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Legal News for Fri 3/8 - State of the Union is Strong, Rite Aid's BK Opioid Victim Dodge, Trump's Legal Battles and Disneyland Labor Lawsuit

Legal News for Fri 3/8 - State of the Union is Strong, Rite Aid's BK Opioid Victim Dodge, Trump's Legal Battles and Disneyland Labor Lawsuit

Biden's State of the Union speech, Rite Aid's bankruptcy affecting opioid victims, Trump's legal battles, and Disneyland's labor lawsuit.
A Senator filibustering, pencil sketch

This Day in Legal History: Senate Adopts Cloture Rule

On this day in legal history, the U.S. Senate made a significant procedural change that would shape legislative debates for decades to come. On March 8, 1917, the Senate adopted the cloture rule, known as Rule 22, as a mechanism to limit the duration of filibusters. This development was a response to the procedural blockades that had increasingly frustrated the legislative process. Filibusters, long speeches or debates deliberately extended by senators to delay or block legislative action, had become a common tactic for minority opposition. The cloture rule introduced a way for the Senate to vote to close debate on a bill, requiring a supermajority to do so.

Originally, Rule 22 stipulated that two-thirds of Senators present and voting could vote to invoke cloture and thus end a filibuster, forcing a vote on the bill in question. This threshold meant that a significant majority was necessary to overcome determined minority opposition. However, the landscape of Senate procedures would change again in 1975, when the requirement for invoking cloture was modified. The Senate lowered the threshold from two-thirds of Senators to three-fifths, or sixty Senators, acknowledging the need to facilitate a smoother legislative process while still preserving the minority's power to debate vigorously.

The adoption and subsequent amendment of the cloture rule reflect the Senate's ongoing struggle to balance the rights of the minority to debate and delay with the majority's interest in legislative efficiency. These changes have had a profound impact on how the Senate operates, influencing the strategy and tactics of both majority and minority parties. Over the years, the use and implications of the cloture rule have continued to evolve, making it a critical aspect of parliamentary procedure in the U.S. Senate. As we look back on its adoption on March 8, 1917, we see not just a moment in legal history but a pivotal decision that continues to shape the dynamics of American democracy.

In a spirited State of the Union speech aimed at revitalizing his 2024 reelection campaign against Donald Trump, President Joe Biden didn't name Trump directly but clearly targeted his "predecessor," emphasizing contrasts between their administrations. Biden's address, lasting over an hour, was not only a pitch for a second term but also a showcase of his first term's achievements, focusing on key issues like abortion rights, gun violence, foreign policy, and economic disparities. Despite concerns about his age, 81, Biden positioned his experience as an asset for leading America into the future, advocating for progressive taxation, healthcare reforms, and stricter gun control measures.

Biden's speech came at a critical juncture, with polls suggesting a challenging race ahead against Trump, who has solidified his position as the likely Republican nominee. The event was politically charged, reflecting current global and domestic tensions, including support for Ukraine, debates over abortion rights, and the border crisis. Notably, Biden called for unity in addressing these challenges, while also taking a firm stance on foreign policy, particularly towards Russia and China.

The response from Democrats was overwhelmingly positive, signaling strong party support for Biden as the 2024 race heats up. However, Republican reactions were mixed, highlighted by a strategic exchange between Biden and attendees over border security, underscoring the polarized political landscape. Biden's speech underscored a critical moment for American democracy, stressing the importance of defending democratic principles and addressing the nation's most pressing issues through bipartisan cooperation.

Biden Says Freedom Under Threat as Speech Takes Aim at Trump (3)

In the complex proceedings of Rite Aid Corp.'s bankruptcy, those who allege to have been harmed by the company's opioid dispensing practices, like Nancy Zailo, find themselves at a stark disadvantage. High-ranking executives, consultants, and secured creditors, including legal and financial firms, are prioritized in the repayment hierarchy, leaving little to nothing for thousands of opioid victims. Rite Aid's bankruptcy filing has essentially placed a hold on over 1,600 opioid-related lawsuits, with the company having not reached a settlement similar to its competitors, who have agreed to pay over $13 billion to resolve such claims.

