This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight…
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Happy 40th to the Staggers Rail Act, Which Deregulated and Saved the U.S. Rail Industry

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight rail and saved it from looming oblivion.

At the time of passage, the U.S. economy muddled along amid ongoing malaise, and our rail industry teetered due to decades of overly bureaucratic sclerosis.  Many other domestic U.S. industries had disappeared, and our railroads faced the same fate.  But by passing the Staggers Rail Act, Congress restored a deregulatory approach that in the 1980s allowed other U.S. industries to thrive.  No longer would government determine what services railroads could offer, their rates or their routes, instead restoring greater authority to the railroads themselves based upon cost-efficiency.

Today, U.S. rail flourishes even amid the coronavirus pandemic…[more]

October 13, 2020 • 11:09 PM

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Jester's CourtroomLegal tales stranger than stranger than fiction: Ridiculous and sometimes funny lawsuits plaguing our courts.
Jester’s Courtroom
Will Tuition Lawsuits Go Viral?
Wednesday, April 15 2020

At least two of the nation's more than 5,300 colleges are being sued by their students after spring semester classes have moved online to adhere to social-distancing requirements.

Lawsuits seeking class action status have been filed against Drexel University and the University of Miami, alleging that the schools are failing to give them the experiences they have paid for: in-person instruction. With classes moved online, students are seeking refunds of tuition, room and board and fees.

“The students are going to have an uphill battle unless a school has actually shut down and they’re not getting credit,” said James Keller, co-chair of the higher-education practice at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP in Philadelphia, where Drexel is. “The basic contractual agreement is, I pay tuition, and if I satisfy academic requirements, you give me credit. That’s still happening.”

According to news reports, Roy Willey, a lawyer at the Anastopoulo Law Firm in South Carolina, the firm that filed the cases against the University of Miami and Drexel, said the schools weren’t providing students with the experience they were promised.

“The on-campus learning experience is very different than it is online; these student’s didn’t sign up to online colleges,” said Mr. Willey, who filed the cases.

Source: wsj.com

There’s No Cure for Frivolous
Wednesday, April 08 2020

Fox News is being sued by a nonprofit in Washington state, accusing the major news network of violating a consumer protection law by engaging in a “campaign of deception” regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to news sources, the Washington League for Increased Transparency and Ethics alleges that Fox broadcasted news and commentary that constituted “malicious misrepresentation and false information,” depriving the public of information necessary to prevent or mitigate transmission of coronavirus.

“Defendants actions dissuaded the public, including elderly viewers, from taking necessary precautions to protect themselves from contracting the virus,” the complaint states.

“Wrong on the facts, frivolous on the law. We will defend vigorously and seek sanctions as appropriate,” Fox News Media general counsel Lily Fu Claffee countered.

Media law experts aren’t buying the viability of the lawsuit.

“This attempt to bring a products liability action against the news is a silly nuisance suit.  It has zero chance of prevailing under the First Amendment,” Bob Corn-Revere, a media lawyer with Davis Wright Tremaine said.

First Amendment expert Eugene Volokh, a professor at UCLA Law, adds in a blog post that he is “quite confident the lawsuit is going nowhere.”

"Overall a plaintiff would have to satisfy a pretty high burden in order to go after a media defendant and courts will be very reluctant to impose liability,” Venkat Balasubramani, a Seattle-based attorney who practices First Amendment law, said.

Source: Mediapost.com

Class Action Lawsuit Filed over $1.70 Gift Card Balance
Thursday, April 02 2020

A California resident is suing Starbucks after a local store failed to give him his $1.70 remaining balance on a gift card back in cash.

Robert Paskey has filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court seeking class action status and compensatory and punitive damages. Paskey claims that a Starbucks’ employee at a Santa Monica Boulevard coffee shop denied his request for the cash redemption, telling him the sales software system did not provide for cash redemptions on card balances less than $10. According to news reports, the writing on the back of the company’s cards indicates that the gift cards are not redeemable for cash “unless otherwise required by law.” Starbucks' website states that cash redemptions for cards with less than a $10 balance can be obtained online, but a request must be made, and a wait of seven to 10 days is required.

Consumers should not have to undertake "independent online research projects" to determine their rights regarding Starbucks gift cards, according to the suit.

Source: fox5sandiego.com

Hit and Run...To the Courthouse
Friday, March 27 2020

A New York bicyclist who was hit by a car is being sued by the driver of the car.

According to news reports, Bryan Agnello was riding his bike home when he was struck from behind by Jovonte Cook. Agnello escaped without serious injury to his body, but his bike was mangled and his helmet destroyed. Months later, Agnello received a notice from Rochester City Court that Cook had filed suit against him, seeking $700 in damages to his car.

