YOU CAN BEAT CITY HALL by W. Bernard Richland


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Local governments are the ""most sued and the most sueable"" of all entities, according to former N.Y.C. corporation counsel Bernard Richland, who has pulled together assorted pointers for dealing with such bureaucracies. This is not a do-it-yourself guide--Richland's most frequent advice is to get a lawyer--but it does contain interesting glimpses of governmental law's more arcane statutes. ""Sovereign immunity"" allows cities and states to decide whether or not they can even be sued, for example, and notice-of-claim laws establish deadlines for filing suit (a Minnesota man whose legs were amputated by mistake in a municipal hospital collected nothing because he filed too late). Particularly intriguing is Richland's advice to choose a ""wealthy partner"" for someone poor whom you must sue: if an uninsured motorist hits you while swerving around a pothole, sue him and the City because both are fully liable and, presumably, the City will be able to pay. As for the rest, Richland covers such issues as property tax complaints, zoning, contracts, licenses and permits, the right to information, and even mobilizing to sponsor ballot referendums, usually with his main points clearly summarized at the end of each chapter. Overall, some interesting examples of legal hocus-pocus, interspersed with useful hints on what to do until the lawyer comes.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1980
Publisher: Rawson, Wade--dist. by Scribners