Pay to Pray? Not on your life! Love this. King Arthur Pendragon—the legendary King of England and Excalibur Knight—has come back to defend rights of people to pray without having to worry about their parking. It’s the little things, right?
It seems the English court has granted Pendragon the right to sue Britain’s national historical society over a £15 parking fee.
Just so we’re all clear, Pendragon was born in the century that only recently passed as John Timothy Rothwell but later changed his name to Excalibur. According to Wikipedia, in 1991, he was named Pendragon and Swordbearer to the Glastonbury Order of Druids. It turns out that the self-proclaimed reincarnation of King Arthur is a bit of a crusader (sorry, couldn’t resist) and no stranger to the English courts.
Back to the case. Parking for the riff raff at Stonehenge usually costs £5. However, Pendragon was charged (but didn’t pay) £15 during the 2016 summer solstice prayer ceremony that he was attending, which is part of the Druid religion. Apparently, English Heritage increased the parking fee in an effort to encourage more people to car share or travel by bus. I can’t quite imagine a bus full of Druids. Motorbikes yes, Bluebird buses, not so much.
English Heritage’s (EH) side of the story, according to a statement they issued earlier, is: “In recent years there has been a huge growth in people and cars coming to the World Heritage Site to celebrate the Summer Solstice. In 2000, approximately 10,000 people attended the Solstice celebrations, while in 2014, the figure was close to 40,000.” That’s a lot of people, Pagan or otherwise.
Pendragon doesn’t agree with the parking fee, stating that he wanted to prove EH was wrong to turn him away when he refused to “pay to pray”, the BBC reports. And he wasn’t the only one who refused to pay. Pendragon has a lot of support in this case: he was joined by other Druid, Heathen and Wiccan supporters to protest outside the court. Reportedly, something like 12,500 people take part in this annual ceremony and a lot of them feel that the parking fee was “exclusionary”. Pendragon claims that the fine “unfairly targets his religion,” and breached his human rights. For those of you not in the loop on Druid religious holidays, there are four annual dawn ceremonies at Stonehenge—those parking fees could add up. So off to court they go—Salisbury small claims court that is.
In an interview with the BBC, a spokeswoman with the English Heritage said they are looking forward to presenting their full case at a later date. Adding that “The Summer Solstice parking charge is not a ‘pay to pray’ but a ‘pay to park’ charge.”
The court will set a full day of hearings which Pendragon has requested not interfere with the spring or summer solstice. Maybe they should be praying for free parking, as they’re obviously not taking the bus. Then again, what about horseback?
Right to access public land, discrimination, public safety or an overstated sense of entitlement? According to a group—a small group—of snowboarders—ok 4 snowboarders, the issue(s) lies behind door numbers 1 and 2. And they’ve filed a lawsuit to prove it. So what the heck am I talking about? To allow boarders on ski hills or not. Oh yeah baby—that old chestnut.
The powers that be in charge of Alta Ski Area in Utah have banned boarders from the ski hills. Why? They claim safety of the skiing public. So the 4 boarders are suing. They want access to them thar hills. They brought their lawsuit in 2014, and are alleging discrimination on the part of the resort.
In the interest of providing an unbiased opinion (possibly an oxymoron but let’s roll with it) I should disclose that I am a skier not a boarder. Having been clipped myself by a snowboarder—I can attest it hurts. Luckily, I was not injured but many others have been, some seriously. So, there is a heated debate about allowing boarders and skiers on the same slopes.
Back to the lawsuit…the lawyers representing the resort successfully defended their ban stating that resort officials made a business decision to entice skiers to the private resort east of Salt Lake City by promising a snowboarder-free experience, (kinda like a sand-flea free beach experience?) and it’s well within its rights to keep snowboards off the slopes.
The US Forest Service, which approves a permit for Alta, is also on the side of the resort, and backed up their boarder-free policy in court.
Attorneys for the four boarders have offered the counter argument that Alta doesn’t have the right to keep snowboarders off public land designated by Congress for skiing and other sports, pointing to 119 other ski resorts that operate on public land that allow snowboarding.
Of course, part of the problem is that Alta is world-class skiing and boarding territory. So everyone wants in. But at some point safety must come into the decision-making process. After all, we don’t allow cars on bike paths. Hell, pedestrians aren’t even allowed on bike paths, but that’s a whole cycling vigilante thing we best not get into here. I digress.
Back to the boarders. Their issue, their lawyers state, is with Alta’s claim that skiers find the slopes safer because they don’t have to worry about being hit by snowboarders who cannot always see skiers because their sideways stance leaves them with a blind spot. (Yes—true enough). And, the lawyers continue, Alta’s ban is irrational and based on stereotypes of snowboarders. Ok, don’t get me started.
Apparently, Deer Valley in Utah and Mad River Glen in Vermont also ban snowboarding.
