Steve G.

Posts Tagged ‘Frivolous Lawsuits’

Bob Barr’s “emotional distress”

In Congress, Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Crazy Claims, Democrats, First Amendment, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Libertarian Politics 2008, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, People in the news, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Republican, US Government on May 7, 2008 at 1:43 am

In 2002, Salon published an article detailing how Bob Barr filed a $30 million lawsuit against Bill Clinton,Bob Barr Larry Flynt, and James Carville, claiming “emotional distress”, on the same day he was championing a bill that would cap damage awards for pain and suffering (for everybody else, naturally) at $250,000.

As I’m sure you’ve already figured out, he didn’t win; the lawsuit was dismissed on the basis that he failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted; he appealed the dismissal, and lost again. The dismissal on appeal was even more embarrassing, since the court determined that he never even claimed the disparaging information to be false, or stated with reckless disregard for the truth, or with knowing disregard for its falsity.

Think about this for a minute. He was suing a man he had impeached and two alleged (but extremely unlikely) conspirators, unsuccessfully mind you, for causing him emotional distress; yet he still never once claimed that the dirt they dug up on him (and which Flynt eventually published) was even false.

I don’t know about you, but I find even the idea of that lawsuit incredibly amusing. Can you say “frivolous”? Or maybe the word I’m looking for is “paranoid”. Either way, the word “disturbing” also comes to mind, given that an appellate court ruled that he had sued three people for $30 million, when all they had really done was exercise their First Amendment right to free speech.

By the way ….. it’s only 17 days until the convention, and Bob Barr still has not announced his intentions, and still is hiding behind his Exploratory Committee rather than subjecting himself to voter questions and scrutiny like the other candidates have already done. Gee, I wonder why. LOL

Here’s an excerpt from the Salon article:

Jun 14, 2002 | When the news finally broke — because porn magnate Larry Flynt sent out his own press release — that Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., had filed a lawsuit in March against Bill Clinton, pundit James Carville and Flynt for $30 million, claiming “loss of reputation and emotional distress,” the timing couldn’t have been much more awkward for Barr. That very day, he was championing a bill that would cap damage awards for “pain and suffering” at $250,000.

This week, at a hearing of the House Judiciary Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee, which he chairs, Barr heaped praise on a bill that would limit so-called non-economic medical damages to $250,000, saying “a national liability insurance crisis is ravaging the nation’s healthcare system.”

So how can someone who wants to limit awards for pain and suffering sue the former president and others for a whopping $30 million in emotional distress?

The depths of the former House impeachment manager’s disdain for the former president should not be underestimated. Of all the House managers, Barr was perhaps the most gung-ho in his desire to get Clinton. Back in November 1997, before the world had ever heard of Monica Lewinsky, Barr tried to bring impeachment charges against Clinton, alleging violations of campaign finance laws.

Now, Barr has quietly filed a suit against Clinton, Carville and Flynt for “participating in a common scheme and unlawful on-going conspiracy to attempt to intimidate, impede and/or retaliate against [Barr]” for his role as an impeachment manager in 1999.

Behold: Bob Barr’s vast left-wing conspiracy.

The suit comes, however, as Barr has other things to worry about. Redistricting has placed him in a tough primary fight against Rep. John Linder, R-Ga. When asked on Thursday about Barr’s suit, Linder spokesman Bo Harmon offered a jab veiled in a no-comment. “A sitting congressman suing a former president for $30 million raises all sorts of serious questions,” Harmon said. “Until we know more about Congressman Barr’s state of mind on this, we’re going to refrain from commenting.”

Barr’s case is yet another bizarre coda to the impeachment saga. Among the documents submitted in the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, was a section of The Flynt Report, the 1999 document by the Hustler publisher that shone a spotlight on the private lives of the House impeachment managers and other moralizing Republicans. The report calls Barr “a twice-divorced family values cheerleader … who condoned an abortion, committed adultery and failed to tell the truth under oath” in a 1986 deposition.

