Monthly Archives: April 2016

Second Circuit Upholds Brady Suspension

The Second Circuit upheld Tom Brady’s suspension for the first four games of the new season and overturned the district court’s ruling.  The court ruled the arbitrator’s award was valid and should not be disturbed.

Judge Parker, writing for the majority, stated, “Our role is not to determine for ourselves whether Brady participated in a scheme to deflate footballs or whether the suspension imposed by the Commissioner should have been for three games or five games or none at all. Nor is it our role to second-guess the arbitrator’s procedural rulings.”  He continued, “Our obligation is limited to determining whether the arbitration proceedings and award met the minimum legal standards established by the Labor Management Relations Act.”

Courts are loathe to upend an arbitrator’s decision, unless for example, there was some type of fraud or corruption on the part of the arbitrator. The parties agree by contract to arbitration in lieu of bringing their case to court.

Brady can appeal to the entire Second Circuit (en banc) and to the United States Supreme Court, however, his chances either take the case are slim.

The opinion can be found here: http://www.ca2.uscourts.gov/decisions/isysquery/98c62698-d29a-4b91-98a0-5a5af0c19e88/1/doc/15-2801_complete_opn.pdf

Duty to Rescue

Research proposal posted by Valentina Reyes.

Tort law carries the “no duty to rescue” principle, which establishes an individual’s freedom to choose whether to intervene in situations of peril while imposing no sanction on those who choose not to act. “While there is properly in law a duty not to harm, there is not . . . a negative duty not to allow harm to happen” (U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes). So long as there is no fiduciary relationship – which is defined as a relationship of trust or legal obligation of a person to another – between the two parties, an individual is not obliged to intervene, even if refraining from doing so may lead to the impending death of the other. This principle was established with the idea that people should not be held responsible for the demise of others unless they were directly involved with the causation of the incidents that led to the other’s peril, or had some established duty of care to the other, and to protect one’s freedom of choice.

In some instances, some courts may find that if a person began to rescue another and then ceased, the rescuer may be found liable if the reasonable person would have continued to rescue the victim. Under the umbrella of negligence, this is called “undertaking to act.” However, some states provide immunity from liability under specific statutes typically referred to as “Good Samaritan laws.” These statutes are put in place to protect those who, in good faith, decide to help in an emergency situation from being sued in civil court for any damage which may result from their act or omission to act. Depending on the situation, courts may wish to protect a rescuer or deem them responsible for negligent acts if the additional damage caused to the plaintiff resulted from an unreasonable act by the rescuer.

While the “no duty to rescue” principle was put in place to protect people’s liberty to choose, it also gives people power to allow others to perish. On the one hand, people are free to choose whether to get involved, but if they choose not to help when they are capable of helping and when the help may save a life, then they have the indirect power over another’s life. The principle also reinforces individualistic behavior that is already very much present in American society and culture which is often noted as being extremely averse to collectivism. Further, if a person intends another to perish by doing nothing, they may be able to get away with being the indirect cause of the other’s demise by choosing to do nothing out of a desire to cause the other harm. In this case, we have the element of mens rea without actus reus (so long as the bystander was not involved in the proximate cause of the victim’s accident or ailment), and the person intending to do harm by doing nothing could be protected under the law. In the case that the defendant was involved in the proximate cause of the victim’s accident, as was the case in Podias v. Mairs, the defendant could be found guilty for doing nothing because at that point, a fiduciary relationship is formed because but for the defendant’s actions, the victim would not have been put in danger.

Catholic social teaching teaches us that we should love everyone and show a sense of community towards our neighbors. We should treat everyone how we would like to be treated and respect and protect all forms of life. Whether we are free to choose, we should do the correct thing and provide help when we can for those who need it because if we are the difference between life and death for another, it does not take much away from us to give another what they can never get back. Gaudium et Spes states “[…] the duty which is imposed upon us, that we build a better world based upon truth and justice. Thus, we are witnesses of the birth of a new humanism, one in which man is defined first of all by this responsibility to his brothers and to    history.”

 

Works Cited

http://www.siue.edu/~evailat/i-mill.html

http://injury.findlaw.com/accident-injury-law/specific-legal-duties.html

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/nj-superior-court-appellate-division/1187493.html

https://www.stthomas.edu/media/catholicstudies/center/ryan/conferences/2005-vatican/Uelmen.pdf

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651207_gaudium-et-spes_en.html

http://injury.findlaw.com/accident-injury-law/specific-legal-duties.html

http://negligence.uslegal.com/specific-duties/duty-to-rescue/

https://www.shrm.org/legalissues/stateandlocalresources/stateandlocalstatutesandregulations/documents/goodsamaritanlaws.pdf

 

Justices Mull the Constitutionality of “Refusal” Statutes

Several states have statutes that make it a crime to refuse to take a breathalyzer if suspected of driving under the influence. Some states, like New Jersey, make refusal a civil offense. The High Court is reviewing statutes in North Dakota and Minnesota that make it a crime for people suspected of drunken driving to refuse to take alcohol tests. Drivers prosecuted under those laws claim they violate the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.

