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March 19, 2018

I love it when a lawsuit presents a fascinating legal question – the kind you could use for a law school hypothetical discussion or a moot court competition.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

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I love it when a lawsuit presents a fascinating legal question – the kind you could use for a law school hypothetical discussion or a moot court competition.

I have a good one for you from a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last week naming the city of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department as the only named defendants. (The case is BC697393 if you want to follow its progress.)

It seems that the plaintiff was in an accident and when the police showed up they gave him a sobriety test that he failed. The plaintiff was then arrested for driving under the influence and placed in the back of a police car.

While the plaintiff was sitting there, the police car got rear-ended by another car being driven by someone else under the influence. Apparently. this was quite an exciting street.

Now here’s the really long sentence from the lawsuit actually filed by a lawyer for you to discuss with your peers and fellow students of the law:

“That at said time and place, Defendants, City, LAPD, and Does 1 through 50, inclusive, and each of them, negligently, recklessly and carelessly drove, owned, operated, controlled, entrusted, bailed, managed and maintained ‘Defendant’s vehicle’ so that same was caused to be struck by another vehicle, while Plaintiff was constrained and sitting in the backseat of the Defendant’s vehicle, due to Defendants, LAPD, and each of them, not activating their emergency equipment in order to warn the general public, including, but not limited, to the driver who caused the collision, so as to proximately cause the collision and the subsequent injuries and damages to Plaintiff as herein alleged.”

Yes, it’s a suit for negligent parking.

Among the issues for you to consider:

Can you drive a parked car?

Can you proximately cause a collision when there was a driver who wasn’t you “who caused the collision?”

Did the plaintiff proximately cause the collision by getting drunk and causing an accident that brought out the cops?

If a drunk driver crashes into another drunk driver are they even?

Is pulling drunk drivers over more dangerous than letting them drive?

Discuss. Enjoy.

Age discrimination. Is an 18-year-old an adult? Is a 30-year-old who acts like a 12-year-old an adult? What changes you from a child to an adult on the exact day of your 21st birthday?

I know these are age-old questions, but we may need some legal clarification in light of the suit filed recently by the National Rifle Association against the Florida attorney general and the commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement over a new law banning the sale of guns to persons under 21.

For some reason that I can’t quite fathom, the NRA suit only champions deprived would-be gun owners between the ages of 18 and 21. I have no idea why weapons-makers would want to miss out on the elementary school market.

Aren’t most school bullies younger than 18? Think how much more effective they could be with guns. And think of how their victims could shoot back. It evens the playing field (or playground).

The NRA complaint, however, citing District of Columbia v. Heller, says the Second Amendment “guarantees the individual right to possess and carry.” It then claims that right for “adults who have reached the age of 18 but are not yet 21.”

Really? Is that what the Constitution says? Didn’t the Supreme Court – or a least five justices – say that the words of the amendment had to be taken literally even though the new interpretation didn’t make much sense and had never been understood that way? After all, the Founding Fathers wanted us all to have access to assault weapons.

The text of the Second Amendment, in case you’ve forgotten: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Do you see anything about “adults” or age limits in there?

Of course, the real problem with the Florida law is that most mass shootings are committed by people over 21. Someone should think about banning sales to adults. Children are much more responsible.

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