Liability roundup

  • Artificial intelligence dodges a legal dart: “An Algorithm for Predicting Recidivism Isn’t a Product for Products Liability Purposes” [Eugene Volokh, Jim Beck]
  • Powdered caffeine is hazardous stuff. Should Amazon be liable to the survivors of an Ohio 18-year-old who died after ingesting some bought online? [Associated Press/WKBN]
  • Overview and critique of public nuisance theories of mass tort, including vaping, opioids, climate change, and other environmental [American Tort Reform Association]
  • Knowledgeable review of NYC subway torts [Ross Sandler, CityLand (New York Law School]
  • “1 law firm gets lion’s share of $112M in NFL concussion fees” [Associated Press/WKMG]
  • Thanks Mark Pulliam for mentioning me in the course of reviewing a book that takes a rosier view of lawsuits than I do [Law and Liberty]


  • In regards to the caffeine overdose;
    The “kid” (read legal adult) is not the person who purchased the drug. It was given to him by some unnamed chick who bought it on Amazon.
    I guess that she didn’t have enough assets to sue. I would also assume that the company who actually provided the drug is overseas, and therefore unable to be sued. So, with only one deep pocket remaining… Amazon gets the lawsuit.

  • That’s a huge load of caffeine in his body. But easy to see how a kid could go wrong if using the pure stuff, because people can misjudge what is actually too much.

    How much did it take to reach this amount then?
    Volume of distribution for caffeine is 0.5-0.7 L/kg
    So if he is the mythical 70 kg adult, then the caffeine required to get his blood level up to 70 mcg/ml would be about 2.5 grams. About half a teaspoon of pure caffeine, the amount in 40 shots of espresso.

    Kind of a surprise the kid didn’t scoop more into his drink.

    Gonna miss this site. Thank you Walter

    • Ditto on missing Overlawyered. Many thanks to Walter for all these years of interesting news stories and insights.

      On the fatal caffeine overdose, I recall witnessing a (luckily) non-fatal overdose decades ago.

      In the early 1970s, when large scale mainframe computers were the only game in town for number crunching, programmers often put in much longer than 8 hour workdays to get pressing projects done.

      Where I was working at the time, I witnessed an apparently less than clinically sane programmer attempt to stay awake for several days to get some project done. On the second or third morning, he drank the programming group’s entire 40-cup urn of freshly brewed coffee in the course of a few hours.

      Some programmers noticed the coffee urn was empty, and wondered what happened to it. The computer operators at the I/O desk reported that he made no sense whatever when he came to the window to collect output from his program runs.

      Soon, everyone in the programming group noticed. He began wandering around the facility speaking incoherently.

      Somebody called an ambulance service, uncertain whether he was physically or mentally ill. The ambulance medics took vital signs, and pronounced him dangerously physically ill. Pulse rate and blood pressure were off the charts. They heard of his voluminous coffee drinking, and took him to a hospital where they pumped out the contents of his stomach and likely saved his life.

  • So if I buy five gallons of gasoline and torch your car, the gas station I bought it from is liable as a supplier? The only way I see Amazon having any responsibility is the statement at the end of the article that says pure or highly concentrated powdered and liquid caffeine are “generally unlawful” when sold directly to consumers.