Posts Tagged ‘Beaumont’

Judicial Hellholes III Report

The American Tort Reform Association today released its third annual Judicial Hellholes report — ATRA’s report on the worst court systems in the United States where “‘Equal Justice Under Law’ does not exist.”

Here is the press release from ATRA. The highlights, including the top nine worst areas (seven counties and two regions — all of West Virginia and all of South Florida) and a salute to Mississippi for its tremendous and far-reaching tort reforms are on this page. The full report is in PDF format here.

But there may yet be hope:

Read On…

Update: Compaq beats glitch suit again

Following the spectacular $2 billion class action settlement in Beaumont, Texas against Toshiba for a reported data glitch in its laptop computers (see Nov. 3, 1999 and later coverage) class action lawyers descended with copycat suits against Compaq and other rival laptop makers. A federal class action was however rejected (see May 11-13, 2001) and now the Texas Supreme Court has rejected a national class action filed in Texas state courts. However, “attorneys for the class aren’t throwing in the towel and say a statewide class action still is possible”. Besides proffering other defenses, a lawyer for the company “contends that a buffer in Compaq’s computers prevents problems with the FDC [floppy disk controller].” (Mary Alice Robbins, “Court Boots Nationwide Class Action Against Compaq”, Texas Lawyer, May 18).

Update: judge OKs tire settlement

Despite objections from rival plaintiff’s lawyers and others, state district judge Donald Floyd in Beaumont, Texas, has approved the settlement of a class action on behalf of consumers who own or owned recalled Firestone tires allegedly prone to tread separation. The settlement excludes anyone who has filed actual claims of personal or property injury related to the tires. Class members (other than 45 named plaintiffs who will receive $2,500 each) will get no monetary compensation, but will have the right to trade in the tires if they did not respond to the earlier recall, and Firestone has pledged another $65 million for education and safety programs. The class action lawyers, meanwhile, which include Beaumont’s Provost Umphrey, will get $19 million. See our reports of Sept. 19 and Oct. 8. (Brenda Sapino Jeffreys, “Judge Approves $149 Million Firestone Tire Settlement”, Texas Lawyer, Mar. 22).

Fen-phen: O’Quinn extracts $1 billion from Beaumont jury

“A jury awarded $1 billion to the family of a woman who once took the Wyeth-made diet drug Pondimin, part of the now-banned weight-loss combination fen-phen.” Cynthia Cappel-Coffey, who died last year at 41 of primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH), did not develop symptoms of PPH until more than four years after using the Wyeth drug. According to Bill Sims, a lawyer for Wyeth, the Beaumont judge refused to allow the company to introduce evidence that Cappel-Coffey had taken four other diet drugs in the intervening years, although all four of the other drugs warn of a risk of PPH. Wyeth has already set aside nearly $17 billion for fen-phen litigation. (“Jury awards $1 billion to family of woman whose death was connected to diet drug”, AP/Court TV, Apr. 28; Reed Abelson and Jonathan D. Glater, “Texas Jury Rules Against the Maker of Fen-Phen, a Diet Drug”, New York Times, Apr. 28; Tony Freemantle, “Beaumont jury awards $1 billion in diet drug suit”, Houston Chronicle, Apr. 28). (More: Texas Lawyer). For more on fen-phen litigation, see Jan. 25, Jan. 6, Aug. 19 and links from there. For more on Beaumont, that very special jurisdiction, see Jul. 31 and many more. And for more on attorney John O’Quinn, a frequent source of material for this page, see Feb. 26 and many more.

Disappearing Australians

Lifeguards: “One of Victoria’s most popular surf beaches may be unpatrolled this summer as its lifesaving club struggles to pay the huge public liability insurance costs. The Torquay club will not put lifesavers on the beach this season if the State Government does not pass legislation protecting members and the club from litigation.” (Stephen Moynihan, “Popular beach may have no lifesavers this season”, Melbourne Age, Nov. 2). Pediatric surgeons: “Eighteen orthopedic surgeons and obstetricians have quit public hospitals in Sydney in the past week because of the Government’s medical indemnity charge.” (Ruth Pollard, “Children’s surgeons quit, more will follow”, Sydney Morning Herald, Oct. 2). Rural obstetricians (Lucy Beaumont, “Insurance fear on rural births”, Melbourne Age, May 6). See David Little, “Left untreated, the indemnity system will cause more suffering”, Sydney Morning Herald, Oct. 9; Richard Ackland, “In a row between doctor and lawyer, you know who the politician will call”, Sydney Morning Herald, Oct. 31)

Beaumont and its reputation

Lawyers and judges in Beaumont, Texas are far from pleased to hear their city called a “judicial hellhole” and “the Barbary Coast for class-action litigation.” “Defense lawyer James R. (“Jay”) Old Jr. says the county has unfairly gotten a reputation as a place where ‘the plaintiffs and defense bar work together to combine for the greatest amount of billables for the defense lawyers and the greatest recoveries for the plaintiff'”. Why, sir, the very idea is preposterous! Besides, there’s a silver lining in the city’s reputation as a forum-shopping destination for lawyers around the state and country: “In fairness, it represents to us an industry. It puts a lot of people to work here,” says Jim Rich, who heads the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce. However, things might be changing: recent elections have shifted the three-member appeals court that oversees Beaumont to a 2-1 Republican edge, from 3-0 Democratic. (Terry Maxon, “Beaumont known for torts”, Dallas Morning News, Jul. 20).