October 10 -- Hot
pickle suit. Veronica Martin of Knoxville, Tenn.
has sued a local McDonald's restaurant, alleging that last October it sold
her a hamburger containing an overly hot pickle that dropped onto her chin,
burning it so badly as to leave a scar. She's asking $110,000 for
medical bills, lost wages, physical and mental suffering, while her husband
Darrin says he deserves $15,000 for being deprived of her services and
consortium. The complaint was filed by attorney Amelia G. Crotwell,
of a Knoxville law firm coincidentally known as McDonald,
Levy & Taylor. (Randy Kenner, "Couple sue McDonald's over
spilled 'hot' pickle", Knoxville News-Sentinel,
7; "Couple Sues Over Hot Pickle Burn", AP/Yahoo, Oct.
7). (case settled: see April 16,
October 10 -- "Gunshot
wounds down almost 40 percent". The steep decline
took place between the years of 1993 and 1997, well before the unleashing
of mass litigation against gunmakers
by way of big-city lawsuits (AP/USA Today, Oct.
8). And despite attempts to redefine private ownership of guns
as some sort of out-of-control public health epidemic, "the number of fatal
gun accidents is at its lowest level since 1903, when statistics started
being kept." (Dave Kopel, "An Army of Gun Lies", National Review,
17). The Colorado-based Independence Institute, of which Kopel
is research director, maintains a Second
Amendment/criminal justice page which includes a section
on gun lawsuits.
October 10 -- Spread
of mold law. Injury and property damage claims arising
from the growth of mold in buildings were "virtually unheard of a few years
ago" but are now among the "hottest areas" in construction defect and toxic
tort law, reports Lawyers Weekly USA. "I view these
mold claims as similar to asbestos
30 years ago," Los Angeles lawyer Alexander Robertson told the Boston-based
newspaper. "Mold is everywhere," another lawyer says. "There
are no specific government guidelines and not a whole lot of medical information
on it. It's ripe for lawyers to get into and expand it." Most commonly
found when water gets into structures, mold has been blamed for a wide
variety of health woes including "respiratory problems, skin rashes, headaches,
lung disease, cognitive memory loss and brain damage, common everyday symptoms
that could be caused by other factors. That's where lawyers and expert
witnesses come in." ("Toxic mold a growing legal issue", UPI/ENN,
6) (via Junk Science).
October 10 -- Updates.
Following up on stories covered earlier in this space:
* Amid "tense confrontations", attempts to disrupt and block the
march, and the arrest of 147 protesters, Denver's Columbus Day parade (see
3) went on without actual bloodshed: Rocky
Mountain News, Denver
and New York Post
coverage, and National
* At the time of our June 12
commentary, hyperactive Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal
was up for a Second Circuit federal judgeship; now, the window of opportunity
for confirmation having slammed down on Clinton nominees, he's angling
for the Senate seat that Dems hope Joe Lieberman will soon vacate.
David Plotz in Slate profiles the ambitious pol as state AG,
"always trolling for power and press". (Sept.
* In the race-bias case filed by 21 workers at a northern California
Wonder Bread bakery (July 10, Aug.
4), a judge has reduced the jury's punitive damage award from $121
million to $24 million (Dennis J. Opatrny, "Dough Sliced in Wonder Bread
Case as Punitives Cut by $100 Million", The Recorder/CalLaw,
* An English instructor at the City College of San Francisco has
dropped his suit against the proprietor of a "course critique" Web site
that posts anonymous critiques of teachers (see Nov.
15, 1999). Daniel Curzon-Brown agreed to drop his defamation
suit over comments posted about him at the site and pay $10,000 in
attorneys' fees to the American Civil Liberties Union, which had represented
the proprietor of the website, Teacherreview.com.
An ACLU lawyer hails the outcome as a victory for free
speech on the Web.
(Lisa Fernandez, "Instructor at City College settles suit on Web critiques",
San Jose Mercury News, Oct.
