This is precious:
- Lenawee County, Mich. authorities have posted condemnation notices on Old Order Amish farmhouses over their use of outhouses rather than modern septic systems as required by code. Dispute now heading for court [Tom Henry, Toledo Blade]
- Baltimore Mayor Young promotes white-van-abduction urban legends, police misconduct transparency, Montgomery County is watching drivers and more in my latest Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes]
- Following outcry from activists, Facebook disables as misleading ads some trial lawyer ads soliciting plaintiffs to sue over purported side effects of HIV prevention drugs [Tony Romm, Washington Post/Toronto Star, Peter Lawrence Kane, The Guardian, WTHR]
- From Lowering the Bar, legal things that actually did happen in 2019;
- 20 years ago I warned that by trying to dictate employers’ choices, a Wisconsin law might work to impede convict re-entry into the job market rather than encourage it [Reason, from its archives]
- If county and city law enforcement officials have discretion not to charge low-level drug offenders, do they also have discretion not to charge low-level gun offenders? [Cam Edwards, National Review on Virginia battle over “Second Amendment sanctuary” resolutions]
Eye-opening investigation by Wall Street Journal reporters of the machine that markets injury lawsuits over Bayer/Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide: “Individual plaintiffs can become commodities that are bought and sold by marketers, with prices based on demand.” [Sara Randazzo and Jacob Bunge, WSJ/Morningstar] “Misinformation about one of the safest herbicides ever produced has created a lucrative business for ambulance-chasing lawyers and NGOs—at the expense of native species.” [Ted Williams, Slate; Geoffrey Kabat/Issues in Science and Technology; earlier] The U.S. Department of Justice along with several states and California medical, dental, and hospital associations are all supporting Bayer’s appeal of a $25 million verdict before the Ninth Circuit [Rich Peters, Legal NewsLine]
- Examples ranging from eminent domain and free speech to racial and religious discrimination contradict Attorney General’s suggestion that it’s unusual for modern courts to scrutinize motives behind government action [Milad Emam, Institute for Justice; Ilya Somin]
- Article deems it “unusual” that lawyer trying to get money out of Facebook on lurid sex-trafficking theories is a personal-injury specialist who’s pursued car-crash and insurance claims. Doesn’t take much to surprise the New York Times, does it? [Jack Nicas, New York Times]
- “We learned very quickly that it was a numbers game — the more people you come in contact with, the greater your chances of getting a gun.” How Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force went “hunting” among city residents [Justin Fenton, Baltimore Sun this summer, earlier]
- “Politically Incorrect Paper of the Day: The United Fruit Company was Good!” [Alex Tabarrok on Esteban Mendez-Chacon and Diana Van Patten paper]
- “I’ve often noted to people that [lawyers who] are unethical at the start of representation are not likely to be ethical later as their interests are directed to the self and not the client” [Eric Turkewitz on NYPD 911-call-injury-referral scandal, earlier]
- “The Color Magenta, Or How T-Mobile Thinks It Owns A General Color” [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]
“Prosecutors estimate that as many as 60,000 car accident victims may have had their confidential information improperly disclosed” in a scheme in which New York Police Department employees accepted money to pass information about 911 callers to an outfit that would then urge them to visit prearranged medical clinics and lawyers. “He told his fraudulent call center not to target victims in Manhattan, court documents said, because ‘those people got attorneys.’… ‘We want all the bad neighborhoods.’” With bonus HIPAA content: the ringleader of the scheme, besides paying off police personnel, allegedly “bribed employees at hospitals and medical centers to violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA, and disclose confidential patient information for car accident victims, the documents say.” [Ali Watkins, New York Times]
Dear lawyers: you might want to avoid portraying a superhero character in your advertising “if you actually do the thing your character purportedly fights against” such as injuring your clients and then making excuses [Kevin Underhill, Lowering the Bar; Cook County, Ill. judge sentences Jordan Margolis to three years]
South Carolina: “Personal injury lawyer and ubiquitous TV pitchman George Sink wants his namesake son to stop using his birth-given moniker to market a fledgling law firm, saying two attorneys with identical names are confusing potential clients.” The request for a temporary injunction against George Sink, Jr. cites the likelihood of confusion with the trademarks of the elder’s firm, for which the son worked until the two parted ways in February. [David Wren, Charleston Post and Courier]
An agreement between the father and son calls for any business dispute to be settled in arbitration, which is tentatively scheduled for December, and limits damages to $500 — an amount Sink Jr. already has paid to his father.
Sink Sr. said in court documents the agreement should be set aside because he signed it without reading it. …The temporary injunction, if granted, would last until an arbitrator decides the case.
P.S. Meanwhile in NYC: “The messy professional break-up between hot-shot personal-injury lawyers Ross Cellino and Steve Barnes is moving from the courthouse to the playhouse, dramatized in a stage show playing next month in Brooklyn.” [Aaron Feis and Julia Marsh, New York Post, earlier]
“Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have charged a physician and the owner of a medical consulting firm over a scheme to persuade women to have their pelvic mesh implants surgically removed to bolster the value of lawsuits against the devices’ manufacturers.” The prosecutors charge that the two lied to women about the health risks of mesh and of its surgical removal, and participated in a system of improper bribes and kickbacks. “The procedures were paid with money from high-interest cash advances arranged by a group of so-called litigation finance firms.” [Matthew Goldstein, New York Times, earlier on pelvic mesh here, here, here, etc.] More: Goldstein on suits by clients against lawyers.
“In terms of the evidence, the trial lawyers [suing Bayer and Johnson & Johnson over the blood thinner Xarelto] had a losing hand — any kind of sane judicial system would have them leaving the field of battle, a defeated army.” But they’d signed up a remarkable 25,000 clients, buying an estimated 129,000 ads seeking such business in 2016, with one law firm alone spending $20 million a year on promotion. When you’ve got that big a base of clients to throw at them, “companies settle meritless cases.” [Joe Nocera, Bloomberg Opinion]