January 29 roundup

  • Update to Maine Board of Tourism intimidate-a-blogger-by-litigation lawsuit: case dismissed, government official fired. [Maine Web Report; AP/Boston Globe]
  • Senter blocks State Farm Katrina class settlement. [Point of Law; Rossmiller; Woullard v. State Farm]
  • Senator Schumer (D-NY) calls for liability reform to save New York economy; Governor Spitzer shows up at press conference. [Point of Law]
  • Canadian $10M settlement for Syrian torture: that’s what we get for trusting Syria. [Frum]
  • Remember that case in Snohomish where the celebratory cannon blew up at the football game? And the plaintiffs’ lawyer complained that the injured student was getting threatened by the townspeople over his lawsuit? Turns out the student (allegedly) told a youth minister that he deliberately overloaded the cannon for “a bigger bang,” and now is (allegedly) harassing the minister. And the original threats had nothing to do with football spirit. Everett Herald]

  • Regulations drive restaurateurs from New York to friendlier (if armpittier) climes. [New York via Taylor]
  • Suit: suicide fault of auto dealership sponsoring “Hands on a Hardbody” contest. [AP/ Austin American-Statesman]
  • Nanny statism meets failure to contemplate ex ante vs. ex post thinking in UK: new Manchester police policy is to refuse to chase helmetless bicycle thieves. [Telegraph (h/t F.R.)](earlier)

  • Private eyes and lawyers among the transactions costs of rent regulation in New York. [NYT]
  • The war on science doesn’t just come from the right. [Adler @ Volokh; Sandefur @ Positive Liberty]

  • Mrs. Alito is very cool [WaPo via Bashman]


  • Concerning the “hands on a hardbody,” and previously the water intoxication case, I’m wondering how these contests still happen. Don’t the contest-runners read blogs like this? Right or not, it seems to me that a suit like this was inevitable at some point for some reason.

  • JB, you’re right as far as the water intoxication case. But the problem with your argument as far as the Hardbody contest is that the lawsuit is entirely frivolous, and should be (but won’t be) sanctionable. You can’t stop holding contests to be safe from lawsuits; to avoid being sued on grounds such as those, one would have to shut down one’s business entirely.

  • If I was running a contest wherein people held their hands on a car for an indefinite period, and in the past people had done so until they wandered off insensible, I’d totally expect a lawsuit, frivolous or not. In this legal climate, I don’t understand how businesses run these, given that they’re likely to be sued and, even if the suit is frivolous, have to pay lawyers to make it go away.

  • Regarding the settlement to the Syrian national, if I were a Canadian I would be very very angry about this. Essentially, Canadian taxpayers are reimbursing a man for torture that Syria did. How is that fair? Of course, I doubt that the man could get recompense from Syria, (although that would put him on an equal footing with Syria’s other torture victims) but at least Canada should have put some kind of demand to Syria, an apology at the very least, instead of blaiming the US for it(which is how all the news reports of this read).