The justices questioned lawyers representing the states as to why police cannot be required to get a telephonic warrant every time they want a driver to take an alcohol test. “Justice Stephen Breyer pointed to statistics showing that it takes an average of only five minutes to get a warrant over the phone in Wyoming and 15 minutes to get one in Montana.”  However, this may not be correct.

“Kathryn Keena, a county prosecutor representing Minnesota, suggested some rural areas may have only one judge on call, making it too burdensome to seek a warrant every time. She said even if a warrant were procured, a driver could still refuse to take the test and face lesser charges for obstruction of a warrant than for violating drunken driving test laws.”

Telephonic warrants have also been the rule in New Jersey since 2009. Recently, the New Jersey Supreme Court reversed itself, reverting back to the federal standard requiring police to obtain a warrant after establishing they have probable cause. Under the more stringent standard of using telephonic warrants, police were complaining it took to long to reach a judge. Police also used consent forms they carried, causing an outcry from the defense bar that such a practice may lead to further abuses. Justice Anthony Kennedy said the states are asking for “an extraordinary exception” to the warrant rule by making it a crime for drivers to assert their constitutional rights.

The problem for the states is that without the threat of a refusal penalty, the only proof available at trial as to whether someone was intoxicated while driving is the observations made by police. Observations, however, cannot prove blood alcohol level.

Trump May Replace Janet Yellen

In a Fortune interview, Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, indicated he may replace Fed chief, Janet Yellen, although it appears he likes it when interest rates are low. Speaking from a business standpoint, he would be correct. On the other hand, he acknowledges that low rates are not good for savings accounts, “The problem with low interest rates is that it’s unfair that people who’ve saved every penny, paid off mortgages, and everything they were supposed to do and they were going to retire with their beautiful nest egg and now they’re getting one-eighth of 1%,” says Trump. “I think that’s unfair to those people.”

Trump is in favor of taking power away from the Fed and have more Congressional oversight.

 

The Principle of Double Effect

Research proposal posted by Jessica Page.

Topic

The principle of double effect creates a set of guidelines to “determine when it is ethically permissible for a human being to engage in conduct in pursuit of a good end with full knowledge that the conduct will also bring about bad results” (The Principle of Double Effect). Generally, the principle states that when someone is deciding a certain conduct that has both good and bad effects, the course of conduct they choose is “ethically permissible only if it is not wrong in itself and if it does not require that one directly intend the bad result” (The Principle of Double Effect). The moral criteria for the principle of double effect generally states the action in itself must be good or indifferent, the good effect cannot be obtained through the bad effect, there must be a proportion between the good and bad effects brought about, the intention of the subject must be directed towards the good effect and merely tolerate the bad effect and there does not exist another possibility or avenue (What is the Principle of Double Effect?).

Pros and Cons

The issue with the principle of double effect is that each situation where the principle applies is different. If an act is bad, it cannot become good or indifferent by a good motive or good circumstances. If it is evil in nature, this will not change. That being said, the principle “the end justifies the means” must always be rejected. The idea that needs to be applied to each issue is the fact that a human must never do evil, but they are not bound to prevent the existence of evil. One example we can apply this to is the BP oil spill that was discussed in class. By not mandating a cut-off switch because of how expensive it was, even though the safety benefits were astronomical, when an explosion happened on one of the rigs, eleven workers were killed and seventeen were injured. Not to mention the five million barrels of oil that gushed into the ocean. Had the US mandated these switches like they wanted, even though BP lobbied against them, it could have avoided the deaths, injuries and pollution caused by the exploding rig. In this case, the deaths and havoc caused by the explosion did not justify the fact that BP was trying to save money for their own personal benefit. Another example where the principle of double effect is relevant today is the controversy of euthanasia. It is used to justify the case “where a doctor gives drugs to a patient to relieve distressing symptoms even though he knows doing this may shorten the patient’s life” (BBC). The doctor’s intention is not to kill the patient, but the result of death is a side-effect of reducing patient’s pain. One problem that people argue against this doctrine is the fact that they believe we are responsible for all anticipated consequences of our actions. Another is the fact that intention is irrelevant. A third issue, specifically in the euthanasia issue, is the fact that death is not always seen as a bad thing making the double effect irrelevant. Lastly, the double effect can produce an unexpected moral result.

