Environment roundup

  • “A loose coalition of eco-anarchist groups is increasingly launching violent attacks on scientists.” [Nature]
  • “Jury Blames ‘Erin Brockovich’ Doc For His Patient’s Illness, Not Defendants” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]
  • “Judge declines to toss Chevron RICO case against lawyer over $18bln award” [Reuters, Folkman/Letters Blogatory] Videos tell Chevron side of story in hotly disputed Ecuador Lago Agrio dispute [“Amazon Post“]
  • NGOs’ bag of tricks: Greenpeace helped pack International Whaling Commission thirty years ago by paying dues for small states to join [Skodvin/Andresen via Spiro/OJ]
  • Distinguishing the areas of clear vision from the blind spots in Chicago Tribune’s flameproofing series [Coyote, earlier]
  • Wilderness regs prevent town of Tombstone, Ariz. from rebuilding water pipes destroyed in fire [Daily Caller]
  • Look! Over that factory! It’s a plume of (shudder) … water vapor! [Coyote]
  • National Science Foundation grantee: “Tort actions may impel industry to … redesign chemical molecules … to be less toxic.” [David Oliver, Ted Frank]


  • I’m having a very hard time believing the story about the hydraulic fluid case. Surely a jury cannot award damages against a non-party – that would have to be a gross violation of due process. Does California law actually permit this?

  • BP>As I read the Forbes hydraulic fluid elevator story, the jury did not presume to turn the treating doctor into a defendant and slap an award on him, it just assessed that the primary responsibility for his patient’s injuries lay with a non-party to a case, and indicated through the handwritten note that they meant him. When the appeals court reviewed the verdict it disapproved the handwritten notation as tantamount to a charge of medical malpractice which should not be turned into an official finding of California courts without more due process than the doctor had been accorded as a non-party. I don’t know whether the notation by itself could have gotten the doctor in some sort of disciplinary trouble with state authorities, or served as evidence in some later suit against him by the patient. My guess is that since the jury did not need to add the handwritten notation to give effect to its overall finding, the court felt it could be stricken without affecting the verdict as such.

  • I like the jury’s approach and I’m relieved they rejected the “spraying hydraulic fluid” fabrication. I agree a non-party could never be made liable by a jury, but that’s easy enough to work with: just sustain the verdict and award the apportioned amount left over from named parties.

    Sadly, the craziness of someone like Dr. Dahlgren just isn’t known to the average juror, because that’s not a household name. Jurors probably assume anyone who’s an “expert” doctor, approved by the court, is sound. But it’s a fun addition to the list of cross-examination questions for defense counsel on his next appearance…

  • WO@I hope that is what happened, and the bit about the handwritten note supports it, but the article contradicts itself because earlier it says: “the jury ordered Dahlgren to pay 52% of a $794,000 verdict in 2009”. If that’s a reference to the handwritten note than it is an incorrect description of what happened.