ALL CASES

2018 cases

Entries in this section are published as a case comes to our attention, but usually before review of the pleadings, contact with the lawyers and their clients, preparation of the case narrative, review of the original filings or final assignment to case categories.
The format of each entry thus varies a bit depending on the source.

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Attorneys of record
Case narrative

 

POSTED:  8.4.2017

Ms. Roy's lawyers for the civil case are Kenneth Anderson, Esq. Eric Goldman, Esq. and Jonathan E. Tobin, Esq.   50 Redfield Street Boston, Massachusetts 02122   (617) 265-3900

Case narrative:
Michelle Carter of Plainville, Mass was sentenced on Aug 3, 2017 to 15 months in prison for the involuntary manslaughter of her then "boyfriend" back in 2014. Evidence in the criminal trial proved that she urged Conrad Roy to kill himself, conceived of the method of death (CO poisoning in a vehicle), exhorted him to commit the act, insisted he go through with it even after he tried to escape the gas, and sat idly by her cell phone doing nothing and alerting noone as he lay dying.  All done knowing of the boy's  history of mental illness and prior suicide attempts. Response by the public to her conviction and sentencing included uniform abhorrence and outrage at the degree of Carter's heartless amorality. Meanwhile, nationwide, youth suicides are on the rise as bullying and cell phone abuse become rampant, and schools are being held to legal account for failure to step in with vigorous remedial steps to shut the epidemic of deadly cruelty down cold in its tracks; how many young deaths will it take before effective action is taken? And the question is being rightly asked: did the parents of these cruel and abusive kids know of their depravity? Condone it? Take any steps to teach these children the moral if not legal shamefulness of torturing other children to a point of despair?  If teachers and administrators can be held responsible, why not the parents who cultivate or ignore the conduct of their twisted progeny?  Would a youthful supplier of a loaded pistol be liable for handing it to a despairing acquaintance with an exhortation to kill herself? Would the supplier's parents also be liable if they knew their minor daughter had the gun and advocated its use by other children? 

The family of young Mr. Roy must certainly - and rightfully - be contemplating a civil action against the killer (there's no other word for what the young woman did; manslaughter is death even though assessed "involuntary.") She is likely without assets but may be covered by insurance in some form. And let her suffer anew the consequences of her hideous act in a civil proceeding. Such litigation is likely and warranted.  And perhaps her parents or guardians should be joined to allow a jury to act in loco parentis as a signal to parents they actually have responsibilities in the raising of children. Stay tuned...

8.4.2017
UPDATE: On August 4, 2017, less than 24 hours after Ms. Carter was sentenced on her criminal conviction, Conrad Roy's mother filed a civil action for wrongful death against her son's killer.  Asserting damages in excess of $4 million, the suit -to date- does not name Carter's  parents as defendants. (Case caption and attorneys above.)

COMPLAINT

 

Posted: 7.29.17

Narrative:

St. LOUIS (AP) — A federal judge on July 20, 2017 approved an $11.2 million settlement between the so-called "marital infidelity website" Ashley Madison and site users who sued after hackers of the site released their personal information, including financial data and details of their sexual proclivities. U.S. District Judge John Ross in St. Louis gave preliminary approval to a class action settlement that was initially announced last week by Toronto-based Ruby Corp., the parent company of Ashley Madison. Lawsuits from around the country were consolidated in the Eastern District of Missouri. A final approval hearing is scheduled for Nov. 20.  
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In the original lawsuit filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E) against dozens of oil and gas companies, charging them with destruction of the coast and wetlands through decades of drilling and channel-building, the case was first  "removed" (transferred) from state to federal court. The federal trial court then threw out the lawsuit on procedural grounds, and the federal appeals court upheld the decision. Now, the (SLFPA-E) is taking its possible last action: appealing the case to the US Supreme Court, which could simply refuse to hear it, or accept it and set it for hearing. In the years of wrangling so far, many parishes have filed their own actions in state court. The oil and gas people have tried to have them all removed to federal court, but the state court civil judges have refused 29 times out of 29 attempts. So all those cases are going to be coming up for trial in the future - most of them in front of local parish juries. Orleans Parish is one of the few impacted coastal venues that has NOT yet filed such a suit. But Mayor Landrieu is getting some pressure to do so, and insists he's thinking about it and will decide before he leaves office.

