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?
Tipsy TIPMs? Topping the list this week? Another defective automotive class action lawsuit—surprise, surprise. Never would have guessed, right?
This one was filed in federal court against Chrysler Group LLC. The lawsuit seeks to hold the Big Three automobile maker accountable for economic losses suffered by owners and passengers of Chrysler cars and trucks that stalled, caught fire or sustained other potentially life-endangering malfunctions due to a faulty onboard computer.
The Chrysler lawsuit alleges that Chrysler knew about and fraudulently concealed the defectiveness of its Totally Integrated Power Module—TIPM, for short. Chrysler sought as far back as 2005 to hide the magnitude of the TIPM defect from consumers and initiated only limited vehicle recalls, the complaint alleges.
Despite knowing about the defect, Chrysler continued installing faulty TIPMs in vehicles until the 2014 model year, according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The TIPM is an integral component of many Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep models on the road today, the device controls and distributes power to all of a vehicle’s electrical functions. Prone to sudden failure, a vehicle’s TIPM poses a serious safety issue, placing the driver and passengers at risk of harm, the complaint indicates.
A failed TIPM causes malfunctioning of airbags, headlights, brakes, horns, wipers, windows, door locks and other components that rely on electrical functions.Worse, a failed TIPM can cause a vehicle’s engine to shut down unexpectedly while driving at high speeds.
“Millions of consumers who have bought into this brand have suffered harm because of Chrysler and its faulty Totally Integrated Power Module,” the complaint alleges.
Owners of defective TIPM-equipped Chrysler vehicles suffer economic losses in part because the device is expensive to replace, costing upward of $1,000. Also, because of the sheer number of vehicles requiring a new TIPM, consumers are forced to make do without their vehicles for many days and even weeks while their vehicles sit in the shop and wait for a replacement TIPM to be shipped. Adding insult to injury, the defect caused many motorists to incur unnecessary costs to replace non-defective parts that malfunctioned because of the faulty TIPM.
Ugly Side of Beauty Biz? Sephora USA Inc. is facing a proposed discrimination class action lawsuit. Filed in New York federal court, the discrimination lawsuit claims the company deactivated thousands of Asian customers’ accounts, allegedly motivated by a racist belief that they were buying discounted beauty products in bulk and reselling them for profit.
Brought by four women of Chinese descent, the discrimination class action claims Sephora shut down Asian users’ accounts after its site crashed on November 6, due to a surge in web traffic resulting from a 20 percent-off sale promotion. According to Sephora, reselling of its products is pervasive. The company said it blocked some North American and international customer accounts for this reason.
According to the plaintiffs, the only accounts that were deactivated were those that used Chinese web domains or had names that Sephora perceived as being of Asian origin. A plaintiffs’ attorney said an investigation revealed that only users who fell into those two categories had their accounts blocked.
According to the lawsuit, the four named plaintiffs live in New York, Philadelphia, and Columbus, Ohio, and were all members of Sephora’s ‘Beauty Insider’ program. The program gives customers who spend certain amounts on the company’s products access to discounts and other promotions. The points the women accumulated by buying Sephora products, and which give access to additional discounts and special gifts, have been lost, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys. Sephora alleges it only went ahead with the deactivations after it “identified certain entities who take advantage of promotional opportunities to purchase products in large volume on our website and resell them through other channels.”
Attorneys for the plaintiffs said that instead of deactivating accounts, Sephora could have addressed the resale issue by limiting the number of products a single customer could purchase or capping the amount of money they could spend. Sounds sensible.
The named plaintiffs seek to represent a class of Sephora customers who were part of the Beauty Insider program who either are or are perceived as being of Chinese or Asian ethnicity and had their accounts blocked or deactivated following the website crash. The potential class is expected to be in the thousands.
The case is Xiao Xiao et al., v. Sephora USA Inc. et al., case number 14-cv-9181, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Boston Scientific Bellwether Results… A jury has awarded $18.5 million against Boston Scientific Corp in settlement of transvaginal mesh litigation brought by four women who alleged the implanted medical device left them with nerve damage, infections and pain during sex.
