There is a landmark case that is being challenged in Southaven, Mississippi, over constitutional rights. Ismael Lopez, an undocumented immigrant, was accidentally shot by police on July 24th, 2017. After a lengthy court battle, a Grand Jury ruled in favor of the city, saying the police officer and city were exempt from any guilt because of the immigration status of the person who was shot. The city argued that Lopez had no constitutional rights due to his undocumented status. The ruling attempts to set a new precedent, claiming that the U.S. Constitution does not protect undocumented persons. Lopez was shot in his mobile home park in Southaven, Mississippi. Police knocked on Lopez’s door by accident, instead of their intended domestic assault suspect, and began shooting. Lopez had already died from a gunshot wound to the head by the time paramedics had arrived.
The Constitution typically protects people under these circumstances. The Fourth Amendment protects U.S. citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the Fourteenth Amendment provides equal protection for all citizens under the law. The attorney for the police officer involved in the shooting as well as the city, Katherine Kirby, successfully argued that Lopez lacked protections under these amendments. The Lopez family attorney, Wells, has argued that all people on United States territory have constitutional rights, giving Lopez rights through the 14th Amendment.
A motion from court documents explained this idea, stating that Ismael Lopez’s lack of citizenship in the United States when he was shot voids these rights. As a result, it said, there was no legal grounds for this case based on his status as undocumented. Lopez was a 41-year old auto mechanic who also mentored teens and fixed friends and neighbors’ cars for free.
The family of Lopez filed a civil action lawsuit in response to the jury’s decision and is seeking $20 million in damages for his wrongful death. The civil lawsuit was filed in June 2019. Attorneys have stated that Claudia Linares, Lopez’s widow, will be unable to sue due to her status as an undocumented immigrant. Murray Wells, the attorney for Linare, says that this interpretation of the Constitution that excludes non-citizen residents impedes the process of due process and for what the Constitution stands. He continues by saying that he was disgusted by the decision of the Grand Jury. Attorneys also accused Linares of not actually being married to Lopez, which was disproved by her attorneys when they filed her 2003 marriage certificate. There has been controversy over the city’s accusations towards Linares and her lawyer asked the judge to consider sanctioning the city for their actions.
“This could lead to a slippery slope effect that could affect similar cases. Such a ruling goes against past rulings that state that all persons in the United States, including undocumented immigrants, are protected by the U.S. constitution,” says immigration attorney Natalia Segermeister of Price Benowitz LLP. This controversial ruling could potentially be sanctioned under Federal rules of procedure.
House Expected to Grill Executives of Nation’s Five Largest Vaping Companies
By Personal Injury Attorney Jacob Kimball of Springs Law Group
Democrat Diana DeGette of California wants answers from the vaping industry. She says that no one knows how vaping affects the health of users and that, as a result, consumers are left in the dark. Meanwhile, vape companies rake in billions of dollars and have attracted a new generation of youths into a potentially lifelong addiction to nicotine.
This hearing is seen as one of Congress’ latest attempts in probing the growing vaping market. Congress’s prior examinations into the market include several vaping-related hearings last year as well as raising the federal minimum age for vaping to 21.
DeGette is the chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce oversight and investigations subcommittee. She has called to testify executives from five of the nation’s largest e-cigarette companies, which represent 97 percent of the country’s $19.3 billion vaping industry. These five companies include Juul, Logic, NJOY, Fontem, and Reynolds American, many of which have been the subject of prior congressional investigations regarding their marketing and business practices potentially targeting young people.
Thousands of individuals – many of them children and young adults – suffered serious personal injuries last year during a rash of vape-related illnesses, which caused dozens of deaths. The subcommittee is seeking information about how the companies’ marketing efforts have played a role in the teen vaping epidemic, as well as what known health risks their products may pose to users.
In response to this crisis, the Trump Administration (administration) released a new policy that at least temporarily banned some of the most popular vape pod-based flavors – fruit and mint – but leaving both tobacco and menthol flavors unregulated. However, there is concern that mint simply may be relabeled as menthol in some cases.
Further, many vape products remain on the market: disposable vape pens, open tank devices, and e-liquids available in vape shops. In essence, says Matt Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the administration’s rule leaves a gaping hole through which vulnerable populations can still access vape products. As a result, there has been a growing concern that young people will resort to using other disposable and cartridge-based products as a way to find similar sweet flavors.
Meredith Berkman of Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes says that kids continue to use disposable vape products in sweet flavors that are thought to lure children into the market. She emphasizes the risk of personal injury to adolescents newly hooked on a nicotine product with poorly understood health impacts.
Federal data shows that middle and high school students are particularly at risk of becoming addicted to vaping and the nicotine it provides. Over the course of 30 days, more than five million of these young people admit to using vape products at least once.
Starting in May of 2020, the administration’s new rule requires companies to get approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration to sell their vape products and to prove that they provide a public health benefit. However, critics fear that the argument used to sell vaping in the first place, i.e., that it’s healthier than smoking cigarettes, may allow these products back on the market.
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