In any event, the case got tossed last year by a federal judge in Utah (wonder if he is a skier…) so the four snowboarders who have now named themselves “Wasatch Equality,” have appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, as you do.
This week, Fox News reported that the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case. Wasatch Equality’s lawyer, Jonathan Schofield, argued the snowboarding ban violates the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution by denying them access to the mountain. Seriously?
Yup. However, Schofield insisted he was not trying to get snowboarders declared a “protected class,” but press for equal access on government land. Surely they can still access the mountain? They just can’t go snowboarding on it. That’s different, I think.
“You don’t get to play favorites and decide who can come and who can’t,” he told FOX 13. Hmmm.
One of the three judges on the panel, Judge Gregory Phillips, asked “What if I want to take my toboggan down the slope? Would that be an equal protection violation?” Hello! Love it.
Alta insisted that it doesn’t discriminate against people, but has an equipment policy. “This case is about equipment. It’s not about people. It’s about a board,” said Alta Ski Area attorney Rick Thaler. “They’re the same person, the same beliefs, same race, gender, speech, clothing, cultural group.” Not quite sure what he’s on about there.
And so this goes on. The judges have taken the case under advisement with a decision is expected in a matter of months. Maybe at the end of ski season?
So—go get your skis on!
Racial discrimination is something we’ve come to associate with minority groups—it’s rare that you see an item in the press about a non-minority being the victim of such discrimination, outside of say the occasional affirmative action case related to college admissions.
But, what if someone from the majority is actually part of the minority in a work situation? That’s what happened in a recent court case involving the city of Los Angeles.
In James Duffy v. City of Los Angeles, Duffy, a 63-year old Caucasian man who’d been working for the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks as a gardener for 19 years, alleged racial discrimination against his Hispanic foreman and coworkers. According to court documents, Duffy’s foreman, Abel Perez, allegedly began discriminating against Duffy upon becoming his foreman back in 2004.
Duffy claimed he was forced to retire after several discriminatory events took place—including some harassing incidents that happened after Duffy had suffered an on-the-job head injury, resulting in short-term memory problems. According to the filing, Duffy stated he’d complained to his supervisors several times but to no avail.
Some of the alleged discriminatory actions included Perez once stating “I hate white people.” Perez would also allegedly tell Duffy he hadn’t been given certain assignments when he had or that he failed to complete assignments he had never actually been given.
The complaint also stated the city of Los Angeles engaged in intentional racial discrimination by maintaining a “systematic and continuous policy and goal of firing and demoting Caucasian employees”—and that the city took no action after Duffy had made numerous complaints about the harassment he was enduring.
The case, James Duffy v. City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Superior Court, Central , BC454369, went before a jury and a verdict was returned in favor of Duffy. The $3,255,000 verdict was unanimous on claims of disability and racial harassment, retaliation and discrimination by the City of Los Angeles and three of Duffy’s supervisors. The verdict comprised $380,000 in economic damages and $2,875,000 in non-economic damages.
If You’re Gonna Sue, Sue Big. In the unlikely event any of us were napping last week—and missed this—it’s among the first of what’s likely to be an onslaught of wiretap class actions resulting from, well, surveillance activities undertaken by the federal government. First up to bat, these plaintiffs are certainly not shy about naming defendants: The wiretap class action names President Obama, US Attorney General Eric Holder, the director of the National Security Agency (NSA), the NSA, the CEO of Verizon, the US Department of Justice, and Judge Roger Vinson of the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court as defendants. Judge Vinson is named as a defendant because he signed the secret order directing Verizon to turn over all phone records “on an ongoing daily basis.”
According to the wiretap class action lawsuit, this constituted an “outrageous breach of privacy” and a violation of Verizon users’ “reasonable expectation of privacy, free speech and association, right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures, and due process rights.” The wiretap lawsuit challenges the legality of the NSA’s “secret and illegal government scheme to intercept and analyze vast quantities of domestic telephone communications.”
The potential class action lawsuit, entitled Klayman, et al. v. Barrack Hussein Obama II, et al., Case No. 13-cv-00851, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks to represent a class of American citizens in the United States and overseas who are either curren or previous Verizon customers, including, but not limited to customers between April 25, 2013 and July 19, 2013.
The class is seeking a cease-and-desist order to prohibit the collection of Verizon customers’ phone records and more than $3 billion in damages and attorney fees. Plaintiffs are represented by Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch Inc.
Here we go!
USPS Workers Get Special Delivery? Looks like the US Postal Service was not delivering the goods for all its employees: the agency has agreed to a $17.3 million settlement in the discrimination class action brought by its employees with disabilities.
Some 41,000 past and current postal service employees are involved in the discrimination class action, which details complaints over restricted work hours from 2000 through to 2012. These reduced work hours are allegedly due to employees’ permanent disabilities. The lawsuit alleges the practice violated the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, which bars federal agencies from discriminating against disabled employees.
