- Judge allows lawsuit to go forward as class action claiming consumers defrauded because gasoline expands in summer heat and so there’s less in a “gallon” [KC Star, TodaysTrucking.com; earlier at PoL]
- Online speech: when a lawprof says it silences someone not to let them sue for defamation, it’s time to check definitions [Reynolds, Bainbridge, Volokh]
- Should a law school invite Lerach of all people to teach legal ethics? [Massey/Faculty Lounge; earlier] Plus: Congress should investigate how widespread Lerach-style abuses were at other law firms [Columbus Dispatch editorial]
- Usually no one gets hurt when a physician dodges having to deal with a litigious patient, but then there are those emergencies [Brain Blogger]
- A lesson for Canada: judged by results in places like Kansas, the American approach to hate speech (i.e., not banning it) seems to work pretty well [Gardner/Ottawa Citizen]
- “Way way too egocentric”: a marketing expert’s critique of injury law firm websites [Rotbart/LFOMA via ABA Journal]
- More students are winding up in court after parodying their teachers on the Internet [Christian Science Monitor]
- Money in the air? It happens the quiet little Alaskan Native village suing over global warming is being represented by some lawyers involved in the great tobacco heist [NY Times]
- Ninth Circuit panel hands Navy partial defeat in enviro whale sonar suit; ditto federal court in Hawaii [Examiner; earlier]
- Le Canard Noir “Quackometer” flays pseudo-science, some of its targets complain to ISP which then yanks the site: “We do not wish to be in a position where we could be taken to court” [Orac; earlier]
- Hans Bader guestblogged at Point of Law last week, on such subjects as: courts that decide punishment before damages; presumed guilty of child abuse? inconsistent straight/gay treatment in sexual harassment law; and signs that today’s Supreme Court doesn’t exactly show a pro-business bias in discrimination cases.
- Protection of ugly garage views? Garrison Keillor vs. neighbors in St. Paul, Minn. [NYTimes]
- If you’re a lawyer who practices before the south Florida bench, it’s not a recommended career move to use a blog to call one of its judges an “evil, unfair witch” [WSJ Law Blog]
- Nonprofit sleep-off center that takes in drunks sued after rescuing man who then succeeds in laying his hands on more liquor and drinking himself to death [Anchorage Daily News]
- New Starbucks offering of “skinny” drinks “could easily be considered a form of size discrimination” and lead to litigation, complains ticked-off barista [StarbucksGossip]
- Appearance of impartiality? West Virginia high court judge cavorted on Riviera with coal exec whose big case was pending before his court [Liptak/NYT] Update: Now recused, per WV Record.
- Retired drug enforcement officers sue Universal Studios, saying they were defamed as a group by “American Gangster” [MSNBC]
- Not much likelihood of confusion: shirtmaker Lacoste can’t keep two dentists in Cheltenham, England from using toothy crocodile as logo for their practice [Reuters]
- People seized randomly off street for compulsory jury duty in St. Johnsbury, Vt. and Greeley, Colo. [AP/Findlaw via KipEsquire, Greeley Tribune]
- Federal judge orders attorney Robert Arledge of Vicksburg, Miss. to pay $5.8 million in restitution after conviction for organizing bogus fen-phen claims [Clarion-Ledger; earlier]
- Canada: abuser of crystal meth successfully sues her drug dealer [BBC]
- Animal rights group tries to shut down “happy cows” ad campaign [three years ago on Overlawyered]
- Can’t possibly be true: Tampa man sentenced to 25 years for possession of pills for which he had a legal prescription [Balko, Hit and Run]
- Plaintiff’s lawyers “viewed [Sen. Fred Thompson] as someone we could work with” and gave to his campaigns, but they can’t be pleased by his kind words for Texas malpractice-suit curbs [Washington Post, Lattman; disclaimer]
- Pace U. student arrested on hate crime charges after desecrating Koran stolen from college [Newsday; Volokh, more; Hitchens]
- Little-used Rhode Island law allows married person to act as spouse’s attorney, which certainly has brought complications to the divorce of Daniel and Denise Chaput from Pawtucket [Providence Journal]
- Lott v. Levitt defamation suit kinda-sorta settles, it looks like [Adler @ Volokh]
- Trial lawyer Mikal Watts not bowling ’em over yet in expected challenge to Texas Sen. Cornyn [Rothenberg, Roll Call, sub-only via Lopez @ NRO]
- Frankly collusive: after Minnesota car crash, parents arrange to have their injured son sue them for negligence [OnPoint News]
- Canadian bar hot and bothered over Maclean’s cover story slamming profession’s ethics [Macleans blog]
- Five Democratic candidates (Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Biden, Richardson) auditioned at the trial lawyers’ convention earlier this month in Chicago [NYSun]
- Donald Boudreaux’s theory as to why Prohibition ended when it did [Pittsburgh Trib-Rev via Murray @ NRO]
- Speaker of Alaska house discusses recent strengthening of that state’s longstanding loser-pays law [new at Point of Law]
Among the nightmare scenarios of global warming, there’s one only now coming into view – and it’s definitely manmade: As predictable as the rising seas, we can expect a flood of class-action lawsuits trying to cash in on the issue.
