04 May 2007

The Give Me a Break Article of the Day

From the Toronto Star:

$65M lawsuit over lost pants

May 04, 2007 04:30 AM

Lubna Takruri

WASHINGTON–A missing pair of pants has led to one big suit.

A customer got so steamed when a dry cleaner lost his trousers that he sued for $65 million (U.S.). Two years later, he is still pressing his suit.

The case has demoralized the South Korean immigrant owners and brought demands that the customer – an administrative law judge in Washington – be disbarred and removed from office for pursuing a frivolous and abusive claim.

"They're out a lot of money, but more importantly, incredibly disenchanted with the system," said Chris Manning, lawyer for the owners. "This has destroyed their lives."

The customer, Roy Pearson Jr., who has been representing himself, declined to comment.

According to court documents, the problem began in May 2005 when Pearson became a judge and brought several suits for alterations to Custom Cleaners in Washington. A pair of pants from one suit was missing when he requested it two days later.

Pearson asked the cleaners for the full price of the suit: more than $1,000.

But a week later, the owners said the pants had been found and refused to pay. Pearson said those were not his pants and decided to sue.

Manning said the cleaners have made three settlement offers to Pearson: $3,000, then $4,600, then $12,000.

But Pearson was not satisfied and expanded his calculations beyond one pair of pants. Because he no longer wanted to use his local dry cleaner, he asked in his lawsuit for $15,000 – the cost of renting a car every weekend for 10 years to go to another business.

The bulk of the $65 million demand comes from Pearson's strict interpretation of Washington consumer protection law, which imposes fines of $1,500 per violation, per day. Pearson counted 12 violations over 1,200 days, then multiplied that by three defendants.

Much of Pearson's case rests on two signs Custom Cleaners once had on its walls: "Satisfaction Guaranteed" and "Same Day Service." He claims the signs amount to fraud.

The case is set for trial June 11.

Sherman Joyce, president of the American Tort Reform Association, an organization that fights what it considers abusive lawsuits against small businesses, has asked that Pearson be denied a renewal of his 10-year appointment. The association has also offered to buy Pearson a new suit.

Chief Administrative Judge Tyrone Butler had no comment on Pearson's reappointment prospects.

Melvin Welles, former chief administrative law judge with the National Labour Relations Board, wrote to The Washington Post to say that if he were the judge in the case, he would throw out the lawsuit and order Pearson to pay the dry cleaners for their legal expenses and their mental suffering. He also called for Pearson's ouster and disbarment.

"The manifest absurdity of it is too obvious to require explanation," he wrote.

03 May 2007

He Apalls Me

This from CNN.com this evening:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House has threatened to veto a bill passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday that expands hate-crime laws to include attacks based on sexual orientation or gender.

Under current law, hate crimes are subject to federal prosecution only if the acts of violence are motivated by race, religion, color or national origin. Federal prosecutors get involved only if the victim is engaged in a federally protected activity, such as voting or participating in interstate commerce.

The White House says there is no need for the expanded bill because state and local laws already cover the crimes it addresses, and there is no need for federal enforcement.

In addition to allowing greater leeway for federal law enforcement authorities to investigate hate crimes, the House bill -- which was passed on a 237-180 vote --provides $10 million over the next two years to aid local prosecutions.

A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate, but no date has been set for a vote.

So, he'll veto the bill because it's redundant? I love this logic because, you see, it's very well aligned with the way we've written laws to this point. There's absolutely no redundancy in US federal and state laws.

Come on, man! Why would you veto this bill? It sets out a firm protection in the law for two additional groups of people who are targeted by others simply because they are members of these groups. That's what sets these crimes apart. Not only is an individual targeted, the group as a whole is targeted. These crimes are perpetrated to make a statement, to intimidate, and, for this reason, they should be highlighted in our laws. When we allow the actions of some to cause entire groups of people to live in fear of having similar crimes committed against them only because they are a member of the group we are allowing an egregious injustice to go on occurring. This bill would be a small step in the right direction...a codification of our moral outrage against the perpetrators of these crimes. To simply say that they will spend their lives in prison for committing these crimes is not enough, we must condemn not only the result but also the intent and the motivation of such heinous crimes.

As for this argument from Rep. Feeney (R - Fla):
"What it does is to say that the dignity, the property, the life of one person gets more protection than another American. That's just wrong," he said.

