Liability roundup

  • Ted Frank, crusader against class action abuse and formerly a contributor to this blog, profiled [Caleb Hannan, Bloomberg]
  • Judge: “Milberg attorneys engaged in an elaborate scheme of deceptive conduct” in qui tam relator case [Bailey McGowan/WLF, opinion in Leysock v. Forest Labs]
  • “One way to help save the subways: Repeal the Scaffold Law” [Mike Elmendorf, New York Post]
  • Not for the first (or eighth) time, U.S. Senate looking like a graveyard for liability reform bills [Bruce Kaufman, Bloomberg]
  • Illinois: “it has not been unusual over the years to learn that insurers don’t want to write policies in Madison County because of the litigation factor.” [Madison County Record]
  • “Data-Breach Plaintiffs’ Lawyers Concoct New ‘Overpayment’ Harm Theory, with Mixed Results” [Greg Herbers, WLF]


  • Re: the scaffolding law:

    “Indeed, contractors with poor attention to safety are treated the same as those who enforce rigorous safety programs because, under this law, reality doesn’t matter.”

    Well, presumably they’d have fewer accidents if they were safer?

    I kind of wonder what’s going on with overall safety, if accidents are so common that the liability is impeding construction.

    • Try reading these two paragraphs from the linked article.

      “Well-intentioned when originally enacted in the 1880s, the law was meant to protect workers at a time when tall buildings were first starting to appear in New York’s now iconic skyline — before the modern system of workers’ compensation. But today, the scaffold law does nothing to keep employees safe.

      “Indeed, contractors with poor attention to safety are treated the same as those who enforce rigorous safety programs because, under this law, reality doesn’t matter. In fact, research sponsored by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine concluded that the law significantly increases both fatal and nonfatal construction accidents.”

      • Yes, I *read* that (I even quoted from part of it), but if the companies with safety programs have the same number and severity of accidents as the companies without safety programs, then those safety programs are kind of useless.

        I mean, in order to be liable for an accident, there has to be an accident in the first place… right?

        • You seriously miss-comprehended it.

          1. First, the research doesn’t say that companies with good safety programs have the same number of accidents as companies with no safety programs, It says that the scaffold law increases the total number of accidents.

          2. The cost problem is one the result of insurance companies jacking up rates on liability insurance for the firms or bailing out of the market all together. Insurance rates are mostly based on risk pools, not individual risks, so companies with poor safety record drive up insurance costs even for companies with spotless safety records.

          3. The NY scaffold law imposes strict liability and not just for employee injuries. Strict liability means that even if the injured party is 100% at fault for the injury, the building owner and construction company are still liable. If an employee is goofing off and falls entirely due to his own fault, the company is still liable. If a suicidal nut breaks into a construction site in the middle of the night and deliberately jumps off a scaffold, the company is liable.

          Because of the strict liability, no safety program, no matter how effective can completely protect a NY construction company from liability.

  • Since 2014, the Senate has also refused to rein in abuses by patent trolls. In 2014, the Republican House sent over a package of worthwhile reforms with mild support from the Obama Administration. Sen Patrick Leahy was at least willing to consider them, before being overruled by Harry Reid. Since 2014, however, the Republican-controlled Senate has been even worse. The only patent bill on the current Senate docket is a trolls’ wish list from Sen Chris Coons (D- Delaware– where else?).