 

The Trump campaign and former advisor Roger J. Stone Jr. have been named as Defendants
in a federal lawsuit filed July 12, 2017 in Federal District Court for the District of Columbia alleging they conspired to and effected invasion of privacy by the release of hacked Democratic emails and files exposing plaintiffs’ personal information to the public, which resulted in attempts by strangers to steal their identities and obtain credit in their names; and which caused personal embarrassment, according to the New York Times.

The lawsuit was organized by Protect Democracy, a government watchdog group run by former Obama administration lawyers. WikiLeaks published the first archives of stolen Democratic National Committee emails, which intelligence agencies say Russia hacked in July, 2016 with the purpose of harming Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and helping Donald Trump win the election. New York Times: ...

The lawsuit would essentially become a new and independent fact-finding investigation into the Trump-Russia issue — one  overseen by a judge rather than by congressional Republicans, akin to the oversight inquiries conducted by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, or by the Trump administration, like the criminal inquiry led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

“These plaintiffs are using the law and the American civil justice system the way it was intended: to vindicate important rights and values, such as the right to privacy and the right to participate in the political process; and to deter others who might consider colluding with a foreign government for political gain,” said Ian Bassin, the executive director of Protect Democracy. “They want to ensure that what they have gone through does not become something we accept as part of our democracy.”  d-kos 7-12

Complaint

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

School shooting case. Parents of a young man killed by a shooter with a handgun are suing Shooter's Choice of Arizona, LLC, the shooter, and both of his parents (owners of Shooter's Choice) for wrongful death and negligence -- alleging that the parents taught him to shoot, supplied him with the handgun, knew the shooter was unstable, given to outbursts and likely to commit a crime with the gun and were negligent in supervising his activity when armed.
Still another case aiming to extend civil liability for foreseeable handgun killings beyond the actual shooter.  The family's lawyer is Lou Diesel of Aspey, Watkins and Diesel of Flagstaff AZ

 

 

 

New York, NY
state trial court

Meredith Jacobs et al v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA),  MTA Chairman Joseph Lahota et al

breach of contract, negligence and "intentional infliction of emotional distress," listing a litany of complaints alleging the railroad is failing to provide on-time, safe and reliable service. It seeks unspecified damages.  Seeking class approval.   "We are requesting hundreds of documents be turned over. I am hoping they will help give me answers for my clients."

Pl lawyer is Paul Liggieri

 

 

A Vermilion Parish government lawsuit blaming wetlands loss on exploration canals and waste disposal pits left after decades of oil and gas drilling must be heard in state court, a federal magistrate in Lafayette has found. The recommendation, which still needs backing from U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick, mirrors what federal judges in the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans have already ruled in 28 similar lawsuits filed by Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes over wetlands loss in those and other coastal parishes.  (Oil & gas defendants routinely "remove" all such cases to Federal court for a variety of procedural reasons.) Vermilion's and the other parishes' damages suits allege the oil and gas companies violated the state's Coastal Resources Management Act of 1978 when they failed to fill in canals dug for oil and gas exploration and failed to clean up oil waste pits - essentially a straightforward breach of contract claim.  The law applies to areas in the state's coastal zone, a broad swath of south Louisiana that includes Vermilion Parish. adv

 

Federal Dist Ct - Oregon - with Louisiana plaintiff

Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana, Jayden Foytlin, et al. v. United States of America

