Friday, December 19, 2008

Passenger sues airline for making him so drunk he beat up his wife

A passenger is suing an airline, claiming he was served so much alcohol it led him to beat up his wife. Yoichi Shimamoto says United Airlines was negligent for allowing him to continue drinking to the point of inebriation during a flight from Osaka, Japan to San Francisco. Shimamoto claims it was the multiple glasses of Burgundy, served at 20 minute intervals, which led him to strike his wife Ayisha, while the couple were walking through customs in December 2006. In a lawsuit filed at the US District Court in Tampa, Florida, he claims the wine left him so drunk that "he could not manage himself".

Law experts claim the case will hinge on whether the on-flight drinks service can be classed as a bar and therefore subject to the same legal liabilities as terrestrial drinking establishments. Bars in the US are legally responsible for harm caused by intoxicated customers. James Speta, professor at Northwestern University Law School, said: "United's first defence will be there's no tort action like this in international airspace."

Although Shimamoto was charged and sentenced to 18 months' probation, the couple claim United Airlines was ultimately responsible for the violent outburst. The Japanese businessman was prevented from returning to his home country while his case was ongoing at the San Mateo County courts in northern California. Shimamoto wants United to pick up the $100,000 tab for Yoichi Shimamoto's bail, and defence costs.

Jean Medina, of United said: "We believe that a lawsuit that suggests that we are somehow responsible for the consequences of a passenger's physical assault on his own wife is without any merit whatsoever."


New Study Find Children Who Live with Biological Parents and go to Church Fare Best Developmentally

It may be that people who marry and go to church are healthier and better adjusted to start with than those who do not -- and they pass that advantage onto their children genetically -- but it seems more likely that marriage and churchgoing of themselves were beneficial

A new study from the Mapping America project, co-released by more than 30 state family policy councils, has fund that children have fewer problems at school and home when they live with both biological parents and frequently attend religious services.

Dr. Nicholas Zill, the founding president of Child Trends, and Dr. Philip Fletcher, a research psychologist at Westat, co-authored the new study, which analyzes data from the National Survey of Children's Health.

Among their remarkable findings: children in this group are five times less likely to repeat a grade, less likely to have behavior problems at home and school, and are more likely to be cooperative and understanding of others' feelings. Parents of these children report less stress, healthier parent-child relationships, and fewer concerns about their children's achievement. These differences hold up even after controlling for family income and poverty, low parent education levels, and race and ethnicity.


British Christmas concert cancelled over fears audience member might 'fall over in the dark'

A night-time Christmas concert in a rural church has been scrapped in case one of the congregation fell in the dark and sued. The 16-strong Collegium Vocale choir has spent weeks practising Handel's Messiah for the festive performance at tiny St Stephen Church. But organisers have cancelled the event claiming the quaint countryside church could be 'dangerous' on a winter's night.

Although the 100-year-old building has electric lighting they feared that in the event of a power cut a member of the audience could come a cropper in the darkness. Choirmaster Ian Davis carried out a risk assessment of the venue and also found there was an unlit tree-lined avenue leading up to it which also presented a concern. Mr Davis, 43, feared his voluntary choir could have faced legal action due to the 'absurd' health and safety laws and so decided to pull the concert.

He said: 'The law states that a dark church is dangerous if it does not have relevant health and safety procedures in place. 'The church is only small and is right in the middle of the countryside so could, according to the law, lead to slipping and tripping in the dark. 'If there was to be an incident and the lights went out, someone could fall over and hurt themselves. The walk up to the building is in darkness at night and the law states that we need lighting outside in case there are potholes and rocks.

'I understand why the law is in place but it does highlight the absurdity of how far it has gone - I am sure we are not alone. Clearly for an amateur performance you can't take the risk of it coming back on us or the vicar if someone does injure themselves. 'Luckily I had been to do a risk assessment before we started selling the tickets so nobody has been left out of pocket by it.'

St Stephen Church is located in the grounds of the Kingston Lacy Estate near Wimborne, Dorset. The historic building was constructed in 1906 at the top of a long tree-lined avenue and can seat up to 120 people. The vicar, Reverend Dr Alistair Stewart-Sykes, has liability insurance in the event of an accident but the policy does not cover paid-for events, like the concert. In order to be protected, either Rev Stewart-Sykes or Mr Davis would have to take out another costly policy or install emergency lighting inside and out.

Mr Davis said: 'The church itself does have electric lighting but it does not have emergency lighting which is also required. 'There is no way we can provide the funding to put things like emergency lighting in place so we have had to cancel the performance. 'Following a consultation with the vicar we together decided that it was just not worth it.' Mr Davis said his choir, which has performed in Westminster Abbey and Chichester Cathedral in the past, was now planning an Easter and summer concert at the church.

Rev Dr Stewart-Sykes said: 'We regret having to cancel the concert but we must be mindful of the requirements needed to conform with the law. 'I have liability insurance for services but we believe it only covers volunteers so may not apply to a paying concert. Rather than take a risk, we have regretfully decided that the best option is to cancel. 'I do however intend to explore other options with regards to insurance so we can present a full programme of concerts and performances in the future.'


