climate change lawsuits could lead to multibillion-dollar payouts, and force an unwilling government to make cutting greenhouse gases a central priority. Both types of cases could set precedents that would last for decades,” Vox notes. “But litigation takes years of effort and can cost millions. If a court or a jury rules against the plaintiffs, they could end up worse off than when they started.”

Supreme Court limits power of states and localities to impose fines, seize property

 Photo by Mr. Kjetil Ree. [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Photo by Mr. Kjetil Ree. [CC BY-SA 3.0]

According to a recent Washington Post report, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday, 2/20/19, that “the Constitution’s prohibition on excessive fines applies to state and local governments, limiting their abilities to impose financial penalties and seize property.” 

The unanimous vote was prompted by a case at the court which involved Tyson Timbs of Marion, Ind. In 2015, Timbs’ Land Rover SUV, worth $42,000, was seized after his arrest for selling heroin valued at a few hundred dollars. According to the Washington Post, “Timbs has sued to get it back, and while Wednesday’s decision did not dictate that outcome, it gave him a new day in court.”

 

Anonymous Alfalfa

by Sara Corcoran, Courts Monitor Publisher
(Originally published in CityWatch LA on 2/14/19)

 You can use the attached image with the caption: Senator John Kerry steps down as Alfalfa president (Photo originally published in CityWatch LA)


Senator John Kerry steps down as Alfalfa president (Photo originally published in CityWatch LA)

Every 3rd week in January, the “.02%” take over Washington DC to host their annual dinner at the Capital Hilton. Established in 1913, the Alfalfa Club cultivates its membership of elite powerbrokers from all over the United States. 

With a membership of 200– including Fortune 500 executives, politicians, and Presidents.— members invite guests to attend the DC dinner. This is a seldom refused invitation. However, breaking with long-standing tradition, the ever-insecure Trump declined the invite for 2018 and 2019. 

So, if you weren’t one of the lucky few invited to attend the passing of the gavel from former Senator John Kerry to newly elected Alfalfa President, Senator Mitt Romney, you can still be a spectator from the basement of the Hay Adams Hotel. If there is an optimal time to catch a glimpse of the accomplished and well-heeled crowd, it’s the weekend of January 25th. 

Read more here.

California federal judge blocks Trump birth control coverage rules in 13 states

Photo credit: AP File Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, as reported by AP on 1/13/19.

Photo credit: AP File Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, as reported by AP on 1/13/19.

According to the AP, on Sunday, 1/13/19, Judge Haywood Gilliam of California granted a request for a preliminary injunction by California, 12 other states and Washington, D.C.,  to block Trump administration rules, which would allow more employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control. According to the report, “The plaintiffs sought to prevent the rules from taking effect as scheduled today while a lawsuit against them moved forward… But Gilliam limited the scope of the ruling to the plaintiffs, rejecting their request that he block the rules nationwide.”

U.S. Appeals Court sides with Uber, denies class action suits

Image: uber.com

Image: uber.com

Drivers who complained that “Uber misclassified them as independent contractors to avoid having to reimburse them for gasoline, vehicle maintenance, and other expenses,” were dealt a legal setback last month, according to a Reuters report in The New York Times.

“Uber Technologies Inc won a legal victory on Tuesday as a federal appeals court said drivers seeking to be classified as employees rather than independent contractors must arbitrate their claims individually, and not pursue class-action lawsuits,” the news report notes.

In a 3-0 decision on September 25, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco reversed a lower court judge’s denial of Uber’s motion to compel arbitration in three lawsuits.

It also overturned the class certification in one of the lawsuits of thousands of California drivers who had driven for the San Francisco-based ride-hailing company since August 2009.

Courts Monitor Publisher Believes Kavanaugh Accuser

Sara Corcoran is correspondent, contributing editor, and founding publisher of the National Courts Monitor & California Courts Monitor.

Sara Corcoran is correspondent, contributing editor, and founding publisher of the National Courts Monitor & California Courts Monitor.

Based in part on the fact they attended the same Washington, D.C. area high school, Courts Monitor Publisher Sara Corcoran explains why she believes the woman accusing the U.S. Supreme Court nominee of a sexual attack. She posted her story at the Daily Caller website which you can find here.