October 6-9 --
Owens Corning bankrupt. The building materials giant,
known for its Pink Panther fiberglass insulation mascot, has filed for
Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, thus becoming one of the biggest of the
25+ companies to be bankrupted so far by the ongoing litigation over injuries
attributed to asbestos. Between
1952 and 1972 it sold a pipe insulation product trade-named Kaylo containing
the mineral, which brought it total revenues of $135 million over that
period; since then it's paid or committed to pay $5 billion in resulting
injury claims, with billions more still looming ahead (Oct. 5: CNNfn;
site). Over the years, Owens kept coming back to set aside one
more supposedly final reserve to cover its remaining lawsuit exposure,
but was proved wrong each time as claims accumulated (representative sunny-side-up
profile: Thomas Stewart, "Owens Corning: Back from the Dead", Fortune,
26, 1997). In late 1998 it agreed to pay $1.2 billion to settle
what were billed as 90 percent of the claims then in its pipeline, but
that pipeline soon filled up again as lawyers filed new suits ("Owens Corning
settles suits", CNNfn,
15, 1998). Regarding the irrationality of the current asbestos
litigation system as a way to compensate injured workers, its high overhead
and delay, the capriciousness of its outcomes, and its burdensomeness to
the thousands of businesses that by now have been pulled in as defendants,
see the testimony of several witnesses at the House Judiciary Committee
hearing held July
1, 1999, in particular Harvard
prof Christopher Edley, former
HHS secretary Louis Sullivan, and GAF's
Samuel Heyman; regarding the quality of many of the claims, the means
by which many were recruited, and the techniques used to maximize the number
of defendants named in each, see our "Thanks for the Memories", Reason,
Owens Corning at various times acquired a reputation as the asbestos
defendant that would try to meet the plaintiff's lawyers halfway rather
than fight them ditch by ditch. It opposed last year's proposal for
a legislated federal system of asbestos compensation, saying that it placed
more confidence in the arrangements it was negotiating with trial lawyers
to resolve claims (Owens testimony
This testimony was delightedly seized on by the bill's opponents (dissent
by twelve Democratic members, see text at note 8; note the striking
similarity in the dissent's overall arguments to those in earlier
ATLA testimony). Earlier, the company had even gone so far as
to fund discovery by trial lawyers aimed at uncovering other asbestos defendants
for them to sue in hopes of taking some of the pressure off itself, according
to Michael Orey's Assuming the Risk: The Mavericks, The Lawyers and
the Whistle-Blowers Who Beat Big Tobacco (Little, Brown, 1999, p. 255).
In the end, these methods seemed to work no better in saving it from ruin
than the ditch by ditch style of defense worked for others.
Iin their dissenting
opinion, the twelve Democratic House members also wrote as follows:
"We also find little evidence to support the proponents' claim that the
legislation is needed because we will otherwise face a growing stream of
bankruptcies by defendant companies. ...Our review of the specific liability
statements by publicly traded asbestos defendants confirms that the principal
remaining asbestos defendants are not facing any significant threat of
bankruptcy." They name, as particular examples of companies for which
there is no such threat, W.R. Grace and Owens Corning. "The situation is
much the same with other significant asbestos defendants - U.S. Gypsum,
Federal Mogul, Armstrong World Industries, and Pfizer (parent company of
Quigley) all have indicated there is little likelihood that asbestos liability
could lead to bankruptcy." (see text at notes 10-15). Pfizer aside,
most of these stocks were hit Thursday on Wall Street with losses of 20
to 35 percent of their value, and many have lost 75 percent or more of
their value over the past year (Jonathan Stempel, "Owens Corning Woes Hit
Other Firms", Yahoo/Reuters, Oct.
5). It would be remiss of us not to name the twelve Judiciary
Democrats responsible for this peer into a decidedly clouded financial
crystal ball: they are John Conyers, Jr. (Mich.), Howard L. Berman (Calif.),
Rick Boucher (Va.), Robert C. Scott (Va.), Melvin L. Watt (N.C.), Zoe Lofgren
(Calif.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Maxine Waters (Calif.), William D.
Delahunt (Mass.), Steven R. Rothman (N.J.), Tammy Baldwin (Wisc.), and
Anthony D. Weiner (New York). (DURABLE
October 6-9 --
Bioethicist as defendant. Arthur Caplan of the University
of Pennsylvania, perhaps the nation's most quoted medical
ethicist, is now also apparently the first to face a lawsuit over his advice.
"The father of Jesse Gelsinger, an 18-year-old from Arizona who died a
year ago during experimental therapy for his inborn metabolic disorder,
named Caplan in a lawsuit against several Penn doctors and two hospitals,"
saying he should not have advised researchers to use full-grown research
subjects on ethical grounds (because they could give knowing consent),
as opposed to infants, in their experimental therapy. Some say that
for practitioners to start getting sued represents a sign that bioethics
has finally made it as a discipline. (Arthur Allen, "Bioethics comes
of age", Salon, Sept.
