There are two major laws that Congress is working to pass that would make it more difficult for an American to sue a corporation, The Consumerist reported.
H.R. 985, the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act is akin to an Erin Brockovich killer. The first of the two laws, would make it more difficult for American's to file class action lawsuits against a corporation, the Center for American Progress explains. The law would put restrictions on the criteria for people banding together for a class action suit. It also would complicate and delay any payments for an attorney representing the clients. Such an act would make it risky for any lawyer to take on a case to help someone hurt by a corporation. According to CAP, Vice President Mike Pence has been seeking laws like this for years.
If you've seen the film "Erin Brockovich" you know that she brought together residents of Hinkley, California to sue Pacific Gas and Electric for contaminating groundwater that caused medical problems and in some cases death. This law would have prevented Brockovich, or any American, from coming together to file a lawsuit against any company.
H.R. 720 the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act would require federal judges penalize or otherwise discipline any attorney that brings what they consider to be a "frivolous lawsuit." Currently, this decision is left up to the judge’s discretion.
A better name for the bill might be "Who Cares About Hot Coffee" bill. In 1992, a 72-year-old woman sued McDonald's when she spilled a cup of coffee in her lap and sustained third-degree burns and required skin grafts. Her suit is often used as the perfect example of a frivolous lawsuit, but the documentary "Hot Coffee" explains that the elderly woman did actually suffer from severe burns and was hospitalized as a result. While the woman sued, she never asked for $3 million in damages. She awarded it by a jury. The judge in the case decided the lawsuit wasn't frivolous. McDonald's had over 700 lawsuits for hot coffee that caused, in many cases, third-degree burns. In her case refused to give her more than $800 to pay her medical bills. At the time she first sued, she was only asking $11,000 in medical bills but they refused. The judge recommended a mediation hearing and at that hearing, she asked $300,000 and the mediator suggested $225,000. McDonald's again refused to award anything. A jury in the case awarded her $200,000 for her injuries, but cut it to $160,000 because she bore 20 percent of the responsibility. It was the jury that awarded her $2.7 million in punitive damages, in part, to send a message to McDonald's. The judge lowered it to $640,000 and she ultimately ended up with under $600,000 in damages.
From Republican language, one would think there's an outbreak of frivolous lawsuits breaking out all over the country. Any judge can dismiss a lawsuit as frivolous already. If a suit goes to a jury trial, it's because a judge already considers it a valid lawsuit. Our judicial system has three safeguards in place already, but the GOP is seeking to attack lawyers for helping people exercise their right to have their day in court, however short that day may be.
According to Legal NewsLine, this isn't the first time the law was proposed. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) proposed it in 2015 and it passed the House but failed to garner traction in the Senate.
“Frivolous lawsuits have become too common," Smith said in 2015. "Lawyers who bring these cases have everything to gain and nothing to lose under current rules, which permit plaintiffs’ lawyers to file frivolous suits, no matter how absurd the claims, without any penalty. Meanwhile, defendants are often faced with years of litigation and substantial attorneys’ fees."
A corporate defendant likely believes any lawsuit would be considered frivolous.
Democrats are fighting back, however. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has proposed his own bill, The Arbitration Fairness Act. Often times, contracts include clauses that force any employee or customer to enter into a binding arbitration instead of lawsuit. Franken's law would clarify a "century-old Federal Arbitration Act — a law that was never intended to apply to things like cell phone bills, personal checking accounts, or Snuggies," The Consumerist explained. No company could force any customer or employee from using the judicial system with their binding arbitration clause.
One of the most notable cases about binding arbitration was when Jamie Leigh Jones sued the defense contractor KBR after she was drugged and gang-raped while working overseas. Jones alleged KBR imprisoned her "in a shipping container after she reported the rape, and suggested KBR had tampered with some of the medical evidence that had been collected at an Army hospital," Mother Jones reported. Jones never saw the inside of a courtroom thanks to KBR's binding arbitration in her contract. Franken's law would ensure anyone like Jones would have his or her Sixth Amendment rights upheld.
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At 2:00 PM ET on Wednesday the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security published its latest terrorism threat report, and for the first time LGBTQI+ people were listed as "targets of potential violence," which DHS warned could be "lethal." Barely hours later, MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace shared the news with Chasten Buttigieg, who was so stunned for several seconds he was speechless.
"I don't know, I didn't see that, and that – that hurts to that hurts to hear," replied Buttigieg, who is married to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
Chasten Buttigieg had been invited to discuss his moving Medium essay, which he explained he wrote in response to Republican Senators on Capitol Hill debating his marriage, and the marriages of hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples, on the floor of the U.S. Senate Tuesday ahead of their vote on legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages.
