Class Action Challenges Mandatory Electronic Filing
Areas of Focus | 2008/07/18 16:22
Questions regarding whether LexisNexis Courtlink is licensed to do business in Georgia and the location of its registered agent prompted attorney Steven J. Newton to amend his complaint against the company and Fulton County State and Superior Court officials. Newton filed the federal class-action in June, claiming LexisNexis Courtlink and the court officials are running an illegal, mandatory, electronic filing system.

Newton contends that filings in Fulton County State and Superior Courts, filed through the LexisNexis File & Serve system, can cost up to $11 per filing in cases for which electronic filing is mandated by orders from Fulton County State and Superior Courts, and authorized by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners.

Shortly after filing the complaint in June, Newton said he realized the location of the registered agent of LexisNexis Courtlink had changed since he filed the original lawsuit in December 2007.
   
Newton withdrew his original lawsuit in March. He said that defendants' attorneys told him that LexisNexis Courtlink no longer existed in Georgia. After checking the Secretary of State Web site, Newton said, he saw that LexisNexis Courtlink had filed a certificate of withdrawal on Jan. 15, and was no longer licensed to do business in Georgia.

But Newton said the company continues to do business in Georgia, as he still receives invoices from it, and the company recently conducted training sessions in Atlanta. So, Newton said, he amended the first complaint to state that LexisNexis Courtlink can be served at the Atlanta address where it held training, or in Newton, Mass.

Attorneys for the defendants have requested more time to respond to the amended complaint. Newton said no additional time should be granted.

"It's pretty much the same complaint I filed (months ago,)" he said. 
 


LA's 'Black Widows' Get Life In Prison For Murders
Legal Topics | 2008/07/17 15:52
Two elderly women dubbed the "Black Widows" of Los Angeles were sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing two homeless men whom they housed for two years before murdering them in hit-and-run crashes in order to collect $2.8 million in life insurance money.

Helen Golay, 77, and Olga Rutterschmidt, 75, were convicted in April of first-degree murder and conspiracy to murder for financial gain in the deaths of Kenneth McDavid, 50, and Paul Vados, 73.

Golay and Rutterschmidt claimed to be aunts, fiancées or cousins of the men on insurance applications, taking out 16 policies for McDavid and three for Vados, for which they acted as beneficiaries. The women had taken out the policies two years before the plotted deaths, purportedly because California law makes life insurance fraud more difficult to contest when a policy has been active for two years.

After running down Vados in a Hollywood alley in 1999, the women collected $600,000 in insurance claims. Authorities grew suspicious when the same two women amassed claims after McDavid was killed in an apparent hit-and-run accident in 2005 and had upper body injuries similar to Vados. Golay used her auto club membership to request the towing of a 1999 Mercury Sable station wagon an hour before McDavid's death. McDavid's DNA was found on the vehicle.

The duo was first arrested in 2006 for insurance fraud. On a secretly recorded videotape made the day of their arrest, Rutterschmidt called Golay "greedy" for taking out so many insurance policies and drawing media attention.

Superior Court Judge David Wesley told the women, "(T)hese unfortunate men were sacrificed on your altar of greed."


Man Says Eminem Sucker-Punched Him
Areas of Focus | 2008/07/15 15:43
Eminem sucker-punched a man as he used the urinal in a Detroit nightclub, the man claims in Oakland County Court. Miad Jarbou demands more than $100,000 from the rapper, whose real name is Marshall Mathers.

Jarbou says he was using a urinal at Cheetah's "exotic dancing bar" in the early morning hours of July 13, 2006, when Mathers entered, with a large bodyguard, who stood at the door. Jarbou says a friend who accompanied him to the club entered the john and said, "Hey Eminem, what's up man?"

The complaint continues: "The individual who had accompanied Mathers into the restroom, who was still standing at the door, spoke words to Jarbou's friend to the effect, 'Shut the fuck up man! Don't say another word!'

"Jarbou, still standing at the urinal, spoke words to the effect, 'Hey man, my friend ain't starting trouble, it's just cool to see Eminem.'

"Mathers then stepped back from the urinal and without warning or provocation, as Jarbou continued to urinate, drove his fist in a violent punching manner into the side of Jarbou's face, knocking him to the ground. ...

"The conduct of Defendant as described herein, in 'sucker punching' in a vicious, violent and completely unprovoked manner, the Plaintiff as he was in the extremely vulnerable position of standing at a public urinal and urinating, is the very definition of extreme and outrageous conduct."

Jarbou is represented by Leon Weiss of West Bloomfield.


Hotel Chain Wouldn't Rent To Black Family, Man Says
Legal Topics | 2008/07/14 15:59

The Clarion Hotel in Scranton refused to rent rooms to a black family though it had 52 vacant rooms, and its desk clerk admitted that she would not rent to them because they are black, the family claims in Federal Court.

Eric Davis and his family also sued Choice Hotels International, the world's second-largest hotel franchisor, which owns the Clarion, and also owns Comfort Suites, Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inns, Quality and other inns and hotels.

Davis claims the Clarion Hotel's front desk clerk, Lisa Pierce, told him there were no rooms available when he asked for one on the night of July 12, 2006. He says Pierce sent him to the Comfort Suites in Moosic.