The trial was heard by a federal jury in West Virginia and is the second verdict against the company over defective vaginal slings. Last week a federal jury in Florida issued a $26.7 million verdict against Boston Scientific for providing insufficient warnings about the risks of its Pinnacle mesh device.
The four women in the West Virginia case sued Boston Scientific over the defective Obtryx transvaginal sling. “In these cases, the jurors clearly understood that Boston Scientific moved too quickly in bringing its product to market, and that it used inappropriate materials while at the same time failing to warn doctors and patients about the risks involved,” said on the of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs. Each of the women will receive $1 million in punitive damages under the terms of the settlement.
The multidistrict litigation being heard in Miami, also involved four women who alleged suffering and injury after having the sling implanted. It was the first federal bellwether trial against Boston Scientific, one of seven manufacturers of pelvic mesh that face about 60,000 lawsuits across the country.
Transvaginal Mesh and Transvaginal Slings are medical devices that are surgically implanted to treat Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) and/or Stress Urinary Incontinence(SUI).
Hokee Dokee—Time to adjourn for the week. Have a fab weekend–See you at the bar!
It’s not often that jurisprudence and home decor intersect. After all, let’s face it, one look at most attorney offices will tell you to look elsewhere for interior design inspiration. But this case—brought to us all compliments of a Mr. Clinton Tucker—is sure to rock the very foundation of the home improvement industry (not).
But I’m ahead of myself so let’s back things up a bit…
Clinton Tucker is a former Benjamin Moore employee who has filed a complaint in Essex County Court (NJ) alleging that the paint company fired him after he repeatedly complained about the “despicable and racially insulting paint colors called ‘Clinton Brown’ and ‘Tucker Chocolate.'” Tucker Chocolate, for those who don’t have a bedside copy of “Paint and Coating News“, is a paint color in the Benjamin Moore historical Williamsburg collection. In the filing, Clinton Tucker refers to himself as an African-American homosexual male—btw, fwiw—and he’s seeking damages for discrimination, retaliation and a hostile work environment.
Without going too deeply into this one, it sounds like a classic “you say ‘to-MAY-to’, I say ‘to-MAH-to'” type of case—you know, where it’s a matter of individual perception. After all, Clinton Brown sounds more to me like the shade of something Hillary (as in Clinton, as in the more caucasion-looking woman who may be running for President) would’ve asked Ralph Lauren to whip up in silk faille for some fete or soiree in the State Dining Room.
But no, Clinton Tucker, being African-American, apparently sees this quite differently—almost as if the Benjamin Moore design team named the Clinton Brown shade with only Mr. Tucker himself in mind! And of course, that same team looked no further than Mr. Tucker for the inspiration in naming their other brown color, “Tucker Chocolate”—coincidence? Hell no—and it HAD to be a racial slur…Never mind that the Williamsburg collection also has a Tucker Orange and Tucker Gray…where’s a gray-haired octogenarian filing a paint name discrimination suit when you need him/her?? Where the heck is the AARP on THIS one, huh??
Oh wait a minute—was that Tucker thing some sort of theme? Why yes it was—for a certain St. George Tucker. THIS Tucker (1752-1827) wound up in Virginia (funny, that’s where Williamsburg is!) by way of Bermuda to become a lawyer (who knew?). Here’s another funny thing—according to just about every online source that was checked for this post, St. George Tucker ‘urged for the abolishment of slavery’. Yes, he authored a pamphlet, “A Dissertation on Slavery: With A Proposal for the Gradual Abolition of It in the State of Virginia“.
So here’s the plot line for this lawsuit so far: Benjamin Moore develops a wide range of paint colors under the umbrella “Williamsburg”. In it, there are at least three colors named after, or in honor of, St. George Tucker—a seemingly respectable Virginian. While St. George Tucker—a would-be abolitionist—is rolling in his grave, a modern-day Clinton Tucker (no known relation to St. George) is suing Benjamin Moore claiming that the paint named for a white pro-abolition dude was actually some inside joke (ha-ha) meant as a racial slur. Are you still with me?