"My marriage has filled this house with so much love it makes me want to be a better husband, father, and citizen every day," Buttigieg wrote. "It’s called me to something bigger than myself while recognizing that my kids are now the most important thing in life, and I’d do anything to protect them. Our family and our union push me to make sure we leave our kids a country and a world they can thrive in so that they, too, can enjoy all of the love and light and happiness that Pete and I have known simply by falling in love with one another."
Wallace, during their interview, sprung the news on Buttigieg that LGBTQIA+ people are now potential targets of domestic terrorism.
"Chasten, the Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin warning about threats to the LGBTQ community specifically, and obviously there is – in addition to rhetoric and hate speech, much of it showcased on conservative media outlets – you've also got the Senate Republican Leader who didn't vote for this bill," she noted, referring to the Respect for Marriage Act that passed the Senate in a 61-36 vote on Tuesday.
"I mean, what is what makes that threat so pervasive," Wallace asked, "that DHS had to issue a warning to local law enforcement yesterday in your view?" (The warning was issued Wednesday, not Tuesday.)
"I don't know, I didn't see that, and that – that hurts to that hurts to hear," he replied seconds later.
"Again, this is already a vulnerable community. Focusing and targeting on an already vulnerable community that – by the way, just wants to live," Buttigieg explained. "They just want to survive and exist in a country that sees them for who they are and go about their lives just the way everybody else is, especially trans Americans."
"Honing in on an already vulnerable community and picking on them and attacking them, many people who just want to go about their lives and exist freely and openly and safely just like every other American."
The Dept. of Homeland Security on Wednesday published the new "Summary of Terrorism Threat to the United States," which states: "Targets of potential violence include public gatherings, faith-based institutions, the LGBTQI+ community, schools, racial and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media, and perceived ideological opponents."
As Buttigieg's response shows, learning you are now considered a "target of potential violence" can be stunning.
The Terrorism Threat Summary warns the United States "remains in a heightened threat environment."
"Lone offenders and small groups," DHS adds, "motivated by a range of ideological beliefs and/or personal grievances continue to pose a persistent and lethal threat to the Homeland."
The tone of the law enforcement language is chilling.
"Domestic actors and foreign terrorist organizations continue to maintain a visible presence online in attempts to motivate supporters to conduct attacks in the Homeland. Threat actors have recently mobilized to violence, citing factors such as reactions to current events and adherence to violent extremist ideologies."
DHS warns that "threat actors could exploit several upcoming events to justify or commit acts of violence, including certifications related to the midterm elections, the holiday season and associated large gatherings, the marking of two years since the breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and potential sociopolitical developments connected to ideological beliefs or personal hostility."
"Targets of potential violence include public gatherings, faith-based institutions, the LGBTQI+ community, schools, racial and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media, and perceived ideological opponents."
"Some domestic violent extremists who have conducted attacks have cited previous attacks and attackers as inspiration," the bulletin goes on to warn. "Following the late November shooting at an LGBTQI+ bar in Colorado Springs, Colorado—which remains under investigation—we have observed actors on forums known to post racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist content praising the alleged attacker."
Watch Chasten Buttigieg's interview with Nicolle Wallace below or at this link.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has reportedly advised his close allies to refrain from publicly weighing in on the controversy surrounding former President Donald Trump's highly publicized dinner meeting with far-right influencer Nick Fuentes.
According to Rolling Stone, three individuals with inside knowledge of what is going on have shared details about DeSantis' proposed approach to dealing with the debacle, which has led to deep bipartisan criticism of Trump.
In short, DeSantis believes it's best to do the one thing Trump seems unable to do: remain silent.
"According to three people with knowledge of the directives, DeSantis’ lieutenants have told his allies not to attack Trump over the now-notorious dinner," the news outlet reports. "Instead, the potential 2024 Republican primary candidate and his advisers have aimed to keep the focus on Trump’s decision to dine with Kanye West, a vocal anti-Semite, and Nick Fuentes, a white supremacist agitator."
Dan Eberhart, a longtime Republican donor who heavily backed Trump's presidential campaign, also weighed in with details about his conversations with the Florida governor's team.
Like many other Republicans, Eberhart has distanced himself from Trump and is now in favor of DeSantis running for president in 2024. Speaking to Rolling Stone, he shed light on the perspective of DeSantis' team.
