[There is supposed to be a photo of Howard Stern here, but WordPress keeps refusing to embed it, thus showing the software’s admirable good taste.]
In May of 2015, Judith Barrigas of Sandwich, Massachusetts called the IRS service center with a question about her tax refund. She reached IRS agent Jimmy Forsythe, who was goofing off on the job, on hold after a call to Howard Stern’s radio show on satellite radio. Forsythe, still on hold (or so he thought) took the taxpayer’s call, and when the Stern show took reconnected, Stern’s listeners somehow heard Forsythe’s conversation with Barrigas. Stern and paid sycophant Robin Quivers then joked about the call, which concerned Barrigas’s payment plan: the IRS had applied Barrigas’s tax refund to pay her outstanding debts from 2011 and 2012, even though she complained she already had a repayment plan set up with the IRS. Her call, which she assumed was private, should have assumed was private and was guranteed by federal law to BE private, was on the airwaves for nearly an hour.
“I’m learning so much,” said Stern at the time, before he finally cut off the surreptitious eavesdropping. “I feel like I’m in math class and I’m flunking because I don’t know one thing he’s saying. I think I’m going to bail on this guy. By the way, this is the most boring job ever. I’d rather live in my parent’s basement if I had to do that. I’d give out all the wrong information. All right, dude, later!”
Barrigas has just sued the IRS, the Howard Stern Production Company, and Stern individually for violations of the Federal Tort Claims Act, unlawful disclosure of tax returns and personal information, and just the for the Stern side, negligence, invasion of privacy, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Ethics Observations: Continue reading
Anne King of Washington County, Georgia, was furious at her former husband and called him out on Facebook.
Susan Hines, a friend of King’s, responded..
“POS — give me an hour and check your mailbox. I’ll be GLAD to pick up the slack.”
Unfortunately, King’s crummy father of an ex-husband is also an ignorant jerk with a badge. He is Captain Corey King of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, and used his power in this small town to have both Anne her supportive friend arrested and tossed in jail for absolutely protected free speech on social media. First the captain filed a police report with his colleague, Washington County Sheriff’s Investigator Trey Burgamy. Then Washington County magistrate Ralph O. Todd issued a warrant requiring the two women to appear at a hearing. Officer King was the only witness, and afterwards Magistrate Todd issued warrant charging Anne King with criminal defamation:
“SUBJECT DID, WITHOUT A PRIVILEGE TO DO SO AND WITH INTENT TO DEFAME ANOTHER, COMMUNICATE FALSE MATTER WHICH TENDS TO EXPOSE ONE WHO IS ALIVE TO HATRED, CONTEMPT, OR RIDICULE, AND WHICH TENDS TO PROVOKE A BREACH OF THE PEACE, SPECIFICALLY, SUBJECT DID MAKE DEROGATORY AND DEGRADING COMMENTS DIRECTLY AT AND ABOUT COREY KING, FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING A BREACH OF THE PEACE.”
The Georgia law she was charged with was ruled unconstitutional decades ago, and is no longer on the books.
Details, details. Continue reading
Filed under Character, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Facebook, Family, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Rights
A toilet at Patrick Henry High….
Yyyyyyup! The American public school system continues to impress. As they used to say, “Get a load of this!“
In 2012 Gonja Wolf was an art teacher at Patrick Henry High School in the San Diego Unified School District. She was monitoring a 25-minute study hall. Administrators at the school had told teachers that frequent bathroom breaks for students would undermine the study hall’s purpose, which was uninterrupted study. They also told teachers to use their common sense. Unfortunately, Ms. Wolf had no common sense.
When a young woman in the class, a freshman, asked to go to the restroom, Wolf ordered her to urinate in a bucket in an adjacent supply room rather than use the bathroom during class. The bucket was there because Wolf, a think-ahead type of person, purchased the bucket, she said, to serve as a toilet in case of a security lockdown, and had even used the bucket for emergency peeing herself. (I should have put this story in the “I Can’t Believe I’m Writing This” file.) She said she misunderstood the school’s instructions about bathroom breaks, but thought it was a good idea. To have students pee in a bucket. She actually said this under oath.
Yes, sadly, Gonja Wolf is an idiot. Continue reading
I love this story! Just when I was despairing over the widespead ignorance in the U.S., Canada steps up.
