Monday, March 14, 2011

Mischief In Our Courts: Two Evil Lawsuits

Two recent court cases left me shaking my head in wonder. Not the kind of wonder that comes from watching Disney's "Fantasia," or observing the night sky, rather the kind of wondering that seeks reasons for any of the dumb-ass things that happen in this world of ours.

The lesser of the evils is an injury lawsuit that has just been filed against Starbucks. The plaintiffs are the survivors of a guy who died, allegedly because Starbucks left the tip jar where people can reach it, without including a warning to customers that stupidly chasing someone who grabbed the tip jar and ran with it might get you stomped or even killed.

I'm sure that even the plaintiffs would agree that the place for a tip jar is where people can reach it, so I'm thinking the case will hang on the failure to warn.

Cases like this remind me of the frequent wish of many lawyers that there was a "bullshit defense," as in, call a hearing and just explain to the judge that this case is bullshit. "Your honor, kill it before it spreads."

The other evil case is much, much more insidious. A blogger in Minneapolis exposed the link of a local community activist to mortgage fraud. The blogger worked for the Star Tribune newspaper, and isn't that what journalists are supposed to do? The fraud part was all true, nobody disputed the facts, the lawsuit was not one for the tort of libel. The blogger was sued for the new tort of "meddling in employment relations." The crooked activist had been fired from his job as a result of the exposure of the illegal activity. The blogger was found liable too, and he was ordered to pay the crook $60,000.

The blogger's name is John Hoff, and the blog is "the Adventures of Johnnie Northside." I hope that he comes down on his feet.

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