Monday, April 14, 2008

Bits and Briefs

A busy period has kept me from writing as much as usual. So, here is another installment of Bits and Briefs to get us caught up on some recent legal happenings:

  • Is waterboarding the latest chic technique for corporate team-building? An Utah employee who was waterboarded by his boss at a motivational sales meeting thinks not. "You saw how hard Chad fought for air right there. I want you to go back inside and fight that hard to make sales." See: Team-Building or Torture? Court Will Decide - Washington Post

  • Yet another Borat lawsuit has been filed - this will make it fourteen, to date. A Maryland driving instructed has joined the list if litigants who have sued Sacha Baron Cohen after allegedly being duped into appearing in the 2006 motion picture. See Bashing "Borat" - OnPointNews

  • Fined for the F-Bomb - A U.S federal judge in Philadelphia has sanctioned Aaron Wilder, a Long Island mortgage broker and his lawyer with a $29,000.00 fine, after a profanity-laced, two day deposition that featured 73 usages of a naughty word that rhymes with buck, duck and (since it's NHL playoff time) puck. Mr. Wilder now complains of censorship. ""It's in usage," he said of the F-word. And using it, he added, is his "constitutional right." See Deposed, Not Composed and video of the "Deposition from Heck" - Philadelphia Inquirer

  • Not Bad for a ten year old: Daniel K. Wedding II, a ten-year-old Toledo boy has become the first kid in class to be awarded a U.S. Patent, after inventing a polycarbonate plastic boomerang toy. "Whether Daniel wants to grow up to become a patent attorney, an electrical engineer or his dream of being "the next Bill Gates" probably depends on what mood one catches Daniel in." See Boy, 10, granted a toy patent - Scripps News

  • The Facebook founders' lawsuit may soon be over. A dispute between Facebook CEO Mark Zukerberg and his former Harvard colleagues over the original code that allegedly was a precurser to Facebook is apparently drawing to a close. "A person briefed on the status of the dueling lawsuits" said a settlement was expected within weeks." See Facebook and ConnectU lawsuit to reach settlement - Associated Press; Facebook to Settle Lawsuit Over Its Origins - New York Times

  • As anticipated, a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Commission against Mark Steyn and Maclean's Magazine over an allegedly anti-Islamic article has been halted by the Commission. A Statement by the Commission advised, "In a recent decision, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) decided not to proceed with complaints filed against Maclean’s magazine related to an article “The future belongs to Islam.” The complainants alleged that the content of the magazine and Maclean’s refusal to provide space for a rebuttal violated their human rights. Denying a service because of human rights grounds such as race or creed can form the basis for a human rights complaint. However, the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”) does not give the Commission the jurisdiction to deal with the content of magazine articles through the complaints process." Also see: Ontario Human Rights Commission to Steyn And Macleans... - BigCityLib

  • Professor Orin Kerr at Volokh has an interesting discussion on whether U.S. jurors should be made aware of mandatory minimum sentencing laws prior to deliberations. See Thoughts on United States v. Polizzi - The Volokh Conspiracy

  • Meet the Borings - Aaron and Christine Boring of Pittsburgh have launched a suit against Google for "intentional and/or grossly reckless invasion" of their privacy, after Google's Street View posted images of their home on its online service. The Borings claim "in excess of " $25,000.00 for compensatory, incidental, consequential and punitive damages, and seek Google's destruction of all photos of their home in all media. See: Couple Sues Google Over "Street View" - The Smoking Gun; Couple Suing Google Maps For Private Residence Pictures - Web Pro News

  • It sure is reassuring to know that Existence of Sex Tape with Husband Shouldn't Impact Sexual Harassment Claim. An Ohio state appeals court has held, "Whether or not [the plaintiff] willingly made a tape with her husband in the privacy of her own home has no bearing on whether or not her exposure to pornography at her work place was unwelcome and damaging." - Workplace Prof Blog

  • Finally, animal rights is a developing area of law that we should definitely keep an eye on. See Owner Charged With Cruelty for Failing to Treat Cat's Ailments from Overlawyered. A commenter asks "So if my cat gets cancer and I choose not to spend thousands on chemo and radiation I can be charged with a crime?" Good question. Maybe someday.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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