Posts Tagged ‘asbestos’

The Claire’s asbestos scare

How a plaintiff’s expert consultant, working with others associated with the litigation biz, helped touch off a cosmetics panic. “Jewelry store Claire’s said [Jan. 4] that lab results certified its products as asbestos-free, following allegations of the toxic substance in its products last month.” [Lauren Hirsch, CNBC]

December 20 roundup

  • Craft brewery regs, Peter Angelos has another special bill in Annapolis, county council vetoes on development, and more in my latest Maryland roundup [Free State Notes]
  • Oh, that pro bono: celebrity lawyer’s pro bono contract for sex accusers included up to one-third commission on selling their stories to media outlets [John Solomon and Alison Spann, The Hill]
  • Forget that Viking cruise down the Mississippi River, Jones Act makes it a no-go [WQAD] “The Jones Act costs all Americans too much” [Bloomberg View editorial; earlier here, etc.]
  • Cato Daily Podcast with firearms policy expert David Kopel on interstate right to carry and restricting bump stocks;
  • Not-so-nastygram in beer biz: “As far as cease and desists go, this is about as good as it gets.” [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]

Liability roundup

  • Another dubious lawsuit blaming terrorism on social media from law firm with phone number for a name [Tim Cushing]
  • Courts reverse two big talc/baby powder jury verdicts against Johnson & Johnson [Tina Bellon and Nate Raymond, Reuters ($417 million, California); Insurance Journal ($72 million, Missouri)]
  • “US-Based Tech Companies Subject to Worldwide Jurisdiction as Judicial Comity Takes a Back Seat” [Moin Yahya, WLF on Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Google v. Equustek Solutions]
  • Richard Epstein wrote the Encyclopedia of Libertarianism’s entry on liability, tort and contract;
  • Asbestos: “Judges and juries should learn about a plaintiff’s entire exposure history so they can apportion liability appropriately.” [Phil Goldberg, Forbes]
  • Study of contingent fee litigation in New York City: few cases resolved on dispositive motions, lawyers nearly always take the maximum one-third permitted by law [Eric Helland et al., forthcoming Vanderbilt Law Review/SSRN]

Liability roundup

Liability roundup

  • Entrepreneurs launch plaintiff’s insurance to cover costs of pursuing litigation, not quite same thing as the “legal expense insurance” commonly found in loser-pays jurisdictions [ABA Journal]
  • More on the class action procedure case Microsoft v. Baker, from the just-ended Supreme Court term [Federalist Society podcast with Ted Frank, earlier]
  • Why Bristol-Myers Squibb, the Supreme Court case on state court jurisdiction, “is one of the most important mass tort/product liability decisions ever” [James Beck/Drug & Device Law, earlier]
  • Sandy Hook massacre: “Newtown And Board Of Education Seek Dismissal Of Wrongful Death Lawsuit” [AP/CBS Connecticut]
  • Pennsylvania: “Evidence-Manipulation Claims Dog Asbestos Lawyer” [Lowell Neumann Nickey, Courthouse News] “California’s Latest Litigation Invitation: A Duty to Protect Against ‘Take-Home’ Exposure” [Curt Cutting, WLF]
  • It’s almost as if trial lawyers were in the driver’s seat of these ostensibly public actions: Tennessee counties’ opioids suit also seeks to strike down the state’s tort reform law [Jamie Satterfield, Knoxville News-Sentinel]

Bankruptcy trusts yield evidence of asbestos double-dipping

North Dakota and Mississippi have become the third and fourth states to enact laws requiring more transparency of the trusts formed to administer companies declaring bankruptcy amid asbestos litigation [Sara Warner, Huffington Post] “With Obama’s veto threat gone, asbestos ‘double-dipping’ bill reintroduced” [Jessica Karmasek, Legal NewsLine] “State AGs Probe Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts To Recover Medicare Payments” [Daniel Fisher] And per a paper from the U.S. Chamber, Ohio’s pioneering asbestos claim transparency law is working well [Institute for Legal Reform]

Liability roundup

“The Story of Asbestos Litigation in Texas and Its National Consequences”

Texas was once the largest center of asbestos litigation in the U.S., with mass recruitment of workers claiming injury from past exposure although displaying no symptoms. Now, more than 40 years after the landmark Fifth Circuit Borel v. Fibreboard case which originated with a Beaumont worker’s complaint, Texas has enacted the nation’s most extensive legislation laying down rules for the conduct of asbestos litigation, much of it aimed at curtailing cases with poor evidence of causation or injury. A new report from Texans for Lawsuit Reform describes and defends the state’s actions.

Litigation reform moving fast through House of Representatives

With both Congress and White House now in Republican hands, the U.S. House of Representatives is moving with dispatch to consider a series of litigation reform measures, some stalled for years by Democratic opposition and others of relatively recent vintage. Bruce Kaufman at BNA Bloomberg has a three-part series (first, second, third) followed by an update today on the looming battle over the six main bills:

  • The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (H.R. 720) “requires judges to impose mandatory sanctions on attorneys who file ‘meritless’ civil cases in federal courts.”
  • The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act (H.R. 985) which “affects nearly all facets of class action practice” and in particular “class certification requirements, capping or delaying distribution of fees to class counsel, requiring the disclosure of litigation financing, and tying the reporting of settlement data to plaintiffs’ lawyers’ fees.” [More: various academic opponents weigh in here, Andrew Trask defends provisions of the bill here and here, and see earlier]
  • The Innocent Party Protection Act (H.R. 725) “targets what is known as fraudulent joinder—the improper addition of [local] defendants to suits in a bid to keep cases in more plaintiff-friendly state courts.”
  • The Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act (H.R. 906) “mandates increased reporting of payments to plaintiffs by trusts that pay out asbestos exposure claims against bankrupt companies,” in hopes of preventing undisclosed duplicative collection of damages over the same injury.
  • The Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act (H.R. 732) which “seeks to bar the Department of Justice from entering into settlements that steer funds to favored third-party groups.”
  • The Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act (H.R. 469) Goes after what have been called “sue-and-settle” processes at EPA in which the agency reaches concessionary terms with ostensibly adverse litigants who seek to expand its authority.

Trial lawyers and allies in the Litigation Lobby aren’t standing idly by: “opponents hope to gum up the works.” Even if many bills clear House passage, getting to 60 votes in the Senate in the face of filibuster threats could prove difficult, despite the departure of perennial trial lawyer ally Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and the views of President Trump are not entirely clear. More: Washington Examiner editorial on class action measures.