“In ongoing discussions following his reelection, including this week, I’ve been asked to keep my powder dry,” said Eberhart. “My understanding is that the DeSantis team doesn’t see upside in kicking off the fight with Trump this early, even if it may be inevitable. Wading into the Fuentes fiasco just isn’t worth it for them. The media will harpoon Trump without Team DeSantis lifting a finger.”
According to Rolling Stone's Asawin Suebsaeng, it appears DeSantis' strategy is part of a bigger agenda.
"DeSantis’s calculated silence is in line with the Florida governor’s broader strategy for now in challenging — or, to be more precise, Suebsaeng wrote. "The twice-impeached former president, who announced his 2024 White House bid earlier this month, has taken to enthusiastically trashing DeSantis, going as far as to publicly threaten to air alleged dirt about his likely 2024 GOP primary opponent."
He further noted that the Florida governor has made it a point to steer clear of the political squabbles Trump has a reputation of inciting. Suebsaeng added, "DeSantis, meanwhile, has generally declined Trump’s attempts to lure him into a very public mud fight."
Venezuelan migrants who came to Texas seeking asylum--and were flown to Martha's Vineyard by Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis--are suing Florida, its governor, two of his top aides, and a mysterious military counterintelligence agent named Perla.
Boston-based nonprofit Lawyers for Civil Rights filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the migrants in U.S. District Court. The identities of the migrants were protected with pseudonyms but details of their harrowing journeys were revealed. Also named in the suit is Florida Department of Transportation Jared Perdue and a woman named Perla who is accused of giving the migrants, many with scarce access to food, McDonald's gift cards and false, misleading information to get them to agree to go to Florida where they would become unwitting participants in DeSantis' stunt.
In October, CNN identified the mysterious Perla who migrants described as Perla Huerta, who served as a counterintelligence agent and U.S. Army combat medic specialist until August. She was in Iraq and Afghanistan and held the rank of master sergeant. A migrant who had been homeless and living on San Antonio's streets told CNN that a woman named Perla had given him food and clothes in exchange for flying to Florida.
Lawyers for Civil Rights are including DeSantis chief of staff James Uthmeier and public safety czar, Larry Keefe, as defendants in an amended complaint.
The complaint says migrants fled Venezuela's violence and political upheaval: "to the United States in a desperate attempt to protect themselves and their families from gangs, police, and state-sponsored violence and the oppression of political dissent," the complaint says. "Defendants and their unidentified accomplices designed and executed a premeditated, fraudulent, and illegal scheme centered on exploiting this vulnerability for the sole purpose of advancing their own personal, financial, and political interests."
A migrant with the complaint IDs only as "Jesus Doe" had just gotten a federal notice that he would be moved from Texas to Virginia to begin a resettlement process in October 2022. It was good news because Jesus was homeless and sleeping in a shelter for recent immigrants or on the street nearby. He was approached by an official who told him her name was “Perla”.
She asked that he share his federal immigration notices with her so she could help him like she had helped many other Venezuelans. Perla told Jesus that she could get him on a plane to Washington, D.C., or Boston, and he could stay free in a hotel.
On September 14, at 7 a.m., Jesus and several dozen Venezuelans met Perla's assistant, who offered them each a $10 McDonald’s gift card. Jesus had an uncertain grasp of written English and the document was only partially in Spanish.
He was hungry. He signed. It was an agreement to be flown by DeSantis.
The complaint says that Florida officials gave the hungry migrants who landed there with few funds for food, $10 McDonald's gift cards to elicit their cooperation again. The suit claims that Florida officials made false promises about housing, jobs, free transportation to job interviews, free education, and financial assistance if the migrants would agree to fly to Boston or Washington, D.C.
"Next, the Defendants put class members up for free in hotels, sequestered away from the migrant center, and from the possibility of actual good Samaritans finding out how the class members were being abused," the complaint continues.
Instead, the migrants were unloaded without food or water at Martha's Vineyard, where local civic and faith-based groups, who had no idea the migrants were coming, fed and housed them.
While they were still in flight, the lawsuit says migrant passengers were given red, shiny folders with brochures jammed with free services Massachusetts gives to migrants. Unfortunately, the information was false and worthless. Massachusetts did not print the brochures. The migrants' lawyers believe DeSantis staff cobbled together the brochures by lifting chunks of Massachusetts refugee resettlement websites, ignoring the fact that the information applied only to specific members of the refugee community.
The complaint accuses DeSantis of using Covid relief funds to relocate the Texas migrants, not an approved purpose for the funds/ The complaint says Florida "paid $615,000 for privately chartered planes ($12,300 per passenger)" to fly the migrants to Martha's Vineyard.