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November 2013 Archives

'Birther' Suit Against Esquire Magazine Dismissed

"Birther" publisher and founder of conservative website WorldNetDaily, Joseph Farah had his defamation suit against Esquire Magazine dismissed, with the Court upholding the publication's right to political satire.

The suit began in June 2011, when Farah and author Jerome Corsi sued Esquire for running a parody article regarding the release of Corsi's newest book entitled "Where's the Birth Certificate? The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to Be President."

Esquire's offending article, penned by journalist Mark Warren, lambasted Corsi and Farsi -- the book's publisher -- with a fake news story about Farsi pulling the book from shelves, denying its existence, and offering refunds.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed on Tuesday (see below) that Farah and Corsi had no case for defamation, based on the fact that the article was clearly satire and "satirical speech enjoys First Amendment protection."

Considering the article in context, the Court denied that a reasonable reader could have mistaken the article for "real news." In addition, commenting on Farah and Corsi's beliefs that President Obama is ineligible for the presidency (the "Birther" mindset) is also protected political speech.

2 Couples Sue to Block Texas' Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Two Texas couples are fighting to prevent Texas' gay marriage ban from being enforced, and filed a motion to block the law in federal court on Friday.

In their motion for preliminary injunction (embedded below), the couples argue that Texas' constitutional amendment which bars same-sex marriages is unconstitutional and should not stop either couple from legal marriage recognition.

The ban has been in place since 2005. But with the recent swell of support for marriage equality and the U.S. Supreme Court striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the legal fight for gay marriage in Texas is closer than ever.

Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman joined Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss in filing the federal suit challenging Texas' ban on gay marriage in late October. Both couples argue that the ban deprives them of equal protection and the fundamental right to marry.

In the plaintiffs' latest motion to block the marriage ban, they challenge that if the state of Texas is urging morality as a legal guide, the court should honor the moral ethos of the Constitution "which requires that treat all citizens with equal dignity and respect under the law."

George Zimmerman Arrest Report: 'He Cocked, Pointed Shotgun at Me'

George Zimmerman's arrest report for domestic violence states that he cocked and pointed a shotgun at his girlfriend and asked "[a]re you sure you want to [call the police]?"

The Seminole County Sheriff's Office police report (attached below) details what lead to Zimmerman's arrest on domestic violence and aggravated assault charges.

This is the second time in three months Zimmerman has been accused of domestic violence and threatening a woman with a gun.

Zimmerman, 30, allegedly pushed Samantha Scheibe from their Florida home at gunpoint on Monday and barricaded the door with furniture, according to the sheriff's office. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Zimmerman called 911 to blame the fight on Scheibe, 27, saying she was pregnant and had "gone crazy on [him]."

In September, Zimmerman's estranged wife accused him of pulling a gun on her during an argument, but police filed no charges.

The former Neighborhood Watch volunteer garnered national notoriety when he was acquitted of murdering 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Two weeks after he was acquitted he was pulled over (but not cited) for allegedly speeding with a gun in the car in Texas.

Airline Lawsuit Over Sex-Toy Prank Survives at 5th Cir.

A lawsuit against an airline for allegedly taping a sex toy to the top of a checked bag should survive a motion to dismiss, the Fifth Circuit has ruled.

The complaint for intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and negligence can proceed, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in an unpublished opinion (attached below).

The lawsuit claims the sex toy had been removed from their luggage, covered in a greasy foul-smelling substance and taped to the top of one of their bags.

The bag was circulating on the luggage carousel at the Norfolk Airport when the travelers discovered it, the ABA Journal reports. The plaintiffs argue that airline employees targeted them because they are gay men.

The defendants -- United Continental Holdings, Inc. and Continental Airlines -- argued the plaintiffs' suit was preempted by Article 17 of the Montreal Convention, which governs airline liability, including liability for damage to baggage. But the 5th Circuit disagreed.

"The alleged misconduct in this case simply does not relate to any damage to plaintiffs' duffel bag ... rather, plaintiffs seek a remedy for the way in which their bag was utilized to inflict personal injury," the court ruled.

The case was remanded to the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas.

Google Books Lawsuit Defeated: Book Scanning Deemed 'Fair Use'

Google has defeated an 8-year-old lawsuit by authors who accused the Internet company of digitally copying millions of books for an online library without permission.

U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin’s ruling (attached below) states that Google’s scanning of more than 20 million books, and making “snippets” of text available online, constituted “fair use” under U.S. copyright law.

Thursday’s ruling, which the Author’s Guild has vowed to appeal, ostensibly permits Google to continue expanding the library.

Judge Chin wrote that the scanning makes it easier for students, teachers, researchers and the public to find books, while maintaining “respectful consideration” for authors’ rights.

“This is a big win for Google, and it blesses other search results that Google displays, such as news or images,” University of Maryland intellectual property law professor James Grimmelmann told Reuters.

The Authors Guild expressed disappointment over the ruling.

“Google made unauthorized digital editions of nearly all of the world’s valuable copyright-protected literature and profits from displaying those works,” Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, told Reuters. “Such mass digitization and exploitation far exceeds the bounds of the fair use defense.”

Ohio Nurse Was 'Worked to Death,' Lawsuit Claims

The family of an Ohio nurse who died in a car accident while driving home from a shift has sued her hospital, alleging that she was “worked to death.”

The wrongful death lawsuit (attached below) claims that stress and extra hours from short-staffing led to the March 16, 2013 death of Beth Jasper, 38. She may have fallen asleep before her car veered off the road, jumped an embankment and struck a tree, attorney Eric Deters told WCPO-TV.

The lawsuit alleges that fatigue from being overworked contributed to Jasper’s death.

The complaint alleges that from 2011 to the time of her death, Jasper’s unit at the Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati was “regularly understaffed,” causing some nurses to work through breaks and pick up additional shifts.

Jasper’s lawsuit claims that hospital staffers, including Jasper’s supervisor, were aware of the staffing problems. Her supervisor allegedly expressed concern to superiors that Jasper was being “worked to death,” according to the lawsuit.

The Hospital has yet to respond to the lawsuit.