“Typical medical malpractice reform efforts are aimed at lowering costs for physicians, but what if many problems associated with medical malpractice could be handled via contract?” In a new Cato Podcast with interviewer Caleb Brown, I discuss that subject and go on to talk about issues in malpractice reform, including arbitration and the “nod to federalism” in this year’s Republican medical liability proposal in Congress. Related: reasons why Cato adjunct scholar Jeffrey Singer is skeptical of federal reform.
- A workplace hazard? Push in Britain to “make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work.” [Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason]
- Service dogs on planes: “a ‘credible verbal assurance’ books Fido a trip to San Francisco for the weekend” [David Post, Volokh Conspiracy] Australia, too, sees trend toward exotic service and emotional-support animals [Workplace Prof; earlier]
- Trial lawyers would like Supreme Court to squash the arbitration alternative, but few signs Judge Gorsuch is on board with that plan [Edith Roberts, SCOTUSBlog]
- New York radical lawyer Lynne Stewart, not a favorite in these columns, dead at 77 [Scott Johnson, PowerLine, earlier]
- Baltimore police scandal, “yes means yes” bill for MoCo schools, homicide rap for overdose suppliers?, school wi-fi scare, Tom Perez, and more in my Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes]
- Suing so soon over White House regulatory reform, Public Citizen, and with so little show of injury? [Brian Mannix, Law and Liberty]
- Recent easing of lawsuit crisis in U.S. owes much to rise of arbitration. Now organized litigation lobby is intent on taking that down, and Obama administration has helped with steps in labor law, consumer finance, and nursing-home care [James Copland, Manhattan Institute, related op-ed]
- SCOTUS should grant certiorari to clarify lawyers’ obligation to clients in class settlement, argues Lester Brickman [amicus brief courtesy SCOTUSBlog; earlier on Blackman v. Gascho]
- St. Louis, California, NYC asbestos litigation, south Florida and the Florida Supreme Court, and New Jersey are top five “winners” in latest annual “Judicial Hellholes” report, which also includes a focus on qui tam/whistleblower suits [American Tort Reform Association, report and executive summary]
- Deep pocket lawsuits remain systemic problem in America for political branches to address [David Freddoso, Washington Examiner investigation]
- Florida insurers struggle with secondhand suits under assignment of benefits doctrine [Insurance Journal]
- Storm lawsuits in Texas: “All Hail Breaks Loose” [Mark Pulliam, City Journal]
- “Big Bucks and Local Lawyers: The Increasing Use of Contingency Fee Lawyers by Local Governments” [Michael Maddigan, U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform]
- Class actions: “The New Rule 23 Is Available for Public Comment,” comment period ends Feb. 15 [Andrew Trask]
- Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association urges Supreme Court to review Third Circuit case approving liability for FAA-approved part design [AOPA, Sikkelee v. Precision Airmotive Corp.]
- “An FCC ban on arbitration of privacy claims would be the anti-consumer-protection approach” [Geoffrey Manne & Kristian Stout, Truth on the Market]
- Montana case could bypass Daimler limits on state-court jurisdiction in cases under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, Washington Legal Foundation urges certiorari [BNSF v. Tyrrell]
- Insurers brace for new tilt of adverse doctrine as American Law Institute mulls Restatement of the Law of Liability Insurance [Nicholas Malfitano, Legal Newsline/Forbes]
- “Judge Says He’s Had Enough Of Weeding Through Baseless Lawsuits, Threatens Sanctions” [Daniel Fisher; M. D. Georgia judge on vaginal mesh cases]
- More on pricey regulated generics [Scott Gottlieb/WSJ, earlier on EpiPen, more on latter from Joel Zinberg/City Journal]
- Feds ban pre-dispute arbitration agreements in nursing home care [McKnights]
- How Ronald Reagan’s FDA responded to the AIDS crisis — and it’s probably not the story you’ve heard [Peter Huber, City Journal; see also from Carl Cannon in 2014]
- FDA regs likely to winnow smaller, distinctive makers from the cigar business, recalling a Somerset Maugham story [James M. Patterson] Debunking the “Helena miracle,” once more: no link between local smoking bans and short-term drops in heart attacks [Jacob Sullum, earlier here and here]
- “Ethicists make the case for bone marrow transplantation markets” [Ilya Somin]
Hello, AP? The relevant “wanting” here is done by lawyers, not consumers. (“When consumers want to create or join a class-action lawsuit…”) And that’s kind of emblematic of how you miss the point on the Consumer Finance Protection Board’s big announcement of a rule yesterday rescuing many class action lawyers from the arbitration clauses to which their putative clients would otherwise have given legal consent.
The industry reaction was swift, with Wall Street and its advocates warning of unintended consequences of the rule within hours of the CFPB proposing it on Thursday.