Jayden Foytlin, a 15 year old student from Rayne, LA – about 10 miles west of Lafayette -  is one of 21 young plaintiffs in a civil suit against the United States charging the federal government with failure to provide a safe environment for the young plaintiffs. More specifically, for allowing environmentally hazardous conduct destructive of air and water quality and enabling global warming. Ms. Foytlin is part of a “class” of young adults from all over the US who have brought the lawsuit in Federal Court in Eugene Oregon, where several of the young citizens live.  The government challenged the right of these young people to bring a lawsuit; a Federal Court upheld their right and the Trump administration is appealing to get the case thrown out – fearing a trial on the reality of global warming caused by US industrial practices. As a resident of Rayne, Ms.Foytlin is acutely aware - moreso than many of the palintiffs-  of the effects of climate change on her town and surrounding Parish (Jefferson), and was selected for participation in the lawsuit because of the provable severity of the threat to her life and livelihood. All the plaintiffs are in jeopardy but Ms. Foytlin is especially vulnerable as a resident of coastal Louisiana. The government asserted the group has no “standing” to sue because they aren’t really in harm’s way. The trial court threw out that argument and confirmed its decision at a hearing on June 8, 2017. Stay tuned to find out if these dedicated young residents will succeed in getting a judicial order for the government to take action to limit rather than promote environmental harm Their lawyers  are Michelle A. Blackwell, Blackwell Law PC ; Daniel M. Galpern, Law Offices of Daniel M. Galpern Philip L. Gregory, Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP and Julia A. Olson, Wild Earth Advocates .

 

Fedl Dist CT - New Orleans

Baker v. Harrah’s et al  

Ms. Evelyn Baker has filed a civil suit in New Orleans's Eastern District Federal court seeking damages from Harrah’s Casino and some of its subcontractors for enabling and allowing sexual harassment and abuse of her by “hi-roller” gamblers. Essentially, she claims her employer did little or nothing to correct or punish customers for insulting her with sexual epithets and engaging in sexual contact with her as she worked as a roulette and blackjack dealer – conduct which occurred over the course of more than 3 years. She proposed settling for a change of policy to assure protection of herself and other female employees, but Harrah’s refused. So she sued, and is now seeking more than $300,000 from her employer and its insurors.

The case is currently scheduled for trial on Dec. 11, 2017 before Magistrate Judge Joe Wilkinson.  Ms. Baker’s New Orleans lawyer is Jessica Vazquez at the Vazquez Law Office; she can be reached at 504.571.9582.  

 

James Fincher, et al v. Marc Jones Construction, LLC d/b/a SunPro Solar

20 people have filed a class action lawsuit against Marc Jones Construction, LLC d/b/a SunPro Solar LLC of Mandeville, La. The plaintiffs live in several parishes from Orleans to Lafayette and they are suing on behalf of any other Louisiana plaintiffs who have been similarly harmed as claimed. They claim that SunPro sold them solar panel systems by promising or guaranteeing that they would be granted a Louisiana tax credit, while knowing the credit might never be available to the plaintiffs due to changes in the tax credit law – including one that put a cap on the total credits available to buyers.

 The suit doesn’t challenge the solar panel product or its installation, but rather the misrepresentations made to induce the purchases. On average, the plaintiffs each demand  $10,000 for loss of the tax credit plus additional damages for each purchase. There are estimated to be about 100 plaintiffs state-wide.

 The plaintiffs’ lawyer is Larry Centola from the Martzell, Bickford and Centola firm in New Orleans.

 

John Johnson v. Orleans parish School Board

 

Blitch v. Slidell   Fedl Dist Ct.   

NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge declared the City of Slidell’s panhandling ordinance unconstitutional yesterday, ruling that the law violated the First Amendment rights of people asking for money anywhere within the Slidell City limits. Under the ordinance, panhandlers would have been required to register with police and acquire a permit to engage in a constitutionally protected activity. The ACLU of Louisiana brought the suit on behalf of Gary Blitch, a U.S. Army veteran, and his co-plaintiffs David Knight and Daniel Snyder. “This decision affirms that even unpopular speech is protected under the Constitution,” said Marjorie Esman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana. “The City of Slidell may not ban messages it doesn’t like or punish people for asking for help.  Instead it has an obligation to protect the rights of all residents.” In January 2017, the City agreed to suspend enforcement of the ordinance, and passed a revised version with only minor changes. The final ordinance still required a difficult and unnecessary process for anyone who wished to exercise their right to ask others for money. “The fundamental flaw in Slidell’s ordinance is that it required people to get permits from the government just to exercise their right to free speech in public,” said Staff Attorney Bruce Hamilton. “That’s offensive to the Constitution and to the values we hold as a free country.”