The USPS class action settlement has received preliminary approval from an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) administrative judge and is expected to receive final approval from the EEOC in July. If finalized, class members may be eligible to receive up to $300 per employee—but it depends on how many people file claims.
Although the settlement still needs final approval from the EEOC, members of the class are supposed to get formal notification of the agreement next week.
Second-Hand Asbestos Settlement. Good news bad news…as the asbestos debacle continues. On June 5, 2013, an Oakland jury completed its award to plaintiffs Rose-Marie and Martin Grigg of a total of $27,342,500 in damages stemming from Mrs. Grigg’s asbestos mesothelioma (Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG12629580).
Mrs. Grigg, now 82, was exposed to asbestos in the course of shaking out and washing her husband’s work clothing. Mrs. Grigg’s then husband was an insulator for a company that used Owens-Illinois, Inc. Kaylo brand insulation products from 1950-1958.
Evidence introduced during trial showed that Owens-Illinois, Inc. knew that asbestos exposure could cause death as early as the 1930s and that test results on Kaylo showed that exposure to the asbestos in the product could cause fatal disease.
According to court documents, Owens-Illinois nonetheless advertised Kaylo as “non-toxic” and did not state that the product contained asbestos. Kaylo was packaged in boxes without warning about the health hazards associated with asbestos exposure.
The jury found that Owens-Illinois, Inc. manufactured a defective product, failed to adequately warn Mrs. Grigg, was negligent, and intentionally failed to disclose information about Kaylo-related health hazards to Mrs. Grigg. The jury also found that Owens-Illinois, Inc. acted with malice, oppression or fraud toward Mrs. Grigg. The jury awarded Mrs. Grigg $12,000,000 in damages for her pain and suffering, Mr. Grigg $4,000,000 in damages for his loss of consortium, and $342,500 in economic damages. The jury also levied an $11,000,000 punitive damages verdict against Owens-Illinois, Inc.
Okee dokee—that’s it for this week—happy Father’s Day and safe weekend to you all—see you at the bar!
This kid’s onto something. Unfortunately, he’s also out of something: school. He was apparently suspended for exercising his First Amendment rights. Here’s the story…
Pat Brown is young. He’s engaged. No, not as in heading to the altar—he’s socially aware and he’s participating in the dialog about his local school board budget. That would be the Cicero-North Syracuse (CNS) High School 2013-2014 budget, which hasn’t yet passed—it was rejected by voters last week.
Pat Brown, student at CNS High, is a concerned student; and he should be—according to a report at CNN, the CNS school board had warned that if the budget isn’t passed, cuts would be necessary—to things like athletic programs, extra-curricular activities and even the elimination of some teacher positions. Things that create and support a robust learning environment for students.
Pat Brown is just a kid—he’s 18, but for all intents and purposes, he’s a high school kid. But he employed the one thing—most likely the only thing—that he could to make his voice, and the voice of his fellow students, heard: he created #shitCNSshouldcut. Humorous, in a shitmydadsays kind of way? Yes. A welcome mat for a wide range of both constructive and negative suggestions? Absolutely. But he achieved the most important thing—he got the conversation going and undoubtedly helped raise awareness among the budget’s main constituency, the student body of CNS High.
But the story doesn’t end there. Sure there were tweets using the hashtag. You can imagine the range of comments—but what really set this story in motion is that Brown, himself, tweeted that CNS High’s executive principal should be let go. And that was apparently a no-no. Result? A three-day suspension for Brown. According to his own Twitter stream, he’s out till this Thursday (5/30).
Now, what’s interesting here is that while some reports indicate that Brown was on his cell phone in class—which in many schools would lead to some form of disciplinary action, though perhaps not immediate suspension—that doesn’t appear to be the impetus for the suspension. According to the CNN article, Brown says he was “called into the office and told he would be suspended for three days for harassing the principal, using a mobile phone in class and disrupting the learning environment.”
There’s the key: “harassing the principal”.
Harassing? It was Brown’s personal opinion that the executive principal is not performing up to snuff. He tweeted it. Unless there’s a serious chunk of the story that isn’t being reported, that doesn’t sound like harassment—it sounds like free speech.
Earlier, I said this kid is onto something. Here’s evidence of that—he tweeted this on May 25th:
“People who are comparing this to me insulting my future employer need to realize one thing…I do not work for my principal.”
You got that right. It’s taxpayer dollars that are paying the school administration’s and teacher’s salaries. And it’s not the principal who determines how the U.S. Constitution is to be interpreted (shameless plug: that would be for trial lawyers and the USSC to handle.)
Given that, perhaps the best suggestion for a CNS school budget cut came from @Rant_rant_rant:
“#shitcnsshouldcut Cut U.S. History classes, since the North Syr. school district no longer acknowledges the Constitution.”
Of course, I’m being facetious. But the tweeter’s got a point.
We’ll have to see where this story nets out, but in the meantime, a new hashtag has emerged: #FreePatBrown.