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Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Thursday, February 4, 2016
UAW v. Hardin County, ___F. Supp. 2d ___(W.D. Kentucky, Feb. 3, 2016), is an important case. Download Hardin County Order
A federal court held that a municipal ordinance which mandated right to work and limited union hiring halls and due-checkoff provisions was preempted by the NLRA. The NLRA, of course and most notably in Section 14(b), permits STATES to enact Right to Work laws.
The decision, which spans 14 pages, is well written and provides a nice summary of the NLRA and existing precedent in this area. As the court explains:
Section 14(b) provides that nothing in the NLRA shall be read to authorize the execution or application of union-security agreements “in any State or Territory in which such execution or application is prohibited by State or Territorial law.” 29 U.S.C. § 164(b). As the plaintiffs observe, it makes little sense to read “State or Territorial law” as encompassing local law in light of the statute’s previous reference to “any State or Territory”—if “State or Territorial law” includes the laws of political subdivisions, then the statute must be read “in any State or Territory [or political subdivision thereof]” to avoid assigning two different meanings to “State” in the same sentence. This is not a logical reading; “[a] standard principle of statutory construction provides that identical words and phrases within the same statute should normally be given the same meaning.”
Law review commentary would be most welcome.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Thursday, January 28, 2016
On January 28, 2016, the BLS released their annual statistics on union membership and the results are not pretty if you support unions, particularly in the private sector. Here. Among the highlights:
• Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (35.2 percent) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.7 percent). (See table 3.) • Workers in protective service occupations and in education, training, and library occupations had the highest unionization rates (36.3 percent and 35.5 percent, respectively). (See table 3.) • Men continued to have a slightly higher union membership rate (11.5 percent) than women (10.6 percent). (See table 1.) • Black workers were more likely to be union members than were White, Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.) • Median weekly earnings of nonunion workers ($776) were 79 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($980). (The comparisons of earnings in this release are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that can be important in explaining earnings differences.) (See table 2.) • Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership rate (24.7 percent), while South Carolina had the lowest (2.1 percent). (See table 5.)
Researchers and scholars may find this information very helpful.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Friday, January 15, 2016
Exotic Island Enterprises v. Commissioner of Labor, ___A.D.3d___ (3rd Dep't. Jan. 14, 2016), raises a whole host of legal questions for which law review commentary is welcome.
Factually, the court held that exotic dancers are employees for unemployment purposes. Applying the right to control test, the court reasoned:
The corporations challenge the brevity and thoroughness of the investigation by the Department auditor, arguing that it was insufficient to establish that the dancers were employees. However, any evidentiary gaps in the initial investigation were filled through the testimony of Slifstein and the corporations' accountant at the hearing. Slifstein testified that the venues attracted new dancers by placing advertisements in trade magazines and newspapers. Before permitting a dancer to perform at the venues, he would inquire into their prior experience, ask them what schedule they would like, and assess their appearance. If a dancer was not physically fit, he would not permit them to perform at the venues. The dancers were required to provide a driver's license or other form of identification and would not be allowed to dance at the venue if they did not do so. If a dancer lacked experience, he would instruct them to observe a more experienced dancer in order to learn how to "move sexy." Although dancers were not required to report to work at any set time, upon advising the owner of their availability, they would be placed on a nightly schedule posted in the venue for the patrons to view. The venues set the prices that the dancers would charge patrons for private dances and retained a percentage of the money earned. Although the dancers provided their own makeup and costumes, the venue provided the stage for the dancers to perform on, sound equipment and, at times, the music accompanying the dances. The corporations' accountant also testified that the corporations carried workers' compensation coverage for the dancers. Thus, despite other evidence that may have supported a contrary result, we find the Board's decision that the corporations exercised sufficient direction and control over the dancers to be supported by substantial evidence (see Matter of Enjoy the Show Mgt. [Commissioner of Labor], 287 AD2d 822, 822-823 ; see also Matter of Human Performance, Inc. [Commissioner of Labor], 28 AD3d 971, 972 ).
