† The right to bear arms belongs to us all: Part II: Six years after attorneys for D.C. resident Dick Heller won a landmark Second Amendment decision, they are finally getting paid (click here for related article). U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington awarded Heller’s attorneys, led by Alan Gura $1.1 million – they had requested $3.1 million, but the District of Columbia wanted to pay them $840,000 – The BLT: Blog of Legal Times reports:
Sullivan noted in his 65-page ruling that lawyers for the city had claimed Gura’s team shouldn’t be allowed to “enrich themselves at the expense of the taxpayers” in a time of financial crisis. The judge made it known that he, too, was cognizant of the issue.
“Sensitive to the fact that the fees in this case will be paid by the taxpayers, this Court is left with the difficult task of closely scrutinizing plaintiff’s fee petition to determine what is fair, reasonable, and just compensation for the legal services of plaintiff’s attorneys,” Sullivan wrote. …
Both sides argued to Sullivan that various matrixes and formulas should be used to determine the correct hourly rate. The plaintiffs’ team concluded that the rates should be $589 per hour for all of the attorneys except Huff, who had less experience. They argued Huff should be compensated at a rate of $361 per hour. …
Regarding number of hours worked, the plaintiff’s attorneys claimed they worked 3,270 hours over six years. Criticizing three of the attorneys – Neily, Levy and Healy – for “unacceptable” timekeeping practices, among other reasons, Sullivan found that only 2,877 hours had been “properly billed” to defendants.
Finally, Sullivan concluded that no fee enhancement would be warranted, despite the attorneys’ assertions that they had provided “superior” legal performance, and that the awards had been delayed.
† Why Shouldn’t Illegals Get Government Healthcare?: Public hospitals in NYC have been millions of dollars in unreimbursed expenses annually warehousing hundreds of “permanent patients” for years because they are illegal immigrants or lack sufficient insurance or appropriate housing (related article, seventh item on the page). “[P]atients, trapped in bureaucratic limbo, are sometimes deprived of services that could be provided elsewhere at a small fraction of the cost,” The New York Times reports:
“Many of those individuals no longer need that care, but because they have no resources and many have no family here, we, unfortunately, are caring for them in a much more expensive setting than necessary based on their clinical need,” said LaRay Brown, a senior vice president for the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation. Under state law, public hospitals are not allowed to discharge patients to shelters or to the street.
Medicaid often pays for emergency care for illegal immigrants, but not for continuing care, and many hospitals in places with large concentrations of illegal immigrants, like Texas, California and Florida, face the quandary of where to send patients well enough to leave. Officials in New York City say they have many such patients who are draining money from the health system as the cost of keeping people in acute-care hospitals continues to escalate.
But even if Medicaid pays for some care, taxpayer dollars are ultimately being consumed by patients who could be cared for in nursing homes or other health facilities, and even at home if supportive services were available. Care for a patient languishing in a hospital can cost more than $100,000 a year, while care in a nursing home can cost $20,000 or less.
Patients fit to be discharged from hospitals but having no place to go typically remain more than five years, Ms. Brown said. She estimated that there were about 300 patients in such a predicament throughout the city, most in public hospitals or higher-priced skilled public nursing homes, though a smattering were in private hospitals.
† Art Does Not Imitate Life: The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that will strike terror in the hearts of millions of NYC renters (related article, fifth item on the page). In a Wall Street Journal op-ed New York University Law School professor Richard Epstein reports that James and Jeanne Harmon – owners of a town house on West 76th occupied by tenants on the upper floors “who are entrenched under New York's rent-stabilization law, paying rents at only a fraction of the value of their units” – have launched “a serious constitutional challenge to rent-control and stabilization laws”:
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals blew off his suit in March, but Mr. Harmon has filed petition for certiorari in the Supreme Court, and, miracles of miracles, the high court has asked New York City and the tenants to respond. …
In broad and emphatic language, the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution provides that "no person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." Rent control collides with the last prohibition, the "takings clause."
All versions of rent-control laws share a single dominant characteristic: They allow a tenant to remain in possession of property after the expiration of a lease at below-market rents. New York even gives the tenant a statutory right to pass on the right to occupy the premises at a controlled rent to family members who have lived with them for two or more years. The tenants in Mr. Harmon's complaint pay rent equal to about 60% of market value.
Epstein notes that people nationwide were outraged over Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) taking advantage of rent stabilization by paying a total of $3,894 a month for four luxury apartments in Harlem, about half the market rent. What they were outraged over was that he hogged four affordable apartments that less wealthy NYers could have lived in. Epstein makes some very good points about the unconstitutionality of rent abatement laws, but market rates in all the boroughs of NYC would consume the entire paychecks of most of the city’s middle class families.
† All The News That’s Fart To Print: Kimberly-Clark wants to make TP sexy, and has commissioned designer Jonathan Adler to create three limited-edition toilet roll covers using bright, geometric patterns to promote a new formulation of its Cottonelle toilet paper that it says is 30 percent stronger, The Associated Press reports:
Allen Adamson, managing director of global branding firm Landor in New York, said Target Corp. has successfully brought design to a lot of consumer product categories with such lines as the housewares rethought by renowned industrial designer Michael Graves.
But it's new for toilet paper.
"It's just surprising when design finally meets toilet paper - that's sort of the final frontier," Adamson said.
Throughout the month of January, you can visit the Cottonelle Website to get the cover for a shipping charge of $1.99 plus an offer code from a package of Cottonelle toilet paper. Or you can order them for $3.99, including shipping.