- “SEAT Act: Top Senators Sponsoring Bill to Outlaw Low Cost Carriers, Raise Airfares” [Gary Leff, View from the Wing]
- “Trump’s Safe and Sane ‘Regulatory Reform’ Idea” [Cass Sunstein/Bloomberg, earlier Sunstein on Trump regulatory initiatives]
- Changing law and economics shape street protest [Tyler Cowen] Arizona’s bad idea on protestors involves racketeering charges, forfeiture, and more [Coyote]
- “Rights And Reality: Georgia Cop Jails Ex-Wife For Facebook Gripe” [Ken White, Popehat]
- “Opponents of same-sex marriage cynically…manufacture[d] a baseless controversy in the Texas Supreme Court” to attack City of Houston’s spousal benefits, but as the Hon. Jerry Smith of the Fifth Circuit had already stated in persuasive guidance, Obergefell “is the law of the land.” [Mark Pulliam, Law and Liberty; a second view from Josh Blackman]
- Idea making some headway: adapting use of class action and similar aggregate litigation procedures to administrative adjudication [Sergio Campos, Jotwell]
Eike v. Allergan, a consumer class action certification case about allegedly over-generous allotments of fluid in eyedrop dispensers, raises two questions: how’d this case get past the motion-to-dismiss stage? And, second, how did Judge Richard Posner manage to go out on such a very extended cat metaphor in a case having nothing to do with cats? [Lowering the Bar, Chicago Tribune, ABA Journal]
I’ve got a post at Cato at Liberty catching up on House action on litigation reform bills — see last week — and comparing it in particular to the recommendations of the chapter on tort and class action law (of which I was one author) in the new 8th edition Cato Handbook for Policymakers. As I note, two measures (on sanctions and class actions) track recommendations Cato scholars have been making for years, while a third (on medical liability] has been scaled back in a way that at least nods to concerns I and others have expressed.
The last few paragraphs of the piece follow:
Finally, there has been a development worth noting on H.R. 1215, the Protecting Access To Care Act, which passed committee by an 18-17 vote on Feb. 28. I and others have repeatedly criticized federal medical liability bills on the grounds that they run into serious problems of federalism and enumerated powers, seeking to justify federal involvement by way of loose New Deal doctrines of impact on interstate commerce, and overriding the workings of state courts even as to the large mass of medical malpractice disputes in which both parties to the lawsuit are local to the state and the costs of error are apt to be local as well. As I argued in this space:
That doesn’t mean federal policymakers are to be left with no role at all. For example, if Washington is paying for a large share of hospital stays, it may make sense as a cost containment measure for it to steer beneficiaries into lower-cost ways of resolving disputes over care quality, or even to ask beneficiaries as a condition of treatment to agree not to file certain suits at all. But that would require stepping back toward a more careful—and more Constitutionally appropriate—view of the federal role.
Unlike past iterations, this bill only applies to claims concerning the provision of goods or services for which coverage is provided in whole or in part via a Federal program, subsidy, or tax benefit, giving it a clear federal nexus. Wherever federal policy affects the distribution of health care, there is a clear federal interest in reducing the costs of such federal policies.
Whether the provision in question is drafted in such a way as to pass federalist muster is a question for another day — but it does at least seem that someone on Capitol Hill may have been listening to our past critiques.
Each earlier venture into reforming class action practice has been met with cries that the device was being effectively abolished, and the similar round of alarms this time is unfounded, argues Andrew Trask: the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act (FICALA) now pending in Congress “lives up to its name.” It’s “not seeking to abolish the class action, but to curb some of the more worrisome litigation practices that have evolved since CAFA.” [first, second (mass action and multi-district litigation) posts] Earlier here. More: Daniel Fisher.
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.
- Uphill battle in Congress for bill to “prohibit federal courts from issuing awards that consider the victim’s race or gender, among other demographic variables” [Kim Soffen, Washington Post on “Fair Calculations Act”]
- Normalizing champerty, the Ann Arbor way: University of Michigan endowment to take stake in litigation finance fund [Janet Lorin, Bloomberg News]
- Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA), restoring sanctions for groundless litigation, cleared House committee vote last month [@HouseJudiciary]
- “Lynch’s Doubling of False Claims Act Fines Could Be Bonanza for Trial Lawyers” [Joe Schoffstall, Washington Free Beacon]
- “Katrina victims shocked by small payments in levee failure case they ‘won’ – $118 each, on average” [David Hammer, WWL-TV]
- Advisory Committee on Civil Rules considers revising Rule 23 on class actions [Washington Legal Foundation comments]
- In the just-out eighth edition of the Cato Handbook for Policymakers, I helped revise and add to the chapter on tort and class action reform, joining Robert A. Levy and Mark Moller as authors;
- Baron & Budd “Preparing For Your Deposition” asbestos memo still being fought over in court 20 years later [David Yates/Southeast Texas Record, my piece back when]
- “Wanted in Kentucky, seemingly immune to arrest in Ohio” [James McNair, CityBeat on Stan Chesley]
- Congress needs to rewrite the law on multi-district litigation or else the lawyerly gamesmanship will continue [James Beck, Drug and Device Law]
- While generally critical of class action reform proposals in Congress, Alison Frankel does find one idea in it — accounting for class action payouts — to be intriguing [Reuters]
- “New Jersey, Allstate sue chiropractors convicted of running ‘personal injury mill'” [Susan K. Livio, NJ.com]
- Florida convict blames Verizon for letting him steal man’s identity [WFTV]
- Carving the carcass: class-action lawyers’ fee-ing frenzy [Boston Globe, Daniel Fisher]
- Allianz report on state of directors and officers’ liability insurance market;
- Disbarred “Master of Disaster” Stanley Chesley fights paying victims of fen-phen settlement fraud [James Pilcher, Cincinnati Enquirer]
- As we’ve discussed on many occasions, supposed “Winnebago cruise control lawsuit” tale is a great big urban legend, but plenty of others alas are quite true [Bob Dorigo Jones]
- Will liability reform in Illinois ever manage to get around Speaker Michael Madigan? [Daniel DiSalvo, City Journal]
The Chamber of Commerce’s picks for the honor include a Georgia jury’s finding a woman only 8 percent responsible for her $161,000 injuries as she walked into a ladder while texting on her cellphone, a student’s complaint that the College Board omitted from SAT scoring a section where a typo had led some students to get extra time, and a would-be class action against MasterCard for not pulling down a cancer-research promotion at once when the $30 million fundraising target had been met. [New York Post]
- “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]