Suits Allege Hotel Negligence in 2017 Las Vegas Mass Shooting

In 2014, a man smuggled six high-powered weapons into the same casino hotel that Stephen Paddock used as a venue for the most deadly mass shooting in US history. Victims argue in lawsuits against the casino owner that the earlier case shows that the hotel did not do enough to prevent guests from bringing in an arsenal.

Three years before Stephen Paddock used a suite at the Mandalay Bay casino in Las Vegas to kill 58 and injure hundreds of other, another man stocked a room there with six high-powered rifles he had brought upstairs in baggage, just like Paddock. The 2014 case involving Kye Aaron Dunbar, which attracted little public attention at the time, is now being raised by lawyers for victims of last year’s massacre who are suing MGM Resorts International, owner of the Mandalay Bay, for negligence. For Paddock’s victims, the Dunbar case shows that the hotel did not do enough to prevent guests from bringing an arsenal of weapons to the hotel, and that the tragedy that unfolded one year ago was foreseeable.

Dunbar never used the firearms at the hotel. But the Las Vegas police, the F.B.I. and the ATF investigated the case after a housekeeper discovered the weapons. Mandalay Bay argues that the Dunbar case is irrelevant to the Paddock attack. The company says it could not have prevented Paddock’s actions. Confronted by lawsuits, MGM has adopted a hardball legal approach to try to block the victims from recovering any money from the company. The cornerstone of MGM’s argument is that a little-known federal law passed in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks shields companies from liability for casualties from acts of terrorism if they employed antiterrorism technologies and services that carry a special designation from the Department of Homeland Security. Paddock had no known political motive, but MGM argues that the massacre qualifies as an act of terrorism.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Legal Battle with Business Partner Cites NRA’s Rabid Tone

A lawsuit between the gun group and an insurance broker claims that the NRA’s “overtly political and inflammatory approach” and “provocative public stances” led to heightened government scrutiny that spoiled a lucrative source of income.

A contentious lawsuit between the National Rifle Association and an insurance broker, the Lockton Companies, offers a look inside the gun organization’s financial woes, reports The Trace. It takes hundreds of millions of dollars each year to keep the NRA’s enormous operation going, and the gun group has been creative about tapping new pots of revenue. One example is insurance, including Carry Guard, through which gun owners could seek reimbursement for legal costs arising from self-defense shootings. This spring, regulators in New York declared the product unlawful, and the NRA and Lockton are engaged in a related breach-of-contract lawsuit concerning Lockton’s decision to sever ties with the gun group. The NRA claims Lockton failed the gun group, which trusted the broker not to run afoul of local laws when devising and marketing insurance.

Lockton argues that the NRA brought the troubles on itself, by amping up its rhetoric to the point of radioactivity. “The NRA’s own overtly political and inflammatory approach” to marketing, “as well as its provocative public stances, have resulted in a shift in the enforcement priorities of insurance regulators and heightened scrutiny,” Lockton said in a counterclaim. It said the NRA’s Carry Guard marketing plan was “designed to maximize political controversy in the United States and thereby increase NRA membership and sales of insurance coverage, from which the NRA derived revenues.” In May, Lockton signed a consent agreement with New York, paying a $7 million fine and promising not to participate in Carry Guard or promote any other NRA insurance products in the state.

from https://thecrimereport.org

ACLU Sues Over Trump’s Removal of Asylum Protections

The lawsuit argues against “expedited removal” policies instituted by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that remove asylum protections for victims of domestic and gang violence. “This is a naked attempt by the Trump administration to eviscerate our country’s asylum protections,” said an ACLU official.

The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration over its decision to remove asylum protections for victims of domestic and gang violence, reports Politico. The ACLU is arguing against “expedited removal” policies put forth by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that it says “generally” deny claims of violence of that nature. “This is a naked attempt by the Trump administration to eviscerate our country’s asylum protections,” said the ACLU’s Jennifer Chang Newell. “It’s clear the administration’s goal is to deny and deport as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.”

The lawsuit, Grace v. Sessions, was filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C. In June, the attorney general overturned asylum protections for certain victims of violence, effectively reversing a push by the Obama administration to provide refuge to women with credible claims of domestic violence. Sessions questioned in his decision whether victims of private criminal activity qualified as members of a “particular social group” eligible for asylum in the U.S. Asylum seekers must currently prove they have credible fear — based on grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion — in their home country.

from https://thecrimereport.org

ACLU Sues Over Trump’s Removal of Asylum Protections

The lawsuit argues against “expedited removal” policies instituted by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that remove asylum protections for victims of domestic and gang violence. “This is a naked attempt by the Trump administration to eviscerate our country’s asylum protections,” said an ACLU official.