At last: Britain's evil secret courts opened up

The secrecy of the family courts - in which nearly 95,000 cases are heard in private each year - is to end under reforms announced yesterday that will allow the media access to all levels of the system. The move could mean that social workers and expert witnesses who fail children, and now enjoy the protection of anonymity, will in future be named publicly when criticised by judges. Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, said that from April the media would be permitted access to all family cases in all courts - from celebrity divorces to hearings over domestic violence or children being removed from families. "A really important veil is being lifted on what happens in these courts," he said.

Crucially, media reporting of the cases will be subject to tight restrictions to protect the welfare and privacy of the children and families involved. The people involved in such cases will also be able to apply to a judge to have the media excluded. Mr Straw indicated that judges were not expected to grant such requests often and, when they did, the cases would be closely monitored. "If it is not working, we will actively consider changes or primary legislation."

The moves follow a campaign by The Times, begun this year, to reform the family justice system and open up the courts amid accusations that they are operating under a "conspiracy of silence".

Mr Straw said yesterday: "My view is that public confidence depends crucially on the system being as open as possible - so the case for restrictions has to be a very strong one." As for the anonymity given to professionals such as social workers and expert witnesses, he indicated that his view, although the change is not finalised, was that this should be removed. Professional experts such as structural engineers whose competence is questioned - perhaps because someone has been injured - have no anonymity protection. "I see no reason why other professionals should be immune from public examination unless there are overwhelming arguments in an individual case," Mr Straw said.

He said that the long-awaited measures, which have been more than two years in consultation and revision, struck a balance between openness and the need to protect the privacy of children and vulnerable adults. Ministers would also consider how adoption proceedings could be opened up. The change is partly in response to pressure from the media and fathers' groups to open the family courts so that justice can be seen to be done.

Britain's most senior family judge, Sir Mark Potter, the President of the Family Division of the High Court, welcomed the announcement but said that judicial discretion to exclude the media should be used where necessary. "I have for some time made clear the support of the senior judiciary for media access to the family courts in the interests of transparency and public confidence in the family justice system," he said. But he criticised Mr Straw's proposal to review the question of whether privacy should remain the rule for adoption proceedings. He said that the judiciary was united in opposing that.

The Family Justice Council, a forum of lawyers and other users of the family courts, condemned the change and said that it was "disappointed to learn that the Government is planning to allow the media into family courts as of right. In doing so, they have disregarded the views of children, young people and the organisations which protect, support and represent them." At present the media is allowed access only to the Court of Appeal and magistrates' family proceedings courts.

In the dark

- A couple whose baby daughter was placed in foster care this year were refused information by the authorities on the ground of confidentiality. Tim Yeo, the couple's MP in Suffolk South, said that his efforts to help the couple had been thwarted by a system that "prevents natural justice"

- Matthew, a professional in his fifties, was fighting a custody case for several months before he became aware of damaging allegations against him on his court file. A supporter of his former partner had written to the judge, making spurious claims, including one that said Matthew was not to be trusted with his children. Matthew only became aware of the allegations when he requested other correspondence from his file

- A month before Curtis, 17, was born, his sister was placed in foster care and then adopted, after social services expressed concern about a bruise on the child. He was only reunited recently with his sister after she tracked down her family. He found that social services had also tried to place him in foster care despite no evidence against his mother


Below is another example of the horrors that Left-trained British social workers inflict on innocent families

They put the Christmas decorations up a couple of days ago but no one in the Smith family feels much like celebrating. Despite the tinsel over their sons' photographs, there are no excited children racing around the flat. Instead, Patrick, 6, and Donald, 2 - not their real names - will spend the holiday in foster care.

It started two years ago with a nosebleed. Robert Smith wiped his stepson Patrick's nose and took him to school. A teacher spotted some dried blood, and asked Patrick what had happened. "Robert," he said, and made a wiping motion. She went to social services, who called the police. That afternoon Mr Smith was arrested for assault and had to move out of the flat. "We thought, it will all get sorted and go away. We knew we'd done nothing wrong," he said. A criminal court threw out the charges after the prosecution admitted that it had no evidence. But social services would not let Mr Smith move back home. Stacks of legal paper under the Christmas tree chronicle the Smiths' struggle in the family courts, where the case is still being heard.

Because reporters have been unable to cover such proceedings, their story would have remained untold had Mr Smith's parents not read about The Times's campaign and contacted the paper. Even so, The Times is unable to report details of the case against them.

For several months, Mr Smith could see Donald only twice a week under supervision. Social services did provide some help, and last spring the Smiths were reunited in an assessment centre. They thought everything was going well. But after eight weeks the children were taken into foster care because the parents showed "inconsistent emotional warmth". The Smiths now see their sons for three supervised hour-long visits a week. The worst days are the ones in between. "You want to press fast forward on the world for the day," Mr Smith said.

His parents have submitted a complaint about the way that social services have handled the proceedings. They also welcome greater transparency in the system: "If we were all allowed to put this in the paper from day one, social services could look more closely at what was going on in each case."

For their family, time is running out. A preadoption hearing will take place in the spring. A tea towel pinned up on the kitchen wall spells out an encouraging "Don't Quit". The Smiths find it increasingly hard, however. "Life has been on hold for the last two years. The tape is paused," Mr Smith said. They hope that Mr Straw's proposals will wind it on enough for them: "This is a step in the right direction, certainly. But everything starts slow. It always has to."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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