October 6-9 --
Car dealers vs. online competition. The Internet
could make car buying a lot cheaper and easier; unfortunately, existing
dealers have a strong lobby in state capitals and have been working hard
to block online competition (Solveig Singleton, "Will the Net Turn Car
Dealers Into Dinosaurs?", Cato Briefing Papers #58, July
25 (study in
PDF format); James Glassman, "Car Dealers Declare War on the New Economy",
TechCentralStation/ Reason Online, April
3; Murray Weidenbaum, "Auto dealers quash Internet competition", Christian
Science Monitor, Aug.
17; Scott Woolley, "A car dealer by any other name", Forbes,
October 6-9 --
Blue-ribbon excuses. In Bucks County, Pa., Samuel Feldman
has been convicted of mutilating baked goods in stores over a two-year
period; merchants complained of thousands of dollars of losses including
3,087 loaves of sliced bread, 175 bags of bagels, and 227 bags of potato
dinner rolls. An Archway distributor said that after the defendant
visited shelves of packaged cookies, each was found to have a thumb-poke
through its jelly center. Feldman's wife Sharon told the jury that
the couple are "picky shoppers" and inspect products carefully: "Freshness
is important." And his attorney, Ellis Klein, "asked the jury to
be tolerant of different styles of bread selection. 'Not everybody just
takes a loaf and puts in their cart.'" (Oshrat Carmiel, "Judge clamps
down on bread squisher", Philadelphia Inquirer, Sept.
22) (see update Nov. 30).
Meanwhile, in West Palm Beach, Fla., after being found guilty of bribery,
former criminal defense lawyer Philip G. Butler "decided he had done a
bad job of defending himself. So Butler appealed his felony conviction,
that he failed to tell himself about the danger of waiving competent counsel."
An appeals court wasn't buying. (Stephen Van Drake, A Fool for a
Client", Miami Daily Business Review, Sept.
October 6-9 --
"Money to burn". American Lawyer profile of Charleston,
S.C.'s Ness, Motley, Loadholt, Richardson & Poole talks about some
of the ways the firm's trial lawyers are handling their enormous income
from the state tobacco settlement
(156-foot yacht, new office building, hanging out with Hillary
Clinton and Al Gore a lot) but doesn't get into the question of what
their aggregate take from the tobacco caper will be -- elsewhere it's been
reported to be in the billions, with a "b". (Alison Frankel, American
October 6-9 --
"Attorneys general take on Mexican food industry".
A parody we missed earlier, appearing in the online Irk Magazine
24). As always with these things, do as we do and keep repeating
to yourself: it's just a parody ... it's just a parody ... it's just a
October 5 -- For
Philly, gun lawsuits just the beginning. Philadelphia's
city solicitor, Kenneth I. Trujillo, is forming a new "affirmative-litigation
unit" within his department to file lawsuits against national and local
businesses and recover (he hopes) millions of dollars for the city, teaming
up with private lawyers who will work on contingency. "He said he
hoped the city's pending lawsuit against gun
manufacturers would prove to be just the beginning. 'It's really about
righting a wrong,' Trujillo said about the cases he plans to pursue. 'Not
only do they have a public good, but they're rewarding in other ways. They're
rewarding financially.'" While in private practice, Trujillo founded
a firm that specialized in filing class-action suits. He declines
to discuss possible targets, but other cities and states have sued lead
paint and pigment makers, and San Francisco, which pioneered the idea
of a municipality-as-plaintiff strike force, has gone after banks and other
financial companies. (Jacqueline Soteropoulos, "City solicitor banks
on lawsuits", Philadelphia Inquirer, Sept.
26). (also see Oct. 13-15)
October 5 -- New
feature on Overlawyered.com: letters page.
We get a lot of mail from readers and have thus far been able to fit only
a very few highlights from it onto our front page. This new separate
page series should give us a chance to publish a wider selection without
interrupting the flow of main items. We start
with two letters, from PrairieLaw columnist David Giacalone and HALT
counsel Thomas Gordon, reacting to reader David Rubin's criticism of small
claims court earlier this week.