Flynt’s report was one of the blows struck in a tit-for-tat mud-wrestling match between investigators in the Office of the Independent Counsel and their congressional allies and Democratic attack dogs during the halcyon days of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Democrats pointed to stories like the ones contained in the report and to Henry Hyde’s extramarital affair to label Republican impeachment managers as hypocrites.

Barr has long talked of a conspiracy behind the attacks on him. At the time the Flynt Report was published, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Barr if the White House was behind the smear campaign. “Most people can’t even deny that with a straight face,” Barr told Blitzer.

The suit is not the first time Barr has tried to sue Clinton outside the confines of Congress. The new civil suit is a reprise of a criminal case Barr brought in 1999 against the Executive Office of the President and the Justice Department, claiming the White House was keeping a dossier on Barr and that the congressman “was subject to attacks and threats of attack by persons in the media, including Larry Flynt, James Carville, [investigative journalist] Dan Moldea and others.”

The new complaint charges that the White House kept “files on [Barr] and routinely disseminated the contents of those files to defendants Carville and Flynt and others, including members of the media, in an effort to intimidate and impede” Barr’s investigation of Clinton. The suit also alleges that the White House kept an enemies list that included all 13 House impeachment managers; Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind.; Sen. Tim Hutchinson, R-Ark.; Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff; and Judicial Watch’s Larry Klayman, who is serving as Barr’s attorney in the case.

The suit, however, includes no evidence of such collusion.

Read the rest of this article here.

“Girls Gone Wild” founder victimized by “Judge Gone Wild”

In Celebrities, Censorship, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crazy Claims, Crime, Entertainment, First Amendment, Fraud, Law, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, People in the news, Police State, Politics, Protest, Shine on you crazy diamond, Taxation on March 16, 2008 at 7:07 pm

Joe Francis / Girls Gone WildI am not a fan of “Girls Gone Wild”. In fact, I almost vomit every night when I’m trying to watch South Park and Reno 911, since that’s when most of those commercials seem to air.

The latest is “The Wildest Bar In America”, and the commercial shows young women engaged in sex acts with one another, in public. If you purchase that one with a credit card (so they can automatically send you more in the future), you get “Finally 18” for free. The voiceover for the latter video says, “These girls have been waiting for their chance to go wild!”

I’m sorry, but after seeing that commercial – which shows young women masturbating on camera – I’d guess they went wild long before their 18th birthday.

The thought which always occurs to me when I see those commercials is, I’m glad it’s not my daughter. I’m glad I don’t even have a daughter, because then I don’t have to worry about her getting sauced on Spring Break then going wild on camera. I cannot even imagine the horror of parents across this country when they realize their daughter has appeared in “Girls Gone Wild”, and especially the parents of those girls who actually appear in the commercials.

However, as much as I hate “Girls Gone Wild”, I feel that I must speak out against what happened to the man behind the videos.

Joe Francis, the founder of “Girls Gone Wild”, has been in jail for the last year, and could not even post bail to get out. It all started when some parents accused him of filming their underage daughters. Francis claimed they had identification, so he had no way of knowing they were underage and thus he had done nothing wrong. I believe him. After all, he has filmed literally thousands of young women, has made untold millions from doing so, and I find it very hard to believe that he doesn’t check identification. In fact, Francis apparently takes a lawyer with him, to make sure he doesn’t do anything to get himself into trouble. The attorney checks IDs, and has the girls agree to participate both on video and in writing. The video statement is made so that no one can claim they were too drunk or otherwise unable to give consent. Joe Francis is much smarter than people expect him to be.

At any rate, Francis refused to negotiate in a civil suit brought by the parents of those girls, and he was thrown in jail for it.

When I first heard this I thought, surely that’s not the real reason he’s in jail. After all, it was a civil suit, not criminal charges. However, sure enough, that’s exactly why he was in jail.

Then while he was in jail for not negotiating with parents trying to shake him down for a civil suit (let’s be honest, once again, in saying that the “Girls Gone Wild” had actually gone wild long before they ever met Joe Francis) the IRS came a-knockin’. It appears that they claim Joe owes millions in unpaid taxes.