If this is so and a dancer is sexually harassed, can they bring a Title VII case, an OSHA case is their is a safety issue etc. I would think so.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Sunday, January 10, 2016
An interesting article in the Jan 9, 2016 NY Times about Doctor Unions can be found here. It addresses some of the personal and professional concerns that doctors employed by hospitals have. Doctors are employees like everyone else. While the article does not highlight the legal issues concerning doctor unionization, one of the major issues that some of them may face is a claim that they are supervisors. Undoubtably, some are, but many are not and they should be able to join a union just like anyone else.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Saturday, December 26, 2015
Interesting December 25, 2015, NY Times article entitled The 2-Year Law Education Fails to Take Off, is available here.
Personally, I am very much against these programs. While they may sound interesting on paper, it takes time to learn the law and even more time to learn legal research and writing. The number one, two and three problem that I see with law students today is that they do not have enough research and writing experience. The only way to learn it is to do it. I believe students will learn materially less is two courses are streamlined into one even though the amount of credit hours may remain the same.
What do you think?
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Did you notice that this article was published on Christmas.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Interesting Findlaw Article I just saw, here. Their first few examples are as follows:
99 Things to Do With Your JD, Besides Practice Law - Greedy Associates
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Last week in class we discussed the famous case Peevyhouse v. Garland Coal & Mining Co., 382 P.2d 109 (1962). The case involved a contract wherein the Peevyhouses allowed Garland to strip-mine on their farm property. In lieu of the standard $3,000 up-front payment for surface damages, the Peevyhouses negotiated a clause requiring Garland to perform certain "restorative and remedial work" on the property after completing their mining operations. Garland mined the property and extracted their profits, then breached the restoration provision. The Peevyhouses sued for breach of contract. The evidence at trial apparently provided the cost to perform the work would be $29,000 -- but that the diminution in property value resulting from the breach was only $300. The jury split the difference, sort of, by awarding the Peevyhouses $5,000, an amount the Oklahoma Supreme Court declared to be "more than the total value of the farm even after the remedial work is done."
The Oklahoma Supreme Court modified the judgment for the Peevyhouses, awarding $300 -- the value lost. To say the least, the decision remains a controversial one. In 2008, at PrawfsBlawg, Eric E. Johnson (North Dakota) conducted a survey to name "The Most Screwed Victims in Case-Law History." Willie and Lucille Peevyhouse won that competition in a landslide. Twenty years ago, Judith Maute published a comprehensive article on the case, Peevyhouse v. Garland Coal & Mining Co. Revisited: The Ballad of Willie and Lucille in the Northwestern Univ. Law Review. Maute's article is fascinating for many reasons, not the least of which is the section on the Oklahoma Supreme Court bribery scandal that followed the case. Whether that scandal contributed to the Peevyhouse result remains, it seems, an open question.
Peevyhouse exemplifies the "economic waste doctrine" -- a contract law doctrine memorialized in the Restatement. The doctrine finds its origins in Jacob & Youngs, Inc. v. Kent, 129 N.E. 889 (9121). There, a homeowner sued the home builder for using Cohoes plumbing pipe when the contract required Reading brand pipe. Reversing the trial court's decision to exclude diminution of value evidence, the Court held that cost to complete is the proper damages measure unless, "the cost of completion is grossly and unfairly out of proportion to the good to be attained.” The defendant in Jacobs & Young appear to have the better of the argument -- in Peevyhouse, not so much (hence perhaps the result in Johnson's poll, above). Scholars have written to distinguish the two cases and better define the economic waste doctrine's contours. A good starting point is Carol Chomksy, "Of Spoil Pits and Swimming Pools: Reconsidering the Measure of Damages for Construction Contracts," 75 Minn. L. Rev. 1445 (1991) (download link).
More recently, the Oregon Supreme Court discussed its economic waste doctrine at some length in Montara Owners Assoc. v. La Noue Development, Inc., 353 P.3d 563 (Or. 2015) in a case ultimately decided on harmless error grounds. For its own part, the Oklahoma Supreme Court affirmed the Peevyhouse holding on certified question in Schneberger v. Apache Corp., 890 P.2d 847 (1994).
 Restatement (Second) Contracts, sec. 348, cmt. c (1981).
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
On Friday, November 2o, the Ohio State Law Journal is hosting "The History and Future of Election Law." According to their website:
There will be four panels: (1) The History and Future of Redistricting and Gerrymanders, (2) The History and Future of Campaign Finance, (3) The History and Future of Voting Rules and (4) The History and Future of Election Law Generally.