October 5 -- Scarier
than they bargained for. When lawyers' promotional
efforts go wrong: California law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver
& Hedge, to call attention to its new San Francisco office, sent hundreds
of potential clients brown cardboard boxes filled with realistic-looking
grenades, along with a promotional note advising businesses to "arm" themselves
against legal dangers. Unfortunately, two of the recipients thought
the devices were real and called the bomb squad (Gail Diane Cox, "Law Firm's
Explosive Ad Campaign Draws Critics, Attention", CalLaw/The Recorder,
October 5 --
Judge tells EEOC to pay employer's fees. "Calling it 'one
of the most unjustifiable lawsuits' he ever presided over, U.S. District
Judge Robert Cleland in Bay City, Mich., ordered the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission to pay a Burger King owner more than $58,000 in
his legal costs fighting discrimination charges. The judge also ordered
five EEOC lawyers to present the commission
with his findings that they mishandled the case," brought against E.J.
Sacco Inc. (Winston Wood, "Work Week", Wall Street Journal/Career
8 (next to last item)).
October 5 --
Sidewalk toilets nixed again. Boston is the latest city
whose plans to become more Paris-like have run into trouble, as its planned
$250,000 outdoor commodes fail to comply with handicap-access
laws. (Steven Wilmsen, "State approval denied for city's new 'street
furniture'", Boston Globe, Sept.
October 4 -- Presidential
debate. Vice President Al Gore: "I cast my lot with
the people even when it means that you have to stand up to some powerful
interests who are trying to turn the policies and the laws to their advantage."
He mentions HMOs, insurance, drug and oil companies, but omits an interest
group that's backed him with great enthusiasm over the years, trial lawyers.
"I've been standing up to big Hollywood, big trial lawyers," responds Texas
Gov. George W. Bush. And later: "I think that people need to be held
responsible for the actions they take in life." (CNN transcript;
scroll 3/4 and 7/8 of way down)
October 4 -- Aviation:
John Denver crash. Survivors of singer John Denver,
who was killed three years ago in the crash of a do-it-yourself amateur
he was flying off the Pacific coast, have obtained a settlement in their
lawsuit against Gould Electronics Inc. and Aircraft Spruce & Specialty
Co., which made and sold a fuel valve on the craft. An investigation
by the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the accident
happened because Denver knowingly took off with low fuel in a plane with
which he was unfamiliar, the fuel lever was hard to reach, and when he
reached around to grab it he lost control of the aircraft. A commentary
on AvWeb describes the evidence in the manufacturers' defense as "seemingly
overwhelming": "Everyone involved in general aviation knows that out-of-control
lawsuits are the reason a flange on a car costs a quarter and the same
flange for a Mooney will run you 150 bucks, and it only seems to be getting
worse. ...Perhaps in addition to asking the presidential candidates their
stands on user fees, the aviation industry should demand to know their
positions on tort reform." The commentary goes on to discuss lawsuits
filed over the Air France Concorde crash and over Northwest Airlines' New
Year's Day 1999 customer delay fiasco at the snowbound Detroit airport
("John Denver's relatives settle lawsuit against manufacturers", AP/FindLaw,
29; "John Denver's Heirs Settle Lawsuit Over His Death", Reuters/ Yahoo,
30; "Run Out Of Fuel? Stuck In A Storm? File A Lawsuit And Win!", AvWeb,
2; "Close-Up: The John Denver Crash", AvWeb, May
1999; NTSB synopsis;
(Usenet discussions -- check recent thread on Denver crash)).
October 4 -- School
now says hugs not forbidden. Euless Junior High
School, in suburban Dallas, now denies that it punished eighth-graders
Le'Von Daugherty, 15, and Heather Culps, 14, for simply hugging each other
in the hallway, as was widely reported last week. Instead it says
the girls had been repeatedly insubordinate and that hugging as such is
not against the rules, only "overfamiliarity". However, last week
Knight-Ridder reported that the school's principal, David Robbins, "says
such physical contact is inappropriate
in school because it could lead to other things. Robbins said
he stands by his rule that no students should hug in school. ... [It] increases
the chances of inappropriate touching and creates peer pressure for students
who may not want that type of contact." ("Texas school defends punishing
girls for hug", Reuters/ FindLaw, Oct.
2; Gina Augustini Best, "Texas junior high punishes girls for hugging
in hallway", Knight-Ridder/Miami Herald, Oct.
1; see also March 2 (Halifax, N.S.)).
And in suburban Atlanta, school officials have explained why 11-year-old
Ashley Smith will not be allowed to appeal her two-week suspension over
the 10-inch novelty chain that hangs from her Tweety bird wallet (see Sept.