I’d hate to be Joe Francis, with all those problems.

This past week, he was finally released from jail after serving 11 months with no bail on the civil contempt charge (though the tax evasion charges are still pending, and he will go to trial on those charges at a later date) and faced a judge in Florida on criminal charges of child abuse and prostitution, related to filming the underage girls (for criminal charges, all that matters is that they were factually under 18). He struck a misdemeanor no contest plea, the judge gave him time served, no probation, no fine, he’s free to go. The only condition was that “Girls Gone Wild” not film there again for three years. That shouldn’t be a problem, given that girls are going wild all over this great nation of ours.

The problem I see with this, putting aside my personal feelings about his line of business, is that the man should never have been in jail over a civil suit in the first place. Here’s the basic scenario: he got sued by angry parents whose daughters used fake IDS to claim they were of legal age, the judge told the parties to work out a settlement, he didn’t want to work out a settlement because he thought he’d done nothing wrong since he was actually the one defrauded, so the judge threw him in jail for civil contempt. Personally, I think the judge showed his personal bias in the case, by throwing a man in jail simply because he preferred for a jury decide if he had done anything wrong. I think Francis is right, and I seriously doubt a civil jury would find against him, given all the safeguards he had taken against filming underage girls.

The problem with this is that, at the time he was originally incarcerated, no jury had ever determined that he had done anything wrong, civilly or criminally, and the criminal charges against him were not even close to being capital crimes, so he was entitled to bail. Frankly, I get the impression that they just didn’t want him in their area, documenting the fact that their little girls are going wild.. Maybe one of the girls who went wild is the niece of a friend of a friend of the judge, who knows.

Overall, while I am definitely not a fan of “Girls Gone Wild”, I am a fan of the Constitution, and under the Constitution, what happened to Joe Francis should never happen to anyone.

Alleged Katrina victim seeks $3 Quadrillion in damages

In Courts and Justice System, Crazy Claims, Fraud, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, Taxation on January 10, 2008 at 12:33 am

Katrina claims graphicUpon a review of claims for government compensation following Hurricane Katrina, 247 claims for damages were for at least $1 billion each, while one seeks a staggering $3 quadrillion.

How much is a quadrillion? Let’s put this into perspective. The US Gross Domestic Product for 2007 was “only” $13.2 trillion. Katrina “only” caused $60 billion in insured losses and may cost Southeastern states an additional $125 billion in losses, which is together only a small percentage of what this person is seeking.

To give you a visual, a stack of one quadrillion pennies would reach Saturn. Therefore, this claimant is asking for enough pennies to go to Saturn, back to Earth, and back to Saturn again.

Perhaps they just want to visit their home planet, come back to get their stuff, then go back again.

The strange thing is, the person who filed that claim lives in a town called Baker, which is 93 miles northwest of New Orleans. In other words, that town was not directly affected by Hurricane Katrina, and certainly was not flooded out by the broken levees, so it can’t be from the Town of Baker. However, the city has a trailer park where hundreds of evacuees have resided since Katrina, so it is possible that the claim was filed by an actual Katrina survivor.

I’d be very interested to know why they think they are entitled to such a bizarre amount of damages; however, the only information being released is the amount and the zip code from which the claim originated.

Thus far, 247,000 claims have been filed. Currently, the larger claims (over $1 billion each) add up to a staggering $3,014,170,389,176,410 thus far. Based upon prior reports of massive fraud with regard to this particular disaster, I’d guess most of that is based upon fraudulent or artificially inflated claims.

The City of New Orleans filed a claim for $77 billion. Fifteen claims over $1 billion involved a death. Fourteen were from businesses, including several insurance companies.

If you’re in the business of insuring people against catastrophe, and keeping almost all the money from insureds (and probably denying a lot of valid claims, since insurance companies are well known to do that) I don’t think the government needs to reimburse you when you finally forced to pay out. After all, that payout comes out of my pocket and the pockets of hardworking people. You voluntarily accepted the risk, so it’s your problem, not ours.

