Today’s news:

Gavel to Gavel

What’s in a name?

The controversy over Barclays Bank’s ties to the slave trade will not be hashed out inside a courtroom, a judge announced last week, as he quashed a lawsuit against the bank and its plans to put its name on Forest City Ratner Companies’ planned basketball arena for the Atlantic Yards.

In a 20−page decision, Judge Arthur Schack threw out the case by Clive Campbell, who claimed that Barclays Bank is responsible for a litany of human rights violations for their alleged connection to the importing of African slaves to the U.S. from the 1600s to the early 1800s.

Campbell first filed his case in federal court, but the case was bounced back to Shack’s courtroom in Brooklyn Supreme Court because he “failed to assert any cause of action that would be cognizable in federal court.”

Once in State Supreme Court, Barclays, as well as codefendants FCRC, the New Jersey Nets and minority partner Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, filed a motion to have Campbell supply them with a more definite complaint, since the one he filed was “vague, ambiguous and failed to comply with basic pleading requirements.”

When Campbell offered a second amended complaint, Barclays and his codefendants asked to have the case dismissed, claiming that the lawsuit had a lot of information about the slave trade, but provides no facts to substantiate a cause of action.

“The second amended complaint is a rambling, disjointed, almost 30−page essay dealing with the history of the trans−Atlantic African slave trade, the injustices suffered by African slaves and their descendants, the alleged connection of Barclays to the slave trade and the alleged violation by all defendants of international, federal and state laws,” Schack notes in his findings. “Yet even if assuming that [Campbell] could assert human rights claims based on harm to his ancestors, the plaintiff lacks standing to assert such claims because any theoretical injury he may have suffered is not fairly traceable to the defendants alleged unlawful conduct.”

In his suit, Campbell lists six human rights violations, including that Barclays’ involvement in the slave trade was ethnic cleansing and that their alliance with FCRC denied him his “birth right to inherit the material wealth of his homeland and to ascent to a position of power and leadership within the borders of his ancestral homeland.”

He also cites consumer fraud, while at the same time noting that he is a big fan of Jay−Z and did not know about the rapper’s role in the conspiracy.

Campbell said he was seeking “$5 billion to benefit the black community as a settlement caused by the felonies, high crimes at sea and misdemeanors” of all involved.

Besides the money, Campbell demanded that the arena be named in honor of Harriet Tubman, “the heroine of the Underground Railroad.”

FDNY suicide to go to court

The ugly tale behind a firefighter’s suicide will be heard by a jury now that a judge has decided not to abide by the victim’s doctor’s pleas to have the case dismissed.

Judge Marsha Steinhardt assured a trial recently by throwing out the motion made by the doctor and psychiatrist who had cared for Firefighter James Manganaro before he took his own life in December 2004.

The medical malpractice suit, filed by Manganaro’s wife, claimed that the two practitioners gave the firefighter improper care and treatment which ultimately resulted in his suicide. The city of New York and the Fire Department are also named in the suit.

Manganaro’s wife claims that the firefighter sought out psychological help in April 2001 for some personal problems with his wife. After the attacks of the World Trade Center, he claimed to be suffering from anxiety and nightmares.

His psychiatrist prescribed Paxil and Wellbutrin.

While under a doctor’s care for the next three years, Manganaro showed some signs of improvement, but would always fall back into a depressive “crisis state.”

Near the end of his life, Manganaro was separated from his wife and “expressed suicidal ideation” according to the lawsuit.

He was placed on light duty and was referred to another psychiatrist, but showed little improvement.

The lawsuit states Manganaro took his own life after learning that his wife was planning to move on with her life.

While his physicians asked that the case be dismissed because there was not enough evidence to go to trial, Judge Steinhardt disagreed, claiming that there were “conflicting expert opinion regarding whether [the defendants] deviated from the standard of care.”

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