Well, perhaps the real story here is this excerpt from the filing that was re-printed at Courthouse News:
“Tucker claims that “despite his value, accomplishments and productivity for the company, the plaintiff was repeatedly denied opportunities for promotion and growth by BM due to his race” and that “despite spending countless hours in the office, the plaintiff was only getting paid for a 40-hour week…Tucker claims that Benjamin Moore eventually wrongfully terminated him in March 2014, but “retained Tucker’s two white, blonde-haired and blue-eyed subordinates.”
According to Tucker’s LinkedIn profile, he started at BM in June 2011—so he was there for 2 years, 9 months. And, according to a recommendation he received (see below), he actually had been promoted. The recommendation also makes you wonder if those “countless hours” were required, or just Tucker’s regular M.O…
“Clinton is the guy you want on your team when you need results. NO is just not an option. He will dig deep for data and map out a solution or track down an answer while jumping hurdles to do it. As part of the Digital Marketing team he brought a deep analysis of our data that we hadn’t seen before that drove results across all of our digital properties. His expertise in eCommerce helped set the stage for future growth and Clinton demonstrated leadership qualities well deserving of the promotion he received.” – Lisa Sharp, Digital Manager at SRSoft, who previously indirectly managed Clinton at BM
Regardless, if this has any legs, I’m thinking of letting my friend—the one who consistently robs the cradle, so to speak—know that she may have to find a lawyer and file a discrimination suit…Benjamin Moore also has a paint named “Cougar Brown”.
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!
Did you hear the latest? Airbus announced recently that they’ll offer the option of installing wider aisle seats on their A320’s to accommodate heavier, aka fat, fliers. This, in response to all the hullabaloo lately over the notion of charging super-size passengers a premium for airline tickets (The Independent has coined a new moniker for this class: “McPassengers“.)
The plan, which Airbus states is in response to “trends in demographics”, is to offer the Airbus A320 with aisle seats that are two inches wider. Where’s the extra width coming from—as let’s face it, there is finite space to work with in the cabin? Apparently from the center and window seats!
That’ll go over like a fart in church, guaranteed.
Can’t help but recall the image of Steve Martin sitting next to John Candy in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (see clip above). Granted, Candy gives new meaning to ‘passenger from hell’—but still.
At any rate, let’s play this out. Assume an airplane with wider aisle seats—to be sold to wider passengers at a premium. A “normal” sized person purchases the center or window seat, sans premium. All I need to say to exemplify that this will not be an ideal scenario is one word: bathroom.
Forget about your seating comfort during 95% of the flight when you’re sitting there, still undoubtedly scrunched or your personal space infringed upon—and it will be, as adding two inches—go ahead right now and look at a ruler—will not accommodate a mass amount of additional girth. Forget all about that. Think about the 5% of in-flight time that center- and window-seat passengers will have to get up to either relieve themselves or relieve their aching backs, thereby making the aisle-seat passenger get up—or necessitating an ungraceful attempt to maneuver around him or her. This will not make for good “how was your flight?” customer satisfaction scores.
It’s just sheet common sense.
Of course, there are other angles to this. Is it discrimination to steal from the thin and give to the fat without discounting the thin’s ticket price? Initial reports on this don’t indicate that there would be such discounts. Only that the wider seats would be sold at a higher price.
Then, will there be weigh-ins? Or something that measures body dimensions in such a way as to ensure that only heavier people will have access to those wider aisle seats? Or, could thinner people purchase those seats at a premium to ensure they aren’t going to be squished in-flight? And, if so, what if all the aisle seats are taken up and a fat person wants that seat—does the thinner person get bumped? or moved to first-class for the inconvenience?
Wider aisle seats at the expense of thinner individuals’ seat width is not the market segmentation solution here. It disregards the classic “don’t make your issue my issue” maxim of harmonious human coexistence. And that’s never a good thing at a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet.