January 6 roundup

  • Griffin Bell, Carter AG dead at 90, was (among much else) respected Democratic voice for litigation reform [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

  • “700,000 squiggles”: historic NY high court crackdown on trial lawyers’ pothole map [NYT; D’Onofrio v. City of New York slip op h/t reader Andrew Barovick; way back, City Journal]

  • Judge gets off pretty easy after her drunken crash into cop car [Hartford Courant via ChicTrib] Connecticut’s wild-n-crazy judiciary [Courant]

  • Follow the rules and seat Burris: National Journal quotes me in its bloggers’ poll [Illinois Senate appointment]

  • Legal history moment: Statute of Anne, 1710, turned copyright law into force for liberty [Cathy Gellis]

  • Blind editorial squirrel finds acorn: NY Times editorial on Calif good-Samaritan liability not half bad [yes, NYT]

  • “Win yourself a $50,000 bounty by busting a patent” [Forbes]

  • Dental student dismissed from University of Michigan wins $1.7 million from four profs, argued that claimed academic deficiencies were just ruse [ABA Journal]


  • With regard to your mention of the NYT’s coverage of NYC’s Pothole Law, please see the December 19, 2008 posting on “thenewyorkmedicalmalpracticelawblog.com,” wherein the cases that made the news are provided as well.

  • I used to defend sidewalk suits at the City. The “Big Appple Map” scam is just the tip of the iceberg. Many of the suits are completely fraudulent, with the accident happening in a completely different way (a fall from a bike, not a trip on a crack) or arguably not happening at all (no witnesses, an odd “injury” like bulging discs, plaintiffs who file multiple trip-fall suits, etc.). All a plaintiff lawyer need do before filing suit, I suppose, is ask a potential plaintiff: did you fall near this symbol? while pointing to the map. And a defense attorney would never find out because of attorney-client privilege. Who knows what goes on. Even assuming any falls/defects are genuine, they’re usually so minor as to be ridiculous against the backdrop of a fast-paced urban area. The sidewalks of NYC are NOT killing people! Sometimes, plaintiff lawyers would accuse the city of “racism” because sidewalks in Manhattan were nicer than the Bronx. Wow. The New York trip-fall suits against the city will go down as one of the biggest scams of the century.

  • Regarding the case of the now-rich dental student, there is a poignant motion for summary judgment in that case available here:

    http://www.vpcomm.umich.edu/pa/key/pdf/DefendantsMotion.pdf .

    What happened is that the dental student claimed she had Attention Deficit Disorder for which she needed a variety of special accommodations, such as the right to take the clinical dental exams in a private room so that she would not be distracted, unlimited deferrals in case she did not “feel ready” to take the exam on that day, and so on.

    Some of the professors resigned rather than to allow this obviously inept student to get these special privileges, which would have made meaningless her certification and placed her patients in danger.

    Anyway, she continued blundering through school, collecting D and E grades, missing multiple cavities, failing to provide proper anaesthesia, missing large ulcers right next to the tooth, and on and on for pages.

    This is truly a tragic case, not only for the way in which it penalized dentists who were trying to protect patients, but even more tragically for the message it sends medical schools: quality of patient care is immaterial, only blind adherence to the demands of unqualified students.

    Now, the worst student in the dental school is the wealthiest; and the most honorable dental professors are the poorest. It’s very, very sad.

  • Regarding patent busting, are you pro or con?
    America’s prosperity rests on innovation, and the ability of people to profit from their ingenuity.

    Busting patents causes more risk. Nobody should lose their golden goose because they hired an idiot lawyer.

    Do you want to die of some painful slow disease, because the giant pharmaceutical company was afraid to develop the drug because the patent wasn’t solid enough?

    Do you want to guy who is only 6 months away from making flying cars and teleportation booths to give up and go back to driving a bus, because he’s just one guy and he expects to get screwed by the lawyers?

  • […] briefly mentioned this recent jury award in our roundup this morning (other coverage: AP, Michigan Daily) and now a commenter refers us to this rather extraordinary (if […]

  • DustyDog:

    The majority of patent busting is done against companies who file (and are awarded) spurious patents that should never have been granted in the first place due to prior art or other such causes.