The change likely will result in higher litigation costs for banks, which they will offset either by raising the costs of consumer-loan products or reducing services, said Nessa Feddis, senior vice president for consumer protection and payments at the American Bankers Association, an industry group.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas) called the proposed rule “a big, wet kiss to trial attorneys.”
And: Omri Ben-Shahar, Forbes:
While the overall effect on consumers depends on the balance between meritorious and frivolous class actions, one prediction can be made with confidence. Firms will now take greater care in drafting even longer fine print agreements, where everything is fully “disclosed.” Since many class actions allege violations that can often be corrected through more comprehensive legal disclosures and warnings, firms will lawyer up and write longer and even less readable boilerplate. The “asterisk” will be the winner — the routine disclaimers that accompany advertisements, as in: “Footlong is an average; reasonable variations may apply.” In the end, the CFPB’s proposed regulation will not improve the value of financial services to consumers. It will instead lavish upon people even longer and more excruciating small print.
In a case involving Murphy Oil, the National Labor Relations Board contends that “a mandatory arbitration provision violates the National Labor Relations Act. That has been the position of the NLRB for some time now, notwithstanding almost universal rejection by the courts.” The Fifth Circuit, unsurprisingly, joined other precedent and upheld the employer. Until just a short time ago, given a Supreme Court on which Justice Antonin Scalia had penned strong opinions in favor of freedom to contract in favor of arbitration as a choice, “employers would not have been terribly concerned if the NLRB had appealed.” But now? [Michael Fox, Jottings By an Employer’s Lawyer]
In its long-running campaign against arbitration as a contractually chosen alternative to its own services, the Litigation Lobby recently scored a coup in the form of a New York Times series intensely negative on the practice. I joined radio host Bob Zadek recently for a discussion of the issue.
More on arbitration recently from Jim Copland in the Wall Street Journal, from Daniel Fisher (“New York Times Cites The Wrong Case To Support Class Actions”) and Greg Herbers, Washington Legal Foundation (“Rebuffed Twice in Texas, the NLRB Takes its Crusade Against [Class-Action] Arbitration [Agreements] to California”).
- Trying to buy gift cards in bulk as an employee bonus, Coyote discovers anew that the government hates cash;
- Initial public offerings are drooping again, regulation one reason [Thaya Knight, Cato]
- A dissent from the lamentations, here and elsewhere, on the decline of small community banks [Ira Stoll] “Fed’s Tarullo says looking into smaller banks’ concerns” [Business Insider]
- Berned out? Financial transactions tax “one of the more overrated ideas in American Progressive political discourse” [Tyler Cowen, Wikipedia on Sweden’s experience via @aClassicLiberal on Twitter] And Sen. Sanders continues to express incredulity on Twitter about college loans’ carrying higher interest than home mortgages do, despite attempts to enlighten him on the whole topic of secured lending and collateral [@tedfrank]
- Video of Federalist Society convention panel on constitutionality of administrative law judges at SEC and elsewhere with John S. Baker, Jr., Stephen Crimmins, Todd Pettys, Tuan Samahon, moderated by F. Scott Kieff;
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ban on contractual arbitration will help class action lawyers, few others [Todd Zywicki, Mercatus]
- “How US policies to stop terrorist financing end up hurting innocent families abroad” [Dylan Matthews, Vox] Money laundering regs, “de-risking” result in many bank closures in U.S.-Mexico border areas, hassles result for local residents and businesses [Kevin Funnell]
- Supreme Court agrees to review CRST Vans Expedited v. EEOC (Eighth Circuit) on standard for prevailing-party fee awards in EEOC cases, could mean help for defendants against overzealous government lawyering (and thanks for quote) [Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner, earlier here and here]
- 6-3 win for arbitration and freedom of contract in DirecTV case [Deborah LaFetra/PLF, Daniel Fisher, ABA Journal] WSJ editorial: Bravo to Justice Breyer for upholding as precedent what he’d earlier dissented from on substance [Texans for Lawsuit Reform reprint]
- OK to choke off legal defense by freezing all assets before trial, even if not criminally obtained? [Radley Balko]
- South Carolina $124 million penalty against Risperdal maker should be recognized as violating Excessive Fines clause [Ilya Shapiro and Randal John Meyer, Cato]
- “Supreme Court will review state laws making it a crime to refuse blood-alcohol tests” [ABA Journal, Reason]
- Helpless against the administrative state: revisiting SCOTUS’s awful 1944 Yakus case [James Conde and Michael Greve, SSRN via Michael Greve, Law and Liberty]
- New Akron Law Review symposium on class action jurisprudence of Roberts Court [Paul Karlsgodt]