A California federal judge has approved the $1 million settlement of the lawsuit brought against University of California – Davis by students who were the victims of the shocking “casual pepper spray” incident at the Occupy protests that took place on the campus back in November 2011. The students were videotaped being saturated with pepper spray at close range by UC Davis police officer John Pike, as they sat on the ground with their hands under their seats.
According to the ACLU, “What happened on November 18 was among the worst examples of police violence against student demonstrators that we’ve seen in a generation. The early resolution to this lawsuit means that the students can begin the process of moving on and we can work with the University to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again at the University of California.”
In the wake of the incident, UC-Davis formed a task force to investigate the incident and analyze the police officers’r esponse to the protests. Their report stated that “The pepper spraying incident that took place on November 18, 2011 should and could have been prevented,” and determined that the police force as well as University administration were all responsible for poor handling of the incident.
As part of the settlement:
- $730,000 will be paid to the students who were arrested and pepper-sprayed;
- $250,000 will be paid to the attorneys for fees and costs;
- $20,000 will be paid to the ACLU for future work with UC-Davis to develop new policies on student demonstrations, crowed management, and the use of force;
- $100,000 has been set aside to compensate other students or individuals who were pepper-sprayed or wrongfully arrested;
- A formal written apology will be made by the UC-Davis Chancellor to each student or alumni who was pepper-sprayed or arrested;
- UC-Davis will assist students who were negatively affected in their academic performance to apply for an academic records adjustment.
The stakes have been raised in a California federal lawsuit brought by thousands of temporary warehouse workers against Schneider Logistics, a warehouse logistics company serving mega-retailer Wal-Mart. On January 10, 2013, the Judge overseeing the case, Carillo v. Schneider Logistics, ordered that Wal-Mart could be included in the lawsuit, which alleges violations of overtime rules, meal/rest breaks, and other labor code violations on behalf of approximately 1,800 workers.
What is monumental about this case is that none of the workers worked for Wal-Mart directly. According to the lawyers for the workers, ““Walmart has the ultimate say in how the warehouse work will be conducted,” says Michael Rubin, a plaintiff lawyer for the workers at the San Francisco law firm Altshuler Berzon. “The evidence shows a remarkable degree of control by Walmart. As a matter of economic reality, which is the ultimate legal test, Walmart should be held liable.”