In an alarming video posted to YouTube this week, two St. Paul police officers violently arrested and tazed a black man who was simply waiting in the skyway to pickup his children from New Horizon’s Academy. The CityPages reports that the man is Chris Lollie; his mugshot is posted below.
Officers. M. Johnson and Bruce Schmidt filed a report that indicated Lollie had refused to leave the area; paradoxically, the report made no mention of why Lollie wasn’t allowed in the skyway. The officers inexplicably charged Lollie with three crimes, all of which were dismissed. Based on the video and the available information, a lawsuit against the officers seems highly likely.
Madia Law, who does not represent Lollie, prosecutes lawsuits against police officers in Minnesota and Wisconsin who violate the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by performing unreasonable searches and seizures, unlawful arrests, or using excessive force. Additionally, Madia Law holds government officials accountable for racism, sexism, sexual orientation discrimination, and more, by bringing suit for violations of the 14th Amendment.
See also: April 2012: Madia Law Wins Jury Trial in Federal Court for Excessive Force By St. Paul Police
See also: June 2014: Madia Law Jury Trial Verdict: Officer Violated 4th Amendment
On June 24, 2014, after a two-day trial, a federal jury found that officer Robert Thunder violated Madia Law Client Michael Flowers’ constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Madia Law Attorney Ashwin Madia represented Mr. Flowers at trial, which was presided over by Chief Judge Michael Davis of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.
Mr. Flowers is a 51-year-old disabled black male who has Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (“AIDS”), a serious and potentially deadly condition that has an extreme effect on daily life activity and enables him to receive “limited mobility” designation on his Minnesota drivers license. A designation of “limited mobility” allows for reduced fare with Metro Transit. [click to continue…]
On Monday, Madia Law filed suit in United States District Court on behalf of Plaintiff Tammy Liddle against Bloomington Police Officer Jeff Thibert. Ms. Liddle’s federal lawsuit (14-CV-431-JNE/JSM) alleges unreasonable search and seizure, unlawful arrest, and excessive force. Ms. Liddle is also in possession of squad cam video of the subject incident.
Bloomington City Hall
Below is a copy of the Complaint, with some names redacted: [click to continue…]
The ability to safely, calmly and professionally interact with the public without rage and violence is an intrinsic and basic part of law enforcement. According to a lawsuit filed by Madia Law on behalf of Walter Tournat, an 85-year-old disabled Navy veteran who had called police to his own home, on November 16, 2013, Baxter Police Officer Trent Westerlund showed a complete lack of these essential skills and a disregard for laws of the United States.
Mr. Tournat’s allegations indicate that Westerlund acted with an outrageous disregard for Tournat’s rights and dignity when, in an abhorrent fit of rage, Westerlund publicly assaulted Mr. Tournat, throwing him onto his back and onto pavement, where Mr. Tournat hit his head and suffered injury. The following are the background allegations from the Complaint. [click to continue…]
Historically, owners and managers of strip clubs have adhered to a business model that classifies exotic dancers (often called “strippers”) as independent contractors rather than employees. By classifying dancers as independent contractors, employers are able to reap the financial benefits of having dancers work for them (and, as a result, turning a profit) while simultaneously avoiding having to pay the dancers for their work, paying into social security, and potentially paying unemployment insurance and workers compensation. This business model, however, may be quickly eroding.
In November, 2012, a federal court approved a roughly $13 million settlement in a nationwide class-action lawsuit against 16 strip clubs which were classifying their dancers as independent contractors. Stephanie Hoops, Spearmint Rhino Exotic Dancers Settle Suit For Nearly $13 Million, The Huffington Post (November 11, 2012 1:32 PM) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/spearmint-rhino-exotic-dancers-settle-suit_n_2128458.html. Moreover, recent court decisions have nearly unanimously ruled that exotic dancers are employees, not independent contractors. See Hart v. Rick’s Cabaret International, Inc., 2013 WL 4822199 (2013); Clincy v. Galardi South Enterprises, Inc., 808 F.Supp.2d 1326 (2011); Thompson v. Linda And A, Inc. 779 F.Supp.2d 139 (2011). That notwithstanding, there are still many strip clubs which continue to classify their dancers as independent contractors. [click to continue…]
On behalf of the United States and multiple State governments, Madia Law has filed a federal qui tam action in federal District Court. The filing alleges fraud against the government by multiple corporate Defendants. Pending potential intervention by the United States, the suit remains under seal for at least 60 days.