New York University Law Review, Volume 90, No. 4, includes articles and essays from the symposium, "Testing the Constitution," including:
- Forward: Testing the Constitution (Lee Epstein, Barry Friedman & Geoffrey R. Stone)
- Testing Shaw v. Reno: Do Majority-Minority Districts Cause Expressive Harms? (Stephen Ansolabehere & Nathaniel Persily)
- Rhetoric and Reality: Testing the Harm of Campaign Spending (Rebecca L. Brown & Andrew D. Martin)
- Measuring That Chilling Effect (Brandice Canes-Wrone & Michael C. Dorf)
- The Decision to Depart (or Not) From Constitutional Precedent: An Empirical Study of the Roberts Court (Lee Epstein, William M. Landes & Adam Liptak)
- Testing the Marketplace of Idea (Daniel E. Ho & Frederick Schauer)
- Litigating State Interests: Attorneys General as Amici (Margaret H. Lemos & Kevin M. Quinn)
- Student Notes and Comments
The University of Illinois Law Review, Volume 2015, No. 5, features a symposium, "Choice-of-Law Methodology: Fifty Years After Brainerd Currie," and other articles:
- Regulating Mass Surveillance As Privacy Pollution: Learning From Environmental Impact Statements (A. Michael Froomkin)
- Re-Assembling Labor (Marion Crain, John Inazu)
- The Choice-of-Law Revolution Fifty Years After Currie: An End and a Beginning (Symeon C. Symeonides)
- Multistate Justice: Better Law, Comity and Fairness in the Conflict of Laws (Joseph William Singer)
- Remembering Brainerd Currie (Herma Hill Kay)
- Hard Cases, Single Factor Theories, and a Second Look at the Restatement 2D of Conflicts (Lea Brilmayer)
- A Radically Transformed Restatement for Conflicts (Louise Weinberg)
- Eurpoean Conflicts Law After the American "Revolution" - Comparative Notes (Peter Hay)
- Student Notes.
The University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Volume 164, No. 1, includes:
- A National Study of Access to Counsel in Immigration Court (Ingrid V. Eagly and Steven Shafer)
- Toward a Pigouvian State (Jonathan S. Masur and Eric A. Posner)
- Anti-Trust in Zero-Price Markets: Foundations (John M. Newman)
- Time to Drop the Infield Fly Rule and End a Common Law Anomaly (Andrew J. Guilford and Joel Mallord)
- Student Comments
Sunday, November 15, 2015
The Washington Post published an interesting article on November 11, 2015 stating that the Obama Administration is supporting an amendment to Title VII which would ban discrimination against homosexuals and transgender employees. Here.
Interesting, the Obama administration is not supporting enactment of a separate statute which has been introduced into Congress known as ENDA. I wonder why? I have not studied the differences, if any, between these two Bills.
As the article points out, for years, LGBT community has been trying to extend the reach of the Supreme Court's Price Waterhouse decision on sexual sex-sterotyping to outlaw this type of employment discrimination.
Whether as an amendment to Title VII or a free standing statute, enactment of such legislation is the next logical step after the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. The only question in my mind is whether Congress will go beyond "same sex" discrimination and ban transgender discrimination as well. It is about time that they do.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Harvard Law Review, Volume 129, No. 1, features The Supreme Court 2014 Term, including:
- Does the Constitution Mean What it Says (David A. Strauss)
- Imperfect Statutes, Imperfect Courts: Understanding Congress's Plan in the Era of Unorthodox Lawmaking (Abbe R. Gluck)
- Zivotofsky II as Precedent in the Executive Branch (Jack Goldsmith)
- A New Birth of Freedom?: Obergefell v. Hodges (Kenky Yoshino)
- Leading Cases
The Harvard Law Review Forum includes responses from Richard H. Fallon, Richard T. Lazurus, Hon. Richard A. Posner and Lawrence Tribe.
Northwestern University Law Review, Volume 109, N0. 4, includes:
- Purposivism in the Executive Branch: How Agencies Interpret Statutes (Kevin M. Stack)
- Remote Adjudication in Immigration (Ingrid M. Eagley)
- Student Notes and Comments
Saturday, October 31, 2015
South Texas Law Review, Volume 56, No. 3 (Spring 2015) includes:
- The Limits of Consent: Voluntary Dismissals, Appeals of Class Certification Denials, and Some Article III Problems (William P. Barnette)
- Just Visiting: Health Care Liability Claims and Nonpatient Injuries in a Health Care Setting (Brandon Beck)
- Licensed to Steal: Texas Private Property Towing Regulation and Consumer Remedies (Brian E. Walters, David M. Walters, Jennifer Shamas)
- Everything is Presumed in Texas: Analyzing teh Application of the Presumption Against Preemption (Benjamin Walther)
Yale Law Journal, Volume 125, No. 1 (October 2015) includes:
- Against Immutability (Jessica A. Clarke)
- The President and Immigration Law Redux (Adam B. Cox & Cristina M. Rodríguez)
- Which Way to Nudge: Uncovering Preferences in the Behavioral Age (Jacob Goldin)
- Student Notes, Comments
Friday, October 30, 2015
Texas A&M Law Review will be live tweeting its Fall 2015 Symposium, "Farm to Table: Agricultural Law in the Era of Sustainability," today on Twitter. Look for @TAMU_Law_Review and the hashtag in the title to follow or send questions.
Thursday, October 29, 2015
A Tennessee court granted Mother and Father's divorce in 2000. Because Mother's was found to have a drug problem and was not visiting or contacting the children, the court denied Mother access to the children until she successfully demonstrated she was drug-free.
Nine months later, Father filed a petition to terminate Mother's parental rights. Father listed in that petition the formal marital home as Mother's address even though Father knew the court had divested Mother of any right or interest in the house in the divorce judgment and Father, who resided in the home, knew Mother did not. Unable (predictably) to accomplish personal service, Father served Mother by publication, however, Father did not follow Tennessee's statutory requirements for such service. Mother did not answer or appear and the trial court granted Father's motion for default judgment terminating Mother's parental rights.
In 2010, almost nine years later, Mother filed a motion to set aside the default judgment. She asked the court to find the default judgment void for lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court determined that Father knew Mother did not reside at the marital residence when summons issued and made no attempt to locate Mother before resorting to service by publication. The trial court set aside the default judgment and the intermediate appellate court affirmed the judgment. The Supreme Court of Tennessee granted Father's permission to appeal.
Friday, October 23, 2015
Fordham Law Review, October 2015 (Vol. 84, No. 1) includes six articles by Fordham faculty on the United States Supreme Court's June 2015 Obergfell v. Hodges decision and other articles:
- Perspectives on Marriage Equality and the Supreme Court (The Editors)
- The Power of Dignity (Elizabeth B. Cooper)
- Obergefell's Conservatism: Reifying Familial Fronts (Clare Huntington)
- Roberts, Kennedy and teh Subtle Differences that Matter in Obergefell (Joseph Landau)
- Hail Marriage and Farewell (Ethan J. Leib)
- Race, Dignity, and the Right to Marry (R. A. Lenhart
- Up from Marriage: Freedom, Solitude, and Individual Autonomy in the Shadow of Marriage Equality (Catherine Powell)
- Procedural Triage (Matthew J. B. Lawrence)
- The Sum of its Parts: The Lawyer-Client Relationship in Initial Public Offernings (Jeremy R. McLane)
- Student Notes
The New York Journal of Law & Business (Vol. 11, No. 4) includes:
- Proceedings of the 2014 Fall Conference: The Future of Class Action Litigation: A View from the Consumer Class
- Introductory Note (Peter L. Zimroth)
- Welcoming Remarks (Zimroth, Dean Trevor W. Morrison)
- Panel 1: The Current State of Consumer Class Action
- Panel 2: Reforming the Consumer Class Action
- Panel 3: Alternatives to the Consumer Class Action
- Panel 4: Roundtable Discussion: Consumer Class Actions and the Future of the Class Action
- Panel 5: Keynote Address: The Hon. Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
- Article: An Empirical Look at Consumer Class Actions (Brian T. Fitzpatrick & Robert C. Gilbert
- Student Comments
Virginia Law Review, October 2015 (Vol. 101, No. 6) includes:
- Patent Trolls and Preemption (Paul R. Gugliuzza)
- Corporate Inversions and the Unbundling of Regulatory Competition (Eric L. Talley)
- Taming Title Loans (Ryan Baasch)
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
The general rule in American jurisdictions does not permit a victorious party to recover attorney's fees or litigation costs from the losing party. There are exceptions to this rule -- courts typically enforce fee-shifting provision in contract and most if not all states have statutes that allow prevailing parties to recover fees in some situations. Some such statues provide for "one-way" fee shifting whereby only a prevailing claimant may recover fees. Others are "two-way" fee shifting statutes allowing either plaintiff or defendant to recover.
