Whatever the failings of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Flood Control Act of 1928 makes clear that federal taxpayers cannot be forced to pay through litigation for the catastrophic collapse of the levees, so there goes the multi-trillion-dollar class action. (Cain Burdeau and Michael Kunzelman, AP/Forbes, Jan. 30). Update: That wasn’t the last word, though: later rulings allowed suits against the Army Corps to go forward.
- Judge finds Army Corps of Engineers negligent in Katrina levees suit [WSJ Law Blog, Krauss/PoL]
- Feds raid the Gibson guitar factory in Nashville on an exotic-woods rap [The Tennessean] Eric Scheie has a few things to say about what turns out to be a remarkably comprehensive federal regulatory scheme on trade in wood enacted with little public discussion as part of the 2008 farm bill [Classical Values]
- In the mail: Amy Bach’s new book Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court, very favorably reviewed by Scott Greenfield not long ago (AmLaw Daily interview with author);
- Pension tension: link roundup on CALPERS mess [Reynolds]
- Maine passes very sweeping law banning marketers from collecting or using wide array of information about minors, but state acknowledges that much of the law probably wouldn’t pass constitutional muster and won’t be enforced [Valetk/Law.com, Qualters/NLJ]
- StationStops, which provides a mobile app for NYC commuter schedules, seems to have survived its legal tussle with New York’s MTA and thanks those who helped call attention to the story, with generous words for a certain “great blog”;
- Lawsuits cost Chicago taxpayers $136 million last year [Fran Spielman, Sun-Times]
- Blawg Review #238 is from Joel Rosenberg and bears the title, “Celebrating the International Day of Tolerance … and the NRA’s Birthday” [WindyPundit]
- The customer who couldn’t be stopped? “Family of car salesman killed in 90 mph test drive gets $13M” [Obscure Store]
- Arizona bar disciplinary authorities move toward possible suspension for two high-volume consumer lawyers [ABA Journal]
- Trial begins on claim U.S. Army Corps of Engineers liable for Katrina levee breaks [John Schwartz, New York Times]
- Always good for copy: now Jack Thompson is riling Utah lawmakers [GameSpot]
- America’s Most Irresponsible Public Figure® (that’d be RFK Jr.) is now blasting Obama [Brian Ross, ABCNews.com “Blotter” via ShopFloor]
- “Burning of Surreal Boat Sparks $1M Artists Rights Suit” [Heller/OnPoint News]
- Nice profile of author Philip K. Howard [The New Yorker] And a big spread from the Examiner’s Quin Hillyer including a Howard profile, some tidbits on Washington politics and why overly legalistic schools can’t teach.
- Law firm of Dewey, Cheatham, & Howe moves into Somali pirate defense [satire, h/t @trafficcourt]
- Suit by Hurricane Katrina victims against Army Corps of Engineers set for trial April 20 [WSJ law blog, Frankel/AmLaw Daily, earlier]
- Some criminal defense arguments are creative, which doesn’t mean they’ll work [Ambrogi/Legal Blog Watch]
- Words to avoid in real-estate ads: safe, quiet, family-friendly, bachelor’s, walking distance [UrbanDigs.com, New York Post] And better not mention the quadruple murder in the house either [Fountain]
- The questionable science of repressed memories [Joann Wypijewski, The Nation]
- National coverage of 14 states’ ban on fish-nibble pedicures [WSJ via OpenMarket; earlier]
- States move to revoke medical license of Dr. Ray Harron, accused of falsely diagnosing thousands of plaintiffs in asbestos cases [(Chamber-backed) SE Texas Record]
- Conan tales are public domain in New Zealand, but online reading of them there draws nastygram anyway [BoingBoing and followup]
- “Wrestler stages a fall at 7-Eleven in attempt to collect $50,000” [Obscure Store, Philadelphia Daily News]
I’ve joked about plaintiffs asking for a “squillion gazillion” dollars instead of other effectively fictional numbers, but one plaintiff has actually done it. One Baker, Louisiana, Katrina plaintiff (earlier on Overlawyered and Point of Law) suing the Army Corps of Engineers is asking for 3 quadrillion dollars—though he would presumably settle for one third that amount, which, at $3,000,000,000,000,000.00 would be over 200 times the annual $13 trillion gross domestic product of the United States. 246 other plaintiffs (including the City of New Orleans, which asked for “only” $77 billion, notwithstanding a taxpayer-funded bailout of tens of billions for a city built beneath sea level) are asking for over a billion each. [AP; TortsProf]
- Ray Nagin asks for $77 billion (only $1 billion for infrastructure) in claim; traffic jam outside of courthouse as lawyers rush to file Katrina claims against Army Corps of Engineers. [New Orleans Times-Picayune; USA Today; CNN/AP]
- Illinois trial lawyers try to expand already broad joint and several liability in that state. [Illinois Justice Blog]
- Florida legislator Frederica Wilson wishes to ban term “illegal alien”: “I personally find the word ‘alien’ offensive when applied to individuals, especially to children. An alien to me is someone from out of space.” (She’s okay with “illegal,” however.) [News-Press; Overcriminalized blog]
- Defense-attorney time-stamp shenanigans. [Above the Law]
- The Deamonte Driver case: lawyer blames the government for parental neglect [Frum]
- Writing contracts with clarity. [Dillon]
- Are law firms breaking the law when they bend to client demands for lawyers of a particular color? Curt Levey’s paper “Legal Implications of Complying with Race and Gender-Based Client Preferences” to be discussed at AEI March 13. [AEI; see also Financial Times; Overlawyered Jan. 9 and Dec. 27]
New Orleans criminal defense attorney Joseph Larre’s 300 clients were evacuated and now sit in lockups across the South, some as far away as Jacksonville, Fla. Many of his case records were destroyed by floodwater, and the city’s criminal courts have not reopened. So Larre, 47, drove around the city last week in his champagne-colored Ford Explorer and nailed signs to telephone poles announcing, in big red letters, “KATRINA CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT.”
By Friday, he had received 300 phone calls. At least two other lawyers, he said, have put up similar signs.
Larre said he hasn’t decided whom to sue for what. But he says he has heard from homeowners who fear that insurance companies will scrimp on settlements, as well as irate residents looking to haul New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and even the Red Cross into court.
As he considered potential defendants, Larre said, “I definitely like the oil companies and their insurance companies.”…
“You really hit the jackpot if you nail the Army Corps of Engineers,” he mused, standing in a mud-caked intersection in his shorts, T-shirt and running shoes.
(Douglas Birch, “Lawyers drawn to storm cases”, Baltimore Sun, Oct. 10).
After reports (see Sept. 9) in National Review Online, the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere that Army Corps of Engineers levees and other flood-control measures in southern Louisiana were derailed by litigation over environmental impact statements, critics of the projects respond that the measures in question were badly planned, ineffective in addressing flood dangers, and were eventually let drop for good reasons. (G. Tracy Mehan III, “Dam It”, National Review Online, Sept. 12; press release by University of Texas lawprof Thomas A. McGarity of the left-wing Center for Progressive Reform, Sept. 9 (PDF)). Jonathan Adler comments on NRO “The Corner” here and here.