In a qui tam action, a private party known as a relator brings a whistleblower suit on behalf of the government; thus, the government, not the relator, is considered the plaintiff. If the action is successful in prosecuting the fraud, the relator receives an award, generally based on a portion of the amount recovered for the government. The False Claims Act, Title 31 U.S.C. § 3279 et seq., authorizes qui tam actions and requires that parties wishing to bring such actions retain counsel.
Lessors, Inc. is a national trucking company based in Eagan, Minnesota. On October 16, 2013, on behalf of current and former Lessors employees, Madia Law filed a class and collective action wage and hour lawsuit against Lessors in United States District Court. The plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and other employees, allege that Lessors has purposely denied employees overtime pay.
The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act both require higher wage rates for hours worked over 40 and 48, respectively. Although there are exceptions to these rules, Plaintiffs allege that Lessors has purposefully misclassified them and other employees as falling under such an exception in order to avoid paying them the overtime wage rates for which they are entitled. The following is a summary of the allegations in the Complaint, which is titled Luis Felix, Donald Knutson, and Juan Vazquez-Perez, individually and on behalf of all other similarly situated individuals and the Proposed Minnesota Rule 23 Class, Case No. 13-CV-2854 (DWF/JJG). [click to continue…]
One and a half years ago, DelShawn Crawford Sr. was shot and killed by Minneapolis police officers in his girlfriend’s home. On behalf of Crawford’s estate, Madia Law has filed a wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit against two Minneapolis police officers, Laura Turner and Chad Meyer. What follows is a summary of the allegations against the police officers in the Complaint filed on September 19 in United States District Court.
On May 12, 2012, Delshawn Crawford was spending a “family night” with his girlfriend Brandy Lewis, her children, her children’s friends, and cousins of Ms. Lewis. At approximately 1:30 AM, following the family gathering, there were still seven individuals in Ms. Lewis’ home. Mr. Crawford and Ms. Lewis engaged in a verbal argument; Ms. Lewis continued to clean the home while they were arguing. [click to continue…]
Madia Law filed a class and collective action lawsuit in February against Regency Beauty Institute (a national for-profit cosmetology school) on behalf of current and former employees in Regency’s Admissions Department seeking unpaid overtime wages. On July 15, U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank granted Plaintiffs’ Motion for Conditional Class Certification.
The five named plaintiffs in the suit worked as Admissions Representatives at Regency; their job was to make phone calls to prospective students regarding Regency and attempt to enroll them in the school. They allege that they were not properly paid overtime pay during their time at Regency and that, when they raised the issue with Regency leadership, they were told not to pursue the issue or “burn bridges.” The lawsuit is described in detail here. Since the lawsuit was filed in February, eleven additional Admissions Representatives have joined.
The Court’s decision allows Plaintiffs to notify – through a Court authorized notice – all potential class members of the existence of the lawsuit and their ability to participate. Additionally, the Court’s decision mandates that Regency post notice of the lawsuit at its workplace so that current employees may also make informed decisions regarding participation in the suit.
It’s been a busy week for employment law and civil rights. The impact of the past week’s Supreme Court decisions on these two areas of law cannot be understated. The Voting Rights Act was gutted, killing protections put in place to prevent discrimination at the ballot box. The Civil Rights Act was substantially weakened, stripping minority employees across the country from access to Title VII remedies. And although the news for same-sex couples was brighter, the Court’s narrow decisions on that front leave much work to be done in the struggle for equality.
Wednesday, the Supreme Court released its decisions in United States v. Windsor (the “DOMA” case) and Hollingsworth v. Perry (the “Prop 8″ case). These two cases each had the potential to become landmark civil rights precedent, with monumental significance for gay and lesbian Americans; they were heralded by pundits as the most important civil rights cases of our generation.
Indeed, the decision in Windsor will go down as one of the most significant decisions in Supreme Court history; it struck at the heart of DOMA and declared gay and lesbians deserving of equal protection under the law. The Court’s decision in Perry, on the other hand, will soon be brushed into the dusty corners of irrelevance; in that case, a group of five strange bedfellow Justices entirely ducked the question of whether same-sex couples are entitled to marriage equality. Thus, the struggle for gay civil rights marches on – and there is a lot of ground to cover. [click to continue…]