Ethics and Principles

When looking at the incorporation of Catholic, one of the main issues that concerns this principle and the Catholic religion is that case where a pregnancy may need to end in order to preserve the life of the mother. The example most often given is a woman with uterine cancer. By removing the uterus, it will bring death to the fetus but the death is not “directly” intended and in turn, the mother will live. It is an issue that still is debated today (Soloman). Another similar case having to do closely with Catholic ideals is when a woman has an ectopic pregnancy and must receive surgery to remove the embryo. At a Catholic hospital, it can be questioned whether that specific procedure is considered a direct abortion, going against the Catholic ideals and morals, no matter what the means of the surgery are. “The principle of double effect enables bioethicists and Catholic moralists to navigate various actions that may or may not be morally justifiable in some circumstances” (Kockler). The idea of proportionate reasoning has also been condemned by Pope John Paul II. He categorized proportionalism as a species of consequentialism. This is condemned by the Church because no Catholic moralist would agree that a desirable end justifies any means (Kockler). These are serious issues, especially when considering the principle of double effect from a Catholic standpoint.

Works Cited:

Kockler, Nicolas. The Principle of Double Effect and Proportionate Reason. http://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/2007/05/pfor2-0705.html

“The Doctrine of Double Effect”. BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/euthanasia/overview/doubleeffect.shtml

“The Principle of Double Effect”. http://sites.saintmarys.edu/~incandel/doubleeffect.html

“The Principle of Double Effect”. http://www83.homepage.villanova.edu/richard.jacobs/MPA%208300/theories/double%20effect.html

“What is the Principle of Double Effect?” http://ncbcenter.org/document.doc?id=132

 

 

Liberty of Contract: Removal from the “Anticanon”

Research proposal posted by Elizabeth Donald.

Part One: Topic Explanation

Liberty of contract was originally introduced into U.S. constitutional jurisprudence through the case of Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 (1905). In this case, Joseph F. Lochner challenged a provision of the New York Bakeshop Act of 1895 that prohibited bakers from working more than ten hours per day and 60 hours per week. The Supreme Court held that this regulation failed to pass constitutional muster in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In doing so, the Court found “liberty of contract,” that is, the freedom of individuals and groups to enter into contracts, to be a fundamental right under the Fourteenth Amendment.  Other Supreme Court decisions continued to build on this idea during what is now referred to as “The Lochner Era” of cases. This includes Adkins v. Children’s Hospital, 261 U.S. 525 (1923), invalidating a minimum wage law and Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 286 U.S. 510 (1925), deeming unconstitutional a regulation that led to the closing of many private Catholic schools.

Part Two: Pros and Cons

The Lochner decision was considered one of the most controversial cases of its time after being handed down in 1905. Progressive jurists, politicians, and scholars alike denounced Lochner, whether for attempting to constitutionalize laissez-faire economics or for exceeding judicial authority.[1] They believed that the conservative-leaning Lochner majority reached far beyond the scope of its powers. This is because although the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly list “liberty of contract” as a fundamental right, the court still found it to be so under the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause which states, “[N]or shall any person … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” U.S. Const. amend. XVI, § 1. In finding a liberty of contract within the Constitution, Progressives saw the majority as an advocate of big business that attempted to adopt policy by means of judicial decision. These Progressive jurists instead encouraged a deference to the legislature on all matters, economic and personal. Since the early 20th century, Progressive ideology has shifted, but still views liberty of contract in a negative light.

Flashing forward to today, jurists across the political spectrum remain highly critical of Lochner. Constitutional theorist Bruce Ackerman places Lochner in his “anticanon” of cases. Unlike early 20th century Progressives, today’s Progressive jurists typically believe in using strict scrutiny to analyze laws regarding personal rights. Yet, they now isolate personal liberties from economic liberties, which are still considered unwarranting of constitutional protection.[2] Twenty-first century conservatives, likewise, do not tend to favor liberty of contract. Conservative jurists today often advocate for a deference to the legislature on both personal and economic issues. Thus, the conservative viewpoint has also significantly shifted from the Lochner Era right-wing belief that natural rights precede positive law and that liberty of contract is one of those inherent natural rights. This leaves little room for hope for the few present-day proponents of liberty of contract. However, the idea of contractual freedom as a fundamental right might not be as bad as many make it seem. In fact, liberty of contract is really a derivative of the natural law.