GIVE ME A BREAK! It says that we will not allow groups of people to be made targets, simple as that. We do just fine putting up the barriers the Representative is speaking about without codifying them in laws...

Mr. President, don't veto this bill.

The Shiites Have Hit the Fan

BL forwarded this quote from WaPo May 2, 2007, "Democrats Recall an Anniversary Bush Would Rather Forget:"

"Today is the fourth anniversary of the president of the United States announcing 'Mission Accomplished,' " Rep. Stephen Cohen (D-Tenn.) proclaimed on the House floor. These days Bush "has been channeling Warren Zevon, who said, 'I'm caught between a rock and a hard place. Send lawyers, guns and money,' " Cohen said, paraphrasing the rest just a little: " 'The Shiites have hit the fan' "

02 May 2007

To the Dad at the Gym This Morning...

Listen, man. I know you think it's great that you've got your 10 year old in the gym with you. It's father/son bonding time. You're teaching him about something that's important to you. You think you're preparing him to be a stellar athlete. But you've gotta put a little more thought into this.

First of all, I know you're true motives. You're like reading an open book. You're wearing a Maryland Wrestling t-shirt and an old pair of wrestling shoes, but you don't look like you were a state champ back in the day. You don't have the build and you don't have that unmistakable fire in your eyes. You've got your son decked out in a t-shirt with the slogan "Wrestling: Sanctioned by God" across his back and an image of Jacob wrestling the angel on his chest. You can't live through him, man. It's not fair to build yourself a little state champ because you feel like you didn't work hard enough or want it bad enough when you had the chance. Let me tell you what will happen.

First, you're getting your kid up at 6 am to hit the weights. This is fine for a grown adult, but the kid needs his rest and needs to grow. 10 is the age for learning technique. He's still figuring out his body (and will be for the next 6 or 7 years). He's not sure how to control those limbs, keep them in tight and practiced motions. This is what he needs to be working on as a kid...if he even needs to be practicing as intense a sport as wrestling at all.

Kid's burn out. I could see it in his face, he wasn't enjoying your regimented workout, your constant critique of his form, your pushing him to the edge. He's going to resent the sport, it's going to become a job to him before he ever has the chance to blossom. And worse...he's probably going to resent you.

The way I see it, we each get about 10, maybe 12, years to play the more intense sports (unless we go pro, but at that point it's a job, it's a livelihood). Any more than that 10 years and our bodies start to break down, our intensity starts to wane. I've seen too many great junior high athletes never make it that next step because they just don't love the sport anymore. Don't do that to your kid. Let him play, let him wrestle, let him have fun and be a kid. Don't push him yet. He'll learn the value of hard work in due time. He has years of growing to do and plenty of time to pack on muscle. Just let your kid...well...be a kid.

At least...that's my opinion. Dad at the Gym, I just don't want to see you run your kid away from the sport you love and a sport I love, too. Let him be a kid for now, and maybe someday you can be proud of YOUR SON'S state championship.

01 May 2007

A Compromise?

On this, the 4th anniversary of our victory in Iraq , our Congress of the people of these United States sent down from the Hill a bill of emergency funding for the war.

Now...am I the only one who thinks this is really fucking strange? They just wrote and passed a bill to fund a war that ended four years ago. What the hell are they smoking....ummm, what the hell are we all smoking?

Ok, we all know the game that's being played. Congress passes a bill to authorize emergency funding and attaches to that bill the stipulation that we begin a redeployment (an odd term to me) of our troops in Iraq. Shrub gets the bill and, as promised, immediately vetoes it this evening. It's political pageantry. It's making a statement. It's a little stronger vote of no confidence in the administration than that which was issued a few months back. Now we go back to the drawing board and come up with something in the middle...but honestly, what does that look like?

Bush has offered up a solution. We set up (once again) benchmarks that the Iraqi government must meet in order to maintain an American presence. Now, this seems somewhere between defeatist and ridiculous to me. Benchmarks will obviously not be set up outside of the reach of what the Iraqi government is immediately capable. They will be meaningless...pointless, just another example of feigned progress. I see this move as essentially admitting we're going to be there for a very long time and probably see very little progress.

For a very interesting and quite sobering perspective on this whole debaucle you've got to have a listen to this piece from the CBC's "As It Happens" April 30, 2007, show. It's an interview with Michael Bell, former Chairman of the International Reconstruction Fund for Iraq. This is quite honestly the most realistic and honest prediction I have heard to date.