The Latest Legal News & Industry Information

Inspector General Report Implies Trump
Violated Constitution with Hotel Lease

     The U.S. General Services Administration demonstrated “serious shortcomings” in reviewing conflicts of interest in the lease on Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington, a report this week says.
     The report by the General Services Administration’s (GSA) inspector general is likely to become important evidence in a lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland.
     The Trump Organization obtained a 60-year lease on the historic Old Post Office Pavilion in 2013. They then converted it to a luxury hotel often frequented by foreign dignitaries and other associates of President Donald Trump’s businesses.
     A lawsuit filed by the D.C. and Maryland attorneys general accuses Trump of violating the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which forbids high-level government officials from profiting through their association with foreign governments.
     The lawsuit also says Trump International Hotel unfairly takes business away from other local hotels and restaurants while benefiting the president. The case is pending in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
     The GSA inspector general’s report echoes some of the complaints in the lawsuit.
“GSA had an obligation to uphold and enforce the Constitution,” the report says. “However, GSA opted not to seek any guidance from OLC (Office of Legal Counsel) and did not address the constitutional issues related to the management of the lease.”
     The lease said no elected federal official could run the hotel or profit from it.
     After Trump won the presidency, the GSA issued a 166-page decision that said the president was in “full compliance” with the lease.
     However, the inspector general’s report this week reached a different conclusion, saying the GSA ignored “issues under the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause that might cause a breach of the lease.”
     In addition, The New York Times reported this week that the Trump campaign spent $1.5 million for its staff members to stay at the hotel before the election.
     For more information, contact The Legal Forum ( at or phone: 202-479-7240.

D.C. Council Plans Hearing
On Opioid Epidemic Plans

     The Washington, D.C. Council plans a hearing next week to consider solutions to an opioid epidemic that ranks as one of the nation’s worst.
     Part of the hearing before the Council’s judiciary and health committees is expected to focus on how the city will spend the estimated $21 million the federal government has pledged to give local officials this year to address the opioid epidemic.
     Hardest hit are African Americans neighborhoods, where residents are dying at a rate seven times higher than the average for the white population, according to a Washington Post report.
     Between 2014 and 2017, the death toll from the addictive painkiller surged 209.9 percent in the District of Columbia, the Centers for Disease Control reported. The increase was faster than any state and the ninth highest compared with all counties in the United States.
     There were 279 opioid overdose deaths in 2017 in Washington, higher than the homicide rate, according to the chief medical examiner.
     Mayor Muriel Bowser released a 22-page plan last month explaining her ideas for reducing opioid deaths by half by 2020.
     “Our interagency, public health approach has yielded progress in saving lives and reducing fatal overdoses but we have a lot of work left to do,” Bowser said in a cover letter for the plan.
     However, many of the measures the plan described already are being used or have been proposed previously by D.C. officials, prompting questions about whether it will be effective now after failing previously.
     The D.C. Department of Health tried in previous years to publicly distribute the overdose antidote naloxone but city officials refused to give the agency an adequate supply of the medication. The city also was accused of misappropriating federal grant money intended to confront the epidemic.
     This month, a majority of the D.C. Council introduced a bill that would require police to carry naloxone to respond to overdose calls. Bowser opposes the proposal, saying the city’s paramedics already carry the antidote..
     For more information, contact The Legal Forum ( at email: or phone: 202-479-7240.   

Trump Wants to Halt Injunction
Against Immigration Asylum Policy

     The Trump administration again is asking a federal court in Washington, D.C. to reconsider its order preventing the government from enforcing a tough policy on illegal immigrants seeking asylum.
     The policy prevents victims of domestic and gang violence from seeking asylum unless they can prove their home governments allowed the persecution. If they fail to prove government complicity, they can be deported promptly.
     Before the Trump administration announced the policy last summer, any immigrants endangered by domestic or criminal violence could seek asylum, even if their attackers were private citizens.
     The Immigration and Nationality Act would allow them to seek U.S. asylum if they could demonstrate they had a “credible fear” of being victimized.
     Last month, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled the Trump policy violated the Administrative Procedure Act and the Immigration and Nationality Act. He issued an injunction barring U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services from enforcing it.
     The Justice Department, under former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, argued the federal court lacked authority to overturn an executive branch political policy.
     The Justice Department policy statement said the asylum-seekers’ governments must have either "condoned the private actions or demonstrated an inability to protect the victims" from violence.
     In court filings this month, Justice Department attorneys added that its policy should remain in effect pending an appellate review.
     The American Civil Liberties Union sued the government in August on behalf of asylum seekers.
     The lawsuit argued the Trump administration lacked authority to heighten the “credible fear” standard for “particular social groups” through its own discretion.
     The Administrative Procedures Act requires that new regulations be submitted for public comment and hearings, the lawsuit says. In this case, the regulations referred to actions by agencies that handle immigration.
     The plaintiffs included women who suffered sexual violence and death threats by Central American gangs.
     The case is Grace et al. v. Sessions et al., case number 1:18-cv-01853, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
     For more information, contact The Legal Forum ( at email: or phone: 202-479-7240.

Providence Hospital Wins Right
To Close Down in Northeast D.C.

     Providence Health System recently won conditional regulatory approval to close its hospital in Northeast D.C.
     Court documents filed this month in D.C. Superior Court show the District’s State Health Planning and Development Agency approved the closure if it meets conditions such as proving that patients’ medical records are secured.
     Providence ceased most of its operations December 14, prompting the city to file for an injunction the same day.
     The D.C. Attorney General’s office filed a motion to vacate the injunction this month that said, “Once the conditions are satisfied … the District is hopeful that there will be no need to proceed with this litigation.”
     The next hearing in the case is scheduled for March 12. Providence plans to stop all its operations on April 30.
     Until then, it is treating emergency department patients but transporting others by ambulance to Howard University Hospital. It has laid off 526 employees, or 58 percent of its staff.
     The hospital was founded during the Civil War and treats some of the city’s poorest residents. The parent company said in court filings that declining use by local residents shows the hospital is no longer needed.
     The city argued in its motion for an injunction that Providence was neglecting its responsibility to patients who still need the service. The city also said hospital officials violated D.C. law by deciding to close the facility without permission of the State Health Planning and Development Agency.
     D.C. Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Alprin refused to issue an injunction, saying "the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate substantial likelihood that they would prevail on the merits."
     For more information, contact The Legal Forum ( at email: or phone: 202-479-7240.

American University Hockey Player
Blames School for Concussion

     A former American University field hockey player is suing the school, saying staff members failed to respond appropriately after she was hit in the head with a hockey stick during a game.
     Jennifer Bradley says the concussion she suffered gave her a long-term injury that might have been avoided with proper medical treatment.
     The school’s attorneys argued unsuccessfully in a previous motion that Bradley signed a release of liability that relieved American University of the legal duties she claims. They say she assumed the risk of injury by playing the sport.
     However, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton denied the school’s motion to dismiss in April 2017.
     Last week, the court heard another motion from the university to dismiss the case. Bradley’s attorneys argued the school merely restated its previous argument, which should not be a basis for dismissal. They also said the evidence shows negligence by American University.
     Bradley says she told her coaches after she started showing signs of concussion but they allowed her to continue playing in games and practices. She says the delay in treatment worsened her condition.
     University officials argue the injury came from the hit to the head, not from any delay in treatment that they blame at least partly on Bradley.
     The case is Bradley v. the National Collegiate Athletics Association et al., case number 1:16-cv-00346, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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