Liability roundup

Fifth Circuit: Apple not liable for crash of driver reading texts

“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has a rejected a products liability claim against Apple alleging that a woman’s neurobiological response to looking at a text message on her iPhone 5 while behind the wheel was the cause of a car crash that killed two people and paralyzed a child.” [John Council/Texas Lawyer, Tim Cushing/TechDirt; Meador v. Apple]

“Man Locked in Burger King Bathroom for an Hour Wants Free Whoppers for Life”

By most injury-suit standards, it’s hardly exorbitant: “Curtis Brooner is only seeking $9,026.16. That is still a lot given the nature of the alleged injury, namely being locked for an hour in the bathroom of a Burger King in Wood Village, Oregon. … Here, though, it’s not the amount but how it was calculated: Mr. Brooner is demanding the equivalent of one Whopper meal per week for the duration of his remaining life expectancy, which he and his attorney estimate will be another 22 years.” [Kevin Underhill, Lowering the Bar]

January 16 roundup

  • The two new heads of the judiciary committees in the Pennsylvania legislature are nonlawyers, and the legal community appears to be fine with that [Max Mitchell, Legal Intelligencer]
  • Long after his downfall in one of the worst U.S. legal scandals in years, Stan Chesley was still listed as holding an honored position at a major charity until a reporter started calling [Josh Nathan-Kazis, Forward, I’m quoted; update (Chesley’s name removed)]
  • National security restrictions form an important part of regulatory practice these days for international business, discussed at a Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention panel with William J. Haynes II, Timothy Keeler, Randal Milch, Donald Rosenberg, and moderator Eric J. Kadel, Jr.;
  • How seeking government intervention backfired on Silicon Valley [Drew Clark, Cato Policy Report]
  • Are Baltimore schools underfunded? tales of the gun buyback, local adoption of Daubert, and more in my latest Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes; plus redistricting updates]
  • “Despite Losing Its Copyright Case, The State Of Georgia Still Trying To Stop Carl Malamud From Posting Its Laws” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt, earlier]

“Why Doesn’t the FBI Videotape Interviews?”

For the FBI to videotape the interviews it conducts would presumably allow an improvement in accuracy over note-taking, an important issue when statements can lead to criminal conviction (either on underlying charges or on charges of lying to the government). They would also permit improved oversight of how well the FBI does its work. So why did FBI guidelines forbid the practice until 2014, and even now establish a presumption of recording only for custodial interviews? [Alex Tabarrok citing Michael Rappaport, Law and Liberty and Harvey Silverglate 2011]

OSHA drones flying over your workplace

“‘That buzzing noise over a construction site could be an OSHA drone searching for safety violations,’ Bloomberg Law reports, linking to a May 18, 2018 DOL memorandum obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Yes, your friendly neighborhood OSHA inspector is now authorized by the Labor Department ‘to use camera-carrying drones as part of their inspections of outdoor workplaces.'” And while current procedures call for obtaining employer consent before sending the spycams aloft, thus avoiding Fourth Amendment challenge, employers who refuse such consent “risk the ire of the DOL, with serious consequences. Nothing is more likely to put a target on an employer’s back for multiple and frequent future investigations than sending a DOL investigator away from your doors. Refusing consent will label you at the DOL as a bad faith employer that deserves closer scrutiny. This I know through experience practicing before DOL and as a former Administrator of DOL’s Wage & Hour Division.” [Tammy McCutchen, Federalist Society]

And speaking of the Fourth Amendment (if not of OSHA), here is a Cato Daily Podcast with Caleb Brown, Julian Sanchez, and Matthew Feeney on how courts think about rights against unreasonable search and seizure in the digital age, and what could be done to improve protections.

Land use and zoning roundup

  • Minneapolis enacts major relaxation of residential zoning, issue has united ideological opposites [Ilya Somin; Christian Britschgi; Somin on developments elsewhere]
  • “The Disconnect Between Liberal Aspirations and Liberal Housing Policy Is Killing Coastal U.S. Cities” [Better Institutions]
  • “Steelmanning the NIMBYs” [Scott Alexander, and a response from Michael Lewyn] Ben Carson battles the NIMBYs [Christian Britschgi]
  • “The use of new urbanist codes to promote inner-suburban renewal pose two distinct problems,” erosion of rule of law and high compliance costs [Nicole Garnett at Hoover conference on “Land, Labor, and the Rule of Law,” related video]
  • Obscure zoning change could give NYC politicos a lot of new leverage over hotel developers [Britschgi]
  • Cities are primarily labor markets, ordinances to suppress informal shanty town settlements commonly fail, and more insights from new Alain Bertaud book on markets and cities [Tyler Cowen]

Our inside tips vs. your inside tips

Concurring in a Second Circuit opinion declining to overturn an insider trading conviction in the case of U.S. v. Walters, Judge Dennis Jacobs points out “egregious” FBI leaks and “notices the irony that Walters and the FBI agent both apparently misused confidential information, but that only one of them is going to jail.” [Ira Stoll, Future of Capitalism]