Friday, January 31, 2014

The Limited Liability Company Song

The Limited Liability Company Song from: Billy: A Post Apocalyptic comedy.

You Tube Description:
Goofy song and dance number from the play "Billy: A Post-Apocalyptic Comedy" by Derek Lee Barton. Music by Sean Barton. Choreography by Darrin French. Starring Seth Garben, Jefferson Grubbs, Phil de Guzman, Christopher Leck, Jenna Troum, and Jeremy Shpizner. Directed by Kathryn Walsh

Now if you want to make a nice big fortune
Then there are just a couple things you'll need:
A broker friend to lend a hand
And a few rental properties
Though its not legal you will just follow my lead!

A building in foreclosure you should buy,
Convert to lots of cramped apartments,
Then just rent them out!
Require large rental deposits
Put them in your bank account,
And soon you'll find your balanace has become
A significant amount!

Then you just create an LLC,
A Limited Liability Company,
basically a legal entity that owns the building instead of you.

Limited Liability Company!
You limit liability for me!
An LLC is gonna be
What takes the fall for me.
When renters want their money I'l say
Ask the LLC!

They'll try to get back deposits,
They may even sue,
But the landlord is something
That just isn't you!
LLCs are not people,
they're magic indeed!
They take the fall in courts of law
So you get off scott-free!

(chorus repeats)

The song starts around the 3:34 mark in the video below:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Speech Free From Censorship, Not From Criticism

In case you missed the controversy over the comments by Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame, this video is a quick summary:

Following the suspension by A&E, prominent conservatives, including Sarah Palin, spoke out characterizing Robertson's statements as being protected free speech. No wonder students are confused about the parameters of free speech protection. It is important with the explosion of social media and internet communication that students understand that the liberty of expression does not protect them from criticism if they say something that other people don't like. Speech that may be protected from government censorship is not equally protected from private action by employers, customers, suppliers, competitors, friends, enemies, or people who don't even know you.

A response that I read that I think will resonate with students came from syndicated commentator Leonard Pitts.  Here is the link to the editorial. Here is a quote:

Yeah. Because freedom of speech means you can say any asinine thing you want and nobody can call you on it or punish you for it. Right?
Um … actually, no.
Free speech means you can say any asinine thing you want and the government may not call you on it or punish you for it. If the feds came after Robertson, I’d hold my nose and stand with him. But he wasn’t punished by the feds. He was punished by the free market.
The First Amendment gives each of us the right to bring whatever we wish into the marketplace of ideas — faith, gay rights, white supremacy, libertarianism, socialism, birtherism — without government interference. But if enough people don’t buy what you are selling, you don’t stay in the market very long. And if what you’re selling offends enough people, the market will show you the door.
So Robertson’s rights were not abridged because his network slapped his wrists. Those are the rules we play by. That’s how America works.
A&E, calculating that Robertson had become a liability, dropped him. His fans raised an almighty ruckus and A&E chose discretion over valor, doubtless realizing the people most likely to be offended by the man probably weren’t watching him in the first place.
Now Robertson returns — just in time for a new controversy. It seems an old video has surfaced in which he lists the qualities a man should seek in a prospective wife. She should be 15 or 16 years old, advises the duck hunter — and a good cook.
Great. So now we get to see how child marriage plays in the marketplace of ideas. God bless America.
Read more here: 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

More Legal Causation Explained

Perhaps the fact that you have cable TV was an actual cause of your father getting punched in the stomach over a can of soup.  But was it a PROXIMATE cause - a legal cause? Was it reasonably foreseeable that having cable could result in such an injury? Was your father's injury a "natural and probable result" of your TV service choices?

Let's watch and discuss:

Monday, January 27, 2014

Spotlight on Frivolous Lawsuits

I have previously expressed the opinion in this blog that frivolous lawsuits are good for America. Others may have different opinions. In recognizing that frivolous lawsuits exist, I am by no means buying into the industry-fueled tort reform propaganda that the nation is somehow awash with frivolous lawsuits that cost taxpayers billions of dollars. But, I am recognizing reality.  These lawsuits exist.  They are usually filed pro se.  They are usually filed by people with apparent mental illness. They are summarily dismissed from the court system at the earliest possible review by a judge. Yet, the media reports on these lawsuits as if they were representative of the state of the civil justice system and attract the attention of judicial resources in the same degree as legitimate claims. Certainly the media can claim to be "just reporting the facts." But misrepresentation by omission is just as harmful to legal legitimacy as intentional falsehoods. The experience of the reporting on the McDonald's Coffee Case should have taught us something as a society. It takes an educated and  knowledgeable reader to draw the proper conclusions from the facts reported.

UConn is promoting "Business Literacy" as a point of emphasis in our courses.  I think one of the principal contributions that a Legal Environment course can make toward that end is to produce students who can read through sensational reporting of civil justice issues to discover the real impact of what is reported.

See similar posts, here and here.

So, that brings us to the frivolous lawsuit du jour.  The Oregonian reports:

A 26-year-old Portland pimp has filed a $100 million lawsuit against Nike, claiming the shoe manufacturer is partially responsible for a brutal beating that helped net him a 100-year prison sentence.
Sirgiorgiro Clardy claims Nike should have placed a label in his Jordan shoes warning consumers that they could be used as a dangerous weapon. He was wearing a pair when he repeatedly stomped the face of a john who was trying to leave a Portland hotel without paying Clardy's prostitute in June 2012.

Pro Se?
In his three-page complaint handwritten from the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton, Clardy claims that Nike, Chairman Phil Knight and other executives failed to warn consumers that the shoes could be used as a weapon to cause serious injury or death.

Mental Illness?
A psychologist declared him an anti-social psychopath who was 100 percent likely to commit violent crimes again. And Clardy disagreed so loudly -- making such a scene -- that he was removed from the courtroom.

Costing taxpayers millions of dollars?
In the coming days, the suit will be served to Nike, which will then have an opportunity to respond.

In this case, all the facts are there.  But our students need to able to understand the legal and social implications of the facts.

On the other hand, the 1:30 second news report below from Bloomberg 8 fails to include the "pro se" fact or the likely mental illness. It also mis-characterizes the civil suit as a defense in his criminal case.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Mack The Knife

Probably the best known, and most upbeat, "crime song:"

Studio Version:

An alternative live version:

From a movie version of the Threepenny Opera, starring, coincidentally a former law student - the late Raul Julia:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

This is Why You Can't Carry Your Gun on Campus

I sometimes have students indignantly query as to why they are not allowed to carry firearms on campus.  Some call the rule "ridiculous."  After all, they are responsible, law abiding gun owners. Well, the shooter in the incident described in this video was also, ostensibly, a responsible, law abiding gun owner - until he wasn't any longer.  Everyone starts out as "law abiding" until they no longer abide by the law.  When that time comes, the consequences to others are much different depending on whether the former "law abider" is armed or not.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Perception of American Law

The video below was submitted by Konrad Lee at Utah State University. In case you missed it about 30 years ago, this scenario builds on the story, long since discredited, that a woman whose precious family pet died when she attempted to dry it off in a microwave oven prosecuted a successful lawsuit against the microwave manufacturer. I've decided to open class with this one today.

Sadly, this is an expression of how some perceive American Justice.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Legal History Tribute to MLK

This is the day we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Here are some images of legal history in his honor.

Related Post, here.