Assorted Stupidity

Assorted Stupidity #151

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  • If, like me and the judge presiding over this case, you didn’t know the phrase “See you next Tuesday” may be considered very insulting when directed at a woman, now you do. (It involves the acronym for that phrase, kind of. You’ll figure it out.) And if you didn’t know sexist insults may get you referred to the bar association once the judge finds out what they mean, now you know that too.
  • On May 27, San Francisco’s District Attorney sued the owner of the fishing vessel “Pacific Mist,” charging him with setting 92 crab traps in the protected waters around the Farallon Islands. “Upon information and belief,” the complaint alleged, “this is the most egregious case of unlawful crabbing activity in San Francisco’s history.” It did not describe the next most egregious case of unlawful crabbing activity in the area, though, so it’s hard to get a sense of just how off the charts this was.
  • Also in trouble was a lawyer who demanded $245,000 to settle a claim, an amount he said was necessary to compensate his client for past injuries and “future pain and physical limitations” that would “likely” include “significant arthritis.” In fact, he knew future harm was not at all likely, says the state bar, because that client had died of unrelated causes nine months before. The complaint quotes an email the lawyer received two days before making the demand, telling him that “[t]he client is dead so we cannot contact him directly.” (I assume efforts to contact him indirectly also failed.) The defendant’s insurer agreed to pay $60,000, but changed its mind after learning the truth. The complaint alleges the lawyer violated ethics rules by lying and by negotiating a settlement “without [the client’s] authority because he was deceased.”
  • Sometimes you wish both sides could lose. A woman recently sued Toronto’s transit commission for injuries suffered after a crazy person pushed her off a subway platform. That person didn’t work for the commission, but the woman says the subway should have “platform edge doors” that only open when a train pulls in, so riders can’t fall onto the track. Safer, but it’d cost $12–15 million per station. Toronto has 75 stations now and plans to add 44, so this would cost at least $1.4 billion to protect against the risk of being pushed by a crazy person. The commission hasn’t done itself any favors by arguing the victim was to blame because “she was travelling alone and unassisted on public transit when she knew or ought to have known that it was unsafe for her to do so.” Really? The commission reported nearly 140 million rides last year, so even if it only cost $10 to hire a personal security detail for each ride, that would cost $1.4 trillion. Or maybe people should be using the buddy system? No, that’s stupid, too.
  • According to the Washington Post, the GOP candidate for governor of Pennsylvania has repeatedly accused his Democratic opponent (currently the state attorney general) of “suing nuns” in an effort to force them to violate their religious beliefs. Not quite, says the Post. Pennsylvania (and California) sued the Trump administration, which I don’t think included any nuns, to challenge rules making it easier for employers to object to contraceptive coverage. A group of nuns did become parties to that case, but only because they sued to intervene. This is why the case ended up being called Little Sisters of the Poor v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Post awarded three Pinocchios for the claim.
  • While researching something else I learned about the Law of Citations (Lex citationum), a law passed in the year 426 by the Roman emperor Valentian III (actually by his mother, but don’t let him hear you say that). It was meant to make it easier to research the law by declaring that only five legal writers’ opinions mattered, and that if they disagreed on something the majority view would control. “A low point of Roman jurisprudence,” according to one legal historian, because it meant the result was “found by counting heads, not by choosing the best solution.” So it seems appropriate to mention it here.
  • As everyone knows, this approach only makes sense if you have at least nine heads to count. I mean, five out of nine, sure. But three out of five is just stupid.