It’s been awhile since our last Pop(Tort) quiz so let’s get going! First, a big hint: This entire quiz is based on a new “extensive analysis” by The National Law Journal, about what the federal government spent to “resolve lawsuits” in 2013. What they found was, well, unexpected. Since not too many everyday people subscribe to the very expensive NLJ, we feel sure that cheating will be kept to a minimum. So here goes:
Compared to 2012, the federal government spent how much to resolve lawsuits in 2013?
a. Twice as much
b. Slightly more
c. About the same
The answer is “d” and it’s not just “less.” In 2013, the federal government spent half as much as it did in 2012 to resolve lawsuits.
Which federal department ran up the biggest legal bill?
a. Department of Energy
b. Department of Health and Human Services
c. Department of Transportation
d. Department of Justice
The answer is “a”! DOE spent the most, at $644 million.
Who received the most Department of Energy compensation?
a. People injured during transportation of nuclear fuel;
b. Discriminated against or harassed DOE employees;
c. Big utility companies;
d. People hit on the head by solar panels.
Incredibly, the answer is “c.” Most of this money was paid to "settle breach-of-contract suits brought by utilities for failing to accept storage of spent nuclear fuel.” Writes the NLJ:
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius partner Brad Fagg was singularly successful in these legal actions, securing more than $200 million in payments for his clients last year, including $70 million for Portland General Electric Co.; $50 million for Constellation Generation Group; $41 million for Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee; $33 million for Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co., Pennsylvania Power Co. and Toledo Edison Co.; and $12 million for Luminant Generation Co.
Which of these were actual acts of wrongdoing that led to compensation for victim(s) in 2013:
a. Prison officials in Pennsylvania sickening federal prisoners with spoiled chicken;
b. Customs and Border Protection employees hacking into the email account of a Mexican citizen detained while trying to enter the country legally;
c. A white male Department of Labor supervisor dubbing a female Asian-American lawyer there “the Chinker;”
d. All of these above.
Yes, it’s “d.” Lovely.
The Department of the Army’s biggest settlement was for:
d. Copyright infringement.
Weirdly enough, it's “d.” Not what we were expecting. The Army paid “$50 million to Apptricity Corp. to settle a copyright infringement suit. Represented by Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr special counsels D. Joe Smith and Gregory Petkoff and partner Todd Steggerda, the Texas company claimed the Army illegally installed Apptricity’s logistics software on 98 servers and 9,063 devices for which it did not hold licenses.” Actually it’s also trick question. The Army can’t be sued for medical malpractice and has almost no liability for anything! (Except, apparently, when it comes to financial harm to profit-making companies.)
Which Cabinet-level agency has the most accident-prone employees?
a. Department of Agriculture (think inspectors);
b. FBI (think FBI agents);
c. Department of Interior (think park rangers);
d. Department of Transportation (think, well, transportation).
Somewhat disturbingly, the answer is “b” (at least as far as traffic accidents are concerned). Writes the NLJ “the No. 1 reason people sue the government is for traffic accidents caused by on-duty federal workers [and] FBI agents are particularly accident-prone, with 205 payments ranging from $1,500 to $110,000 for accidents last year.”
Bonus question: Which cabinet agency had the lowest legal bills?
Answer: The U.S. Department of Education.
Extra bonus question: A expelled student from which law school sued the Dept. of Education and obtained a $2,000 payout (the agency’s only 2013 payout)?
Answer: George Mason University School of Law. The student “said he never recovered personally or professionally from the expulsion, and successfully sought to have his student loans — $131,000 — discharged due to hardship. The DOE was ordered to pay him $2,000 to cover his costs in bringing the bankruptcy suit.” This is the same law school that hosts the Congressional Civil Justice Caucus, which promotes programs to abolish or severely weaken the civil justice system. It’s also a "magnet for right-wing money” for a lot of people who want to abolish the Department of Education.
Hopefully they’ll get all the lawsuits out of the way first.