Beloit, Wisconsin will have to pay $265,000 to a teenager who was illegally strip-searched in public by a police officer. Conner Poff was sitting in his car with some friends when the police received an anonymous tip alleging “drug activity”. Officer Kerry Daugherty approached the car, asked Poff to step out, and patted him down. Up to this point, Daugherty followed standard and necessary procedure. However, the policeman detected a bulge in the teenagers pants in the region of his crotch and, apparently not being too current with his studies of anatomy, asked the boy what that mysterious bulge could be. Poff replied that it was in fact his genitals, at which point the incredulous officer told the teenager to “show him”. When Poff complied, he was slammed against the car’s back windshield so hard that the windshield shattered and he suffered a mild concussion. In the course of the scuffle, Daugherty “discovered” a small bag of marijuana in the boy’s underwear. The police officer’s defense for his violent and unjustifiable strip search? He wanted the 16-year-old to show him the marijuana, which was clearly too small to detect in plain sight, and “not his genitals”. Well Mr. Daugherty, if you didn’t want to ogle the kid’s junk, you probably shouldn’t have asked to ogle the kid’s junk.
Poff filed suit shortly thereafter, alleging that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated. Instead of going in front of a jury, which I can only assume would decide in Poff’s favor, the city agreed to a $265,000 settlement. Daugherty was not disciplined. So, the one disadvantage of the settlement system once again comes to light: the victims of injustice get some money, but the perpetrators are not punished and can say they’ve done nothing wrong. However, Milwaukee County is undertaking an investigation in the strip search practices of its police departments thanks to some of Daugherty’s comments, which suggested that his actions were part of the department’s standard modus operandi.
The ultimate moral to take away from this story, then, is to remember to tighten your belt when dealing with police in Wisconsin.
The US District Court judge for the District of Columbia signed off, finally, on the big $25 billion foreclosure settlement between five banks, the federal government, and most of the states. On Wednesday, Judge Rosemary Collyer approved the settlement, which was announced two months ago. The $25 billion settlement will be divvied up by the states and is suggested to be used to ease financial burden on improperly foreclosed homes and help pursue negligence in the future. However, as I’ve mentioned before, some states are going to use it for whatever they feel like. Georgia in particular is using the money to support local infrastructure, presumably telling the federal government “you can’t tell me what to do, you’re not my real dad”, slamming its door and hiding under the covers afterwards.
The New York Court of Appeals ruled today that a Bernie Madoff victim can’t redefine the terms of his divorce on account of his losses to Madoff’s fraud. Steven Simkin and Laura Blank, when married, invested $5.4 million in Madoff’s business together. The terms of their 2006 divorce settlement totalling $13.5 million split all assets evenly. However, while Mr. Simkin elected to retain his stake in Madoff’s business in the divorce, Blank took her half in cash. Madoff turned himself in to police for perpetrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history just two years later. Meaning that Simkin lost his millions, while Blank was none the worse.
Simkin sued Blank to essentially redo the divorce settlement, which eventually reached New York’s highest court. His argument was that, since Madoff’s investment was fraudulent, he and Blank should split the losses evenly. Today, the court decided against it, citing the finality of divorce and warning that allowing the resettlement would set a dangerous precedent for divorce settlements and other contracts. While Simkin tried to argue that the Madoff account didn’t exist and so he shouldn’t be held accountable for his investment in it, the Court disagreed, saying that the account did exist, it was just illegal, and that Simkin could have taken out his money at any time, like his ex-wife did. In other words, they called him a sore loser.
Groupon, the world’s largest purveyor of coupons, found itself in a bit of trouble recently regarding their products’ expiration dates. A lawsuit brought by Eli R. Johnson alleged illegal expiration date policies on Groupon’s coupons, putting the company’s very lifeblood in jeopardy. Johnson bought a coupon that expired after a few months. He brought suit after learning that Illinois law requires a minimum expiration date of five years for all gift certificates, including coupons. Apparently, the online giant, which operates across the entire country and Europe, didn’t bother to learn the nuances of consumer protection laws from state to state, leaving them vulnerable to lawsuits. Not even in Illinois, which is the jurisdiction of this lawsuit and, embarrassingly, Groupon’s own base of operations. Today’s legal settlement allows customers in certain states to redeem some coupons past their expiration date or, failing that, receive a full refund. Groupon has $8.5 million in a fund set aside for the latter option.
In a move sure to disappoint millions, DirecTV was forced to stop the broadcast of Tribune Media’s signal, which includes some local Fox affiliates. The two companies are in the middle of settlement negotiations regarding a contract dispute and, due to federal law, the broadcasting company was forced to drop the signal until a contract was in place. DirecTV has said that it had hoped Tribune Media would allow the broadcast to continue during the negotiations, but Tribune refused, which DirecTV has described as “the true definition of `bad faith’ in every sense of the term”. Wow. Bitter much?
The contract affects nineteen markets, including New York, Chicago, New Orleans and Philadelphia. In those markets, depending on which local affiliates Tribune owns, viewers will miss out on such shows as American Idol, The Vampire Diaries, and the broadcast of america’s pastime, Major League Baseball. Oh, the humanity!
I see this as two huge companies arguing over millions of dollars that can’t remember what they’re arguing about, sort of like a Bleak House situation. At some point, in their relentless pursuit of money, one of them will forget that their whole purpose is to provide access to television programming for their loyal paying customers. Hopefully the two companies will work it out soon. If I miss Gossip Girl because of this, someone’s going to pay.