The plaintiffs were represented by ACLU of Louisiana Staff Attorney Bruce Hamilton, and cooperating attorney Ronald L. Wilson.

 

Alana Cain et al v. City of new Orleans et al - class action - NOLA Fedl Dist Ct.

6 named plaintiffs bring a civil class action suit against the City of New Orleans, The New Orleans Criminal District Court and all 13 of its state judges, and several others to put an end here to the allegedly unconstitutional system of setting bonds, penalties, fines and fees in the criminal courts. The suit is a class action for the benefit of the yet unnamed but potentially scores of others suffering the same wrongs as the named plaintiffs - all of whom are impoverished and unable to pay the escalating fees and so-called "court costs." And all of whom have been punished with unlawful fees and costs, and jailed for non-payment, as a method of the court system funding itself. (Charging the defendants who are supposed to be rendering justice are instead imposing illegal punishments in order to pay their own salaries and benefits.) The suit asks a Federal court judge to declare that the defendants' scheme is illegal, to prohibit them from continuing it, to pay monetary damages to the victims, and to pay the legal costs for bringing and trying this complex and nationally significant lawsuit.

 

Adrian Caliste and Brian Gisclair v. Judge Harry Cantrell

Another "Debtor's Prison" lawsuit filed by two impoverished individual plaintiffs against the Magistrate who violated the constitution in denying or setting bail to assure  they'd remain in custody. The suit relates to a separate class action suit (Cain et al) charging the whole lot of NOLA criminal division judges with illegally setting bail as a mechanism for funding of the judges' salaries and the local criminal justice system.

MARANDA LYNN ODONNELL, et al. v. Harris County, Texas   -  other state but related to Cain and Cantrell cases

 

Cotton v. Wells Fargo Bank

Chris and Allison Cotton sued their mortgage lender, Wells-Fargo, when they learned the bank had increased their loan repayment period from 20 to 40 years without telling them. It's a common scheme, facilitated by banks urging their customers to accept a lower interest rate and "lower monthly payment." But they do it by increasing the term of the mortgage repayment and thus the amount of interest they earn.  The Cottons, however, weren't told about THAT part of the deal. Already in Chpt. 13 financial trouble, but now owing $85,000 more than they thought,  they sued Wells-Fargo, a bank   already renowned for having set up fake accounts for thousands of its customers (for which the bank was fined $185 million!) and another failure-to-notify scam - for which it was fined another $82 million.

 

Henson v. Santander Consumer USA  (U.S. Supreme Court)

(CN) – In the first opinion authored by newcomer Justice Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that a bank’s collections group didn’t skirt the law while collecting on delinquent car notes because it qualifies as a creditor, not a debt collector, after buying the loans.  At issue is the question whether the bank Santander Consumer USA qualifies as a “debt collector,” which would make it subject to the terms of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or a “creditor,” which would render it immune from the act’s constraints. Though Santander considers itself a creditor, it faced a class action led by Ricky Henson because it bought a portfolio of auto loans from CitiFinancial, a qualified debt collector subject to the FDCPA.  The case opens the door for debt collection companies to skirt the FDCPA by styling themselves as creditors.

 

Milwaukee:

The ESTATE of SYLVILLE K. SMITH v. CITY OF MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN AND DOMINIQUE HEAGGANBROWN

Sylville Smith ran when pulled over for a possible traffic infraction. The officer chased him. He had a gun which he threw over a fence when he slipped and fell during the chase. The officer shot him in the arm using an illegal hollow-point bullet. As Mr. Smith lay injured - and unarmed - on the ground, the officer shot him point blank in the chest, killing him.  The officer had a long and significant history of excessive force complaints before this killing.