The bankruptcy process, expensive by nature, has amassed at least $200 million in advisory fees, further diminishing the funds available for unsecured creditors, among them the opioid claimants. The restructuring focuses on satisfying secured creditors, possibly leaving the company reorganized or sold without any provision for compensating opioid victims. This situation underscores the broader issue of using bankruptcy as a strategy to limit compensation to injured parties, despite the company's significant spending on executive bonuses and advisory fees before and during the bankruptcy.

Rite Aid's role in the opioid crisis, highlighted by allegations of filling hundreds of thousands of invalid prescriptions and ignoring pharmacists' warnings, stands as a grim backdrop to the financial proceedings. Zailo's personal account of addiction, stemming from readily filled prescriptions at Rite Aid, illustrates the human cost behind the legal and financial machinations. Despite the company's considerable payouts in separate cases, a global settlement for opioid claims remains elusive, especially as Rite Aid navigates bankruptcy with the intent of emerging relieved of past liabilities and shielded from future lawsuits, leaving victims like Zailo facing the prospect of receiving no compensation.

Rite Aid Pays Millions in Fees. Opioid Victims May Get Nothing.

Special Counsel Jack Smith has labeled former President Donald Trump's claim of presidential immunity in the classified documents mishandling case as "frivolous" and a tactic to delay the trial. This assertion comes as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to consider Trump's immunity claim in a separate case related to efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat. Smith's filing contends that Trump's immunity claim, based on actions taken after his presidency, holds no merit since the alleged conduct, detailed in a 40-count indictment, occurred post-presidency and pertains to issues of national security, making them indisputably non-personal.

Trump defends himself by arguing that the charges arise from decisions made in his final presidential days, including attempts to reclassify certain records as personal. However, prosecutors maintain these documents, involving sensitive topics like nuclear capabilities, cannot be deemed personal. Smith's response also addresses Trump's motion to dismiss the case, which suggests a selective prosecution bias, highlighting Trump's case's distinct nature due to "repeated and flagrant obstructive efforts" compared to other officials, including President Joe Biden, who faced no charges after allegedly mishandling classified information post-vice presidency due to different circumstances, including cooperation with investigations and the impracticality of securing a conviction.

Trump prosecutor calls immunity bid in documents case a delay tactic | Reuters

A proposed class action lawsuit filed by Disneyland maintenance engineer Charlie Torres in Orange County, California, alleges that Disneyland's maintenance workers are subject to unfair labor practices, including the requirement to use their own tools without proper compensation, denial of overtime pay, and failure to provide legally mandated breaks. The lawsuit accuses Walt Disney Parks and Resorts of not adhering to California's labor laws, which dictate that employees must be compensated for work-related expenses and, if using their own tools, be paid double the state's minimum wage. The legal action seeks up to seven figures in backpay for more than 100 affected workers, highlighting issues around the violation of state laws on reimbursement for tools, appropriate overtime premiums, and payment for on-duty meal and rest breaks. Disneyland has not yet responded to the lawsuit, which underscores a significant disparity between the company's public image and its treatment of employees responsible for maintaining its status as "the happiest place on Earth."

Disneyland not 'happiest place' for workers, wage lawsuit claims | Reuters

Antonio Vivaldi, pencil sketch.

This week’s closing theme is by Antonio Vivaldi.

Antonio Vivaldi, an iconic figure of the Baroque music era, is celebrated for his virtuosic compositions, particularly for the violin. Born in Venice in 1678, Vivaldi was a priest, violinist, and composer who left a lasting impact on the musical world. He is perhaps best known for his work "The Four Seasons," a set of four violin concertos that depict scenes from each season of the year. Among these, "Winter" (Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297, 'L'inverno') stands out for its vivid musical portrayal of the cold, bleak, and frosty season. The first movement, "Allegro non molto," captures the essence of winter's chill and the warmth of the hearth through its dynamic contrasts and striking melodies. Vivaldi's ability to evoke imagery and emotions through his music has cemented "Winter" as a staple in the classical repertoire, showcasing his masterful command over the baroque concerto form.

Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, “Winter” from his set “The Four Seasons.” 

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
The idea is that this podcast can accompany you on your commute home and will render you minimally competent on the major legal news stories of the day. The transcript is available in the form of a newsletter at