Weekly litigation report — December 2, 2016
Right to say you are who you are
We filed this complaint on behalf of Peggy Fontenot against the State of Oklahoma. The rub of Fontenot v. Pruitt is that Peggy Fontenot, who is a member of the Patawomeck Indian Tribe, is not allowed to say in Oklahoma that her photographs and artwork are made by an American Indian. Why not? Because the Patawomeck tribe is recognized by Virginia but not by the federal government. That matters because Oklahoma will not allow someone from a non-federally recognized tribe to sell “Indian” art in that state. Naturally, all tribes in Oklahoma are recognized by the federal government. Not only does this rule limit competition, but it also infringes upon Peggy Fontenot’s free speech right to say who she is when selling her art. For more, see our blog post here.
Reply brief filed in St. Louis discrimination lawsuit
We filed this reply in E.L. v. VICC, where we are suing on behalf of a student whose wish to be able to transfer to other city schools is being blocked solely because he is African-American. For more, see our blog post here.
Liability of wealth
In a tort suit, whether you caused an injury should be more important than how deep your pockets are. In that vein, we filed this amicus brief asking the California Supreme Court to overturn the flawed decision in T.H. v. Novartis. That opinion would essentially impose never-ending tort liability on brand-name drug manufacturers for injuries caused by their generic counterparts. By adopting an expansive theory of liability, the law threatens to drive up the cost of doing business—possibly deterring useful medications from coming to market. For more see our blog post here.
The law applies to thee, but not to me, if the “me” is government
The California Endangered Species Act requires the Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct status reviews of species listed as threatened or endangered every five years. PLF sued to enforce the Act, after the Department failed to conduct mandatory reviews for 233 species.The Department now wants to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that no one is harmed by its failure to follow California law. Today PLF filed its opposition in California Cattlemen’s Association v. California Department of Fish and Wildlife. For more, see our blog.
A plan of extortion from West Hollywood
PLF attorneys filed this reply brief in 616 Croft Ave, LLC v. City of West Hollywood. As you may recall, this case arose from the City’s demand that husband and wife entrepreneurs Shelah and Jonathan Lehrer-Graiwer pay a $540,000 “affordable housing” fee in order to get the necessary permits to build new homes. The Leher-Graiwers challenged the fee, which had absolutely no relation to any impacts caused by the proposed development. That’s because adding to the housing supply causes housing prices to decrease, not increase. Rather than encouraging more home-building in unaffordable cities, cities are making homes less affordable by slapping all sorts of fees and conditions on new home buyers.
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Fontenot v. Hunter, Attorney General of Oklahoma
Peggy Fontenot is an award-winning American Indian photographer and artist, specializing in hand-made beaded jewelry and cultural items. A member of Virginia’s Patawomeck tribe, she has made her living for 30 years traveling the country to show and sell her American Indian art. She regularly participated in Oklahoma art festivals until local, politically-connected tribes convinced the state legislature to restrict the definition of “Indian tribe” to include only those tribes recognized by the federal government. The restriction was ostensibly to prevent the marketing and sale of art fraudulently described as “American Indian-made.” However, as a result of this law, Ms. Fontenot – a legitimate member of a state-recognized tribe – may no longer truthfully describe her art as “American Indian-made” in the state of Oklahoma.Read more
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