In this episode of Legal Bits, we discuss the legal basis for sanctuary cities, the brouhaha over the Trump family brand, and the myths surrounding that old McDonald’s hot-coffee case.
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Immigration is Not a Crime
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents conducted raids in six states this week, arresting hundreds of people who lacked documentation of their right to be in the United States.
Many advocates for undocumented immigrants accused ICE of targeting sanctuary cities, municipalities now numbering in the dozens that refuse to arrest people for violating federal immigration laws.
In most sanctuary cities, city employees (including police) are forbidden from inquiring about a resident’s immigration status or from sharing information with federal immigration officials.
Syracuse, New York is a sanctuary city. The city’s police chief and its top lawyer recently sat down with a local paper to explain the legal basis for the city’s position.
In short, being in the United States without the right papers isn’t actually a crime under either federal or state law. It’s a federal civil violation, so immigration is simply not the business of law enforcement.
It’s shameful and outrageous that many immigrants are being treated now as though their mere presence were a criminal offense.
Damage to the Trump Brand
First Lady Melania Trump has sued the Daily Mail (UK) for libel.
The newspaper reported last year that the Slovenian modeling agency she worked for years ago also provided escort services, suggesting that Melania Trump was once a prostitute.
The suit alleges that Daily Mail’s story ruined a “unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to make millions from her husband’s election and that her brand had lost value as a result.
Melania Trump could be the first First Lady to seek business opportunities from the role, but there’s some question about the value of those opportunities. While the lawsuit claims damages of $150 million, the actual damages to Melania Trump’s brand could be closer to zero.
In fact, the Daily Mail has an easy affirmative defense — the comparative fault of a third party, namely Donald J. Trump.
All one needs do is to look at the damage to Ivanka Trump’s brand, caused by her father’s behavior. Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls have all dumped her clothing line in recent weeks. Sears and Kmart dropped the Trump Home line of hotel accessories just this week.
It’s doubtful a Melania Trump brand of products would’ve fared any better. All that conflict of interest for nothing…
About that McDonald’s Hot Coffee Suit
We’ve all heard the story of the elderly woman who was burned by McDonald’s hot coffee. Turns out that most of what we know is fiction.
That elderly woman deserved everything she got from McDonald’s, and some.
From truTV’s Adam Ruins Everything, here’s a humorous correction to the story, based on the actual facts of the case:
So hundreds of people had been burned by McDonald’s coffee — which they served at nearly 200 degrees — and they knew it.
McDonald’s offered Stella Liebeck $800 for those injuries? Ouch! That $2.9 million judgment was way too low.
It’s always good to be reminded that what a jury hears in court is not always what’s reported in the media.
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That’s all for this episode of Legal Bits. Share your litigation news in the comments below.