Climate change promises to be “a lucrative new field” for the tort bar reports the Newark Star-Ledger. A Rutgers law professor predicts that global warming will make for “one of the biggest legal practices in the next 20 years.” (The Star-Ledger, 7/8/07)
The opinion is shared by the president of the World Resources Institute: “Companies that generate significant carbon emissions,” he warns, “face the threat of lawsuits similar to those common in the tobacco, pharmaceutical and asbestos industries.” (The Toronto Star, 4/29/07)
And if you thought asbestos and tobacco litigation were profitable, try to imagine all the “mass tort” cases that global warming will inspire. Energy companies, coal mines, any firm at all that generates carbon dioxide – these industries and many more can expect to find themselves accused of causing climate change.
Some law firms already have “climate-change groups” studying the possibilities. Another hint of things to come was a class action suit was filed on behalf of Mississippi residents against oil and coal companies after Hurricane Katrina – arguing that company emissions caused the climate change that caused the hurricane. (Star-Ledger, 7/8/07).
In Alaska, the Inuits claim that their island is sinking because of global warming. The aggrieved islanders haven’t decided who to sue yet – but they’ve got a Houston trial lawyer working on it. (Star-Ledger, 7/8/07)
All of which proves nothing at all about the actual causes or dangers of global warming. It’s just more evidence of a climate of greed and opportunism in the trial bar. And that’s one climate that never changes.
The exotic dancers’ lawsuit against Anchorage strip clubs Fantasies on 5th Avenue and Crazy Horse cites the Alaska Wage and Hour Act and seeks class-action status. Key quote: “This isn’t about how much money I make in tips,” said dancer Jennifer Prater. “This is about wage and hour laws.” A 1987 Alaska Supreme Court ruling rejected clubs’ contention that the dancers were independent contractors as opposed to employees. (Megan Holland, Anchorage Daily News, Sept. 6).
Reacting to the recent Philip Morris decision (PoL Dec. 15, etc.), the columnist is in righteous form:
The Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling stimulated the market for “tobacco-revenue munis.” Those are municipal bonds backed by tobacco revenue streams resulting from a real fraud — the Master Settlement Agreement. In 1998, 46 states conspired to seize $246 billion from companies that sell products made from a commodity — tobacco — the cultivation of which was then subsidized by the federal government….
The MSA is a deal struck between the state attorneys general and trial lawyers. For the latter, it was a financial windfall, netting about $13 billion in fees that sometimes amounted to tens of thousands of dollars per hour of work. For the former, it was a political windfall, enabling their states to finance this and that with billions paid by smokers, who are disproportionately low-income people….
The states’ ability to continue treating the tobacco industry as a “budgetary Alaska” — the last frontier for exploitation — depends on brisk sales of cigarettes far into the future. So all 50 states, which in 2004 reaped $12.3 billion in cigarette taxes, have an incentive to carefully calibrate these taxes so as to maximize revenue. They want high taxes, but not high enough to cause large numbers of smokers to quit the habit that is so lucrative to states.
Many physicians in Alaska sighed with relief this summer when a jury for the second time ruled in favor of Anchorage general surgeon James O’Malley, finding that O’Malley “had given enough information to patient Vicki Marsingill over the phone for her to make an informed decision about whether to go to the hospital emergency department. Marsingill experienced complications after she decided not to follow Dr. O’Malley’s advice.” An initial verdict in Dr. O’Malley’s favor was thrown out because of improper jury instructions. The case raised questions about how forcefully doctors are expected to respond when counseling a potentially noncompliant patient to seek treatment. In Alaska, a state where consultation-by-phone is common given the great geographical distances, the case also “sparked debate …over how much information doctors should give patients over the phone and how much responsibility falls to patients. Some physicians have stopped taking phone calls after hours and instead instruct patients to go to an emergency department or call 911.” (Tanya Albert, “Alaska physician wins case on ignored medical advice”, American Medical News (AMA), Jun. 7; “Alaska bill offers immunity when advice is ignored”, Mar. 22-29; more on case).
Updating our reports of last Dec. 14 and Jul. 30: a judge in Alaska has approved a plan to divide $40 million in settlement proceeds from a lawsuit charging price-fixing in purchases of Alaskan sockeye salmon. Plaintiff’s lawyers will get $16.4 million in fees and expenses, defendants who prevailed in court will get $13.8 million to pay their lawyers and legal costs, and plaintiff fisherman will share less than $10 million. (“Court approves salmon lawsuit settlement”, AP/Anchorage Daily News, Feb. 6)
Updating our Jul. 30 item from Alaska: “A Superior Court judge has given preliminary approval to a plan to divide $40 million in settlements created by the Bristol Bay salmon price-fixing lawsuit. … Under the plan to divide it, the fishermen would share $9.7 million, receiving an average of $2,145 apiece. The fishermen’s lawyers would get $16.5 million, and the seafood companies and their lawyers would get $13.8 million.” (“Alaska Digest”, Juneau Empire, Dec. 7) Further update Feb. 22: judge approves plan.