Weekend Edition: 4-24

Interesting Reading in the Interweb Tubez

  • Sadly, Hatred is Very Much American (“Americans don’t have to be ‘carefully taught'” to hate. Historically, it’s been inherent, one generation after another. The only change has been the target.”)

Blog Headlines of the Week

Nonbookish Linkage

  • Journalists accuse Minnesota law enforcement of harassment

Bookish Linkage

  • About 98 percent of the books publishers released last year sold fewer than 5,000 copies
  • Scammers are after British literary awards
  • Speaking of which, the International Booker Prize shortlist is out (I’ve read one of the six)

My religion is to do good.

Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

Loco Lawsuits: You Made Me Go to Law School

Law school can be tough on a person. Just ask Georgia lawyer Jeffrey Duncan. In 2005, he sued another Georgia lawyer, Daniel Klein, for malpractice. Among other things, Duncan wanted damages for the cost and emotional distress of attending law school.

Duncan’s saga began in 1991 when he went to work for a subsidiary of a Japanese company. Duncan later felt the company treated its Japanese employees better than its American employees so, in 2001, he contacted Klein about filing a discrimination claim. In April 2001, Klein told him a treaty between the United States and Japan allowed the company to discriminate in favor of its Japanese employees so any claim against it would be “completely barred.”

Duncan’s job dissatisfaction grew so he applied to several law schools. He was admitted to Boston’s New England School of Law in July 2001 and resigned from his job as of August 2001. While attending law school, Duncan learned he might be able to file a claim against his former employer. He filed a discrimination lawsuit against the company in federal court in Maryland in late 2002. The case was settled in June 2004.

Duncan then sued Klein and Klein’s law firm for malpractice. Among other things, he alleged he resigned from his job only because of Klein’s advice and, as a result, “he had to go to law school.” Duncan wanted damages for attending law school, including the costs of school, the costs of refinancing his house, and the emotional distress he said he suffered because his family remained in George while he was in law school.

The trial court dismissed that part of the lawsuit. It reasoned that Duncan could have sought those damages in the lawsuit against his former employer. Because he didn’t, he couldn’t sue Klein for them. The Georgia Court of Appeals took a broader view. Even if Duncan’s decision to go to law school stemmed from Klein’s advice, “it is highly questionable whether attending law school is a legally cognizable injury, notwithstanding that the rigors of law school are well known and undoubtedly unpleasant to some extent.” Moreover, the court said, neither Klein nor his firm could foresee that Duncan would decide to go to law school “in a faraway place, leave his family behind, and refinance his home to cover the costs of law school and the expenses of his family in the meantime.”

Although claims relating to the delay in filing Duncan’s discrimination claim were sent back to the trial court, the decision makes clear no one forced him to go to law school. Still, thousands of lawyers likely believe the appeals court’s declaration that law school was unpleasant “to some extent” was a grievous understatement.

I learned law so well, the day I graduated I sued the college, won the case, and got my tuition back.

Fred Allen

Weekend Edition: 4-17

Nonbookish Linkage

  • Woogans: vegans who believe in “woo-woo” ideas

Bookish Linkage

I know that I am what I am. But I am not sure what I am.

Mason Cooley, City Aphorisms (Tenth Selection)

Weekend Edition: 4-10

Nonbookish Linkage

Bookish Linkage

Libraries should be open to all—except the censor.

John F. Kennedy, Saturday Review, October 29, 1960

Loco Lawsuits: Untrustworthy Hostages

Audaciousness can occasionally be part of a criminal’s arsenal. Yet Jesse Dimmick’s brassiest act may have come while already serving a sentence for kidnapping.

Dimmick, a Denver area native, was one of two men sought in connection with a September 7, 2009, homicide in Aurora, Colo. Authorities arrested the other man but Dimmick remained at large. On September 12, Kansas police spotted Dimmick driving a stolen van and gave chase. The pursuit ended some 50 miles away in Dover, Kan., when tire spikes punctured the van’s tires. The van came to rest in the front yard of the home of newlyweds Jared and Lindsay Rowley.

Further evidencing his lack of judgment, Dimmick forced his way into the house and held the Rowleys captive at knifepoint for around two hours. Reflecting their acumen, the Rowleys calmed Dimmick and gained his trust by offering him a drink, snacks, pillows, and a blanket and reportedly telling him they wouldn’t call the police when he left. At some point Dimmick fell asleep while watching a movie (reportedly Patch Adams). The Rowleys immediately escaped and police surrounding the house stormed in. Dimmick suffered a bullet wound to this back while being subdued. In May 2010, a jury found Dimmick guilty of two counts of kidnapping and he was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

With Dimmick behind bars, the Rowleys turned to the courts. In October 2011, they sued Dimmick for $76,000 for trespass, intrusion, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. This is where Dimmick’s gall came to the forefront. He countersued. In a handwritten claim submitted a month later, Dimmick wanted the Rowleys to pay him $160,000 for medical bills relating to being shot by police and another $75,000 for pain and suffering. His theory?

I, the defendant, asked the Rowleys to hide me because I feared for my life. I offered the Rowleys an unspecified amount of money which they agreed upon, therefore forging a legally binding oral contract.

Since no binding legal contract can be obtained at knifepoint, it’s not surprising a judge dismissed Dimmick’s claim in January 2012. Nor did Dimmick’s court experiences improve. In September 2012, a Kansas appeals court upheld his kidnapping convictions. Then in June 2013, he was sentenced to 37 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the Aurora homicide.

It isn’t against the law to be an idiot.

Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel