- Judge Bartnoff declines to reconsider decision against Roy Pearson in dry cleaner pants case [AP/WUSA]
- Turnabout fair play? Louisville hospital sues trial lawyers, saying they injured its reputation and tried to extort settlement [Courier-Journal]
- Employer sued for “post-traumatic stress disorder” after pranksters post co-worker’s profile on gay section of HotOrNot.com [McCullagh, CNet]
- Former Belleville, Ill. cop sues over prosecutor’s letter suggesting his testimony not to be relied on [M.C. Record]
- British race relations agency demands removal from shelves of Tintin comic book [Telegraph]; 22-year-old in Scotland sentenced for “racially aggravated breach of the peace” after website commentaries that went “beyond the realms of bad taste” [also Telegraph]
- Farewell to that little patch of floating liberty, the South Carolina river shack [Zincavage]
- Hey docs: if a plaintiff’s law firm calls your office to talk about a former patient, don’t call back [Medical Economics via KevinMD]
- Yale Club replies to Judge Bork’s lawsuit [Turkewitz]
- Arizona businesses aghast at hiring-sanctions law that suspends their license to operate should supervisor be found to have hired an illegal [Arizona Republic]
- Grants from Bob Barker foundation (Jul. 5, 2001) help fuel animal rights boom in law schools [NLJ]
- University of Utah settles lawsuit brought by devout Mormon student actress who refused to recite dramatic lines that were blasphemous or obscene [three years ago on Overlawyered]
- How to handle illegal alien’s slip-fall suit against supermarket? With some delicacy: jury told only that plaintiff “couldn’t legally work in this country” [Oroville, Calif., Mercury-Register]
- Sorry, docs: “I hate doctors” beats out “I hate lawyers” as a Google search result [Bioethics Discussion Blog via KevinMD]
- Virginia adopts harrowingly punitive schedule of traffic fines. Its sponsor: lawmaker whose day job is defending motorists [Washington Post; NRO “The Corner”; Ribstein; our earlier report]
- A businessman in London is suing Google for “publishing” (by indexing) allegedly defamatory material, and, boy, will the Internet ever be a different place if he wins [Independent (U.K.), Volokh]
- Federal indictment charges Houston injury lawyer secretly paid $3 million to two Hartford Insurance claims adjusters in connection with $34 million in silicosis settlements [PoL]
- Mississippi high court rules invalid former AG Mike Moore’s slush-fund diversion of $20 million/year in tobacco settlement money to evade legislative oversight [Sun-Herald, Bader; also this PoL roundup]
- More RIAA-suit horrors, this time from Washington state [Seattle P-I] Prospects for a counterattack? [Pasquale, Concurring Opinions]
- California Assembly votes to require pet owners to sterilize mixed-breed dogs and cats, while UK animal rights authority mulls rights for invertebrates [Mangu-Ward and Bailey, Reason]
- Here come the tainted-Chinese-export suits, with many American defendants on the hook [Parloff, Fortune] Plus: car with the “E COLI” license plate may be driving lawyer to work [WSJ Law Blog]
- Gimme those antiquities: Peru vs. Yale on Machu Picchu relics [Zincavage]
- Dick Schaap med-mal case evokes shifting theories from celebrated lawyer Tom Moore [two years ago at Overlawyered]
…could soon be banned in Norway under pending animal welfare regulations. (“May ban caged birds”, Aftenposten, Jun. 13).
“Dog breeders have warned that some of Britain’s best-loved breeds including dachshunds, bulldogs and basset hounds could disappear because of new and potentially far-reaching government animal-welfare measures.” Animal welfare groups have campaigned against the breeding of pedigreed animals, saying the pursuit of distinctive characteristics such as head size in bulldogs often comes at the expense of the animal’s health. A controversial Europe-wide treaty on animal breeding would translate the idea into law. “Dog breeders fear that the treaty’s terms are so broad that it would effectively forbid the breeding of distinctive types of dog because their defining characteristics could be seen as risking their welfare. According to the Scottish Kennel Club, ratifying the treaty would mean that anywhere between 30 and 40 breeds would effectively be outlawed.” The director of Edinburgh-based Advocates for Animals calls the argument “scaremongering nonsense”. (James Kirkup, “Euro rules ‘could outlaw 40 dog breeds'”, The Scotsman, Apr. 30).
We often talk about lawyers manufacturing clients in the class action context, but how about creating an entirely new class of clients? Some European activists are embarking on that path, taking their case through the European courts:
In some ways, Hiasl is like any other Viennese: He indulges a weakness for pastry, likes to paint and enjoys chilling out watching TV. But he doesn’t care for coffee, and he isn’t actually a person — at least not yet.
In a case that could set a global legal precedent for granting basic rights to apes, animal rights advocates are seeking to get the 26-year-old male chimpanzee legally declared a “person.”
Hiasl’s supporters argue he needs that status to become a legal entity that can receive donations and get a guardian to look out for his interests.
“Our main argument is that Hiasl is a person and has basic legal rights,” said Eberhart Theuer, a lawyer leading the challenge on behalf of the Association Against Animal Factories, a Vienna animal rights group.
So far, they haven’t had any luck, but they plan to appeal to higher courts, including “the European Court of Human [sic] Rights, if necessary.” The article notes that not all animal rights activists are supportive, including one “who worries that chimpanzees could gain broader rights, such as copyright protections on their photographs.”
But, surprisingly, Americans may already be ahead of them. It’s not unusual for a family fighting over an estate to fight over the family pets as vehemently as they fight over any other piece of property. But what is unusual is giving the pet a say in the matter, as in a Tennessee case decided this week:
A dogfight over Alex the Golden Retriever was resolved by agreement Monday in Probate Court.
