Editor’s Choice: Top Five Legal News Stories of the Day
Here are some news items we thought would interest you.
- Listeria-related deaths, illnesses continue to rise. Lawsuits in Texas and Colorado have been filed against Jensen Farms of Holly, Colorado, as the listeria outbreak spread by contaminated cantaloupes has killed at least 13 people have died from the recent listeria outbreak connected to Colorado cantaloupes. It’s already the deadliest food-borne contamination in more than a decade. If you suspect you’ve eaten an infected cantaloupe, see our story If You’ve Been Sickened by Food, or Burned by a Product.
We’ve talked about food safety in general, and about the recent cantaloupe problem in particular. It’s important to know how to keep you and your family safe by paying attention to food recalls. It’s also important to remember that you have legal remedies, such as a products liability lawsuit, if you or a loved one becomes ill from listeria or other food-borne contaminates.
- Policemen held liable for excessive force. The other day, police officersin Eureka, California were found guilty in a personal injury/wrongful death action over the beating death of man they had arrested. It’s not an isolated case, either.
Elsewhere in California, two police officers face criminal charges for killing an unarmed, mentally ill homeless man. And two officers in Corpus Christi, Texas can’t avoid a lawsuit by man who was tackled and thrown to the ground after trying to stop the officers from entering his home without a search warrant.
Let’s face it. Federal, state and local law enforcement agents do jobs many of us can’t or won’t do. They put their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe. But they make mistakes, too. Whether it’s excessive force or breaking into the wrong house, the police have rules to follow when doing their jobs. No matter how difficult their jobs are, they may be held accountable when they break those rules and someone gets hurt or their property is damaged.
- Is he fit to be a dad? Today, Josh Powellwill be in court battling for custody of his children. Who’s he fighting against? His in-laws – the children’s grandparents.
Powell is the husband of Susan Powell, who disappeared in 2009. The children have been living with Josh Powell, and his father, Steven, but the grandparents want custody. They think the home is unhealthy and unsafe for the children because:
- They believe Josh had something to do with Susan’s disappearance
- Steven Powell is now facing criminal charges on child pornography and voyeurism
- Josh is the subject of a current child pornography and voyeurism investigation
Even in less fantastic cases, child custody battles can be difficult. Child Protective Services across the US have broad authority to take children away from abusive or neglectful parents, and grandparents can get custody, or visitation rights. No matter which end of the battle you’re on, an experienced child custody lawyer can help protect your rights and the well-being of the children.
- Lesbians thrown off flight for kissing. Leisha Hailey, a lesbian actress, kissed her girlfriend while onboard a Southwest Airlines flight. Based on complaints by passengers, Hailey and her partner were escorted off the plane when it landed. Apparently, there was a heated exchange between the flight crew and the couple over the public display of affection.
Did the airline discriminate against Hailey? Maybe, maybe not. The airline claims other passengers said the kissing and behavior was “excessive,” and it would have handled the situation the same if it was heterosexual couple involved. There’s no discrimination there. It may be a different story if the airline and staff targets gay or lesbian passengers. While there’s no federal law against discrimination based on sexual orientation, many states have laws barring such discrimination, but they usually only apply to employment, housing or situations involving state or local government benefits. But, given the recent boom in gay and lesbian rights – Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and same-sex marriages and civil unions – an experienced civil rights attorney may be able to help if you think you’ve been treated unfairly.
- Court expected to rule on immigration law.Sometime today, a federal court is expected to decide whether or not Alabama’s controversial immigration reform law can be enforced. Among other things, the tough new law:
- Requires police to determine the residency status of anyone they arrest or pull over for a traffic ticket if the officer has a “reasonable suspicion” the person is in the country illegally
- Requires the state to check the immigration status of public school students
- Makes it illegal to hire or rent property to undocumented aliens
Similar provisions in other state immigration laws, most notably Arizona, have been challenged in the courts and may end up before the US Supreme Court. In the meantime, it’s important to remember that even if you’re in the country illegally, you have legal rights – like freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures and the right to due process. Your children are entitled to a free public education, too. An immigration attorney can help protect your rights. Learn more about immigration issues.
Need more to read? Try these headlines:
- E. coli scare prompts Tyson to recall ground beef
- Even those cleared of crimes can stay on FBI’s watch list
- New Jersey fugitive is caught in Portugal after 41 years
- Police: Suspect in Indiana killings on the loose
- Doctor convicted in fake cancer treatments
Dave Baarlaer writes for Lawyers.com
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