Hotel Chain Wouldn't Rent To Black Family, Man Says
Legal Topics | 2008/07/14 15:59

The Clarion Hotel in Scranton refused to rent rooms to a black family though it had 52 vacant rooms, and its desk clerk admitted that she would not rent to them because they are black, the family claims in Federal Court.

Eric Davis and his family also sued Choice Hotels International, the world's second-largest hotel franchisor, which owns the Clarion, and also owns Comfort Suites, Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inns, Quality and other inns and hotels.

Davis claims the Clarion Hotel's front desk clerk, Lisa Pierce, told him there were no rooms available when he asked for one on the night of July 12, 2006. He says Pierce sent him to the Comfort Suites in Moosic.

There, Davis says, the clerk told him that hotel was full, but there were rooms available at the Clarion. Davis says the clerk called the Clarion and confirmed that there were 52 rooms available.

Davis says he drove back to the Clarion, where a different clerk told him there were rooms available. He says he saw the Clarion rent a room to three white men. He says Lisa Pierce then appeared from a back room, and he asked her, "Why did you tell me there was no room?"

Pierce told him, "There was a cancellation," according to the complaint.

The complaint continues: "Mr. Davis replied, 'You had 52 cancellations?' to which Lisa Pierce replied, 'I don't have to explain anything to you. Get out of my hotel.' Mr. Davis then asked, 'Did you say there were suddenly no rooms available because I was black?' to which Lisa Pierce replied, 'Yes.'"

Davis says two witnesses outside his family saw this. He names them in the complaint. He demands punitive damages. He is represented by Craig Kalinoski.



Man Says Social Security Guards Beat Him
Areas of Focus | 2008/07/11 15:41
Private contract guards hired by the Social Security Administration assaulted a man, fracturing his hand, and maliciously prosecuted him because he clipped his fingernails while waiting in the Social Security office, the man claims in Federal Court.

Leon Bailey sued Securitas Security Services, Paragon Systems, and the four guards who allegedly assaulted him. He claims defendant John Robinson Jr. started the fracas by ordering him to stop clipping his fingernails as he waited in the Seattle office. Bailey says he complied, and "put away his clippers and began pushing the cuticles back," which apparently enraged Robinson, who ordered him to leave.

Bailey said he did leave, though he had unfinished business to transact in the office. He says Robinson followed him to the street, and enlisted the help of three other men, also security guards, who struck him with a baton, fracturing his hand, forced him to the ground, handcuffed him and arrested him. They charged him with four offenses, which were dismissed.

Bailey demands punitive damages for constitutional violations, negligence, and malicious prosecution. He is represented by Patrick Kang with the Premier Law Group.


Forced Sterilization Is Persecution, Court Says
Areas of Focus | 2008/07/10 17:04
A Chinese citizen should not be returned to her homeland due to the high probability that she would be forcibly sterilized, the 7th Circuit ruled.

Xiu Zhen Lin, the mother of three, protested a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals that she had not shown that China's "one child" policy was "implemented through physical force or other means that would amount to persecution."

The board made this ruling despite a letter from the government of Lin's village, which stated that she would be subject to sterilization if she returned. The appellate court disagreed with the board's rationale.

"The implication," Judge Posner wrote, "is that if a government tells a religious heretic we are going to fine you $1 million for your heresy and if you cannot pay we will burn you at the stake, and the heretic cannot pay and therefore is executed, the burning of the heretic would not, in the board's view, amount to persecution."

A 2006 State Department report showed that China's policy is strictly enforced in Lin's home province of Fujian.


Bank Of America Seeks Protection
Legal Topics | 2008/07/09 15:50
Bank of America claims members of a "radical anti-tax group" filed bogus papers in court and attempted to "seize" and "foreclose" upon two BofA branch banks. Members of The United Cities Group wore false badges from the "Treasury Department" during their bogus "seizure," which they recorded and posted on YouTube, and they threaten to do again, BofA says.

BofA says the defendant filed a bogus "Notice of Lodgment" and "Notice and Demand" in Miami-Dade County, and tried to execute its claim for a bogus $12.5 billion debt.

"TUC representatives, including Mr. Angel Cruz, when appearing at the branches notified bank employees that they were with the 'Treasury Department' and entered the branched and recorded images of both the interior and exterior of the branches," BofA claims in Federal Court. "Shortly thereafter, TUC posted a press release on its Web site with a link to a YouTube video of the day's events and its plans to 'foreclose' and 'seize' the two Bank of America branches."

The bizarre federal complaint continues: "After 5 p.m. on July 7, 2008, the United States Service notified Bank of America and undersigned counsel that TUC contacted the Secret Service and informed it of TUC's plans to carry out its 'seizure' of the Bank of America branches with TUC's own armed private security officers at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 8, 2008."

The "purported basis" for these "seizures," according to the complaint, is that TUC has created its own banking system, called the TUC Private Currency Office. "TUC created 'drafts' drawn on its own 'bank.' TUC then attempted to deposit the drafts into an account with Bank of America held by TUC's member organizations, Orlando Escrow Services, Inc., and Miami Nights Corp." BofA says it rejected the fraudulent drafts.

It says the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve have issued "Worthless Instrument alerts and fraud alerts regarding checks allegedly drawn on TUC's Private Currency Office."

After BofA rejected the bogus "drafts," it says, TUC sent its members to the Miami branches, with false Treasury Department badges, and video cameras.

