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Posted November 29: 

Like other states (see Nov. 12), my own state of Wisconsin also has an Employees' Right To Know law, which is found as section 101.58 in the Wisconsin Statutes.  This law requires that employees be informed as to the use or storage of chemicals in the workplace.  Exceptions are made for certain chemicals that need not be disclosed as they are not considered to be toxic substances.  These include, for example, "Any mixture containing a substance regulated under title 29 of the code of federal regulations part 1910, subpart z, if the substance is less than one percent, or, if the substance is an impurity, less than 2%, of the product," or "Any consumer product packaged for distribution to and used by the general public, for which the employee's exposure during use is not significantly greater than the consumer's exposure occurring during the principal use of the product."

The interesting exception to the normal definition of a toxic substance is sub. F: lutefisk!  [See 101.58(2)(j)(2)(f) Stats -- scroll down].  As some of your readers may know, lutefisk is dried codfish that has been soaked in a water and lye solution before cooking, a dish that the Norskies (and seemingly no one else) just love.  [more; recipe; contest; Christmas parody; "Prairie Home Companion" connection].  Lutefisk dinners at churches are common in this area.  I guess Wisconsin just has too many legislators of Norwegian ancestry.  -- Mark Reitz, Baraboo, Wisc.

[We remember lutefisk breakfasts from our Scandinavian Midwestern upbringing -- not only should unwary workers be warned about them, so should everyone else.]

I don't agree that Danny Hellman's e-mail prank was harmless (see Oct. 26-28).  I've never heard of Ted Rall, but Danny's actions as described on his own website are malicious. Wouldn't you hate it if someone did that to you? -- Garth Jones, Schaumburg, Ill.

[Yes, we'd be furious, and we agree in not viewing the prank as harmless.  Still, we hope we'd have it within us at some point to call off the dogs, as Rall has not, after getting an immediate apology and retraction from Hellman and inflicting thousands of dollars in legal expenses on him.]

Regarding the Sept. 11 litigation-to-come, and the sight of tort lawyers angling for suits against various deep pockets and advising victims not to seek relief from the government fund (which would require them to waive all claims against other parties): it got me to wondering whether there were many suits during WWII or other wars claiming that various parties should have protected plaintiffs from the depredations of foreign enemies.  I found it hard to believe that tort doctrine would encourage suits against, say, shipowners claiming that if they had only been a little more careful in their selection of routes or timing of passage they wouldn't have been sunk by German submarines. 

To my surprise, my very limited research did turn up a couple of cases holding shipowners liable for negligence for sailing in enemy sub-infested waters rather than on an inland route, Tatem v. Southern Transp. Co., 72 F. Supp. 44 (E.D. Pa. 1947), and for failing to douse running lights in enemy sub-infested waters, The Friar Rock, 69 F. Supp. 538 (1947).  Of course, the standard of negligence applied in these cases is rather stricter than today's standards, but it is interesting that tort law did not, as I had expected, automatically bar cross-claims between victims of war for injuries caused by enemy attacks.  Which is not to say that there may not be excellent policy reasons for curtailing such claims.  -- Doug Levene, Wilton, Ct.

I notice you have not covered the Ninth Circuit's recent Summerlin decision in which a prisoner was given the right to an evidentiary hearing to determine if the judge who sentenced him was under the influence of marijuana at the time.  Judge Alex Kozinski, in dissent, worried that this will open the floodgates for prisoners to take fishing expeditions into the private lives of judges. [see Edward Lazarus, "Judicial Privacy Versus the Right to a Fair Trial", FindLaw, Oct. 16]

If we had a sane and rational legal system in this country I would agree with Judge Kozinski.  However, for the past twenty years judges have largely permitted anyone even tangentially connected to litigation -- be it a party, a witness, or juryman -- to have his or her privacy invaded through discovery and expansive voir dire, so that today I'm not sure there is such a thing as privacy for anyone when litigation is in process.  In addition, judges have looked the other way as that behemoth known as the War on Drugs has gradually vivisected the Bill of Rights, permitting drug searches of everyone from employees to student athletes with no probable cause.  So just how much cause for concern should there be when judges are now told that they have to live under the same rules they have written for the rest of us?  -- Mel Dahl, Swansea, Mass.

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