29): "They noted that students are routinely shown samples of items
banned under the weapons policy
at the beginning of the school year. 'These items have been used in the
past as weapons. A chain like the one in question can have any number of
devices attached to it and it becomes a very dangerous weapon,' said Jay
Dillon, communications director for Cobb County school district."
("Feathers fly over school suspension", Reuters/ Excite,
October 4 -- Trial
lawyers' clout in Albany. "Albany insiders say David Dudley
-- a former counsel to Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno who now lobbies
for the state trial lawyers association -- was a key figure behind Senate
passage of a bill to lift caps on fees lawyers earn in medical
malpractice cases," Crain's New York Business reported this
summer. The measure, long sought by trial lawyers, "had the support
of the Democrat-run Assembly, but could never win backing from Mr. Bruno
and the Republican-controlled Senate. Insiders believe Mr. Dudley
reminded Senate Republicans that failure to give the trial lawyers at least
one victory this election year could prompt the lawyers to fund Democratic
opponents." Mr. Dudley would not comment; since passing both houses,
the bill has been sent to the desk of Republican Governor George Pataki.
("Bruno ex-counsel key to lawyer bill", Crain's New York Business,
July 24, fee-based
October 4 -- New
visitor record on Overlawyered.com. We set another
weekly and daily traffic record last week. Thanks for your support!
October 3 -- U.S.
Department of Justice vs. Columbus Day? The Italian-American
organizers of Denver's Columbus Day parade are in hot water because they'd
like the event to include some reference to the
man for whom the holiday is named. Local American Indian and
Hispanic groups have protested honoring someone they see as symbolizing
European settlement, native displacement, slavery and even genocide; heeding
their concerns, the city and federal governments pressed organizers to
accept permit conditions under which the parade would avoid mentioning
the explorer, according to attorney Simon Mole of the American Civil Liberties
Union. "With the help of the U.S. Justice Department, Italian-Americans
and American Indians reached agreement [earlier in September] to hold a
'March for Italian Pride' on Oct. 7 that would exclude any references to
Christopher Columbus," reports the Denver Post, but the agreement
fell through after the organizers decided they had been giving away their
First Amendment rights under government pressure. Menacingly, however,
"LeRoy Lemos, who represents a group called Poder, a Hispanic community
rebuilding program, said references to Columbus at the parade will not
be tolerated. 'After seven years of peace, our position remains that there
will never be a Columbus Day parade in Denver - not this year, not next
year, not ever,' Lemos said. 'If they violate the terms of the agreement,
there will be no parade. Period.'" Who's the Justice Department protecting,
SOURCES: J. Sebastian Sinisi, "Columbus' name banned from
'Italian Pride March'", Denver Post, Sept.
21; J. Sebastian Sinisi, "Columbus parade pact fails", Denver Post,
29; "The right to march" (editorial), Denver Post, Sept.
30; Al Knight, "Webb deaf to free speech", Denver Post, Oct.
articles; Peggy Lowe and Kevin Flynn, "Italians renege on renaming
parade", Rocky Mountain News, Sept.
29; Vince Carroll, "Let Columbus rest in peace", Rocky Mountain
24; Bill Johnson, "Columbus, well, that's not all this parade's about",
Mountain News, Oct.
bio courtesy of student projects, St. Joseph's School, Ireland. Update:
parade held with disruptions and mass arrests, no bloodshed (see Oct.
10). (DURABLE LINK)
October 3 --
From our mail sack: small claims court. David
Rubin writes from Los Angeles: "I am a defense lawyer who generally
supports the ideas which you espouse on this forum. However, I can safely
say that out in Los Angeles, the small claims court (see Sept.
29) is more akin to a Kangaroo court than anything else. The
reason cases can be heard so quickly in small claims is that judges spend
so little time on them. The average small claims case lasts 5 minutes.
I had a client who had a small claims judgment entered against him, based
on a contractual debt owed to a company. This company had been shut down
by the Corporations Department for fraud, based on the very contract the
client had been found liable on. The client had evidence of this, but the
judge wouldn't hear of it.
"The judge simply asked 'Did you sign this contract?' - Client: 'Yes'.
- Judge: 'Did you pay this debt?' - Client: 'Well, you see...' - Judge:
'Yes or no?' - Client: 'No' - Judge: 'Judgment for the plaintiff'.
"Speedy justice isn't always justice, you know..."
