Up in Smoke: NY Sues UPS Over Cigarette Tax

Cigarette, by flickr user Justin Shearer, licensed by Creative Commons.

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire.

The latest courtroom battle about cigarettes has nothing to do with damaged lungs, but rather a hole in the wallet. It recently came to light that shipping giant UPS failed to properly adhere to tax laws in New York City and State. This has resulted in 78,500 shipments of untaxed cigarettes being transported in and out of New York for about 4 years. UPS has denied these allegations, citing their past experience in the shipping industry and adherence to any and all state laws. The lawsuit was filed in New York by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Counsel Zachary Carter and is seeking about $180M in damages. Outright accusations of lying and cheating have been thrown out by both sides, understandable considering the hefty price tag attached. Read more

Kansas Supreme Court Ruling Impacts How Field Sobriety Tests Will Be Conducted

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

A recent court ruling out of Kansas will likely lead to important changes in the way drunk driving cases are handled in the state. For years, law enforcement agencies have conducted a series of three field sobriety tests during traffic stops involving suspected drunk drivers. The failure of any one of the three tests could serve as justification for administering a breathalyzer test and for potentially making an arrest. Thanks to the Kansas Supreme Court, that will no longer be the case.

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Uber and Lyft are Driving People Crazy

Volkswagen CC TDi 2012 - Driver's Seat by flickr User Miles Continental, Licensed by Creative Commons

Speeding to the courtroom

While many people love the convenience of having a car appear at your doorstep at the tap of a button, it appears that those days may be numbered. The popular transportation services Uber and Lyft are headed to the courtroom, thanks to unhappy drivers. The main issue seems to center around a debate on whether or not the drivers of these services are employees or simply independent contractors. We’ve talked in the past about Uber’s problems with the law, however this series of lawsuits may force the companies to alter their business model. The lawsuits were filed in the San Francisco Federal Court and are only relevant to California-based drivers, although the results of each class-action will be closely monitored by drivers across the United States. Read more

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

Vanilla Extract Leads To DWI Charges

Licensed via Creative Commons

Vanilla Extract

Those that are bound and determined to drink and drive can almost always find a way. Though most people think of trips to the local liquor store as a place to pick up supplies, the reality is that even a quick trip to the grocery outlet will suffice, if the intention is to find something with enough alcohol to get wasted.

As proof that there are lots of surprising things that can get a person drunk, a 46-year-old woman from Seneca Falls, New York was arrested last week and has since been charged with drunk driving after consuming, of all things, vanilla extract. According to police reports, the woman was spotted by officers driving erratically in a Walmart parking lot.

An officer then approached the car and began questioning the woman who admitted, almost immediately, that she had been drinking vanilla prior to getting behind the wheel. Officers say the woman explained how she had consumed two regular-sized bottles of pure vanilla extract not long before getting in her car. She soon became disoriented and was unable to navigate her way out of the Walmart parking lot. Read more