Legal News Roundup: July 8th, 2016

8 July, 2016

Missie Frandsen

Missie Frandsen


Let’s take a look at this week in legal news.


Fourth of July Madness

Congratulations on making it through the Fourth of July weekend, and subsequent return to work. Last weekend, America spent $6.77 billion on food, and $1.09 billion on 285.3 million pounds of fireworks. About 700 people were treated for firework-related injuries, 74% of those injured were men, and between 7-12 people die from fireworks each year. Overall, this year was pretty eventful.

Man Arrested for Burning Flag

Ashamed of his country, 22-year-old Bryton Mellott posted a picture of himself burning the American flag last Sunday. Citing police brutality, political corruption, racism, and gun control, he stated “I do not have pride in my country. I am overwhelmingly ashamed, and I will demonstrate my feelings accordingly. #ArrestMe” Within hours, Mellott was facing threats of violence and death, and was arrested for flag desecration after the police department received dozens of calls about his post. Mellott was released after the State Attorney’s Office declined to press charges.

Partying Too Hard at Torch Lake

For years, people have flocked to Michigan’s beautiful Torch Lake sandbar to celebrate the Fourth of July. Once a fun weekend getaway with family and friends, revelers are now catered to by event planners and party promoters, bringing over 8,000 to the lake each year.

Residents claim traditional partying has escalated into a nightmare; fights breaking out on private property, garbage and poop clogging the waters and beaches, music shaking neighborhoods and locals fearing to leave their homes. This year, a lawsuit filed by the Torch Lake Protection Alliance claims that corporate promoters Beatbox Beverages, Lansingparty.com, and Brooks Ehlert violated nuisance laws and the state’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection plan; “Property owners are not opposed to boaters enjoying the sandbar. However, the promotion of the sandbar for the 4th of July has resulted in an overwhelming influx of people walking onto the sandbar without providing for the cost of public safety, sanitation and trash collection.”

Widow of Man Killed in Bangor 4th of July Parade Settles Lawsuit

Three years ago, Wallace Fenlason of Bangor, Maine, died at the city’s Fourth of July parade when he was hit by a fire truck participating in the parade. Wallace’s wife Lorena sued the city, parade organizers, and the truck driver for negligence, and has settled for no more than $400,000.

In Other News . . .

Robots Are Coming for Your Job

Multinational firm Clifford Chance recently brought on artificial intelligence software Kira to help manage their contracts. She sounds like a dream, honestly. A machine learning contract program, Kira can quickly analyze contracts, identify issues, and spit out reports faster, and more accurately, than her human counterparts. She learns on the job, and has handled over $100 billion in contracts. AI software like Kira is being hailed as “innovative”, “daring”, and firms are clapping themselves on the back for adapting to a new age of tech.

Personally, I love AI and am excited to see more firms welcome such incredible resources. However, are we asking the hard questions here? How soon will AI take over the industry? Will Kira follow the Three Laws of Robotics? Does displacing jobs count as harming a human being? When is the technological singularity actually happening?

Burritos and Cocaine

Sounds like a delicious Vegas memoir, full of guacamole and scandal. Except those burritos are full of E.Coli, and you’re not snorting in Vegas but in your office, leading a 4.5 billion dollar company. Earlier this year, Chief creative and development officer Mark Crumpacker of Chipotle allegedly stocked up on $3000 worth of cocaine to make it through the restaurant’s probe from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and two E.coli outbreaks. Crumpacker, whose job was to restore the company’s image after sickening dozens of customers and shutting several stores down, seemed to be doing quite well (because of the cocaine? Or endless supply of burritos? Or both?) until a wiretap operation brought him down. According to prosecutors, Crumpacker faces misdemeanor charges for buying cocaine thirteen times since January. He was placed on administrative leave and turned himself in last week.

Can You Legally Give Birth to Your Own Grandchild?

In America, the answer is yes. Since 2011, English courts have denied an anonymous mother, “Mrs. M”, the right to impregnate herself with her deceased’s daughters frozen eggs. Mrs. M’s daughter had frozen her eggs before succumbing to cancer, and told her mother “I want you to carry my babies. I didn’t go through IVF to save my eggs for nothing. I want you and Dad to bring them up. They will be safe with you.” After Britain’s Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority blocked the procedure. Mrs. M found a clinic in the U.S. willing to transfer and implant the eggs, though HEFA refuses to let the eggs leave the country. Undeterred, Mrs. M has appealed. The problem in total, HEFA says, is if Mrs. M’s daughter gave sufficient legal consent for her eggs to be used, and how.

Mrs. M is 60 years old, and her husband is 59. Mrs. M plans on using an anonymous sperm donor to fertilize the eggs.