"In its video posted on YouTube, TUC professes that it will be 'seizing' the Bank's property located at several bank branches to secure their claim, which totals $15,250,000,000. ...

"TUC's threatened seizures would post a serious and irreversible breach of the security of Bank of America's employees and its customers. Bank of America is in need of this Court's authority to prevent the illegal seizure of its property and to ensure the safety of its employees and customers."

BofA demands a restraining order. Its 8-page complaint is accompanied by 46 pages of exhibits, including TUC's "Notice and Demand," its bank "drafts," and correspondence. Bank of America is represented by Mary Leslie Smith with Foley & Lardner.


Report shows law firm mergers are up
Legal Topics | 2008/07/08 15:49

The second quarter of this year saw the pace of law firm mergers rise sharply in the U.S., according to a new report from legal consultancy Altman Weil Inc.

There were 26 new law firm mergers and acquisitions reported in April, May and June, compared to 18 during the first quarter of the year, according to Newtown Square, Pa.-based Altman Weil.

The largest of the latest law firm combinations was between K&L Gates, a 1,500-attorney firm, and Kennedy Convington Lobdell & Hickman, a 175-lawyer firm.

In Memphis there were no significant mergers reported for the quarter. However, in the previous quarter St. Louis-based Husch & Eppenberger LLC and Kansas City, Mo.,-based Blackwell Sanders LLP finalized their merger, which was first announced last September. Of the two, only Husch & Eppenberger had an office in Memphis.

In July 2007, Memphis-based Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC merged Atlanta-based Gambrell & Stolz LLP into the firm, adding 36 attorneys.

"Even in a deteriorating economy, law firms continue to pursue a growth strategy via merger and acquisition," said Altman Weil principal Tom Clay in a statement. "And based on our conversations with law firm leaders, we think the pace is unlikely to slow."



Ruling Limits Courts' Role In Environmental Review
Legal Topics | 2008/07/07 15:52
Three people are accused of beating, torturing and prostituting a mentally disabled teen. Waquita "Goddess" Wallace, 33, Richard Marquis Harper, 20, and a woman identified only as "April" were charged in federal court with sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion and sale into involuntary servitude. The victim may have been held for up to a month.

Here is the story as told by FBI Special Agent Cynthia Dockery in an affidavit:

The victim had been living with a female cousin who tried to convince her to have sex with her boyfriend. That man later forced the victim to have sex with him twice. The cousin left the victim at Wallace's house in late May or June. The cousin owed Wallace $3,300 and Wallace told the victim that the debt was now hers to pay off through prostitution and her food stamp and disability income.

The victim was forced to have sex with men and Wallace took her identification, wallet and clothes. Wallace beat her with fists and blunt objects and burned her with cigarettes and lighters. Wallace told her that she, Wallace, would kill her cousin, mother and grandmother if she tried to leave. Wallace, Harper and April held her head under water when she said she wanted to leave. The victim was rescued by her sister, who called the police.


Texas Fired Her For Dissing 'Creationism'
Legal Topics | 2008/07/03 15:58
The longtime director of science curriculum claims the Texas Education Agency illegally fired her because she forwarded an email announcing a lecture by a speaker who opposes teaching creationism in science classes. Christina Castillo Comer claims the TEA's official "neutral" position on creationism is an unconstitutional dodge to allow Texas public schools to push religion under the guise of science.

Comer was director of science for the TEA's Curriculum for more than 10 years. She claims the agency fired her in November 2007 "for contravening the Agency's unconstitutional 'neutrality' policy by forwarding an email to other science educators announcing an upcoming lecture about evolution and creationism."

The federal complaint cites this TEA memorandum recommending that Comer be fired: "On October 26, 2007, Ms. Comer forwarded from her TEA email account to a group of people, including two external email groups, that announced a presentation on creationism and intelligent design entitled 'Inside Creationism's Trojan Horse.' The email states that the speaker [Barbara Forrest] is a board member of a science education organization, and the email clearly indicates that the group opposes teaching creationism in public education. ...

When Dr. Jackson asked Ms. Comer about this situation, she replied that she was only forwarding information. However, the forwarding of this event announcement by Ms. Comer, as the Director of Science, from her TEA email account constitutes much more than just sharing information. Ms. Comer's email implies endorsement of the speaker and implies that TEA endorses the speaker's position on a subject on which the agency must remain neutral. Thus, sending this email compromises the agency's role in the TEKS revision process by creating the perception that TEA has a biased position on a subject directly related to the science education TEKS."

Comer says that the TEA does indeed have a biased position on the subject: "Creationism is a religious belief. Teaching creationism as science in public schools violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. ... The Texas Education Agency has a policy of purported 'neutrality' on teaching creationism as science in public schools. By professing 'neutrality,' the Agency credits creationism as a valid scientific theory. Creationism, however, is not a valid scientific theory; it is a religious belief. The Agency's policy is not neutral at all ... The Agency's 'neutrality policy has the purpose or effect of endorsing religion, and violates the Establishment Clause. ...

"Similarly, the Agency's firing of its Director of Science for not remaining 'neutral' on this subject violates the Establishment Clause, because it employs the symbolic and financial support of the State of Texas to achieve a religious purpose. ... Finally, the Agency fired Director Comer without according her due process as required by the Fourteenth Amendment - a protection especially important here because Director Comer was fired for contravening an unconstitutional policy."
   


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