There, Davis says, the clerk told him that hotel was full, but there were rooms available at the Clarion. Davis says the clerk called the Clarion and confirmed that there were 52 rooms available.

Davis says he drove back to the Clarion, where a different clerk told him there were rooms available. He says he saw the Clarion rent a room to three white men. He says Lisa Pierce then appeared from a back room, and he asked her, "Why did you tell me there was no room?"

Pierce told him, "There was a cancellation," according to the complaint.

The complaint continues: "Mr. Davis replied, 'You had 52 cancellations?' to which Lisa Pierce replied, 'I don't have to explain anything to you. Get out of my hotel.' Mr. Davis then asked, 'Did you say there were suddenly no rooms available because I was black?' to which Lisa Pierce replied, 'Yes.'"

Davis says two witnesses outside his family saw this. He names them in the complaint. He demands punitive damages. He is represented by Craig Kalinoski.



Man Says Social Security Guards Beat Him
Areas of Focus | 2008/07/11 15:41
Private contract guards hired by the Social Security Administration assaulted a man, fracturing his hand, and maliciously prosecuted him because he clipped his fingernails while waiting in the Social Security office, the man claims in Federal Court.

Leon Bailey sued Securitas Security Services, Paragon Systems, and the four guards who allegedly assaulted him. He claims defendant John Robinson Jr. started the fracas by ordering him to stop clipping his fingernails as he waited in the Seattle office. Bailey says he complied, and "put away his clippers and began pushing the cuticles back," which apparently enraged Robinson, who ordered him to leave.

Bailey said he did leave, though he had unfinished business to transact in the office. He says Robinson followed him to the street, and enlisted the help of three other men, also security guards, who struck him with a baton, fracturing his hand, forced him to the ground, handcuffed him and arrested him. They charged him with four offenses, which were dismissed.

Bailey demands punitive damages for constitutional violations, negligence, and malicious prosecution. He is represented by Patrick Kang with the Premier Law Group.


Forced Sterilization Is Persecution, Court Says
Areas of Focus | 2008/07/10 17:04
A Chinese citizen should not be returned to her homeland due to the high probability that she would be forcibly sterilized, the 7th Circuit ruled.

Xiu Zhen Lin, the mother of three, protested a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals that she had not shown that China's "one child" policy was "implemented through physical force or other means that would amount to persecution."

The board made this ruling despite a letter from the government of Lin's village, which stated that she would be subject to sterilization if she returned. The appellate court disagreed with the board's rationale.

"The implication," Judge Posner wrote, "is that if a government tells a religious heretic we are going to fine you $1 million for your heresy and if you cannot pay we will burn you at the stake, and the heretic cannot pay and therefore is executed, the burning of the heretic would not, in the board's view, amount to persecution."

A 2006 State Department report showed that China's policy is strictly enforced in Lin's home province of Fujian.


Bank Of America Seeks Protection
Legal Topics | 2008/07/09 15:50
Bank of America claims members of a "radical anti-tax group" filed bogus papers in court and attempted to "seize" and "foreclose" upon two BofA branch banks. Members of The United Cities Group wore false badges from the "Treasury Department" during their bogus "seizure," which they recorded and posted on YouTube, and they threaten to do again, BofA says.

BofA says the defendant filed a bogus "Notice of Lodgment" and "Notice and Demand" in Miami-Dade County, and tried to execute its claim for a bogus $12.5 billion debt.

"TUC representatives, including Mr. Angel Cruz, when appearing at the branches notified bank employees that they were with the 'Treasury Department' and entered the branched and recorded images of both the interior and exterior of the branches," BofA claims in Federal Court. "Shortly thereafter, TUC posted a press release on its Web site with a link to a YouTube video of the day's events and its plans to 'foreclose' and 'seize' the two Bank of America branches."

The bizarre federal complaint continues: "After 5 p.m. on July 7, 2008, the United States Service notified Bank of America and undersigned counsel that TUC contacted the Secret Service and informed it of TUC's plans to carry out its 'seizure' of the Bank of America branches with TUC's own armed private security officers at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 8, 2008."

The "purported basis" for these "seizures," according to the complaint, is that TUC has created its own banking system, called the TUC Private Currency Office. "TUC created 'drafts' drawn on its own 'bank.' TUC then attempted to deposit the drafts into an account with Bank of America held by TUC's member organizations, Orlando Escrow Services, Inc., and Miami Nights Corp." BofA says it rejected the fraudulent drafts.

It says the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve have issued "Worthless Instrument alerts and fraud alerts regarding checks allegedly drawn on TUC's Private Currency Office."

After BofA rejected the bogus "drafts," it says, TUC sent its members to the Miami branches, with false Treasury Department badges, and video cameras.

"In its video posted on YouTube, TUC professes that it will be 'seizing' the Bank's property located at several bank branches to secure their claim, which totals $15,250,000,000. ...

"TUC's threatened seizures would post a serious and irreversible breach of the security of Bank of America's employees and its customers. Bank of America is in need of this Court's authority to prevent the illegal seizure of its property and to ensure the safety of its employees and customers."

BofA demands a restraining order. Its 8-page complaint is accompanied by 46 pages of exhibits, including TUC's "Notice and Demand," its bank "drafts," and correspondence. Bank of America is represented by Mary Leslie Smith with Foley & Lardner.


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