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;
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
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.
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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