Fairfax Jury Gives Army Colonel
$8.4 Million in Defamation Case
By Tom Ramstack, The Legal Forum
A Fairfax County jury awarded a retired Army colonel $8.4 million this week in his lawsuit against a woman who accused him of raping her.
The allegation prevented a promotion of David “Wil” Riggins to brigadier general. It also forced him into an early retirement.
His accuser is Susan Shannon, a woman who attended West Point with him, where she said in her blog post that “both I and my roommate were raped at West Point — and we never reported it. The man who raped me, Will [sic] Riggins, class of 1987, is now a Colonel in the Army. The rape is the reason I left West Point. So, while his military career is soaring, I left mine far behind.”
She posted the allegations on her personal blog and her Facebook page shortly after Riggins was nominated by the Defense Department for the promotion to brigadier general in 2013.
The Army’s criminal investigation division investigated but concluded in a report that it could not “prove or disprove Ms. Shannon’s allegation she was raped.”
D.C. Couple Cheated by Scammers
Posing as Title Company Agents
A married couple recently was cheated out of $1.57 million they were using to purchase a Washington, D.C. home by computer hackers.
The hackers used a phishing scam to tap into computer records of Federal Title and Escrow, which was the company handling the title and closing on the five-bedroom, 2,300 square foot home in Cleveland Park.
Now the couple is suing Federal Title and Escrow to recover their money and seeking punitive damages. The FBI is investigating.
The couple put down a $200,000 down payment on the home. It was followed by an email from what they believed was the title company.
The email asked the buyers to wire the rest of the $1.5 million purchase price to a specific account. The married couple wired the money, only to find afterward the bogus email did not come from Federal Title and Escrow.
The title company says no other customers were affected. The lawsuit accuses the company of negligence, which they deny.
Last year, the Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Realtors issued a warning to homebuyers about phishing scams that said, “Hackers have been breaking into some consumers’ and real estate professionals’ email accounts to get information about upcoming real estate transactions. After figuring out the closing dates, the hacker sends an email to the buyer, posing as the real estate professional or title company. The bogus email says there has been a last minute change to the wiring instructions and tells the buyer to wire closing costs to a different account. But it’s the scammer’s account.”
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Letters to the Editor
D.C. Judge Considers Overturning
Trump’s “One In, Two Out” Policy
By Tom Ramstack, The Legal Forum
A Washington, D.C., federal judge’s pending ruling in a challenge to the Trump administration’s “one in, two out” policy poses a serious threat to the president’s regulatory authority.
It also has broad implications for government agencies in Washington and the attorneys who represent them.
The policy requires federal agencies to eliminate two regulations for every new one they implement.
Public interest groups and a labor union sued the government to block enforcement of the policy, saying it overstepped President Donald Trump’s constitutional authority.
Judge Randolph Moss’s comments during a hearing last week in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia largely agreed with arguments from attorneys for Public Citizen, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Communications Workers of America.
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For Little Work
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Law Firm Downsizing in Downtown D.C.
Forces Changes in Real Estate Marketing
By Tom Ramstack, The Legal Forum
A real estate brokerage is blaming Washington, D.C.’s law firms for the highest office vacancy rate in 25 years.
The market report from CBRE Inc. also says realtors are being forced to modify their marketing efforts to appeal to different clients.
CBRE says about 6.5 million square feet of new or renovated office space sits vacant in downtown and Washington’s East End, both of which are popular sites for law firms.
However, law firm downsizing in recent years has eliminated much of the demand that filled Washington’s trophy office space only a decade ago.
Examples include Arnold & Porter, Venable, Dentons and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, all of whom moved to smaller offices in different locations.
Book on Boston Marathon Bombs
Shows Lone Wolf Terrorism Rises
A new book that reports on the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and trial of the convicted killer shows the attack was only an early example of more coming soon.
Boston's Bloody Marathon uses the bombings by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother as an example of the lone wolf terrorism increasingly encouraged by Islamic extremist groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda.
Lone wolves refer to terrorists who plot their attacks alone, usually with no organization to support them and no official links to violent groups. There is almost no way to know their next target until they strike. U.S. intelligence agencies call them perhaps the biggest terrorist threat to the United States and its allies.
Boston's Bloody Marathon, by Tom Ramstack, is available on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.
Sovereign Immunity Protects D.C.
From Lawsuit Over Transit Fire
The Washington, D.C. government was saved from a major lawsuit last week by a judge’s ruling.
D.C. Superior Court Judge Tanya Chutkan said the D.C. government was protected by the sovereign immunity granted by law to government.
Several customers of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority sued the District of Columbia and the transit agency over a January 2015 electrical short and smoke incident at the L’Enfant Plaza Station.
The lawsuit accuses WMATA and the D.C. government of negligence, saying first responders evacuated the station too slowly. Their response was slowed partly because of poor communications with the transit agency’s staff, the lawsuit says.
WMATA pleaded unsuccessfully to be dismissed from the lawsuit. The transit agency said that if anyone was negligent, it was the Fire Department firefighters.
The judge agreed to dismiss the claim against the D.C. government but not the transit agency.
She said no law required first responders to take specific actions during the emergency, which was part of the reason the lawsuit against them was unfounded.