[svlug] ISSUE: SVLUG's continued status with SBAY

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Feb 24 13:54:57 PST 2006

Quoting Karen Shaeffer (shaeffer at neuralscape.com):

> Your comments about lawyers and civil lawsuits are so biased to be useless
> here. Not all lawsuits are without merit. 

_Huh?_  I certainly never said all lawsuits lack merit.  That's pretty 
bizarre, Karen.  I have no idea where you'd have gotten that impression,
and it's kinda puzzling that you'd say so.

What I said was:  

1.  LUGs don't tend to draw lawsuits.  Most of the things that tend to
create them aren't present.

(This isn't just an opinion:  I get news of LUGs from all over the
world.  I'm reporting that it's an observed fact because it simply is.)

2.  It's by no means clear, in a given factual situation where
someone might hypothetically try to sue, that a corporate liability
shield would be effective.  Let's go back to the hypothetical about my 
flipping burgers at a LUGOD-run[1] Linux Picnic.  The fellow who got
salmonella tries to haul me into court, and I file a demurrer pleading
that I was only acting for the corporation and am therefore legally immune.

Now, this would actually be played out via motions, but please imagine
that I'm being questioned by plaintiff's attorney:

"Mr. Moen, you say in your pleading that you're exempt from legal action
because you were merely acting an agent of the LUGOD corporation, within
the scope of your role under agency law.  Is that correct?"


"Were you employed by LUGOD corporation?"

"No.  I was a volunteer cook."

"Was there any formal description of your job as a cook?"

"None that I know of."

"So, you just made up your standards of conduct -- maybe concerning
hygeine, among other things.  I see.  Who was your supervisor?" 

"Um... I'm really not sure.  There was a guy I checked in with, and 
someone theoretically in charge of food operations, but I barely saw

"So, you were effectively unsupervised?"

"Umm...."  [shrinks down in his chair, looks about for help.]

"Did you use corporate tools and implements, or bring your own?"

"I brought my own."

"Were there particular times of day you were required to arrive and stay

"Well, no, not really."

"Your Honor, I submit that Mr. Moen in no way qualifies as an agent of
LUGOD corporation in this context, in accordance with the standard
yardsticks in agency law, and is accountable for his actions in his
individual capacity.  I ask for a ruling to that effect, and that his
pleading of demurrer be denied."

> I believe the corporate liability shield might protect some or all of these
> SVLUG folks in such a case.

Could be that _a_ corporate liability shield would.  (More than one 
corporation exists in this world.)   Or maybe it wouldn't.

[1] They are, as previously mentioned, a non-profit corporation, and
(unlike the other ones that several people keep talking about) are a
Linux user group.  I stress this fact because I'm tired of the bullshit
assumption that corporation == SBAY.

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