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Source: CBS News “Katrina Victim Sues For $3 Quadrillion”

The RIAA has finally lost what little bit of mind it started out with…

In Celebrities, Courts and Justice System, Crazy Claims, Entertainment, Law, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, Music, Protest on January 4, 2008 at 12:38 am

RIAA posterThe RIAA, the recording industry mouthpiece responsible for suing everyone from pre-teens to grannies for downloading music online, has now suggested that it is against the law even for consumers to copy a CD onto their own computer, for their own personal use, or to loan a CD to someone else for them to listen to it.

When I read that, I threw up into my mouth a little bit. Do you have any idea how many albums I loaned out and/or borrowed when I was a teenager? Yeah, I know, I’m dating myself by referencing albums. Yet, I’m sure teens today do the same thing with CDs, and you know what? I don’t see a damn thing wrong with doing that. They bought it, it’s theirs, and they can do with it as they please.

According to The Washington Post:

The industry’s lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are “unauthorized copies” of copyrighted recordings.

“I couldn’t believe it when I read that,” says Ray Beckerman, a New York lawyer who represents six clients who have been sued by the RIAA. “The basic principle in the law is that you have to distribute actual physical copies to be guilty of violating copyright. But recently, the industry has been going around saying that even a personal copy on your computer is a violation.”

RIAA’s hard-line position seems clear. Its Web site says: “If you make unauthorized copies of copyrighted music recordings, you’re stealing. You’re breaking the law and you could be held legally liable for thousands of dollars in damages.”

Whether customers may copy their CDs onto their computers—an act at the very heart of the digital revolution—has a murky legal foundation, the RIAA argues. The industry’s own Web site says that making a personal copy of a CD that you bought legitimately may not be a legal right, but it “won’t usually raise concerns,” as long as you don’t give away the music or lend it to anyone.

The Howell case was not the first time the industry has argued that making a personal copy from a legally purchased CD is illegal. At the Thomas trial in Minnesota, Sony BMG’s chief of litigation, Jennifer Pariser, testified that “when an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song.” Copying a song you bought is “a nice way of saying ‘steals just one copy,’ “ she said.

The industry “will continue to bring lawsuits” against those who “ignore years of warnings,” RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy said in a statement. “It’s not our first choice, but it’s a necessary part of the equation. There are consequences for breaking the law.” And, perhaps, for firing up your computer.

They’ve GOT to be kidding.

If I buy a book and loan it to someone else to read, am I violating the author’s copyright? Of course not, especially since libraries are made to do exactly that. Yet it takes a LOT longer to write a book, than it does to record a CD, and arguably requires far more intelligence and (in many cases) more talent. Why is it that writers aren’t screaming about this, while musicians are? I’d guess it’s because writers are smarter than musicians, but we already knew that.

Libraries now loan out CDs, they’ve been doing that for quite a while. Is the RIAA going to sue libraries for loaning out CDs, or will they pick and choose who they are going to sue? Outrageous.

Now, I’m not into downloading music, never have been. However, I’m getting so annoyed with these RIAA holier-than-thou assholes that I’m tempted to start downloading the hell out of music I already own, just to prove a point.

If I buy a CD, the music is mine forever. I can copy the music files onto my computer in case the CD ever gets scratched, I can post a song on my website, I can loan the CD to a friend so they can listen to it. That’s all called “Fair Use”. If the CD really sucks, I can use the CD itself as a frisbee to play with my dogs (I don’t suggest that, because dogs can get hurt on it) or I can use it as a coaster. What I do with it is nobody’s business but mine, because I own it. I feel confident that, when and if the RIAA’s newest ludicrous claims are ever litigated, the courts will agree with me.

What the RIAA folks don’t seem to understand (or maybe they’re starting to figure it out, time will tell) is that music consumers are rebelling, big time. CD sales were down 20% from last year. People are paying for downloads instead, so they get only the songs they want (as opposed to buying a CD, where you are paying even for songs you don’t want). The industry is changing, and if the RIAA and the artists don’t change with it, they’re in for a world of hurt.