The natural law, according to St. Pope John Paul II, is a law that resides within the “depths of the conscience.” It is written on the hearts of all men, according to which God will be the judge. Legal theorists have found certain rights to be inherent within this natural law. The Constitution itself was founded on the idea of natural rights. James Madison, a drafter of the Constitution, believed that man “embraces everything to which a man may attach a value and have a right; and which leaves to everyone else the like advantage…”[3] This idea was the bedrock of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, which was eventually applied to the states through the Fourteenth. Therefore, the Court majority in Lochner simply viewed liberty of contract as one of these natural rights under due process. This reading of the Due Process Clause achieves much greater validation than suggested by Lochner’s opponents. The Civil Rights Act of 1866, 14 Stat. 27-30, which gave way to the Fourteenth Amendment, listed liberty of contract first in the rights accorded to man. In this act, the 39th Congress wrote that, “[a]ll persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties …” This act served the purpose of enforcing the natural rights of man. Therefore, the Lochner majority’s belief in liberty of contract as a fundamental right was not unwarranted.

Part Three: Questions of Ethics

Liberty of contract is intertwined with ethics because the very idea of ethics rests on the natural law. St. Thomas Aquinas said that the natural law “constitutes the principles of practical rationality,” which are the rules by which human action is to be judged as reasonable or unreasonable.[4] It is from this ethical theory that fundamental rights were developed. Not only that, but contractual freedom is essential to business ethics as well. The significance of liberty of contract comes through in the employment-at-will rule which gives employers unfettered power to “dismiss their employees at will for good cause, for no cause, or even for cause morally wrong, without being thereby guilty of a legal wrong.” However, because the employment-at-will theory is supported by laissez-faire economics, it too is often criticized by Progressive jurists who oppose free markets. Yet, even though early 20th century Progressive jurists denounced the Lochner decision for its association with laissez-faire ideals, this does not invalidate the fact that liberty of contract can be viewed as a fundamental right within the natural law. Further, just because liberty of contract is an economic liberty does not mean it cannot be a fundamental liberty. Since provisions of the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 demonstrate that both the Founding Fathers and the 39th Congress understood liberty of contract as deriving from the natural law, it is valid to not only consider this liberty as fundamental, but also ethical.

Works cited:

[1] David E. Bernstein, Rehabilitating Lochner (2012).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Colleen Sheehan, James Madison and Our First Duty, THE CENTER FOR VISION AND VALUES (Sep. 23, 2014), http://www.visionandvalues.org/2014/09/james-madison-and-our-first-duty-by-dr-colleen-sheehan/.

[4] Aquinas, ST I-II. Q94.

Privacy and Surveillance Laws

Research proposal posted by Brian Kane.

In the digital age, the rights and laws regarding privacy are being contested now more than ever. Today personal privacy, both digital and physical, is being discussed. One of the earliest examples of privacy laws in the United States is the 4th amendment. Under this amendment gives “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” (Fourth Amendment, U.S. Constitution). This and other laws, including the Federal Wiretap Law of 1968, are designed to protect the individual against unlawful searches of personal property by an unfair government. The individual right to privacy is held sacred in this country.

However, the laws of privacy protection are not absolute. Communications and interactions in general areas, such as online chatrooms, and digital communication used for work. Surveillance monitoring by employers has been contested by employees in courts in multiple cases. In City of Ontario, California v. Quon, for example, a search was justified because there were “reasonable grounds” and done “for a non-investigatory work-related purpose” (Ontario v. Quon).

Some argue that the privacy laws are for the best interests of individuals. Individuals and consumers are protected when the monitoring parties have clearly defined limits and barriers. When the government requires search warrants and the corporations are required to obtain consent, the best interests of those being monitored are kept in mind. The constant surveillance by powerful entities removes the right for individuals to act freely and live their own lifestyle. Gratuitous monitoring dehumanizes the employee and implies guilt without any evidence.

Privacy law is not completely virtuous, however. Like all laws, some may seek to exploit privacy law and use it to shield unproductive, immoral, and unethical behavior. When employees use corporate email accounts for personal business, they often claim a right to privacy when investigation begins. Many act recklessly online in this digital age, assuming that the right to privacy is absolute and unbreakable. There are instances where there is legitimate reasons to investigate an individual. When there is probable cause, public good supersedes individual privacy.

The issue of privacy and surveillance laws raises many ethical questions. The rights of individuals and the definition of individualism is put into question when anyone is monitored by a third party. There is concern for the maintenance of human dignity, as some see these searches dehumanizing and distressing on private lives. Pope Leo XIII spoke out against increased surveillance, saying that it intruded and lead to control over individuals. In Catholicism, the holy sacrament of confession revolves around the private recounting of sins and transgressions. When discussing privacy, the matter common good is raised. Aquinas believes that law is created for the common good, “made by him who has the care of the community and promulgated” (2 Bix).

