Kevin Maher

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Trees Falling in Michigan, Still Making Sounds

Looking up through the trees, by flickr user Chris Connolly, licensed by Creative Commons

Blood on the leaves?

There is an old philosophical argument that goes as follows: If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? A recent lawsuit in Michigan is finally providing an answer: Yes. Residents of Bloomfield Hills, MI have taken up a class-action against tree removal by the power company DTE Energy. Reports say they hired a tree-trimming company to take trees down in a short period of time without giving notice to the community. The power company was worried about the trees interfering with cables they had been running in the area, and had petitioned to remove them. Clearly upset by the secretive manner in which DTE went about this deforestation, the people living in Bloomfield Hills are now seeking $54 million in restitution. Read more

College Sued by Football Star’s Accuser

DSC02151, by flickr user Matthew Stinson, licensed by Creative Commons.

State of Confusion

The woman who brought a lawsuit against Florida State’s quarterback is heading back to the courtroom. Citing a “hostile educational environment”, the plaintiff became famous for accusing the college’s athletic department for covering up rape allegations against Jameis Winston, the man under center for the Seminoles as they went undefeated in 2014. She cites Title IX, a civil rights law protecting the rights of all students under the Higher Education Amendment of 1972. The woman claims Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy Winner, sexually harassed her in 2012, but a case was never filed at the time. This latest lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Orlando.

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Tourism Lawsuit Leaves Town Misguided

Lafayette Square, Savannah, GA by flickr user Chris Yates, licensed by Creative Commons

Hip to be square

Tour guides in vacation destinations may have to begin passing certifications to entertain tourists. One group in Savannah GA, headed by a woman named Michelle Freenor, has filed a lawsuit against the city itself over the certain registration laws. Michelle and 3 others (including her husband) have led walking tours around the historic town for years, before the word spread of a new ordinance them to become “certified tour guides”, passing medical and academic tests. The city stands firm behind the idea that registration can only help, not hinder the tourism industry in Savannah. The group is backed by non-profit law firm, with Freenor now at the head of a movement that has hit many popular destinations for tourists, including New York City, Washington D.C., and New Orleans. Read more

Spider-Man Swings to Supreme Court

spider web, by flickr user cybershot dude, licensed by Creative Commons

Trapped in a web

If you are a child during the holiday season, there may be no better gift than a brand new Spider-Man toy. However, it appears that a trademark lawsuit may keep some Marvel merchandise off the shelves. A man named Stephen Kimble invented a toy glove that fires silly string, allowing kids to pretend they are the web-slinging hero Spider-Man. Marvel bought the idea and had been paying Kimble royalties from sales, until his patent on the idea ran out. Furious, the inventor filed a lawsuit to overturn a 50-year-old Supreme Court ruling about expiring patents, seemingly forcing Spider-Man to trade in his red-and-blue spandex for a suit and tie. Read more

Judge Pushes Settlement for Alaskan Natives

Snow covered peaks and glaciers in Prince William Sound, Alaska, by flickr user  Frank Kovalchek, licensed by Creative Commons

Don’t rock the vote

The United States is a very big country, and while most citizens can write and write in English, there are parts of Alaska where that is not the case. Sharon Gleason has asked those involved in a lawsuit against the state of Alaska to perform their due diligence and move towards a settlement. A recent ballot for elections was released in English only, and did not provide an option for native Alaskans who prefer their own language. Yup’ik and Gwitch’in are native Alaskan tongues that are mainly verbal and not often written, leading to controversy over translating voting ballots. The Native American Rights Fund is a strong advocate of multi-cultural and language-based alterations to these ballots. Read more