Truthfully, I won’t feel sorry for them if they end up going broke. I bust my ass to write for a living, when I’m writing I’m working 18 hours a day, sometimes for months on end. I’ve got a few stories I’ve been chasing for years, at great cost to me in both time and money. Yet you don’t see me bellyaching because the local library loaned my work to multiple people without paying me for it each time they loan it out.

By the way, I blame this entire mess on Metallica. They were upset because people were downloading their music on Napster, and raised hell and started this entire mess. The problem is, Metallica really isn’t all that talented, and their music isn’t all that unique. It’s not as if they created the musical equivalent of War and Peace, after all.

The RIAA needs to understand that it is going too far, and their ownership myopia is going to start backfiring on them with juries. Just hide and watch, you’ll see that I’m right. Jury nullification is alive and well in this country, and jurors are not going to find anybody liable for thousands of dollars in damages merely for copying a CD onto their own computer for personal use, or for loaning a CD to their friend.

Originally posted by ElfNinosMom on Adventures in Frickintardistan

Lawyers Gone Wild

In Corruption, Fraud on June 25, 2007 at 9:01 pm

Perry WhatleyFrom The Houston Chronicle:

Perry ”Bit” Whatley, 84, a former Baytown refinery worker and lifelong Texan, spent his final days in self-imposed exile, a fugitive from a more than two-year-old fight with the state probate courts.

Whatley was living in Arizona when he died, but it was not where he wanted to be, away from his home, cut off from his family and his $2 million fortune.

It was an unlikely, but perhaps unavoidable, end for the retired machinist, a frugal man who had wisely invested his savings in Humble Oil, which became Exxon, then Exxon Mobil. The investment made him a millionaire nearly twice over, and yet for 20 years after his retirement he lived a simple life in a simple Baytown bungalow until last summer, when he fled the jurisdiction of Harris County Probate Court.

Whatley died Feb. 14 in a rental home in Tempe in the company of his longtime caregiver, Dawn Johnson Whatley, 63, whom he married in a bedside ceremony in January 2005. His wife was his sole heir.

The Whatleys, both seniors with serious health problems, abandoned their own home and went into hiding together last summer. They left to avoid a hearing and, later, orders issued by Probate Judge Mike Wood that declared Whatley incapacitated, took away control of his assets and could have forced him into a nursing home.

Perry Whatley’s sad saga started out as a dispute between his niece and his new wife, two people who professed devotion to him and who also sought control over his fortune, his health care and his basic life decisions.

But the fight, taken to court in April 2005 by Whatley’s niece, morphed quickly into a twisted legal free-for-all and a near-infamous example for critics who claim Texas probate courts have run amok. It also underscores how worries over a loved one — seemingly simple at first — can escalate into a costly and chaotic legal conflict.

It took decades for Whatley to make his money.

In less than two years, nearly $1.5 million has been spent on legal bills and court-authorized expenses for his probate case and related litigation, based on case documents.

And though Whatley is gone, the fight over what remains of his money is far from over.

Read the rest of this disturbing story at The Houston Chronicle.

DC judge who sued drycleaner for $54 million loses not only his case, but his mind as well

In Crazy Claims on June 25, 2007 at 3:55 pm

[TiGirl is unavailable right now, so at her suggestion I’m updating one of her previous entries by posting a new article from my blog – ENM]

By now, most people have probably heard about the case involving Roy Pearson, a Washington, DC administrative law judge, who sued a dry cleaner for $54 million, over a missing pair of pants. Today, a judge ruled that he not only doesn’t get a dime from the dry cleaner, he will also have to pay the dry cleaners’ legal fees and costs.

Much more interesting, however, is what happened in the courtroom. Here’s a description from ABC News:

The trial proved nearly as dramatic — and unusual — as the plaintiff’s claims. On the witness stand, Pearson broke down in tears and had to take a break from his testimony because he became too emotional while questioning himself about his experience with the missing trousers.