 

 

 

  • MINNEAPOLIS    JUNE 27, 2017 -- The mother of Philando Castile, a black motorist killed by a Minnesota police officer last year, has reached a nearly $3 million settlement in his death, according to an announcement Monday by her attorneys and the Minneapolis suburb that employed the officer. The settlement to be paid to Valerie Castile, who is the trustee for her family in the case, will avoid a federal wrongful death lawsuit stemming from Philando Castile's death. The 32-year-old elementary school cafeteria worker was killed by St. Anthony officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop July 6 after Castile told the officer he was armed. Castile had a permit for his gun. The shooting gained widespread attention after Castile's girlfriend, who was in the car with her then-4-year-old daughter, livestreamed its gruesome aftermath on Facebook.

 

 

ILLINOIS

Estate of Lawrence Madigan vs. Durty Nellie’s, Finn McCool’s, Peggy Kinnane’s and the Estate of Tyler Stewart

Lawrence Madigan, age 68, is dead. He was killed suddenly in February 2017 by a drunk driver named Tyler Stewart in an auto crash in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Mr. Madigan was on his way home from a long day at work. But Stewart had been on a “pub crawl,” an organized event for groups of people seeking a good time by traveling from bar to bar to drink. His blood-alcohol level was .167, almost twice the legal limit in McHenry County, Illinois. Stewart had gotten drunk cruising three bars on the crawl route; he too was killed in the crash he caused.

Mr. Madigan’s wife, Karaline Madigan, has sued not only Stewart’s estate, but also all three of the bars that served Stewart alcohol accounting for his .167 level. Illinois, like many states that protect the alcohol industry, has a “Dram Shop” law which insulates or limits the liability of bars for negligent over-serving to patrons. In Illinois, liability is limited to only $149,000 per bar, per incident. (Louisiana specifically immunizes bar owners from liability entirely.)

 Ms. Madigan’s lawyer is Jennifer Ashley, who has elected with her client to name all three bars – Durty Nellie’s, Finn McCool’s (unrelated to the New Orleans pub), and Peggy Kinnane’s - as defendants.  "He was overserved every step of the way,"  said Ms. Ashley. It’s anticipated that the three bars will defend by pointing fingers at one another, but the trial court has at least refused to dismiss the suit against any of them. So the jury will decide if any or all will be liable. Ms. Ashley decided not to name the organizer of the “pub crawl” on grounds that intoxication and vehicle operation by the participants could be foreseen. The case is scheduled to be tried in        2017.

 

 

 

TEXAS:

Brown v. Daniel Rizzo et al

Alfred Brown, who was jailed for 10 years for a crime he didn’t commit, has brought a civil suit in Texas against his prosecutor for wrongful prosecution while knowing of Mr. Brown’s’s innocence. The plaintiff charges that the prosecutor threatened witnesses, concealed evidence, and failed to turn over evidence that would have proved him innocent. The City of Houston and police officers who participated in the fraud are also defendants in the case. Mr. Brown is seeking several million dollars for the value of his 10 years in prison – most of them on death row.

His lawyer is Gwen Richard at the LeClairRyan law firm in Houston. Ms. Richard is one of the most experienced and respected trial lawyers in Texas, usually working on behalf of large corporations. She can be reached at 713.752.8303

 

 

CALIFORNIA:

Estate of H J   "Paul" Lee v. Armando Ramirez et al.

The family of an autistic teenager who died in 2015 after being left alone for hours on a parked, sweltering school bus has reached a $23.5-million settlement with the bus agency, attorneys said. H J “Paul” Lee, 19, was found on the floor of a bus parked in a Whittier bus yard on Sept. 11, 2015 — a 96-degree day — and the non-verbal teenager was pronounced dead after lifesaving efforts failed. The bus driver, Armando Abel Ramirez of Rialto did not check the rear of the bus to ensure Lee had left; Mr. Ramirez had focused his attention on texts from a fellow employee inviting him to have sex after finishing his route.  Most of the the large damage award will be paid by the insuror of the private school bus company held responsible for Mr. Lee's death. The family's lawyers were Brian Parrish, Rahul Ravipudi, Robert Glassman  and Sang Yun - all of Whittier CA.