- Today at AEI: Panel (and webcast) on Massachusetts v. EPA Supreme Court argument on carbon dioxide regulation. [AEI]
- Paulson to Economic Club of New York: “Legal reform is crucial to the long-term competitiveness of our economy.” [Paulson; WSJ; WaPo; NYT; American]
- One who reposts on Internet allegedly libelous news article immune from liability in California. One hopes this deters a certain attorney complaining about a six-year-old Overlawyered post recounting a 2000 LA Times article. [Point of Law; Volokh]
- It’s an obvious point, but many judges simply refuse to acknowledge it in failure-to-warn litigation: overwarning can be counterproductive. [WaPo]
- Congress holds that Psalms 37:21 trumps Leviticus 27:30; Senator Obama objects. [WaPo]
- Russia: woman successfully sues Coca-Cola for causing gastrointestinal distress. [Kevin M.D.]
- More on breast implants. [Bernstein @ Volokh]
- More on the New Zealand no-fault med-mal system. [Point of Law]
- Posner on Friedman. [Posner]
- John Edwards seeks to cut in front of line to purchase Playstation 3 at Wal-Mart. Which of the Two Americas is that again? [Taylor @ Reason via Kirkendall]
If the Forces of Disapproval ever tire of beating up on Wal-Mart, they’ll need a new business to blame for the world’s not being everything it ought. George Will thinks Coca-Cola might fill the bill (“Liberalism as Condescension”, syndicated/RealClearPolitics, Sept. 14).
The Coca-Cola Co. can rest easy: diet-book author Julia Havey has withdrawn her lawsuit (see Jul. 17) charging that one of the company’s product loyalty campaigns encourages kids to consume so many soft drinks that they could die. Havey declared herself satisfied that a Coke spokesman told the press that purchasers seeking to accumulate product credits could share the soft drinks with friends instead of being obliged to consume them all personally. Coke has said Havey’s lawsuit is a publicity ploy intended to call attention to her release of a new diet book. And this:
Havey said she wouldn’t be surprised if Coca-Cola sued her.
“The world of litigation is a crazy place,” she said.
(“Lawsuit Over ‘Lethal Doses’ Of Coca-Cola Dropped”, KPRC Houston, Aug. 2).
A St. Louis weight-loss instructor is suing the Coca-Cola Co. over its product loyalty campaign, claiming the program might encourage kids to drink so much of the sugary soft drink that they could die.
The campaign, “My Coke Rewards” gives customers points for buying Coca-Cola products. …
Coca-Cola spokesman Scott Williamson said [Julia] Havey is “horribly misinformed” about the rewards program and the lawsuit is simply an attempt to drum up attention for weight-loss books she writes.
More skirmishing in preparation for the expected lawsuit against soft-drink vendors over sales in Massachusetts schools (see Dec. 5, Dec. 7, Feb. 7, etc.), via a Boston Globe editorial (“Vending against obesity”, Jan. 30):
In advance of the suit, Washington lawyer John Banzhaf sent an e-mail to 50-100 school committee members in Massachusetts ”to warn of your inevitable involvement in these law suits as a named party or otherwise…”
A couple of years back, Banzhaf threatened to sue the Seattle school district for renewing a $400,000 vending-machine contract with Coca-Cola (Jul. 3, 2003). Prof. Banzhaf’s other doings, which have ensured him regular appearances on this site, include proposing lawsuits against parents of obese children and against doctors who fail to warn their obese patients about overeating (Dec. 3, 2004).
“Richard Daynard, a Massachusetts law professor who made his name working as a consultant on class actions against tobacco companies, is part of a broad effort by both private attorneys and nonprofit groups to sue Atlanta-based Coca-Cola and other soft drink companies for selling high-calorie drinks in schools.” (Caroline Wilbert, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nov. 29; Caroline E. Mayer, “Lawyer coalition targets soft drink manufacturers”, Washington Post/Detroit News, Dec. 4; Todd Zywicki and vast comment section; Colossus of Rhodey). In the Boston Globe magazine, contributor Michael Blanding writes supportively of “a national legal movement to make soft drinks the next tobacco” (Oct. 30).
For more on the search for ways to blame business for our collective struggle with the waistline, see many entries in our Eat, Drink and Be Merry section. More on caffeine “addiction” theories: Aug. 18-20, 2000, Jun. 1, 2004. More on vending machine suits: Jul. 3, 2003. And as regular readers know, we’ve been covering Prof. Daynard’s activities for a long time; see Apr. 21-23, 2000 and many others.
A webcast of today’s American Enterprise Institute panel on obesity and lifestyle litigation is now on-line. I spoke at the second panel, moderated by AEI’s Michael Greve, along with activists Richard Daynard and Alison Rein, and Thomas Haynes of the Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Association. Todd Zywicki moderated an earlier panel on empirical research on the causes of obesity.
Philadelphia Eagles fans might be bigger supporters of tort reform now: a doctor has refused to clear star wide receiver Terrell Owens for play in Super Bowl XXXIX after an ankle sprain because of liability fears. (Mark Maske, “Hope Remains for Owens Comeback”, washingtonpost.com, Jan. 26).
Owens might have other reasons to seek tort reform. He’s being sued for $35 million by Formulated Sciences Inc. because he didn’t wear a t-shirt he supposedly agreed to wear in 1999. This might be because the non-FDA-regulated “nutritional supplements” he was supposed to endorse were banned by the NFL in 2001. Of course, perhaps Owens’ business representatives failed to account for such an eventuality in the endorsement agreement, in which case Owens may well be liable for a breach of contract, but alleging $35 million in damages for failing to wear a particular hat or t-shirt is ridiculous. The theory is apparently that there were millions of people clamoring to buy an ointment with Owens’ picture on it. If an athlete’s endorsement carried that kind of weight, athletes would be making much more money in endorsements. (Don Russell, “T.O. facing $35M suit from banned supplement company”, Philadelphia Daily News, Dec. 29). Formulated Sciences, which specializes in a weight-loss snake-oil with as much caffeine as a two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola, has also sued the NFL for supposed antitrust violations. The League has moved to dismiss the complaint. The lawsuit is meritless on its face, and, given the press releases, appears to be an attempt for FS to get free advertising for its products, but the NFL will likely spend at least tens of thousands of dollars defending itself.
Coca-Cola, Pepsico and other buyers of high-fructose corn syrup got $531 million in the largest in a series of settlements arising from charges of price-fixing against Archer Daniels Midland, the agribusiness giant, and its competitors. So by the logic of bounty-hunting, it was only fair for plaintiff’s counsel to pocket a quarter of the sum. (Andy Kravetz, Peoria Journal-Star, Oct. 15; “Archer Daniels Midland to Pay $400M”, AP/Forbes, Jun. 17; account of case at class action firm of Kaplan Fox, Jul. 19).
As has been reported here and there for years, Diet Coke as it is served at soda fountains is sweetened in part with saccharin, whereas the version sold in cans and bottles is sweetened with more expensive aspartame. We always assumed that the reason must be that competition between brands is more intense in the supermarket aisle than in restaurants, but the Coca-Cola company cites another reason for the formula variation, saying aspartame is not as stable in fountain use. At any rate, class-action lawyers have now filed lawsuits in Florida, Illinois and California on behalf of beverage drinkers supposedly victimized by this practice. The company says the allegations in the various lawsuits are identical and that it expects to prevail. (Lawrence Viele, Bloomberg/Oakland Tribune, Mar. 26)