Posted Sept. 3:
The item on lawyers' "wrongful-birth" and "wrongful-life" suits on
behalf of children and their parents (Aug.
22) reminded me of Edwin Arlington Robinson's take on the idea that
some people wish they had never been born (I've never met such a person,
by the way):
Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
The second to last verse is apposite in the circumstances:
Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
He wept that he was ever born,
And he had reasons.
Miniver scorned the gold he sought,
-- John Steele Gordon, North Salem, N.Y.
But sore annoyed was he without it;
Miniver thought and thought and thought,
And thought about it.
[We will take this opportunity to recommend reader/contributor Gordon's
excellent new book The
Business of America, which is selling so briskly that Amazon has
it on back order.]
After the $480 million Cessna verdict (Aug.
20, Aug. 24) I thought
I'd give you a heads up about what I'm guessing is the next general
aviation manufacturer to get crucified. ABC "PrimeTime" has just
aired a report (Aug.
30) about failures of a critical component that runs some of the instruments
in aircraft. The piece is a major hatchet job. No mention
was given of the fact that (1) the pilots who crashed flew into weather
they were not qualified to fly in, (2) a proper instrument scan can give
up to 10 minutes' advance warning of failure, and (3) the FAA's standards
for night flight training are dangerously lax (2 hours vs. 15 hours in
most other countries). Don't even get me started on how the reporter
misidentified one of the instruments, referring to a turn co-ordinator
as an "artificial horizon".
One of the cases is still before the courts but the maker of the product
in question has already decided to get out of the market. Pretty
soon there won't be anybody serving the general aviation market, which
is where professional pilots begin their careers -- has anybody asked the
airlines where they'll get people to do their driving once the current
lot have retired? -- John LeBlanc, Montreal, Que.
[The gyroscope controversy is new to us, but we're never surprised
when TV newsmagazine coverage of product safety issues takes the form of
hatchet jobs sourced by trial lawyers and their allies -- that's been the
formula for a long time, notwithstanding the embarrassment of the Dateline
NBC-GM truck episode.]
Last Sept. 27-28
you covered one of the class action settlements
against credit card companies. A month or so ago I received a letter
informing me that I was probably NOT a part of a suit against my credit
card company but they just wanted to let me know anyway.
Now I have received another letter telling that that I received a restitution
payment from Providian several months ago (I didn't) and that they were
now sending me my share of the excess funds from the settlement fund.
So I now have a check in the grand amount of $0.02. That's right,
two cents. When you think of the cost of printing the letter/check,
envelope, mailing costs etc., it hardly seems worth it, does it?
The people claiming credit for this good deed are John D. Hawke, Jr.,
Comptroller of the Currency, and Terence Hallinan, San Francisco District
Attorney. For more information on the settlement, they refer
to the following two websites: California
Attorney General's office (PDF format) and U.S. Comptroller of the
Currency, June 2000.
Herbert Jacobi, Vancouver, Wash.
One for your file on overlawyered
schools: In Ward v. Hart, 2001 WL 739490 (E.D. Mich.
May 31), plaintiff's daughter wasn't selected for her high school junior
varsity dance team because she was a senior, and seniors were excluded
from the junior varsity team. Plaintiff claims the no-seniors rule
was instituted in order to retaliate for his complaints to the Parent Board
regarding the dance team, and that his daughter's exclusion thus violated
the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause, among other laws.
The court rejected plaintiff's claim, pointing out, among other things,
that the no-seniors rule was in place before Ward's complaints. So
the court got it right, but you have to wonder at the case reaching court
in the first place. -- Prof. Eugene Volokh, UCLA
School of Law, Los Angeles
Regarding the coming slavery reparations suits (Aug.
22-23), my question is this: Don't statutes of limitations have
any meaning any more? How can anyone possibly think of bringing a
lawsuit based on injuries over 100 years old without fear of Rule 11 sanctions?
Douglas Levene, Wilton, Ct.
[We'll soon find out.]
Is there any reason, legal or otherwise, why doctors shouldn't refuse
to treat lawyers, or at least charge them more for services to cover the
additional risk of being sued? If I were a doctor, I'd be feeling
mighty peeved at the whole class, and would be inclined to take it out
on them. -- Steve Furlong
[Lawyers, doctors, and other interested parties are invited to send
along their thoughts on this question.] [See Letters, Oct.
Here's a twist on the stupidity of zero tolerance policies: according
to a report in the New York Times [Tamar Lewin, "Zero-Tolerance
Policy Is Challenged", July
11] if you're in public housing & you're the victim of domestic
violence, you can be evicted -- theoretically so that your neighbors
don't have to witness any more violence. While that may be an admirable
goal, it ends up penalizing women who play "by the rules" & get orders
of protection, etc. I don't know whether to laugh or cry at the stupidity
of it all. -- Nancy Anton, New York, N.Y.
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