New Orleans fans file suit over Saints loss

“Stuck between anger and depression over Sunday’s debacle in the Dome, a few dyspeptic New Orleans Saints fans have settled into an equally predictable stage of grief: litigation.” Among the claimed damages: “loss of enjoyment of life” [John Simerman, The Advocate]

Appellate lawyer Raffi Melkonian, on Twitter, writes: “Let me handicap this for everyone — this case has literally 0 chance of success. 0%. 100% minus 100%. It is dead on arrival. It is pushing up the daisies. A Court would rather deal with 200 sovereign citizen petitions than grant such relief.”

Environment roundup

  • EPA reversal on Waters of the United States rule gives power back to states [Andrew Wheeler, Kansas City Star; related Federalist Society video with Donald Kochan and Robert Glicksman; earlier]
  • Even if one concedes that throwaway items generate environmental externalities, it still doesn’t mean laws should ban disposable diapers or other single-use plastics [Ryan Bourne, Telegraph/Cato] “New Jersey Plans a Plastic-Banning Spree” [Christian Britschgi]
  • NYC’s Mayor de Blasio: “we will seize their buildings and we will put them in the hands of a community nonprofit.” [John Sexton]
  • It’s sometimes claimed that NYC’s unusually high cost of constructing public infrastructure arises from its preexisting infrastructure, geology, and high land values, yet other world cities with tougher challenges in each category build at much lower cost [Connor Harris, City Journal]
  • Podcast: Lynne Kiesling lecture on environmental economics [Cato University 2018]
  • Acrylamide follies: “Bid to introduce cancer warnings on breakfast cereal packaging fails in California court” [Legal NewsLine, from July] After public outcry, state of California acted last summer to forestall possible Prop 65 warnings on coffee [New York Times, earlier]

Amash bill: make feds pay when they take border land

The Eminent Domain Just Compensation Act, introduced by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), would require the feds to pay at the time of taking, rather than long afterward, when taking land by eminent domain for the proposed border wall. “It is unjust for the government to seize someone’s property with a lowball offer and then put the burden on them to fight for what they’re still owed,” Rep. Amash said in a statement. “My bill will stop this practice by requiring that a property’s fair value be finalized before DHS takes ownership.” While the bill applies only to the Homeland Security Department, its principles could presumably be generalized through further legislation. [David Bier, Cato] Related: Ilya Somin, and earlier here and here.

Justice Department revamps consent decree rules: what the press missed

The feds plan to be less heavy-handed in using consent decrees to micromanage states and cities, and there’s a good case for that, I argue at National Review. Alas, as I explain, national media bungled the story in November by characterizing Jeff Sessions’s memo as if it were primarily aimed at reducing oversight of police. “Not once in its seven pages does the word ‘police’ even appear.”

My short piece doesn’t take up the question of how the well-documented problems of consent decrees in other areas are to be weighed against the possible advantages of the device in curbing abuse-prone police departments. But at least some advocates of police reform and accountability have expressed doubts about whether the process, which can sometimes take political pressure off the local authority, really works as advertised [David Meyer Lindenberg, Tim Lynch, Scott Greenfield; see also John McGinnis]

Medical roundup

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]