Search Results for ‘nocera’

Nocera on the “asbestos scam”

Perhaps it was overreach for a prominent New York City plaintiff’s law firm to file asbestos litigation on behalf of Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, the famously fond-of-smoking Long Island Congresswoman now fighting lung cancer, against General Electric, Pfizer and more than 70 other companies. The high-profile case is focusing public attention on the legal fictions by which lawyers have been lassoing seemingly conventional lung cancer cases and bringing them into the asbestos litigation system [Joe Nocera, New York Times; Daniel Fisher; earlier]

P.S. Patterns of filing non-mesothelioma cancer cases reflect asbestos lawyers’ economic incentives [Daniel Fisher]

Joseph Nocera on the mass-tort business model

The New York Times columnist responds to critics of his coverage (earlier here, here, etc.) of the BP Gulf spill claims bonanza:

Until that story [on the silicone breast implant episode], I’d always taken the liberal view of plaintiffs’ lawyers as avenging angels, righting wrongs and helping wrest compensation for people who had been harmed by greedy corporations. …

[Since then] I’ve seen mass torts where the actual plaintiffs get coupons while the lawyers reap millions. Mass torts where the connection between the product and the harm is illusory. Mass torts built on fraud (silicosis). Complex litigation settled for billions even when the government implies that consumers are responsible (Toyota sudden acceleration). I’ve also seen cases where some victims hit the jackpot with a giant jury verdict and other victims come up empty. Or where a corporation really has done harm but pays off the lawyers instead of the victims. Over the years, I’ve thought: There’s got to be a better way.

Read the whole thing [via Ted at Point of Law]

Nocera on Lerach

Via Kirkendall, Joseph Nocera profiles the legal career of William Lerach (Jun. 28, Jun. 27). (“The Lawyer Companies Love To Hate”, NY Times, Jul. 2). Larry Ribstein correctly quibbles:

[The 1995 Private Securities Litigation Reform Act] was not just, and maybe not even mostly, intended to make securities cases harder to “win,” as Nocera said, but harder to bring. This is an important distinction, since a main problem with class actions is the extent they are used to bludgeon (or, less charitably, blackmail) firms into settling cases that probably can’t be won, but that can cause plenty of trouble along the way. The plaintiff’s lawyer in effect “wins” the case by surviving a motion to dismiss, which is harder to do post PSLRA. Moreover, even apart from the motion, the case is likely to have more weight if big shareholders, rather than the lawyers and their stable of career suers, are behind it.

This distinction between eliminating nuisance cases and hobbling good cases is a big reason why Lerach and others are flat wrong about the effect of the PSLRA in inviting Enron.

Moreover, Nocera’s interview with Lerach makes clear why Lerach doesn’t like the Act — whatever his success post-PSLRA, he likes being able to bring weak cases. Lerach calls it his “business model.” He says it’s useful in training lawyers. One can’t tell from newspaper page how fully Lerach’s tongue was inserted in his cheek when he came up with that one.

See also Peter Burrows, “Payback Time for Lerach?”, Business Week, Jun. 30 (via Schaeffer).

On Xarelto, plaintiff’s lawyers win by losing

“In terms of the evidence, the trial lawyers [suing Bayer and Johnson & Johnson over the blood thinner Xarelto] had a losing hand — any kind of sane judicial system would have them leaving the field of battle, a defeated army.” But they’d signed up a remarkable 25,000 clients, buying an estimated 129,000 ads seeking such business in 2016, with one law firm alone spending $20 million a year on promotion. When you’ve got that big a base of clients to throw at them, “companies settle meritless cases.” [Joe Nocera, Bloomberg Opinion]

“Science Favors J&J in Talcum Powder Lawsuits”

For years lawyers have been suing Johnson & Johnson claiming that its baby powder has caused ovarian cancer, a theory that has mostly met with failure in court. This summer, however, a St. Louis jury found liability and ordered the company to pay $4.69 billion, on a related theory that asbestos contaminants in the product (as opposed to talc itself) caused the disease. On December 14 Reuters followed with a lengthy piece laying out, and implicitly siding with, the plaintiff lawyers’ accusations; the piece drew wide publicity, and the company’s shares sank by about $50 billion. Some analysts have written that J&J’s lawsuit payouts on the issue could reach $20 billion.

Now a leading business columnist has explained why he doubts that outcome. “Why? Because whether or not the company’s talcum powder contains asbestos, and whether or not it hid that fact from the public, the science remains firmly on J&J’s side.” [Joe Nocera, Bloomberg] How so? “There is no evidence that women who use talcum powder are any more likely to get ovarian cancer than women who don’t. In both California and New Jersey, judges have tossed out cases on exactly this basis.” So while plaintiffs make the most of their dark imputations of a cover-up, what they haven’t shown is that women who used the baby powder are any more likely to contract cancer than those who did not. Nocera: “And this is one mass tort where I’m convinced the science is going to win.”

