Tasered Woman Wins Trial In Suit Against Cops
Legal Topics | 2009/07/27 16:12
According to Courthouse News, Minnesota police illegally Tasered a woman for refusing to hang up her 911 call after officers handcuffed her husband during a traffic stop, the 8th Circuit ruled.

Sandra Brown and her husband, Richard, were driving home from dinner in downtown Minneapolis when they were pulled over by a Golden Valley squad car. One of the officers asked Richard if he knew why he'd been stopped, and Richard replied that he did not.

What happened after involved what Sandra, the passenger, thought to be excessive aggression, so she called 911.

Backup officer Rob Zarrett ordered Sandra to "Get off the phone." When she refused, he Tasered her. He claimed the action was necessary, because Sandra had disobeyed his orders to unfasten her seatbelt. He also spotted two empty cocktail glasses on the floors, in violation of the state's open-container law.

Sandra sued Zarrett and the city of Golden Valley for use of excessive force, claiming she was physically and psychologically injured by the Tasering.

"Given the circumstances surrounding the Tasering and arrest, we are not convinced that Zarrett's use of force was objectively reasonable as a matter of law," the St. Louis-based appeals court ruled.

Judge Wollman pointed out that Sandra had not been trying to flee or resist arrest when she was Tasered.


Lawyer Says LexisNexis Charges Sneaky Fees
Headline Legal News | 2009/07/24 16:11
Courthouse News reports that Reed Elsevier, which owns and operates the LesixNexis legal research site, charges subscribers extra fees for searches without warning them, an attorney claims in a federal class action. Andrew Dieden claims subscribers are not informed they must click the "My Lexis" tab before conducting a search, to avoid the extra charges.

Dieden says he logged on to LexisNexis believing his employment law searches were covered under his monthly subscription. But his credit card statements showed extra fees "that turned out to exceed many times the amount" of his subscription, simply because he did not click on the "My Lexis" tab before he began his searches, he says.

Dieden says a LexisNexis representative told him it might be able to reduce or eliminate the additional charges if he agreed to change from a monthly to an annual subscription. When he declined, he says, the company refused to drop the charges.

He seeks actual, statutory and general damages for breach of contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment.


Student Athletes Sue NCAA For Profits From Their Images
Headline Legal News | 2009/07/23 17:31
Courthouse News is reporting that the National Collegiate Athletic Association forced thousands of student athletes to sign away rights to their own images and cheated them of a share in the profits from DVD and video game sales, according to an antitrust class action in Federal Court. Led by former UCLA basketball star Edward O'Bannon, the class claims the NCAA forced students to sign the misleading "Form 08-3a" if they wish to play NCAA sports, which "commercially exploits former student athletes" by giving the NCAA the right to profit from their images without compensation, long after the athletes have left school.

The attorney for Edward O'Bannon, Jon King, believes athletes sign under duress and forms are not explained adequately.

"The athletes are herded into a room and given forms to sign. No one explains anything, there are no lawyers and no one has any idea what's going on. But they sign because they just want to play ball," he said.

The NCAA has acknowledged that student athletes possess a right of publicity. In a September 2008 statement on why the NCAA would not sue CBS over its use of college player information, NCAA President Myles Brand wrote, "In the case of intercollegiate athletics, the right of publicity is held by student-athletes, not the NCAA. We would find it difficult to bring suit over the abuse of a right we don't own."

King believes the NCAA did not expect old players to take action against this statement.

The complaint seeks health insurance for players as well as "additional education or vocational training and pension plans to benefit former student athletes."


Mexican TV Can't Be Shown On US Internet
Headline Legal News | 2009/07/22 16:08
According to Courthouse News, two major Spanish-language television networks battling over Internet broadcast rights in the United States ended their dispute when a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled that the contract between Univision and Televisa prohibited Internet broadcasts of shows aired in Mexico.

The dispute between Televisa and Univision came when Televisa began airing its shows on the Internet. Univision said that violated the licensing agreement.

US District Judge Philip Gutiererez agreed, ruling that Televisa's interpretation of the licensing agreement would render an absurd result because the parties were so careful to spell out what Televisa was and was not permitted to do.


One More Week For Sotomayor Vote
Headline Legal News | 2009/07/21 17:10
The National Law Journal reports that the Senate Judiciary Committee has delayed today's vote on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

The delay was expected as Republicans exercise their right for a one-week delay, commonly used by the minority party when voting on controversial issues. The vote will now take place July 28 where Sotomayor is expected to receive the nomination.

Democrats are anxious to vote, so that Sotomayor will be one step closer to filling her seat. The court has a finance case on Sept. 9 and the sooner she is confirmed, the more time she will have to prepare.

"We all know that Judge Sotomayor will be confirmed," Leahy said. "I hope that, when she is passed out of this committee, that there will be no delay on the floor because she will have a very, very few weeks after confirmation to move to Washington, set up her law clerks, set up her office, and prepare for a major, major case."


Lawyers' Depresssion Soars During Recession
Headline Legal News | 2009/07/20 18:28
According to the New York Law Journal, the economic climate is causing more lawyers to grow nervous about the job market.

Even in good times, depression is a part of a career in law because of the high stress atmosphere. In bad times, it's much worse.

"There is anxiety and depression over being underemployed or unemployed, or marital difficulties if they lost their job and the question is, how do they handle the anxiety," said Eileen Travis, head of New York City Bar Lawyer Assistance Program.

More lawyers are calling the program and a greater number have been suffering from depression that stems, at least partly, from the decline in their personal and professional prospects brought on by the economic downturn.

The organization this month started a support group, where for an hour each week for six weeks, lawyers can commiserate and share stories about their struggles. Thirty-one people signed up for the first session, led by Sylvan Schaffer, a licensed psychologist who also is an attorney.



Prop 8 To be Decided on Soon
Legal Topics | 2009/06/17 16:10
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says a federal lawsuit challenging California's gay marriage ban poses a valid legal question that should be decided by the courts.

Schwarzenegger's position came in a court filing Tuesday in response to the lawsuit filed on behalf of two unmarried same-sex couples who want to overturn Proposition 8.

Heading the legal team for the couples are famed attorneys David Boies and Theodore Olson, who opposed each other in the 2000 presidential election challenge.

Last week, California Attorney General Jerry Brown, also named as a defendant, said in a court filing that he agrees Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution's promise of equal protection and due process.

Schwarzenegger didn't elaborate on the merits of the lawsuit, only saying that it "presents important constitutional questions."


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