Abortion Clinics: Shareholder Liability

It is settled law that corporate officers can be held responsible for damage they cause, even if the corporation itself is also found responsible. But what about shareholders of a corporation? Courts with equity powers (such as the DC courts) will deprive shareholders of the privilege of operating as a corporation and assign individual liability if the evidence shows misuse of the corporate form to perpetrate fraud or wrong. An egregious local example of shareholder liability for misuse of the corporate form is that of Mrs. Vuitch, ex-wife of abortion-purveyor Dr. Vuitch. His “clinic annex” was housed at their residence. Although Mrs. Vuitch moved out after their divorce, she remained as a shareholder in their business and as CFO. Educated in business and finance, she paid the bills for the vast clinic, and was aware of a brazenly illegal clinic policy that led to a gruesome injury and a jury finding of her personal liability, although she did not directly participate in the misconduct. The case was Vuitch v. Furr, 482 A.2d 811 (D.C. 1984).

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Marijuana: Seizure of Evidence

Under federal law, possession of even small amounts of marijuana is still a crime in the District. Federal law enforcement can still arrest anyone for possession in D.C., although local law enforcement (the Metropolitan Police Department) complies with local decriminalization of possession of up to 2 ounces by a person over age 21. But whether you’re 21 or under, or over 21, the government must not exceed constitutional prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures (whether seizure of a person or evidence of an alleged crime). The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives enhanced protection to preserving the sanctity of the home. Privacy in your home extends to all types of warrantless “searches,” whether the search is conducted in person by police, or through infrared technology. Your privacy might even be protected from warrantless surveillance flights above your property, depending on how common such flights are, if you maintain a “reasonable expectation of privacy” from such intrusions.

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