Privacy and Surveillance Law is a widely contested issue in the catholic faith and general ethics. It has its advantages and disadvantages, as any other issue in law, but it will continue to be contested as new innovations shape the information age.

Works Cited

Bix, Brian H. “Secrecy and the Nature of Law.” October 2013. University of Pennsylvania School, Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law. Web. 3/3/2016. Avaliable: https://www.law.upenn.edu/live/files/2418-bixsecrecy-and-the-nature-of-law-full

City of Ontario v. Quon. 560 U.S. 746. Accessed 3/3/2016.

Uber Technologies vs. State of New Jersey

Posted by Renaldo Nel.

Uber is considering leaving the state of New Jersey if a proposed bill passes. This proposed bill’s main objective is to implement tough regulations regarding commercial insurance.  There is currently an ongoing debate whether there is a gap in the insurance coverage of Uber drivers. Insurance industry experts and New Jersey law makers argue that Uber’s operations are not covered sufficiently. Currently Uber’s commercial coverage, which it buys for its drivers, kicks-in the moment the driver accepts a ride request. Lawmakers want to change this and require that the insurance is in place from the point which the driver logs onto the Uber Application. They argue that there is commercial benefit whilst the driver is waiting for someone to request a ride.

Furthermore, lawmakers assert that the personal insurance cover of the driver often does not cover any incident that occurs if the driver is logged-on to the application. They argue that it is vital that the driver is insured between the time that he logs-on and the time he or she gets a ride request. Uber disagrees.

Uber states that more often than not, personal insurance will pay for any incident that occurs between the time the driver logs-on and waits for a ride. Uber furthermore states that they have insurance in place in the event that the personal coverage of the driver does not pay. If this is true, one would not know at this stage. Uber does however claim that “rides on the platform, beginning to end, from when the driver turns on the app to when they drop a person off is insured. Any claim to the contrary is incorrect” (Mohrer). Christine O’Brien, president of the Insurance Council of New Jersey, states that “It is clear under New Jersey law that people who engage as an UberX driver are not covered by their private passenger auto policy. That is a very clear conclusion.”

I believe the problem here is to find out what the actual truth is. We need to determine whether these drivers are sufficiently covered or not. If not, then extra commercial insurance would most definitely be needed. If Uber claims that they provide insurance for the time frame in controversy, then they should provide proof of this insurance.

I understand that law makers are only trying to protect the common citizen, however, I also understand Uber’s argument that the proposed law is burdensome. Uber claims that the level of coverage proposed is higher than that of what is expected from taxi operators. Furthermore, Uber states that four states, including Washington D.C., have passed transport network regulation, and that these regulations are not nearly as burdensome as those proposed in New Jersey.

Uber is many people’s livelihood, and I understand their frustration as it can easily be seen as a vendetta against Uber drivers. New Jersey lawmakers should take into consideration what other states have done and see how they can accommodate both parties.

Renaldo is an economics major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2019.

Amazon Exonerated For Invasion of Privacy

Posted by Natalie Kenny.

Amazon just received a major success in a lawsuit against them. Amazon was being sued over a book sold on their website. This book was based on New England Patriots star, Rob Gronkowski. Greg McKenna, a middle-aged man, took up the pen-name Lacey Noonan and wrote a book called A Gronking to Remember. This book gained a lot of media attention and was even featured on the show Jimmy Kimmel Live. On the cover of the book, there is a photo of a couple. McKenna used this photo on the cover but did not legally obtain the rights to use the photo.

The couple shown in the photo sued Amazon for selling the book with the illegally obtained photo of the couple. The question of the lawsuit was whether or not third-parties like Amazon should be responsible for what their users distribute using their platform. After hearing the case, an Ohio district court judge said that Amazon is not responsible for what its users distribute using their website. The judge cited the Communications Decency Act, which states that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” This rule goes the same for Amazon and Barnes & Noble when selling books.

I think that the decision made in this case to side with Amazon was the right decision to be made. Amazon and other book sellers should not have to check every single thing that is sold to make sure that there are not copyright issues. The person who should be getting sued in this particular case should have been Greg McKenna–the one who used the picture without permission. It was wrong of him to use this photo without permission but it should not be Amazon’s responsibility to make sure that whoever is selling products through their platform is doing everything they are supposed to be doing.

Natalie is a marketing major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2019.