May It Please The Court
Quote of the Day - A food chain is a vast hierarchy of predators, with plankton at the bottom and marketing executives at the top.
Smukers May Get SmackedLast week, Smuckers got smeared with a lawsuit over its claim of 100% fruit in its jams.
Smuckers itself advertises "Simply fruit" both on its website and jars.
But, tests revealed that the spread contained less than 30 percent actual strawberries and the blueberry version contained just 43 percent berries, the lawsuit said. The suit was filed by a woman, Stephanie Schwebel, with a "sensitive palate."
I couldn't find where Smucker's website lists the ingredients, but it invites you to send an email to find out. The article cited above says the website lists the ingredients as fruit syrup, lemon juice concentrate, fruit pectin, red grape juice concentrate and natural flavors.
I just went down to the kitchen and couldn't even find a jar of it.
Guess I have to brave the picket lines and go to the grocery store to get some jam. I've heard it goes real well with ice cream, too.
The Merry Wives of Email TheftDivorce battles can be especially ugly. This one, however, could have ended up with jail time.
According to CNN, a woman (Angel Lee) frauduently obtained her husband's ex-wife's email user name and password. No, you don't need a consanguinity chart to figure out that relationship. I probably just should have said "the former wife," or just her name: Duongladde Ramsay, which would have been a lot easier to understand.
After Angel got Duongladde's email password, she went into the ex-wife's account and read 215 emails. Had to be tremendously interesting stuff to have read that many.
Stating that "privacy is still a cherished value," U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch sentenced 28-year old Lee of El Mirage, Arizona to 60 days of home imprisonment.
The Judge thought Angel should stay home with the kids rather than go to jail. Too bad he didn't take away her computer, too.
EPA Chases More Air Pollution SettlementsThis article announced that multinational corporate melgoconglomerate ChevronTexaco will pay $3.75 million in fines and invest $275 million in plant upgrades at five refineries.
All to settle an air-quality lawsuit filed last month in .San Francisco federal court by State and Federal regulators. The lawsuit allged that C-T "did not immediately notify federal authorities and local fire departments of mishaps that led to hazardous emissions releases of hydrogen sulfide, sulfuric acid, nitric oxide, sulfur dioxide and other hazardous substances" at it El Segundo plant.
C-T's website sports a Social Responsibility page to tell us all about the company's good deeds, but a check of its press release site doesn't address this settlement.
The USEPA's press site has this to say, and claims the settlement will eliminate almost 10,000 pounds of NOx and SO2. Although the consent decree is not yet posted, it will be here, and open for a 30-day comment period.
This action is the ninth in a series of air pollution suits filed by the USEPA.
According to the Find Law article, however, "Nicole Hodgson, a ChevronTexaco spokeswoman, said the company disputes 'the underlying allegations.' She said ChevronTexaco settled so it could focus on reducing emissions 'rather than on costly legal proceedings.'"
And maybe clean up the environment a little more.
How Not To Pay for Environmental ContaminationThe absolute pollution exclusion has been clarified once again. This time, however, it's been narrowed.
Environmental response costs are supposedly not covered under this insurance provision, according to the Sixth Appellate District out of San Jose. Perhaps not much of a departure from the California Supreme Court's Foster Gardner decision (free registration required to view), it's nonetheless a blow to insureds, and not good public policy.
In this case, the California Water Quality Control Board ordered CDM Investors to test its property for contaminants. CDM hired an environmental consultant to perform the work, and ultimately proved that the contaminants did not come from CDM's property.
CDM then asked its insurer, American National Fire Insurance Company (part of the Great American family - they even have a ballpark named after the company) to pay for the response costs. ANFIC refused, citing the absolute pollution exclusion as a bar.
The case is procedurally convoluted and that complicated posture plays a part in the court's decision, but suffice it to say that response costs cannot be covered by insurance unless there would have been a lawsuit by the Water Board against CDM.
So, in order to trigger coverage, insureds have to rebuff the government and wait for a lawsuit to be filed - instead of cooperating with the goverment and saving money all around. Sounds like great public policy to me. Let's spend more money, employ more lawyers, waste more time and raise hackles - all to get an insurance company to pay an otherwise legitimate claim.