Meanwhile, Mark Lanier, the Texas-based lawyer who won the St. Louis verdict, freely agrees that his efforts have helped affect J&J’s stock price. “It serves my purposes as a litigator to say, ‘Yes, get their attention; keep driving the stock down.'” [Matthew J. Belvedere, CNBC] And: “New York’s specialized court for asbestos lawsuits could become a pivotal battleground for litigation over talcum powder as plaintiff lawyers seek to establish a record of wins in a court system known for liberal rules and big jury verdicts.” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]

October 17 roundup

  • Antitrust legislation once targeted the unstoppable rise of chain stores A&P and Sears, both now bankrupt [my new Cato post, quoting Joe Nocera, Bloomberg (“The next time you hear somebody say that the dominance of Walmart or Amazon or Facebook can never end, think about Sears. It can — and it probably will.”)]
  • When you wish upon a suit: visitor grabs Disney cast member and screams at her after she asks him to move out of parade route, later pleads no contest to disorderly conduct, now wants $15,000 [Gabrielle Russon, Orlando Sentinel]
  • Tomorrow (Thurs.) at noon Eastern, watch a Cato panel on “Coercive Plea Bargaining” with Scott Hechinger of Brooklyn Defender Services, Bonnie Hoffman of the NACDL, and Somil Trivedi of the ACLU, moderated by Cato’s Clark Neily. Could you resist taking a plea bargain if faced with a false accusation? [Marc John Randazza, ABA Journal]
  • “I am a Democrat. But this may be the dumbest thing I have seen…. the Speech or Debate Clause makes about as clear as anything in the Constitution that a court cannot enjoin legislative officials from taking a fundamental legislative action such as a vote.” [Howard Wasserman on suit by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) asking court to, among other things, order delay of Senate vote on Kavanaugh nomination]
  • An ideological screen for CLE? Following demands from tribal attorneys, Minnesota bar authorities order shelving of continuing legal education class on Indian Child Welfare Act developments taught by attorney Mark Fiddler, who often handles ICWA cases on side adverse to tribes [Timothy Sandefur]
  • Left-leaning Florida Supreme Court nixes plan to let incumbent Gov. Rick Scott fill vacancies, entrenching its leftward lean for a while at least depending on outcome of governor’s race [Spectrum News 9]

Environment roundup

  • End of the road at last for Steven Donziger, impresario of Chevron/Ecuador litigation? [Joe Nocera, Bloomberg]
  • Building expensive housing improves housing availability at every income level [Sonja Trauss, Market Urbanism Report]
  • “Ms. Durst did what any law-abiding citizen would do: She demolished the structure and tossed the twigs, moss and shells into the woods…. The fairy house wasn’t up to code.” [Ellen Byron, WSJ, courtesy Regulatory Transparency Project]
  • Last month’s judicial rejection of NYC climate suit came after plenty of foreshadowing [Daniel Fisher (“persuasive authorities” were two overturned court decisions); New York Daily News and New York Post editorials]
  • Ban on smoking in public housing reflects truism that unless you own property, your home isn’t really your castle [Shane Ferro, Above the Law]
  • Obama-era Waters of the U.S. regulations are a power grab asserting EPA control over farmers’ ditches, seasonal moist depressions, and watering holes; one federal court has now reinstated the rules, but the issue is headed to SCOTUS and Congress in any case ought to kill them [Jonathan Adler; Ariel Wittenberg, E&E News; earlier]

“Lawyers Hope to Do to Opioid Makers What They Did to Big Tobacco”

As the Wall Street Journal reports, former Mississippi attorney general and longtime Overlawyered favorite Michael Moore has been collaborating with Ohio Attorney General Michael DeWine, with other elected government attorneys, and with other trial lawyers to seek lift-off of suits against painkiller makers and distributors. The headline was “Lawyers Hope to Do to Opioid Makers What They Did to Big Tobacco,” which got several of us going on Twitter:

Which in turn played off Jonathan Adler’s:

And Gabriel Malor’s:

Mine drew a number of responses, including this from Bloomberg View business columnist Joe Nocera:

And:

In a more conventional op-ed vein, there’s this from Tiger Joyce.

Liability roundup

  • “Is Arbitration Awful? The New York Times Thinks So.” [New Jersey Civil Justice Institute, earlier here and here] And speaking of that paper, I’m going to miss Joe Nocera’s incisive coverage of the litigation business in his column, often linked here; he’s off to other duties at the Times [Politico/New York]
  • Yet more from the Times, longread on litigation investing and champerty: “Should You Be Allowed To Invest In a Lawsuit?”
  • Mikal Watts through the years: “It was part of my strategy to affect the stock price, which I was very successful at.” [Madison County Record, more]
  • “No negligence liability for injuries by fellow players in contact sport” [Eugene Volokh, martial arts, Colorado Court of Appeals]
  • Defense lawyer claims adversary had advance word about jury deliberations, grabbed $25 million settlement [Chicago Law Bulletin]
  • Is data privacy the next source of mass lawsuits? [Chamber Institute for Legal Reform]
  • Funds needlessly drained: “Asbestos reforms needed to protect first responders and veterans” [Rep. Blake Farenthold, The Hill]