Entries Tagged as ''

Plaintiffs in Job Discrimination Cases fare poorly in Federal Court

The Wall Street Journal has an article today which details some studies about how plaintiffs fare in federal court cases.  In a word: badly.

From 1979-2006, plaintiffs prevail in 15% of cases.  The average for plaintiffs winning in federal court in all other civil cases is 51%.  From 1998-2006, the employment win rate is closer to 10%.  This is according to a Harvard Law & Policy Review study to be published (pdf).

As a result, fewer and fewer cases are being filed.  From 1999-2007, case filings are down by 40%.

Why is this occurring?  A few theories:

  • Few minorities on the bench
  • Difficulties in proving job discrimination, which is rarely overt
  • Companies settle cases quickly which appear to be losers
  • Greater rate of cases being discharged on motions for summary judgment (12.5% for employment cases versus 3% of contract cases and 1.7% of personal-injury and property-damage suits) or motions to dismiss
  • Higher standards of proof by judges in employment cases

What’s the takeaway?  Non-employment federal cases are essentially 50-50 crap shoots.  Federal court employment cases are far more likely to go towards the employer.  If you have an employment case, you are likely to fare better by settling the case before trial.  It will be far less expensive given the “odds” of winning at trial.

New Jersey has one of the most robust anti-discrimiation laws in the country.  Suits with NJ Law Against Discrimiation (LAD) are usually filed in state supreme court. In NJ, it is more likely a discrimiation case will be filed in state court rather than federal court.

Appealing the God Lawsuit dismissal

In an earlier post, I talked about a lawsuit filed against God being thrown out since God was unable to be served.  The Omaha World-Herald reports about the appeal:

LINCOLN — A God who is “all-knowing” should know when he’s being sued, even without being served notice of the lawsuit, said former State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha.

After all, Chambers wrote to the Nebraska Court of Appeals, courts already invoke the Almighty in oaths to witnesses that they tell the truth “so help me God.”

He said it was inconsistent for the Douglas County District Court “to take judicial notice of God in order to administer oaths and to enter an order to dismiss . . . yet simultaneously deny that the all-knowing God has notice of the petition,” Chambers stated in written arguments submitted Monday.

Chambers, an atheist who got a law degree at Creighton University, filed suit against God in 2007.

The purpose, he said, was to uphold citizens’ rights to sue “anyone else, even God.” Chambers said he acted in response to legislation to limit so-called frivolous lawsuits.

Douglas County District Judge Marlon Polk dismissed the lawsuit, saying there was no evidence that God had been served in the case. Polk also said “there can never be service effectuated” on God.

In his appeal, Chambers said not only that God would know he was being sued, but the judge abused his discretion by dismissing the lawsuit “with prejudice,” meaning it cannot be refiled.

Previous Nebraska Supreme Court rulings, he argued, state that if a party is not served within six months the remedy is dismissal “without prejudice,” which means a new lawsuit can be filed.

The Court of Appeals could uphold Polk’s ruling without comment or schedule oral arguments in the case.

The court gave Chambers until Feb. 24 to file a statement of jurisdiction in the case and to show that he had notified Lincoln attorney John DeCamp, who has asked to represent God.

DeCamp, another former state senator, is among a handful of people, from Texas to Sweden, who have filed court documents seeking to be God’s lawyer in the case.

“If they want to go to court, we’re willing to take God’s side,” said DeCamp, who practices law in Lincoln. He said he legally registered “The Church of the Golden Rule” as an entity in Nebraska two decades ago, so he has religious experience.

E.O. Augustsson of Orebro, Sweden, wrote the Appeals Court, asking to intervene on God’s behalf. The court ruled that his letters, which mentioned “Bjorn . . . the omnipresent,” were “frivolous” — a description some have given to Chambers’ lawsuit.

Attorney Eric Perkins of Corpus Christi, Texas, filed a response to Chambers’ lawsuit in Douglas County. Perkins said God “knew the plaintiff, created the plaintiff” but was not “disappointed” by him.

Court documents signed by “God himself” and “Mary” also were filed in the lower court.

And you thought NJ Justice was slow?

How would you like this system of justice?  In India, the New Delhi High Court has an estimated 466 YEARS of backlog.  Yes, that’s years and it’s not a typo.  And that is the backlog on criminal cases alone.  The court handles all types of cases, including criminal and civil.

A recent report highlighted the problems the court is having.   The court has thousands of cases pending.  Over 600 of those cases have pending for over 20 years.  And it’s not just from being slow.  The average case is heard in four minutes and 55 seconds.  India simply does not have enough judges in their system.  India has 1.1 Billion people (with a B) and 11 judges per million people.  The US in contrast has 110 judges per million people.  The court also needs to work more hours per day (currently ringing in at 5.25 hours/day and 213 days/year).  Corruption also plays a part, which is pervasive in Indian society in general.

More on Same Sex Divorce and Dissolutions

The Los Angeles Times reports on a ruling in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that could lead to the invalidation of the Defense of Marriage Act.  The Act, which I’ve written about previously, essentially allows states not to recognize same sex marriages performed in other states and also defines marriage for federal purposes as being only between heterosexual couples.

Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this week that Sears — who married Levenson, a deputy federal public defender, last July — is entitled to the same spousal benefits that heterosexual couples employed by the department receive.


Reinhardt’s ruling branded the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. The 9th Circuit’s chief judge, Alex Kozinski, also weighed in on the subject last month, granting benefits to the same-sex spouse of a staff attorney for the court. But he stopped short of basing that decision on constitutional grounds.

Despite the prominence of the two judges, the rulings are legally meaningless for all but the two couples because they came in the court’s administrative dispute process, rather than in lawsuit judgments.

The 9th Circuit judges ruled in their capacity as dispute-resolution officials within the federal judiciary, whose employees are prohibited from suing in federal court.


But legal analysts see the judges’ orders as an indication that the Defense of Marriage Act is unlikely to stand up to the constitutionality test if it reaches a federal court.

What this ends up meaning is unclear at this time.  For instance federal law’s Title VII does not include sexual orientation as a protected class in labor discrimination — whereas NJ’s Law Against Discrimination does — and the federal courts have not seen fit to add that protection.  But times change and so do court rulings (separate but equal was once the law of the land).  Stay tuned.

Same Sex Divorce in New Jersey

I’ve written previously about the issues in NJ about same sex divorce and dissolution.  NJ’s Attorney General’s office has taken the position that NJ courts should only grant civil union dissolutions even if the same sex couple in question was legally married in another jurisdiction.  On Friday, NJ Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson granted a divorce in the case of Hammond vs. Hammond.

La Kia and Kinyati Hammond were married in British Columbia, Canada in 2004 (after years in a relationship) and then moved to Maryland.  In 2005, La Kia learned she had a terminal form of muscular dystrophy, was told she had two years to live, left Kinyati and moved with her daughter to NJ.  La Kia is now in a relationship with another woman and wants to be able to marry her in Canada before she dies.

Judge Jacobson found compelling the argument that authorities in Canada may not accept a dissolution of a civil union as equivalent to a divorce and thereby not allowing La Kia to be remarried.  Since La Kia is not a resident of Canada (but is a resident of NJ), she would not be able to receive a divorce in Canada.  Kinyati now lives in Delaware and did not respond to the filings.

The attorney general’s office has not decided if they will appeal the ruling.