California Appeals Court Curtails Internet SpeechIn a stark conflict with the Fourth Circuit Court of appeals, the First Appellate District held an ISP or an individual liable for defamatory postings. The first of its kind ruling is an amazing reversal of a trend toward absolute immunity for ISPs.
The court's decision focuses on the intentional republishing of defamatory content. Surprisingly, the opinion spends several pages disagreeing with the Fourth Circuit's opinion. It remains to be seen whether yesterday's California ruling will be challenged. Lawyers on the case are still analyzing their clients' strategies.
The broader impact of this ruling will likely mean that speech on the internet will be chilled, and opinions stifled for fear of running afoul of this ruling. We'll see whether it stands.
In the meantime, watch what you republish out there.
Crass Commercialism at its CrassiestFor all you lawyers and law-oriented non-lawyers, here's your chance to show the world just how much you love the law. You can emblazon your clothing, mugs, calendars, note cards, bags and other odds and ends with our new Judge. I don't have a name for him yet - maybe I'll have to sponsor a contest to name him. And of course the prize will be ....
Thanks to the cartoonist at Conservative Crust, MIPTC will soon sport a new logo. The logo should be up on the weblog within a few days, but you can see it (and buy it) right now at the MIPTC logo store. Yes, it's trademarked.
That's right - crass commercialism at is crassiest. So buy for your entire law firm, family, friends and even babies!
From now on when I send gifts, I know what I'm buying.
Covering the trialExpanding the horizons of blogging, the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot moved reporting into the Courtroom with real-time blogging. Reporter Kerry Sipe is providing up-to-the-minute coverage of the trial of one of the DC snipers, John Allen Muhammad.
Some purists would argue that it's not a true blog in the sense that it doesn't quite look like a blog (no links, calendar, comments, etc.) on the blog page. These features appear elsewhere on the site, and in fact work much better than most blogs I've seen. But then again, it's commercial, and we're paying for it with ads and subscriptions.
But it's more up to date than this daily blog.
The Virginan-Pilot's blog does have an archive of sorts that features articles written about the other Defendant Lee Boyd Malvo. There's an entire index dedicated to just about every aspect of the cases, including a timeline, video, series of photos, graphics and polls. You can even submit your local site.
Of course, as with all media circuses, someone has to write an article about the Boys on the Bus, the "story about the story."
Which makes this post a story about the story about the story.
Or something like that.
What Can We Pledge Allegiance To?The "One Nation under God" dispute will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this session.
Remember the national uproar when the Ninth Circuit ruled the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional? Athiest Michael Newdow challenged his daughter's school district's requirement to recite the pledge? Newdow holds medical and law degrees and claims to be an ordained minister. He will argue the case himself.
His daughter's mother, Sandra Banning, has no objection to the Pledge, which confuses things even more.
A confluence of events may allow the ruling to stand. Justice Anton Scalia will recuse himself from the case due to his comments that criticized the ruling. That would likely lead to a 4-4 deadlock on the court.
Moreover, the Court has already gone on record with a series of rulings that would appear to uphold this ruling. The Supreme Court has already said that schoolchildren cannot be required to recite the oath that begins, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America." That case arose out of the Jehovah's Witnesses' beliefs against the pledge.
The court has also repeatedly barred school-sponsored prayer from classrooms, playing fields and school ceremonies.
The First Amendment guarantees that government will not "establish" religion. That prohibition created a general ban on overt government sponsorship of religion in public schools and other forums.
On the other hand, the Supreme Court itself begins each of its sessions with the phrase "God Save the United States and this honorable court." The Declaration of Independence refers to God or to the creator four different times. Congress and many other legislatures around the country begin each session each day with a prayer. Our currency - inluding the new peach-colored 20-dollar bills - contains the phrase, "In God We Trust."
The phrase "under God," however, was not part of the original pledge adopted by Congress as a patriotic tribute in 1942, at the height of World War II. Congress inserted the phrase more than a decade later, in 1954, when the cold war was in full swing.
Supporters (a la' Senator Joe McCarthy) of the new wording said it would set the United States apart from godless communism.