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Supreme Court Protects Internet Firms
From Liability for Terrorist Content

     The U.S. Supreme Court preserved the immunity of Google, Facebook and Twitter in a ruling last week that said the tech giants should not be liable for irresponsible speech that other persons post on their internet platforms.
     The Supreme Court let stand lower court rulings against state attorneys general and others who accused the internet companies of aiding and abetting hate speech and postings that encourage terrorism.
     The District of Columbia’s attorney general joined in one of the lawsuits.
     Former D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine wrote in a brief about Facebook that, "They are bombarding users with hateful and violent content every day—because Facebook cares more about profit than it cares about protecting its consumers and being responsible about hate speech.”
     The Ninth and Second Circuit courts based their rulings on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which generally provides immunity to online computer services for content generated by their users.
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D.C. in Brief

Legal Briefs

We Could Use Your Help

     Thousands of DC residents need a lawyer, but can’t afford one. They could be illegally evicted from their homes, lose custody of their children, experience domestic violence, and more, all because they lack legal representation. 
      You could make a difference. By making a donation to the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, you will provide free, high-quality, zealous legal representation to low-income DC residents. Click the photo above to make a donation today. 
      Your support could prevent homelessness, domestic violence, hunger, or family separation. In fact, if just 10 people who see this ad give $28 to Legal Aid, it will be enough to staff an experienced attorney at the courthouse for a day.
      That way, DC residents like Keith King (pictured above) can get the legal representation they need to win their cases. As Mr. King put it, if it wasn’t for his Legal Aid lawyer, “I would have been homeless again.”
     Here is the link to the Legal Aid website for donations: https://www.legalaiddc.org/donate-to-legal-aid/

     For more information, contact Rob Pergament at Legal Aid at rpergament@legalaiddc.org

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Power the Civil Rights Work of Our Time

     Each day members of our community are experiencing wage theft, the effects of gentrification, discriminatory policing, collateral consequences, marginalization in schools, and barriers to public accommodations. 
     We fight alongside people facing the effects of gentrification like Amira Moore. Our work empowers the people and communities who need it most, “We can do more than we think. There’s a path to equity, we just have to step to it.” –Ms. Moore
     For more than 50 years, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee has been on the frontlines of the fight for civil rights in our community. We deploy the best legal talent, we tackle the tough cases, we fight, and we win. 
     Our work is as important today as it has ever been. Through your support, you can play a role in creating justice for thousands of marginalized members of our community. Together, we will dismantle injustice and pursue lasting change.
     Join us! Donate & subscribe: https://www.washlaw.org/support-us
     Volunteer with us: https://www.washlaw.org/get-involved/
     For more information, contact Gregg Kelley at Gregg_Kelley@washlaw.org​

NRA Sues Maryland’s Governor Over Laws
Restricting Rights to Carry Concealed Guns

     The National Rifle Association sued Maryland's governor last week to block new gun control laws that place tight restrictions on where guns can be carried. 
     The laws ban guns from being carried anywhere close to schools, hospitals and other sensitive locations.
     The NRA says the laws violate citizens' First, Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
     The lawsuit appears to be aimed at holding off a series of similar gun control laws passed in several states following high-profile mass shootings.
     So far this month, they have included eight people shot and killed at a Dallas suburban shopping mall; an Oklahoma man who killed his wife, three children, two family friends then himself and a Cleveland, Texas, resident who killed five people in an angry dispute with neighbors.

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Trump’s Deposition Delayed in Lawsuit
By FBI Agents Who Claim Unjust Firing

     Former President Donald Trump was scheduled to give a deposition this month in a lawsuit filed by former FBI agents but instead won a reprieve in federal court.
     Two former FBI agents claim they were wrongfully fired for investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump’s handling of classified documents.
     Text messages exchanged between former agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page criticized Trump, which officially was the reason they were fired.
     Strzok and Page say in their lawsuit the real reason they were fired was a political reprisal while they were properly performing their jobs. Strzok also was an FBI attorney.
     Strzok wanted to question Trump during a deposition but the Justice Department intervened by arguing in U.S. District Court that FBI Director Christopher Wray must be deposed first. The normal order for depositions when the government is sued runs from officials with lowest seniority to highest seniority.
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WMATA’s Status as Common Carrier
Under Fire in Wrongful Death Claim

     Washington, D.C.'s transit agency is trying to win dismissal of a lawsuit by the family of a lawyer who died after falling off a subway platform while intoxicated in a case testing the limits of common carrier liability.
     Okiemute C. Whiteru, a 35-year-old lawyer, fell off a Judiciary Square Metro station platform in October 2013 and was found dead days later behind a wall.
     The transit agency calls him an “unknown trespasser” for landing in a trough behind a wall where he could not easily be seen by passengers or employees of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).
     Common carriers owe a duty to protect passengers from hazards or to render aid when they are injured.
     Whiteru’s family says WMATA breached the duty. The transit agency argues the duty of care does not extend to trespassers.
     The bigger issue in the lawsuit is how far common carriers must go to prevent risks to customers who are negligent, such as by being drunk.
     Common carriers refer to entities whose businesses transport people or goods from one place to another for a fee. They include transit agencies, airlines, cruise ships and railroads.
     They are required by federal and local law to exercise reasonable care to avoid harm from risks created by their customers as well as from third parties. Third parties often mean criminals or negligent employees.
     A judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in 2020 that Whiteru was a trespasser who was "contributorily negligent."     

Walgreens Tries to Vacate $642 Million
Award in Drug Pricing Dispute

     Retail pharmacy giant Walgreen Co. is blaming a Washington, D.C., law firm for contributing to what it calls a “miscarriage of justice” in a $642 million judgment levied against it recently by an arbitrator in a drug pricing dispute.
     Attorneys for Walgreens filed a motion last week asking a federal court to vacate the award to Humana Health Plan.
     Humana accused Walgreens of overcharging on drug prices in breach of prescription drug reimbursement contracts.
     An arbitrator from the American Arbitration Association said he compared the usual and customary prices charged for drugs to the prices Walgreens charged Humana to arrive at the $642 million figure.
     Walgreens responded in its filing by saying that “no ordinary reader of the contract at issue would find that Walgreens had done anything wrong, and when the evidence showed Humana was fully aware of Walgreens’ approach and did nothing until solicited by conflicted counsel. This miscarriage of justice should not be permitted to stand.”
     Walgreens also said the law firm Crowell & Moring should have been disqualified for a conflict of interest in representing Humana. Years earlier, the firm advised Walgreens on the kind of drug pricing involved in the Humana dispute.
     "The result was that the arbitrator awarded a massive windfall to Humana," Reed Smith attorneys said in a court filing.
     Walgreens sued Crowell & Moring in 2021 in District of Columbia Superior Court seeking indemnification from any award to Humana and ordering the firm to relinquish any legal fees it earned in the case. Walgreens lost at the trial level but is appealing.
     Crowell & Moring said in a statement that the Walgreens accusations were “meritless” and the firm was "confident that the arbitrator's thorough and well-reasoned award will be affirmed."
     Humana said in a separate filing asking the court to affirm the $642 million award that Walgreens submitted "millions of falsely-inflated" claims for reimbursement on drugs.
     The case is Walgreen Co v. Humana Health Plan Inc, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, No. 1:22-cv-00307-ACR.