Who Gets the Money if Portland Wins Its Lawsuits Against Trump?

No judge is likely to turn Keller Fountain into Scrooge McDuck’s Money Bin anytime soon.

Portland has filed several lawsuits against the feds for Trump-related high jinks. The Biden administration (if it happens) probably won't defend Trump's actions too vigorously, so we'll likely win those suits. Who gets that money? Do I get a cut? —Saul Goodman

Let's hope your childlike faith in a peaceful transfer of power is borne out by circumstances, Saul. But even if it is, that's probably all you're getting for Christmas, because no judge is likely to turn Keller Fountain into Scrooge McDuck's Money Bin anytime soon.

When gimlet-eyed lowlifes like you and me hear the word "lawsuit," we immediately think of those massive jury awards that put you in a position to have hot and cold ranch-dressing taps installed in every room of your trailer. However, such eye-popping numbers are usually punitive damages, a type of relief rarely sought in suits between government entities.

Governments may seek compensatory damages if something got broken, but often they're not after money at all. Instead, they seek injunctive or declaratory relief.

Injunctive relief is well known: Someone is doing something you don't like, so you go and get a court order telling them to knock it off.

Declaratory relief is more abstract: Someone is doing something you believe to be illegal, so you say, "Stop that, it's illegal." If they say "nuh-uh," you can ask a court for declaratory relief, which is basically a formal writ of "yuh-huh," backed by the full plenary authority of the legal system.

So, while both our city and state may be suing the U.S. government, money isn't the main objective in either case. No ranch for you!

But wait, there's more! Win this cheesy Dr. Know contest!

How? Just guess the day between now and the election Donald Trump will choose to announce/lie that a U.S. coronavirus vaccine is ready.

Never mind that manufacturing and distributing such a vaccine is exactly the sort of complex logistical challenge at which his administration has repeatedly proven hopeless. You know Trump thinks this cunning master stroke will win him the election.

We all know it's coming (challenging the very definition of "October surprise"). Tell us when and win! Send your best guess to dr.know@wweek.com. First prize is two VIP tickets to the next Dr. Know live show. Second prize is four VIP tickets to the next Dr. Know live show. Good luck!

Questions? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com

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