"I felt like I just got punched in the gut again," Angello, 37, said. "It was painful. I was angry."

The police report notes that Agnello was pedaling on the left side of the north-bound lane in front of Cook and slowed down just north of an interchange to make a left-hand turn when he was hit by the left front corner of Cook’s 2012 Ford sedan as Agnello prepared to turn.

"(Cook) said he did not see (Agnello) until he was on the hood of his vehicle," the police report read. Agnello said he was wearing a reflective rain suit and that his bike had reflective panniers and a blinking red light.

Cook, who was not ticketed or charged for the incident, filed his case in Rochester City Court, describing a version of events that conflicted wildly with the police report and Agnello’s recollection of the collision. He described Agnello as riding his bike at about 60 mph. In a phone interview, Cook allegedly claimed Agnello was traveling at 80mph and "came out of nowhere and splashed on my front windshield."

"There was a lot of damage that was done to my car and I couldn’t even use it the whole weekend to make money off of my car," Cook, a pizza delivery person, said.

The top speed recorded at the 2019 Tour de France, a grueling road race that draws elite cyclists from around the world, was 63 mph. The rider hit that pace during a descent in the Alps.

"If I could go 60 mph I wouldn’t be here, I’d be in the Olympics," Agnello said.

James Reed, an attorney with the Elmira-based Ziff Law Firm and an expert on New York’s bicycle laws, is advising Agnello on the case.

"In New York, if one vehicle rear-ends another vehicle, the rear-ending driver is legally responsible because it is his or her legal duty to keep their car under proper control so as to not rear-end another vehicle," Reed wrote. "And this is true whether it is raining or snowing, day or not."

Agnello has filed a counterclaim for $2,500 that he said covers the value of his destroyed bicycle, the time he spent recuperating, and the sheer aggravation of the ordeal.

But, he said, he would settle for Cook dropping his claim.

"I'm not about this stuff," Agnello said. "This is not me at all. I just want to ride my bike."

Source: Rochestercitynewspaper.com

So It Has Come To This
Wednesday, March 18 2020

We all probably could have guessed it was coming: a lawsuit related to coronavirus.

The state of Missouri is suing televangelist Jim Bakker and his production company in an effort to stop them from advertising or selling Silver Solution, a product touted on Bakker's show to treat COVID-19 disease.

According to news reports, Bakker's guest, "natural health expert" Sherrill Sellman, appeared on a February program falsely implying that the Silver Solution could effectively attack the coronavirus. Silver Solution was being offered for $80 for four 4-ounce bottles.

"This influenza that is now circling the globe," Bakker said. "You're saying that Silver Solution would be effective."

"Well, let's say it hasn't been tested on this strain of the coronavirus, but it has been tested on other strains of the coronavirus and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours," Sellman said. "Totally eliminate it. Kills it. Deactivates it."

The Missouri Attorney General's Office wrote in its application for a temporary restraining order that Bakker and Morningside Church Productions have violated Missouri law by "falsely promising to consumers that Silver Solution can cure, eliminate, kill or deactivate coronavirus and/or boost elderly consumers' immune system and help keep them healthy when there is, in fact, no vaccine, pill, potion or other product available to treat or cure coronavirus disease 2019." Bakker and his company are based in the state.

Earlier this month, the New York Attorney General's Office issued a cease-and-desist letter to Bakker.

"Your show's segment may mislead consumers as to the effectiveness of the Silver Solution product in protecting against the current outbreak," wrote Lisa Landau, chief of the New York Attorney General's Office's health care bureau. The World Health Organization "has noted that there is no specific medicine to prevent or treat this disease," the letter said. It gave Bakker 10 business days to comply or face legal action.

A few days after New York's letter, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission warned Bakker that his website and Facebook page were selling "unapproved new drugs" in violation of the law.

Despite Bakker's website removing Silver Solution for sale, a spokesman for the Missouri Attorney General's Office said it would continue seeking the temporary restraining order. "That way they can't come back in months or years and start selling solution as a miracle cure again," said Chris Nuelle, the Attorney General's Press Secretary.

Source: npr.org



Question of the Week   
Which one of the following was the first 20th century presidential candidate to call for a Presidential Debate?
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Quote of the Day   
 
"Wait until Scranton hears about this.One of Joe Biden's ways of contrasting himself with President Trump has been to declare the election a battle of Park Avenue values vs. Scranton, Pa., values.Now we learn that Biden has secretly been playing footsie with China.The statement Wednesday night asserting that the former vice president was a willing and eager participant in a family scheme to make millions…[more]
 
 
—Michael Goodwin, New York Post
— Michael Goodwin, New York Post
 
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Do you believe you will be better off over the next four years with Joe Biden as president or with Donald Trump as president?