Courts have created rules on fee-shifting deisgned to achieve fairness and fidelity to the American rule, however, these rules can and have led to "a second major litigation," or to "years of protracted appellate review." Perdue v. Kenny A., 559 U.S. 542, 572 (2010) (Breyer, J., dissenting). One such rule requires attorneys to segregate attorney's fees and expenses between recoverable and unrecoverable claims. For example, if a party sues in contract and tort in a jurisdiction that enforces a fee-shifting provision in the contract but does not provide for fee-shifting in tort, a prevailing plaintiff must segregate the nonrecoverable attorney's fees incurred solely to prosecute the tort claim from the recoverable fees incurred for the contract claim and fees incurred as to both claims. See e.g., Tony Gullo Motors, Inc. v. Garcia, 212 S.W.3d 299 (Tex. 2006). Likewise, when the prevailing party wins only in part, the party must segregate fees between the successful and unsuccessful claims to the extent fee-shifting applies as to the successful claims. See Fox v. Vice, 563 U.S. 826 (2011).
What happens when each side in a lawsuit prevails in part with each party prevailing on a claim entitling it to attorney's fees pursuant to a fee-shifting provision? A California court answered this question in Sharif v. Mehusa, Inc., No. B255578, 2015 W.L. 5969679 (October 14, 2015, Cal. Ct. App.). In this case, the plaintiff prevailed on her state Equal Pay Act claim and the defendant prevailed on its plaintiff's overtime and wage claim. Each party filed a motion for attorney's fees under the applicable statute. The trial court awarded both sides its attorney's fees as to the claim upon which each prevailed, with the plaintiff obtaining a small fees award after offset.
The California appellate court affirmed. The court held that "when there are two fee shifting statutes in separate causes of action, there can be a prevailing party for one cause of action and a different prevailing party for the other cause of action." Ms. Sharif argued that because she prevailed on the Equal Pay Act claim and received a money judgment on that claim, she was the "prevailing party," and was subject only to reduction in the fee claim for the unsuccessful overtime and wage claim. The court agreed Sharif was a prevailing party in part, but added that Mehusa, Inc. was a prevailing party also as to a claim including a two-way fee shifting provision. The court stated it made no sense for the defendant to be able to recover on the overtime and wage claim if the two claims here were brought in separate actions but not if the two claims were consolidated into one action.
We cover attorney fees recovery in our Damages class. It is important for new attorneys to develop good habits about tracking time in cases, even when representation is for a flat or contingent fee. I cannot imagine anything more mind-numbing (or more filled with ethical risks) than having to recreate an attorney's fees statement on short notice at a lengthy and complicated case's end. Here is a recent essay with useful tips about substantiating attorney's fees in litigation.
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Jason Mazzone at Balkinization reports a call for papers for a two-day symposium to be held in april 2016, titled, "Constitutional History: Comparative Perspective." The symposium is sponsored by the University of Illinois Law Review and others. Click here for Mazzone's full post.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
This past April, I reported on this blog that a Texas district judge had been publicly admonished by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for posting on her Facebook page information about a case she was trying. The district judge appealed that reprimand and on September 30, a three-judge Special Court of Appeals found that the Commission, "failed to meet its burden of proving the [Judge] violated the Canons of Judicial Conduct or Article V, Section 1-a(6)(A) of the Texas Constitution." The Special Court dismissed the Commission's public admonition and found the Judge not guilty of all charges.
- Judge Admonished for Facebook Post
- Judge's Comments Raise Ethics Questions
- Tennessee: Judge's Facebook Use Does Not Lead To Recusal
- Facebook Friendship Leads to Disqualification
- Judge is Disqualified After Sending Litigant a Facebook Friend Request
- Texas: Facebook "Friendship" Alone Does Not Require Recusal
- Extraneous Remarks Leads to Remand for Re-Sentencing
- Estlinbaum, Social Networking and Judicial Ethics
- Florida: Facebook Friendship Leads to Judicial Disqualification
- Social Networking Judges and Attorneys
- Judges and Facebook