In Vancouver, Mengfa International owns a commercial building, and in May 2015, agreed to lease it to Moby Dick Restaurant, a fish-and-chip franchise. The building council won’t allow it, though. They feel that the restaurant’s name is offensive, and its offensive sign would lower property values.
Asks Drew Curtis’s Fark: “What’s so offensive about “Moby”?
This is a Niggardly Principle classic.
Mengfa is suing.
A Christmas Eve tragedy from 2014 has sparked another ethically provocative lawsuit.
James and Bethany Modisette were driving through Denton County, Texas, on the evening of December 24, 2014, when they had to stop their car due to a traffic incident ahead of them on the Interstate. Their children, Isabella, 8, and Moriah, 5, were in the back seat, Everyone in the vehicle had a seat belt fastened.
Meanwhile, Garrett Wilhelm, idiot, was chatting away on his phone using the FaceTime app, and didn’t notice that the traffic ahead of him was stopped. His car rear-ended the Modisettes’ vehicle at 65 mph. Little Moriah was killed.
Now the Modisettes have filed a lawsuit against Apple, the maker of the app and the iPhone it was used with, citing a “failure to install and implement the safer, alternative design … to ‘lock out’ the ability of drivers to utilize the FaceTime application.” In the suit, the parents claim the company didn’t warn FaceTime users like Wilhelm that “the product was likely to be dangerous when used or misused in a reasonably foreseeable manner.” Continue reading
Is it a conflict of interest for a lawyer to represent a client suing herself? Lawyers are all forbidden to bring adverse actions against their own clients; it is the conflict of all conflicts, a pure breach of loyalty. Does this mean, then, that even when a statute requires a plaintiff to sue herself as a defendant, it can’t be done without breaching the ethics rules?
The case is Bagley v, Bagley, and both Bagleys are the same Bagley.
State Farm Insurance Company handled Barbara Bagley’s car insurance. She was driving when her car flipped and killed her common law husband. To compel State Farm to indemnify her, Bagley, in her dual capacities as sole heir and personal representative of the estate of her husband, was required to bring this suit against herself as the negligent driver. Bagley as plaintiff and as her husband’s heir brought a cause of action pursuant to Utah Code section 78B-3-106, Utah‘s wrongful death statute, alleging that the defendant—her— negligently caused her, that is, the plaintiff’s husband’s death, thereby depriving his sole heir –the plaintiff, but also the defendant—of his “love, companionship, society, comfort, care, protection, financial support, pleasure, and affection.” She also brought a second cause of action pursuant to Utah Code section 78B-3-107, Utah‘s survival action statute, alleging that the defendant—her again— negligently caused the deceased to experience pain and suffering prior to his death, entitling Bagley’s late husband’s estate to other damages. Continue reading
Fine print alert!
Uber, the controversial ride-sharing giant, quietly changed its terms of service to foist mandatory arbitration on its users. This is a common tactic of large corporations lately, taking away consumers’ rights to sue when they are harmed due to negligence. Arbitration is often full of hidden biases, with a natural financial motivation for less-than-ethical arbitrators to tilt in the direction of the companies that pay them.
The change means that a passenger injured in an Uber vehicle due to its driver’s negligence would be required to arbitrate any claims for personal injuries before the American Arbitration Association, because the passenger had technically agreed to the terms and conditions of the Uber contract every passenger must accept. How would long-time customers know about the change from the original Uber conditions? They wouldn’t, unless they regularly cruised the company’s website.
On July 29, 2016, Judge Rakoff from the Southern District of New York ruled that the notice of Uber arbitration terms was not sufficient to let riders know that they were waiving the right to sue, and thus the mandatory arbitration provision was unenforceable. Uber’s response was to send an email to its users, announcing that it was updating its terms effective November 21, 2016. Uber also instructed its users to read the new Terms and stated it had “revised our arbitration agreement.” Now they have you, because Uber users can no longer claim that they didn’t know about the new terms. When you use the service, you are stuck. You have waived the right to sue.
There is a large “but,” however.
An Uber user can still reject the November 21, 2016 Terms by providing Uber with written notice by mail, by hand delivery or by email within 30 days of November 21, 2016. Like many companies, Uber’s “notice” consists of a hard-to-find section on its website. The mechanics of rejecting the new terms information are virtually buried on Uber’s legal page, and read, Continue reading