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Articles Posted in Negligent Hiring

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As a New York personal injury lawyer (serving mostly the Syracuse and Central New York areas), I have pretty strong opinions about so-called “tort reform” (which we personal injury lawyers call “tort deform”):  I’m against it. Generally, tort reform is just a power-play by big business, the chamber of commerce and insurance companies to get a free pass to act negligently and injure people without having to pay the price.  The “price” of their negligence is shifted to the people who can least afford it:  Their injured victims.

But I agree partially with the corporate/insurance lobby’s newest call to arms:   They want immunity from coronavirus tort lawsuits for businesses that open up to the public.  I agree that restaurants, gyms, and retail stores should get some kind of immunity. Total immunity, no, but rather “qualified” immunity.  I’ll explain what I mean further down.

But first, why would a New York personal injury lawyer like me be in favor of a form of personal injury lawsuit protection for certain businesses?  Because I want America to get back on its feet. This damn virus has slammed with particular vigor at our retailers and restaurants.  Some will never reopen.  Those that will are going to need some help.   Our restaurants and retail stores are like a boxer who has been felled by a near knockout punch.  We need to allow him to get back up on his feet before we can engage him in more fighting.  Otherwise, we could kill him. (For a contrary view, read here).

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What 3 things do Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein all have in common?  Answer: They are (1) rich (2) powerful (3) sex offenders.  Some might want to add Donald Trump or Bill Clinton to the list, but let’s stay clear of politics.

The truth is that many powerful men are sexual predators.  But so too are many not-powerful men.  In fact, poor men may be even more prone to committing sexual assaults.  That’s because, in the words of Janice Joplin, “when you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose”.  The guys at the top of society’s pyramid have a lot to lose.  It’s a long fall to the bottom.  The guy who is already down low has nowhere to fall.

Then again, maybe sexual assaults have nothing to do with money.  When I went to college in the 70’s many feminists embraced this adage:  “All men are pigs”.  I think this a very unfair statement.   I mean unfair to pigs.  As far as I know, pigs don’t rape and harass their mates.

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It was party time at Syracuse University last weekend.  (Wait – isn’t every weekend party time at SU?)  Anyway, a female student – one of many — was out imbibing, frolicking, and doing whatever young party-goers do these days, until 3:00 a.m.  Then she needed a ride to her dorm.  She hit an app on her smart phone to hail an Uber.  An Uber driver showed up.  She asked the male driver to take her to her dorm.

The driver had other ideas.  Instead, he took her to an empty parking lot.  He grabbed her and began to force his hand up her skirt. Fortunately, she escaped before the driver could “have his way” with her.

Assume the worst.  Assume the student had been the victim of a full-fledged sexual assault.  Could she successfully sue Uber?

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