In his opening statement, Pearson came out swinging, telling the court, “Never before in recorded history have a group of defendants engaged in such misleading and unfair business practices.”

Repeatedly referring to himself as “we,” Pearson sought to present himself as the leader of a class of tens of thousands, if not a half million people, consisting of local residents he believes are at risk of falling for such insidious business practices as posting “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and “Same Day Service” signs. Pearson said at one point in court filings that he planned to call 63 witnesses.

“Mr. Pearson, you are not ‘we.’ You are an ‘I,'” Bartnoff told him.

As Pearson explained the details of the missing pants, he struggled to get through his hour and a half of testimony, most of which concerned his credentials and his background.

He became visibly emotional when he reached the point in the story in which he recounted a confrontation with Soo Chung from the dry cleaning store.

“These are not my pants,” he testified, and said he told her, “I have in my adult life, with one exception, never worn pants with cuffs.”

Pearson testified that Chung insisted, saying, “These are your pants.”

Pearson then rushed from the courtroom, overcome with emotion.

From that description, I think it’s pretty obvious that Pearson is more than a little off in the head. I’m not saying the pants presented were his pants, because I’ve had a lot of dry cleaners screw up on my stuff so it’s very possible they made a mistake; but at the same time, $54 million over a lost pair of pants? Give me a frickin’ break.

Obviously, it was a frivolous lawsuit which should never have been brought in the first place (after all, the Chungs at one point offered him $12,000, which is more than enough to make up for his lost pants). It has damaged the Chungs’ reputation, their credit rating, and generally destroyed their lives. One of the Chungs said that they just want to go back to Korea after this fiasco.

So I think paying the Chungs’ attorney fees and court costs just is not enough. Allow them to amend their counterclaim, if necessary, then grant them major damages for what they’ve endured. That not only will be a step in the direction of making this right again for a couple of hardworking immigrants who have suffered greatly at the hands of a man who intentionally abused our system of justice, it will also serve to warn others who might be tempted to do something that stupid.

Then again, I think you really need to be crazy in order to think you’re entitled to that much money just because your pants were lost at the drycleaner’s, so even that probably won’t serve as a deterrent to other crazies who think something that small is worth zillions.

It appears his hypocrisy knows no bounds

In Health, Libertarian, Taxation on May 22, 2007 at 9:10 pm

John Edwards said that there are two Americas and he is right.

There are Americans who have access to ob/gyns in their towns and there are those who don’t. From a November news release from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

Increasing medical liability insurance premiums and the fear of lawsuits continue to force ob-gyns to change how they practice medicine, according to the latest medical liability survey conducted by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). As a result, many women across the country are going without basic health care and treatment of serious health conditions, as more ob-gyns are providing fewer services, retiring from practice completely, or relocating to areas where there are less liability concerns.

According to the ACOG survey, 70% of ob-gyns have made changes to their practice because of the lack of available or affordable medical liability insurance, and 65% have made changes because of the risk or fear of liability claims or litigation. Between 7-8% have stopped practicing obstetrics altogether because of either insurance affordability or availability issues or the risk or fear of being sued.

Read the rest of this entry »

Is the American Dream Still Possible for Small Business Owners?

In Crazy Claims on May 2, 2007 at 4:07 pm


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Until today, I never knew who Judge Roy Pierson was but now I shall never forget. It seems that he may destroy a dry-cleaning business for good. This guy is demanding 67 million dollars for a pair of pants that he claims were lost by the the dry cleaning service. This is a Mom and Pop establishment run by Jin and Soo Chung. These are hard working folks pursuing the American Dream. They have attempted to settle the dispute by offering Mr Pierson $3,000, $4,600.00 then $12,000 but he did not accept their offers. I can’t believe that this case hasn’t been thrown out, but I can believe that this guy is an attorney and a judge. I only hope that in the end, justice prevails and he ends up footing the bill for all of the Chung’s legal expenses AND for all of the mental anguish that he has put them through. The Chung’s also claim that a week later they found the pants and have evidence that they are Mr. Pierson’s – but he’s denying it.

Hat Tip/ABC News