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Landlord Can Demand Gold Coins, Court Says
Court Issues | 2008/09/02 14:17
The owners of a building in downtown Cleveland have the right to ask for payment in gold coins, the 6th Circuit ruled.

The landowner, 216 Jamaica Avenue, sued S&R Playhouse Realty to enforce a "gold clause" in the original lease for the Halle Building, which was signed in 1912.

Instead of being paid the annual $35,000 rent in cash, Jamaica asked to be paid in 35,000 gold coins. The district court declined to enforce the clause, but Judge Sutton reversed the decision.

Gold clauses were used as a safety net against the effects of inflation until they were outlawed by Congress in 1933. Forty-four years later, Congress reversed field and allowed gold clauses to be enforced again.

Despite this winding road, Sutton ruled that the 99-year lease signed by the Halle brothers in 1912 is still standing because the 1982 assignment agreement between the two parties obligated S&R to the terms of the lease.

"The parties to a contract are free to structure it however they wish, so long as they do not offend a constitutional, statutory or common-law prohibition," Judge Sutton wrote.

The judge also refuted S&R's objection that there was no "meeting of the minds" by noting that the assignment agreement quoted extensively from the 1912 contract.

"That clarity precludes S&R from establishing that the parties failed to have an objective meeting of the minds," Sutton wrote.

Since the gold clause is enforceable, Sutton remanded the case to district court to determine how much S&R will have to pay.


Sixth Circuit Upholds Nudity Ban in Ohio
Court Issues | 2008/08/19 14:27
Ohio's prohibition on nudity and sexual activity at establishments where alcohol is served is not unconstitutional, the 6th Circuit ruled.

The district court had issued an injunction preventing the enforcement of the Ohio Liquor Control Commission's Rule 52.

J.L. Spoons Inc., the owner of a group of Ohio strip clubs, had claimed that Rule 52 violated its First Amendment rights, because some artistic dance performances may be found to violate the rule.

Judge Siler overruled the district court, stating that the rule is not unconstitutionally over-broad.

"Persons desiring to perform mainstream works of art involving nudity and sexual activity may do so in an establishment that is not licensed to sell liquor," Siler wrote. "Mainstream works of art that merely suggest sexual activity will not be burdened."


Truck Driver Sues For Bridge Collapse
Court Issues | 2008/08/14 14:18
A truck driver was crushed and trapped in his truck when a highway overpass collapsed, and his horrified wife watched his rescue on live television, Robert and Carol Sylvester claim in Butte County Court.

The Sylvesters sued FCI Constructors, of Vista, and Granite Construction Co., of Watsonville, who were working on State Route 149 between SR 99 and SR 70 before and during the July 31, 2007 collapse. The Sylvesters say the defendants "were put on notice of safety violations at the construction site of the freeway overpass" before July 31. And, they say, "several minutes prior to the eventual collapse of the overpass false work defendants were on notice or should have been on notice that the structure was unsafe, unstable, moving, and likely to collapse."

The complaint continues: "Carol Sylvester witnessed the event where her husband was trapped in the debris of the collapsed freeway overpass via live television. Plaintiff was aware that her husband was in fact injured in the ongoing event and was aware of reports of his injuries during the event."

The Sylvesters demand punitive damages. They are represented by James McKenna with Peters, Rush, Habib & McKenna.


Coalition Opposes Canyon Granite Removal
Court Issues | 2008/07/29 14:40
The U.S. Forest Service's approval of a plan to remove 1,000 cubic yards of granite from the Lost Horse Canyon in Montana's Bitterroot National Forest violates environmental law and threatens to rob rock climbers of "world-class" climbing, the Lost Horse Canyon Coalition claims in Federal Court.

The coalition and Rick Torre claim the Forest Service failed to analyze the removal project's impact on climbing, local business and sensitive wildlife species, such as the peregrine falcon, bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout.

The Forest Service allegedly curtailed its analysis based on a categorical exclusion for "minor" projects, but the plaintiffs say the agency "failed to explain how the project would be 'minor' in light of the predominant recreational use in the area."

Timothy Bechtold is representing the coalition.


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