I’ve had a lot of experience in defamation-type lawsuits, both real and threatened.
You know the original story of the 14-year old Arab kid, an electronics whiz, who built a device that looked like a bomb to his school and the police, was arrested, then released once the device was determined not to be a bomb, and has since received a a lot of fame and notoriety, even earning a trip to the White House.
Now he wants more. He has just threatened to sue the city of Irving, Texas unless they formally apologize and fork over $15 million dollars to cover his suffering throughout this “traumatic” episode.
We could try the case ad naseum in the media, and you find plenty of blogs that can help you cathart about the fundamental hutzpah of such a lawsuit, for, in a jury trial, knowing even part of the evidence would show 1) his reputation was not harmed, but rather enhanced by the entire episode, and 2) he was likely guilty as charged when he was arrested. He’d have to be a savant, with the social understanding of Gomer Pyle to not know what his device looked like.
But I always caution against inserting the passion of politics into a legal case, especially we know there is little chance of Ahmed Mohammed, the Clock Boy, prevailing at trial in front of a jury.
These kinds of cases fall into two types, and all you need to know is how Ahmed’s lawyers are being paid to understand the nature of the case. You see, most defamation suits are tried by lawyers on a contingency basis, usually 35% of the award. But law firms will only take that sort of case if there is a good chance of winning at trial, for that elevates the chances they can get a good settlement, say $5M here, of which the lawyers would $1.75M without expending a whole lot of real legal energy. It’s not really a shakedown if your case has merit.
But this one has none, and I assume Ahmed’s lawyers already know this going in. In such cases, the lawyers will still take the case, but only on an hourly, pay-as-you-go basis. Of course, Ahmed’s family can’t afford even the first five hours. But maybe they have friends who can?
Let’s assume they do.
Think about it. If this were an environmental lawsuit there would be all sorts of public interest money to support such a lawsuit. But a suspected terrorist act? Could CAIR finance this? Harry Reid’s slush fund? Is some of Obama’s $150 billion rebate to Iran already finding its way back to the US? Who knows? And most lawyers don’t care. Virtually anyone in the Middle East can launder a few million into the US to make a blind pay-off to lawyers…especially if this administration turns a blind eye to the wire transfer as well.
So, with a bottomless pit of money, especially when dealing with city or school administrators, and their lawsuit-averse insurers (I’ve witnessed these recently in my city government school system here in central Virginia) good lawyers can shakedown the Eiffel Tower, all because it all depends on the backbone of the bureaucrats, who, as we just reported about college presidents, believe in nothing at all, especially when it isn’t their money at risk.
Imagine the coup you can count when you win a lawsuit in which you own clients can’t enter the country because they may be on the Terror Watch List. Think about it.
So, I’m relatively certain some entity will be bankrolling this lawsuit, if it even gets to that point. I’m relying on Texans having more backbone, but the bureaucratic stem cell is a true killer of civilization, and all civilization is based on backbone.
That’s a law.