A major lawsuit has been filed against retiring Newton County Sheriff Ron Doerge.
On the same day that a reception was held for Doerge at the Newton County Sheriff's Department, a petition alleging that a prisoner's civil rights were violated was filed in the U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri by Oscar Alvarez, who spent two months in the Newton County Jail earlier this year after pleading guilty to a non-support charge.
Doerge has been hit by more than two dozen lawsuits from prisoners in the past, but nearly all of those were filed by the prisoners themselves, without the representation of lawyers.
Alvarez not only has representation, but he is getting the advice of one of the top litigation firms in southwest Missouri, Hall, Ansley, Rodgers & Condry, PC of Springfield.
The company has a reputation for bringing in big settlements, including a recent $800,000 ruling against Cox Medical Center.
The details of Alvarez' lawsuit were not immediately available, but should be available by sometime next week.
Special gift cards may be in the future for Northpark Mall shoppers.
CBL & Associates, the Chattanooga, TN firm that bought the mall this week has been offering cards at many of its mall with the cooperation of American Express Travelers Cheques and Prepaid Services.
According to the Nashville Business Journal, the cards offered there range from $20 to $300.
It seems like a good deal, but apparently not everyone thinks so.
A class action complaint has been filed against CBL in U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. alleging that the cards, which were also used in Illinois malls, are a ripoff. It should be noted that these cards, though they were issued through CBL, were not done with American Express, but with Mastercard and Bank of America.
According to the lawsuit, plastic Mastercard gift cards were offered for sale at malls throughout Illinois. The cards had an expiration date. One of the people filing the suit, Doris Shuette, paid $15 for a giftcard at the St. Clair Square Mall in Fairview Heights, Illinois on Dec. 11, 2002, and received a card, which was valid through May 2004. She gave the gift card to a friend, Thomas Ripperda. He did not try to use the card until late November or early December 2003, the lawsuit said.
The petition alleges that the companies involved began subtracting "administrative fees" of $2.50 per month. When Ripperda tried to use his card, he was told it had no value, even though the expiration date was still several months in the future.
The lawsuit says this was a violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, and that it is a class action because countless people have been defrauded.
The case was initially filed in St. Clair County, Ill., then sent to federal court, and as of Aug. 30, has been returned to St. Clair County.
More on Northpark Mall...Commercial Property News describes the purchase of the Joplin facility and a similar one in Laredo, Texas, as a coup for CBL because these properties have not been on the market much lately. "More product should become available, though, as the traditional owners of these properties find it tough to find the capital needed to reposition them," the article said.
The larger companies, like CBL, which is one of the five largest mall owners in the U.S. are better equipped to deal with these problems, the article said.
One challenge for CBL at both the Joplin and Laredo sites, is the recent Sears-K-Mart merger. Both sites have Sears as one of their anchor stores. Should Sears move in the direction of stand-alone stores, it could reduce the occupancy of Northpark Mall, which already is only at 77 percent.
The blueprint for the Brad Mathewson lawsuit against the Webb City R-7 School District was established in October 2003 when a high school student from Dearborn, Michigan, was not allowed to wear a T-shirt which showed President Bush's face with the label "International Terrorist."
When Bretton Barber was not allowed to wear the shirt, he enlisted the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union to file a lawsuit against the high school asking for an injunction which would allow him to wear the shirt.
Federal Judge Patrick J. Duggan ruled in Barber's favor. In his decision, he wrote, "There is no evidence that the t-shirt created any disturbance or disruption in the school."
The Dearborn officials made the unfortunate argument that a school was not the place for political debate. The judge wrote, "In fact, as the courts have emphasized, students benefit when school officials provide an environment where they can openly express their diverging viewpoints and when they learn to tolerate the opinions of others."
Barber was also a gay student and was active in the Gay-Straight Alliance.
The decision was handed down at a time when Brad Mathewson was a student at Fayetteville, Arkansas High School and a member of that school's active Gay-Straight Alliance. It undoubtedly was discussed by the Fayetteville organization.
Barber was already acquainted with the ACLU when he filed his lawsuit, something he apparently has in common with Mathewson. After he refused to turn his t-shirt inside out as the principal requested. "I knew that his decision was wrong, as I had studied students' rights in the past," Barber wrote in a column for the Youth Free Expression Network.
"For that reason I called some local media outlets and the American Civil Liberties Union. What I thought might lead to an appearance on the six o'clock news turned into an international media story.
"My defining moment had come. From CNN and the Today Show to the New York Times and USA Today, the story was everywhere. I was interviewed dozens of times, including by international outlets such as Japanese TV, German TV and the BBC. NBC even flew me to New York to appear on the Today Show."
From that point on, Barber said, he set a goal of "reaffirming" the First Amendment rights of students across the nation."
Apparently, Mathewson took to heart the words of Barber, who wrote, "My hope is that you, too, will have a defining moment. Perhaps, like me, your defining moment will come as a result of your decision to become involved. And all I can tell you is this: when it comes, truly live that moment. Take it all in, and let it become a part of who you are. Because if you do, you will not only better yourself, but you will touch the lives of countless others in ways that you never could have imagined."
Mathewson told The Kansas City Star he has been contacted by "Good Morning America" about a spot on that show. About the whole experience, he said, "It's exciting. It gives you an adrenaline rush. And I like the attention. I can't lie about that."