Court rekindles suit to recover Nazi stolen art
The great-grandchildren of a Jewish woman who was forced to “sell” a priceless artwork for $360 as a price for escaping the Nazi Holocaust got a new chance to sue for the painting’s return. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district judge’s dismissal of the lawsuit because the Museo Thyssen-Bornemsza held “public, peaceful, and uninterrupted possession” of the painting since 1993. Lilly Neubauer’s great-grandchildren, David and Ava Cassirer, are seeking the return of a painting by French impressionist Camille Pissarro, entitled Rue St. Honoré, Apres Midi, Effet de Pluie, which was discovered on display at the government-owned museum in Madrid, Spain. At a 2014 auction at Sotheby’s in London, another Pissarro painting fetched a record-setting $25.6 million.
Tribal college is not immune from lawsuit
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a college operated by an Indian tribe isn’t entitled to sovereign immunity from a False Claims Act complaint, and thus ordered a new trial for a lawsuit brought by whistleblowers. The ruling reversed a district judge’s dismissal of the case brought by former employees of Salish Kootenai College. The suit alleges that the Montana school knowingly provided false progress reports on students in order to keep grant monies coming from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Indian Health Service.
Poll exposes nation’s growing partisan divide
A Pew Research Center poll conducted last month among 2,504 adults found that the sharp partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans has grown even sharper during the past year. Republicans say they have even less respect for colleges and the national news media, while Democrats grew more skeptical of banks and financial institutions. The poll found 58% of Republican respondents expressed negative opinions about colleges and universities, up from 45% a year ago, and 85% said the national news media has a negative effect on the country.
Oregon court greenlights gun liability lawsuit
A judge in Portland, Ore., ruled that the family of a woman who was the innocent victim of murder can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the gun store owner and an online gun dealer who sold guns used in a crime spree, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence reported. Judge Michael Greenlick swept aside motions to dismiss the case, ruling that a federal gun industry protection law—the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Guns Act—does not prohibit the lawsuit if the gun dealer knowingly aided and abetted a straw purchase in order to avoid a background check.
Gun ownership is a rural vs. urban issue
The differences among rural and urban people toward gun ownership were brought into sharp relief in a recent Pew Research Center survey which revealed that 46% of rural adults say they own a gun, compared to 28% of suburbanites and 19% of city dwellers. Also, among gun owners, 75% of those living in rural areas own several guns compared to 48% of urban gun owners who say they own more than one gun.
Terrorist hired FBI to murder federal judge
Yahya Mohammad, 39, an Indian national living in Ohio, pleaded guilty to traveling to Yemen in 2009 to deliver $22,000 to al Qaida leader Anwar Al-Awlaki; and, while his case was pending in federal court, offered to pay $15,000 for the murder of Judge Jack Zouhary and had a family member make a $1,000 down payment for the hit. Three others who conspired with Mohammed, including his brother Ibrahim, are awaiting trials in the same case, the Department of Justice said. Mohammed was an engineering student at Ohio State University between 2002 and 2004 and he married a U.S. citizen in 2008, DOJ said.
Food stamp fraudster goes from probation to prison
Sami Almuhtaseb, 46, of Providence, R.I., was given 31 months in federal prison after his previous sentence—five years of probation with intermittent confinement—was vacated by a federal judge. Almuhtaseb pleaded guilty in 2016 to a scheme that defrauded the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) out of $1.1 million. The intermittent confinement portion of his sentence was imposed so that Almuhtaseb could continue to operate the Oasis Market convenience store that he owned in Providence. However, the government requested the resentencing after learning that Almuhtaseb has sold the store, a fact he didn’t disclose to the court or prosecutors.
CFPB bans mandatory arbitration to settle consumer disputes
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau implemented a rule that bans the financial industry from burying mandatory arbitration clauses in the fine print of “take it or leave it” contracts for the purpose of blocking consumers from adjudicating their disputes in a courtroom. The rule was welcomed by Public Citizen, the Consumer Federation of America and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is lobbying Congress for the agency’s elimination, said the CFPB’s “brazen finalization of the arbitration rule is a prime example of an agency gone rogue.” The American Association for Justice (formerly the American Trial Lawyers Association) commended the rule, saying “forced arbitration strips away our constitutional right to seek accountability through our nation’s courts and instead sends customers’ disputes to a rigged, secretive arbitration process.”
Rip ‘n Read is a daily compilation of press releases found on hundreds of websites that are maintained by the federal government, think tanks, watchdog groups and national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.
The press releases and documents linked to this report were posted on their websites on Monday, July 10