October 3 -- Volunteer
gamers' lawsuit. Heated discussions in progress
around the Net re Fair Labor Standards
Act lawsuit demanding retroactive minimum wage pay and benefits for
volunteer fans who've helped administer online
role-playing games (see Sept. 12): Nihilistic.com
discussion; "GamerX", "Money Changes Everything", CNET GameCenter,
(Lum the Mad).
October 3 -- More
things you can't have: raw-milk cheeses. "The Food and
Drug Administration is considering new rules that either would ban or drastically
limit the manufacture and import of raw milk, or unpasteurized, cheeses."
These include most of the interesting ones that one would go out of one's
way to eat. Safety grounds, of course, are cited: the more the compulsory
assurances that we will live to a healthy old age, the fewer the reasons
to want to do so. (Eric Rosenberg, "U.S. ponders ban on raw milk
cheese", San Francisco Examiner, Sept.
18; "Do dangerous organisms lurk in your favorite unpasteurized cheese?",
October 2 -- Killed
his mother, now suing his psychiatrists. "Two summers
ago, Alfred L. Head drove his car through the front wall of his family's
Reston[, Va.] home, then walked in with a baseball bat and beat his mother
to death." Found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to a mental
hospital, he's now suing the psychiatrists
he says should have prevented him
from doing it. According to the Washington Post, "a number
of experts said Head may have a strong case. They point to Wendell Williamson,
a North Carolina man who went on a shooting rampage that killed two people
and later won $500,000 after suing a psychiatrist who had stopped treating
him eight months before the shooting..... Commonwealth's Attorney Robert
F. Horan Jr., who prosecuted Head, said he had 'a history of manipulating
the mental health community.' Head knew the right words and behaviors
to avoid hospitalization, Horan said. 'It's hard for me to believe,' he
said, 'that the very guy who manipulated the system now says the system
screwed up while he was manipulating them. He successfully conned all of
them.'" (Tom Jackman, "Reston Family Sues in Insanity Case", Washington
October 2 -- No
fistful of dollars. After deliberating for four
hours, a San Jose jury found that Clint Eastwood does not have to pay damages
to a disabled woman who said his inn/restaurant violated the Americans
with Disabilities Act. The jury found him liable for two minor
violations of the law but declined to assign damages. (Brian Bergstein,
"Eastwood cleared in disabled case", AP/Yahoo, Sept.
"Clint Eastwood Explains His Beef With the ADA", Business Week,
17; Sept. 21 and earlier commentaries
October 2 -- Judge
throws out half of federal tobacco suit. In a 55-page
opinion, U.S. district judge Gladys Kessler last week threw out the health-cost
reimbursement portions of the Clinton Administration's much-ballyhooed
lawsuit against tobacco companies, while allowing to proceed, for now
at least, its claims under the dangerously broad and vague RICO (racketeering)
law. "Congress' total inaction for over three decades precludes an
interpretation ... that would permit the government to recover Medicare"
and other expenses, Kessler ruled. Both sides claimed victory, but cigarette
stocks rose sharply on Wall Street.
According to Reuters, 'Kessler expressed reservations about whether
the racketeering claims would ultimately prove successful. 'Based on the
sweeping nature of the government's allegations and the fact the parties
have barely begun discovery to test the validity of these allegations,
it would be premature for the court to rule (now),' Kessler wrote.
'At a very minimum the government has stated a claim for injunctive relief:
whether the government can prove it remains to be seen.'" (Pete Yost,
"Judge: 2 Claims Out in Tobacco Case", AP/Yahoo, Sept.
28; Lyle Denniston, "Federal judge throws out half of tobacco industry
lawsuit", Baltimore Sun, Sept.
v. Philip Morris -- main
decision in PDF format via Findlaw).
October 2 -- Malpractice
outlays on rise in Canada. "Damage claims arising
from medical malpractice are
costing Canadian doctors and taxpayers an arm and a leg, especially in
Ontario," according to estimates from the Canadian
Medical Protective Association, which defends doctors in court.
There are pronounced regional differences, with average settlements in
closed cases running C$172,000 in Ontario, C$67,000 in Quebec, and in between
elsewhere. The projected cumulative cost of all pending claims
is expected to reach C$3 million per Canadian
doctor by the end of 2000 -- a number that seems strangely high given the
reported size of claims, but which is not further elucidated in the story.
(Dennis Bueckert, "Malpractice awards averaging $3 million per doctor are
a major cost to taxpayers", CP/St. Catharines (Ont.) Standard, Oct.
1) (more on