A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Archive for September, 2011

Will Wella Wipe Out Willa?

wella07atxt

By LASIS Staff

A New York Times article discusses a Connecticut girl, Willa Prunier, whose family expects to be on the hook for $750,000 in legal fees because Procter & Gamble, makers of Wella products, objects to Willa’s line of beauty of care products.  In court.

The story mentions a similar suit, still pending, involving Facebook suing Teachbook.  LASIS ran a story on that lawsuit last year with the headline, “Face it Facebook – Your Legal Argument is Lame”.

Can you tell whose side we’re on in the Wella v. Willa battle?

UPDATE:   October 14, 2011 –  Wella won’t wipe out Willa; they settled.

 

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Foodfights at Metropolitan Museum of Art

*Aug 07 - 00:05*

By LASIS Staff

The New York Times did it again. It ran a story story today about food vendors that spoke of disabled veterans, the law, rent-a-vets, and the competitive atmosphere in front of the most prized area for food vendors, the plaza in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The article is, frankly, gibberish, just as its August 2009 article was, that led LASIS to investigate, decipher, and report what was going on.  There’s big money at stake: vendor rights once went for a cool $500,000 in that area.

Read our past article and find out what the beef’s all about.

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Can’t Slide in for a White Castle Slider

Martin-Kessman-White-Castle-Booth

 

By Ryan Morrison

From suing a beer company because sexy women didn’t appear after drinking Bud Light to suing a haunted house because it was frightening, there is no shortage of ridiculous lawsuits in America. Still, you might be surprised to hear about Martin Kessman, a stockbroker from New York. After finding he was too fat to fit into the booths at his local White Castle, Mr. Kessman, weighing in at 290 pounds, didn’t go on a diet or for a jog.  He notified the Castle’s execs of his intention to sue.

White Castle management quickly responded, apologizing for Mr. Kessman’s discomfort, providing him with a list of White Castles with different seating, explaining that he can ask for a chair at any of their restaurants, and even including three coupons for free hamburgers. This gesture was met by Mr. Kessman with anger that the coupons were for plain burgers; he preferred cheese on his sliders, and cheese costs extra. You can’t make this stuff up.

Regardless of how you feel about Mr. Kessman’s complaints, the fact of the matter is he has made them. He sued White Castle in a Manhattan federal court for discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), claiming obesity as a disability and asserting his right to equal protection of the laws as an overweight individual. Does he have a valid legal argument? Are “fat” people covered under the ADA? Does White Castle have to restructure its entire restaurant to fit Mr. Kessman?

The media left these questions open-ended in their reports. LASIS takes a look.   (more…)

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California Businesses Beware, He’s a Professional

Climbing a Pile of Files

 

By Alison Parker

For some, filing lawsuits can be a pretty good way to make a living–no, we’re not talking about lawyers, we are talking about “professional plaintiffs” suing under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Case in point: Jim Cohan of California.  And though most of his cases have settled under confidential terms, it’s reasonable to believe that Mr. Cohan has done quite well in this arena.

Since 2007, Mr. Cohan has filed over 164 ADA lawsuits against various California business establishments, with allegations ranging from a lack of wheelchair access, because he claimed he was wheelchair bound, to a lack of Braille, because he claimed he was nearly blind. In a March 2011 lawsuit, Mr. Cohan claimed an additional ailment: “end-stage emphysema,” a severe condition that would limit his ability to walk, work, speak and breathe.

But – and this is strange – last month, KABC News actually caught him on tape during a seemingly rigorous uphill hike near his Sun Valley home in Los Angeles.

Of course, if he actually lied in his lawsuits, he is guilty of fraud.  But even if he was once wheelchair-bound, and partially blind, and had trouble breathing, it does seem that he’s taken suing under the ADA too far.  The angry readers who commented on the article certainly think so.  For instance, “Grillflame” wrote we should “put this criminal in jail. He’s a parasite,” while “Grigrn” opined that “the business owners that he sued should turn around and sue HIM.” They all seemed to agree Mr. Cohan should be prohibited from filing any further lawsuits under the ADA.

But can he be?  Or is it his legal right to sue? LASIS did some research.   (more…)

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Cell Phone Freedom for Californians

police-search-cell-phone

By LASIS Staff

In February, LASIS reporter Russell Smith wrote a scathing opinion piece criticizing a California Supreme Court decision which permitted police to warrantlessly search the cell phone of anyone placed under arrest. It appears that his persuasive reasoning has convinced California lawmakers to effectively overrule that decision. (Okay, the vast public outcry may have helped too.)

This week the California State Assembly passed a law banning warrantless search incidents to arrest for all portable devices that can transmit messages. That means that everything from cell phones to iPads to beepers (they still exist, right?) cannot be scrolled through by nosy police officers unless a judge authorizes them to do so.

In all, a resounding victory for personal privacy, the Fourth Amendment and sexters.

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