The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration over its decision to remove asylum protections for victims of domestic and gang violence, reports Politico. The ACLU is arguing against “expedited removal” policies put forth by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that it says “generally” deny claims of violence of that nature. “This is a naked attempt by the Trump administration to eviscerate our country’s asylum protections,” said the ACLU’s Jennifer Chang Newell. “It’s clear the administration’s goal is to deny and deport as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.”

The lawsuit, Grace v. Sessions, was filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C. In June, the attorney general overturned asylum protections for certain victims of violence, effectively reversing a push by the Obama administration to provide refuge to women with credible claims of domestic violence. Sessions questioned in his decision whether victims of private criminal activity qualified as members of a “particular social group” eligible for asylum in the U.S. Asylum seekers must currently prove they have credible fear — based on grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion — in their home country.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Lawsuit Accuses Top NM Cop of Bias, Misconduct

The suit by several subordinates accuse State Police Chief Pete Kassetas of “blatant, ongoing and systematic discrimination” against officers based on gender and sexual orientation. The governor’s office called the allegations “ridiculous.”

A lawsuit accuses New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas of “blatant, ongoing and systematic discrimination” against officers based on gender and sexual orientation, reports the Albuquerque Journal. He is accused of “mooning” employees, describing two staff members as “dumb (expletive) bitches” and sending an image of a man’s testicles blocking out the sun to a female executive in the state Department of Public Safety. The suit was filed late Tuesday in 1st Judicial District Court in Santa Fe by Sgt. Monica Martinez-Jones, retired Lt. Julia Armendariz and retired Deputy Chief Michael Ryan Suggs. It seeks damages based on gender and sexual orientation discrimination and retaliation.

The plaintiffs allege that “Kassetas’s behavior has gone unchecked” because he is being protected by Gov. Susana Martinez. A spokesman for the governor said the lawsuit contains “many ridiculous allegations that are completely removed from the truth.” The 36-page suit accuses Kassetas of tolerating homophobic treatment of gay officers and promoting a male officer who had slept with female recruits and once chained an African-American officer to a telephone pole. Kassetas said Thursday that he couldn’t comment on pending litigation “no matter how much I’d like to.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Scathing NY Lawsuit Cites Self-Dealing by Trump Foundation

In a stunning rebuke of a sitting president, the New York State attorney general’s lawsuit accuses Trump’s charity and his family of sweeping violations of campaign finance laws, self-dealing and illegal coordination with the presidential campaign. The suit seeks to shutter the foundation and bar Trump and three of his children from serving on the boards of nonprofits.

The New York State attorney general’s office filed a scathingly worded lawsuit on Thursday that accuses the Donald J. Trump Foundation and the Trump family of sweeping violations of campaign finance laws, self-dealing and illegal coordination with the presidential campaign, reports the New York Times. The lawsuit, which seeks to dissolve the foundation and bar President Trump and three of his children from serving on the boards of nonprofits, was an extraordinary rebuke of a sitting president. The attorney general also sent referral letters to the IRS and the Federal Election Commission for possible further action, adding to Trump’s extensive legal problems.

The lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, culminated a nearly two-year investigation of Trump’s charity, which became a subject of scrutiny during the 2016 presidential campaign. While such foundations are supposed to be devoted to charitable activities, the complaint asserts that Trump’s was often used to curry political favor or settle legal claims against his various businesses, and even spent $10,000 on a portrait of Trump that was hung at one of his golf clubs. The portrait was one of several examples of the foundation being used in “at least five self-dealing transactions,” according to the attorney general’s office, violating tax regulations that prohibit using nonprofit charities for private interests.

Court Says Suit Over NYPD Sound Cannons Can Proceed

The federal lawsuit alleges that the use of sound cannons by the NYPD against protesters constitutes excessive force. Police claimed immunity, but the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the case can proceed to trial.

A federal appeals court in New York says a lawsuit alleging the use of sound cannons by police constitutes excessive force can proceed toward trial, reports the Associated Press. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Wednesday that it agreed with a lower court judge who concluded that the New York Police Department and its officials were not entitled to immunity.

The lawsuit stems from the NYPD’s use of sound cannons known as Long Range Acoustic Devices during 2014 protests over the police chokehold death of Eric Garner. The device manufacturer says they emit a series of sharp beeps to disperse crowds. An attorney for six plaintiffs says the sound left his clients with migraines and hearing damage. A spokesman says the city’s Law Department is reviewing the decision.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Sandy Hook Parents Sue Conspiracy Kook Alex Jones

The InfoWars conspiracy theorist has repeatedly proclaimed the bizarre falsehood that the 2012 mass shooting that killed 20 first graders and six adults in Newtown, Conn., was an elaborate hoax invented by government-backed “gun grabbers.” In three separate lawsuits, the families of eight victims as well as an FBI agent seek damages for defamation.

Parents of children killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting are suing Alex Jones, the InfoWars conspiracy theorist who has repeatedly proclaimed the bizarre falsehood that the 2012 shooting that killed 20 first graders and six adults in Newtown, Conn., was an elaborate hoax invented by government-backed “gun grabbers.” In three separate lawsuits — the most recent was filed on Wednesday in Superior Court in Bridgeport, Conn. — the families of eight Sandy Hook victims as well as an F.B.I. agent who responded to the shooting seek damages for defamation, reports the New York Times. The families allege in one suit, filed in Bridgeport, Conn., that Jones and his colleagues “persistently perpetuated a monstrous, unspeakable lie: that the Sandy Hook shooting was staged, and that the families who lost loved ones that day are actors who faked their relatives’ deaths.”

More broadly, the families are seeking society’s verdict on “post truth” culture in which widely disseminated lies damage lives and destroy reputations, yet those who spread them are seldom held accountable. The suit filed on Wednesday emphasizes Jones’s reach and connection to President Trump, who has echoed InfoWars’ false claims that Hillary Clinton benefited from the votes of millions of illegal immigrants in the election, and repeated InfoWars’ bogus charge that the news media covers up terrorist attacks. Jones pitches the false claims, along with diet supplements and survivalist gear, on his InfoWars website, radio program and YouTube channel. His videos have been viewed more than a billion times. Sandy Hook families have been followed, videotaped and harassed by people demanding “proof” that their loved ones died.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Cities Sue Pentagon Over Failure to Report Troubled GIs

The lawsuit by New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco calls on the Department of Defense to address a “clearly broken system” that allowed a former serviceman to buy a gun and kill 26 people in a Texas church in November. The gunman should have been disqualified from purchasing firearms, but the Air Force failed to report his domestic violence conviction to the FBI.

Three major U.S. cities filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the Pentagon to address a “clearly broken system” that they contend allowed a former Air Force serviceman to buy a gun and kill 26 people in a Texas church in November, reports The Hill. New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco seek to have the Defense Department “fulfill their long-standing legal obligation to report all service members disqualified from purchasing and possessing firearms to the FBI’s national background check system,” according to a statement from the law firm filing the case. Law enforcement officials in all three cities “regularly rely upon the integrity of the FBI’s background check system,” the attorneys write.

The case was brought after Devin Kelley opened fire Nov. 5 at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people. It was later discovered that the Air Force had failed to report Kelley’s domestic violence conviction to the FBI. He had been court-martialed and sentenced to a year in prison in 2014 after beating his wife and cracking his stepson’s skull. But the service didn’t send the conviction to the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services, which would then upload such information into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, barring Kelley from buying a gun. Filed in federal court in Alexandria, Va., the lawsuit asks for an injunction and judicial oversight to ensure the Pentagon complies with its legal duty to submit records. Earlier this month, a government report said the Air Force failed to submit records in 14 percent of its cases, the Navy and Marine Corps in 36 percent, and the Army in 41 percent.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Lawsuit Targets Owner of Crime-Ridden L.A. Complex

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer says the Chesapeake Apartments, plagued by violent crime for decades, are a serious threat to public safety. He is suing to prompt safety improvements, and he says owner of the complex should be ordered to live there until the problems are resolved.

The Chesapeake Apartments, a 425-unit complex spread over more than 17 acres in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Baldwin Village, has been plagued by violent crime for decades, says the Los Angeles Times. The Black P-Stone gang is so deeply entrenched there, officials said, that its members have tattoos that reference the property. Now, prosecutors are targeting the property’s owners and managers to curb the crime. In a lawsuit announced Monday, City Attorney Mike Feuer alleged that their mismanagement has resulted in a “serious threat” to public safety and created an environment in which anyone who comes near the property is at risk of being a crime victim. Feuer thinks that the head of the complex, Swaranjit Nijjar, should be ordered to live on the property until the problems are resolved. The lawsuit says Nijjar is the CEO of the company that’s the sole general partner of Pama V Properties LP, which owns the property.

“Negligent, callous management has allowed the Chesapeake Apartments to become a hotbed of terror in this neighborhood,” Feuer said in a statement. “We’ll continue to hold property owners responsible for these harrowing conditions as we take back our communities.” Feuer’s lawsuit seeks an injunction banning gang activity on the property, as well as a string of property improvements, including secure fencing, a video monitoring system accessible by the LAPD, improved lighting, better screening of tenants and the presence of full-time armed, licensed security guards. A spokesman for the owner said the complex seeks to provide “clean, safe, affordable housing.” He added, “Somebody’s got to provide it. The city can’t. The city’s the worst slumlord.”

from https://thecrimereport.org