The agreement, which was approved by Judge Karen Webster, adopted the recommendations of attorney Paul Royal, who was appointed by the court as guardian ad litem to represent Alex’s interests.
Guardians ad litem commonly are appointed to represent minor children or incapacitated adults in court proceedings, but legal observers cannot recall another local case in which one was appointed to represent a dog.
See? Lawyers will never exhaust the supply of clients, because we can always creatively come up with new sources. (And if we run out of pets, we can always adopt the idea first proposed by environmentalists in the 1970s, to allow lawyers to represent trees.)
- In the Supreme Court November 29: Watters v. Wachovia. Also an AEI panel November 28, broadcast on C-SPAN1, 2pm to 4pm Eastern. [Point of Law; AEI; Zywicki @ Volokh]
- Also in the Supreme Court November 29: Massachusetts v. EPA global warming regulation case. Previously an AEI panel November 21. [Adler @ Volokh; AEI; C-SPAN (Real Media)]
- Legal cliche: If the facts are against you, pound the law; if the law is against you, pound the facts; if both are against you, pound the table. Table-pounding class of Gerry Spence protegee offers lessons in emotionally creating jury sympathy worth millions. [LATimes]
- What judicial activism?, Part 7356: Indiana state court judge holds “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act” unconstitutional, complains gun industry supported the law. [Indianapolis Star via Bashman; Indiana Law Blog]
- Entertaining doctor victory in medmal case. [Musings of a Dinosaur via Kevin MD]
- Dahlia Lithwick gets something right; if only it was on an issue more important than a suit advertisement. [Slate]
- Leftover from Thanksgiving: lawyers acting like turkeys. [Ambrogi]
- Ninth Circuit grants potential standing to monkeys over Kozinski dissent. Earlier: Oct. 21, 2004. [Bashman roundup of links]
- Gloria Allred joins the Borat pile-on. [LATimes]
- Speaking of, here’s the future case of Allred v. Kramer. More Allred: Oct. 16. [Evanier]
- Speaking of Allred nostalgia, and of primates, whatever happened to chimpanzee victim St. James Davis? (Mar. 17, 2005; Mar. 8, 2005) [Inside Edition; “The Original Musings”; CNN Pipeline ($)]
- More Allred nostalgia: is Veronica Mars‘ Francis Capra the next Hunter Tylo? Discuss. [Prettier than Napoleon]
Correspondent R.C. directs our attention to the curious claim of “harm” by the last-named plaintiff:
Animal rights activists have asked a state judge to stop foie gras production in New York, saying the ducks used are overfed to such an extent that they are diseased and unfit for sale under state law.
The lawsuit, if it succeeds, could spell the end of foie gras production in America, a goal animal rights groups have long sought. The two Sullivan county farms that are defendants in the suit are the only foie gras producers in the country, other than a Northern Californian foie gras farm that may shut down under a California state law banning the industry….
The first challenge the suit faces is to convince a judge that the animal-rights activists who filed the suit have suffered enough harm to allow them standing to sue. The plaintiffs in yesterday’s suit offered several ways that they had been harmed by the foie gras industry.
One plaintiff, Caroline Lee, claims that the state’s regulatory departments are misspending her tax dollars by inspecting birds raised for foie gras production without concluding they are diseased. Another plaintiff, an animal rescue organization, Farm Sanctuary, claims its employees have been “aesthetically and emotionally injured” by being exposed to the “suffering” of abandoned ducks that they rescue from foie gras production. Another plaintiff, a New York restaurateur, Joy Pierson, claims that her decision not to serve foie gras has caused her to lose customers at her two Manhattan restaurants, Candle 79 and Candle Café, according to the complaint.
A federal judge in the District of Columbia has dismissed a lawsuit against dairy manufacturers filed by the animal-rights group that calls itself the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). The lawsuit claimed that it was legally wrongful for producers not to label dairy products to warn of the risk of lactose intolerance (“District Court Dismisses Anti-Dairy Lawsuit”, USAgNet/Wisconsin Ag Connection, Sept. 5). Ted covered the suit Jun. 21, 2005; see also May 28, 2004. Bill Childs comments on the dismissal (Aug. 23) and also has details of a ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court (over two dissents) that a hair oil manufacturer did not have to warn of the dangers of ingesting its product.
Chicago’s silly anti-foie gras law is taking effect next week (see Jun. 8 and links therein), but a planned commerce-clause lawsuit against the ban (via Wallace, whose post has a lot of good links on similar bad laws and proposals) is even more silly. In 1995, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an even sillier nanny-state ordinance against spray paint sales that was also challenged on commerce clause grounds: “Just as the Constitution does not enact Mr. Herbert Spencer’s Social Statics, so it does not enact prescriptions from the pages of The Journal of Law & Economics—where, we may assume, an article will appear in due course adding this ordinance to the long list of laws whose costs exceed their benefits.” (Full disclosure: I was a clerk for the author of that opinion at that time.)
The Humane Society of the U.S. says it plans to sue Amazon.com under a District of Columbia consumer protection statute because the online retailer has rejected its demands to stop selling two magazines aimed at cockfighting enthusiasts, The Gamecock and The Feathered Warrior. (They seem to have overlooked Grit and Steel.) The Society claims that a federal law prohibiting the use of the U.S. mails for the promotion of cockfighting events renders the magazines illegal, a position that the U.S. Postal Service itself has apparently not chosen to endorse. (KTHV, Jul. 18; Elizabeth M. Gillespie, “Humane Society urges Amazon.com to quit selling cockfighting mags”, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Jul. 18; Nobody’s Business, Jul. 24).