Gary Charbonneau had a gambling history, including substantial wins, which devolved into compulsive gambling in 2002. He blames this on his Parkinson’s disease medication, Mirapex, which he started taking in 1997. Mirapex changed its warning label to include reports of a correlation while Charbonneau was taking the drug; Charbonneau’s doctor kept prescribing the drug. Nevertheless, Charbonneau was able to persuade a jury that the failure to warn was what was responsible for his $200,000 gambling losses (much of which came from gambling illegally) and resulting marital troubles. The jury verdict even awarded $8 million in punitive damages, giving a whole new meaning to jackpot justice (though one would expect the trial court to reduce this substantially). The only press coverage of this lawsuit, aside from a handful of blogs (Pharmalot; TortsProf; InjuryBoard), is in an op-ed I wrote for today’s Examiner about the case and about how a Supreme Court case and Congressional legislation could affect it. (Theodore H. Frank, “Jackpot justice gets new meaning,” DC Examiner, Aug. 19).
- Another compilation of the hundred best law blogs, with a familiar name among the nine “general” picks, so thanks for that [“Criminal Justice Degrees Guide” via ABA Journal]
- Europe has a transnational association of personal injury lawyers, funded by the EU, but with no wheeler-dealer, masters-of-the-universe vibe in evidence [PoL]
- Delta wasn’t liable in Kentucky Comair crash, but some plaintiffs sued it anyway in what their lawyer describes as an “abundance of caution” — that’s a diplomatic way to put it [Aero-News Net; link fixed now]
- U.K.: Mom told she’d need to pass criminal record check before being allowed to take her own son to school [Telegraph]
- Regular coverage of the litigious exploits of delusional inmate Jonathan Lee Riches, if you’ve got the stomach for them [Dreadnaught blog]
- Federal Circuit reverses $85 million infringement verdict won by Raymond Niro, blasted by critics as original “patent troll” [AmLaw Daily]
- “Determined to defeat lawsuits over addiction, the casino industry is funding research at a Harvard-affiliated lab.” [Salon]
- Hired through nepotism by in-laws, then fired after divorce, sues on grounds of “marital status discrimination” [eight years ago on Overlawyered]
“The provincial agency that regulates casinos in Ontario, Canada, is being sued by registered problem gamblers who claim they aren’t being refused entry. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said the $3.5 billion suit was filed Tuesday in Toronto against the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., on behalf of ‘thousands of addicted gamblers.'” Canadian litigation rules were historically highly restrictive of class actions, but have been liberalized lately. (UPI; Reuters; OGPaper). Similarly earlier here, here, here, etc.
- Ninth Circuit, Kozinski, J., rules 8-3 that Roommates.com can be found to have violated fair housing law by asking users to sort themselves according to their wish to room with males or other protected groups; the court distinguished the Craigslist cases [L.A. Times, Volokh, Drum]
- Class-action claim: Apple says its 20-inch iMac displays millions of colors but the true number is a mere 262,144, the others being simulated [WaPo]
- U.K.: compulsive gambler loses $2 million suit against his bookmakers, who are awarded hefty costs under loser-pays rule [BBC first, second, third, fourth stories]
- Pittsburgh couple sue Google saying its Street Views invades their privacy by including pics of their house [The Smoking Gun via WSJ law blog]
- U.S. labor unions keep going to International Labour Organization trying to get current federal ground rules on union organizing declared in violation of international law [PoL]
- Illinois Supreme Court reverses $2 million jury award to woman who sued her fiance’s parents for not warning her he had AIDS [Chicago Tribune]
- Italian family “preparing to sue the previous owners of their house for not telling them it was haunted”; perhaps most famous such case was in Nyack, N.Y. [Ananova, Cleverly]
- Per their hired expert, Kentucky lawyers charged with fen-phen settlement fraud “relied heavily on the advice of famed trial lawyer Stan Chesley in the handling of” the $200 million deal [Lexington Herald-Leader]
- Actor Hal Holbrook of Mark Twain fame doesn’t think much of those local anti-tobacco ordinances that ban smoking on stage even when needed for dramatic effect [Bruce Ramsey, Seattle Times]
- Six U.S. cities so far have been caught “shortening the amber cycles below what is allowed by law on intersections equipped with cameras meant to catch red-light runners.” [Left Lane via Virtuous Republic and Asymmetrical Information]
Behrouz Foroughi, 43, says he volunteered for the exclusion list at the Star City casino and was told he would be denied entry, but was admitted anyway and lost large sums due to his gambling compulsion. (Gemma Jones, Daily Telegraph, Jun. 19). Similar claims have been tried a number of times in the U.S. but without much success: see Apr. 28, 2004, Apr. 19, 2005, Nov. 22, 2005 (France), etc.
Paul Theodore Del Vacchio is the worst kind of gambling addict—the kind that isn’t very good at gambling. He stole $500 thousand from his casino employer, and sought mercy from the court on the grounds that his addiction made him do it to cover gambling losses. (Well, he also bought a $20,000 pool for his 2700-square-foot home.) No dice:
“There are a lot of people addicted to gambling who don’t steal anything. They get themselves in debt, sure. They may lose everything. They may lose their family. They may lose their house. They may lose their cars, but they don’t steal….
“We can’t let everybody who comes in here and wants to use an addiction, whether it be compulsive gambling, whether it be compulsive drinking, whether it be drug addiction, we can’t as a society let them utilize that as a method of getting out of their wrong acts. You know, it’s like my saying I’m addicted to beautiful women and fast cars, so I get to steal from the court’s trust account….
“He’s here because he’s a thief. He’s a thief. That’s the bottom line. He’s a thief. And he needs to acknowledge that, not use the gambling as a crutch. He let down his family. He let down his friends. He let down his employer. He let himself down. But the bottom line is he’s a thief, and he needs to be punished for being a thief.”
Del Vacchio got the maximum sentence of four years. (Ashley Powers, “A gambler with a disorder, or just a plain old thief?”, LA Times, Nov. 1).
Retired Texas doctor Max Wells is suing seven casinos and drugmaker Glaxo SmithKline, saying an anti-Parkinson’s drug predisposed him to compulsive gambling. “His lawsuit, filed Friday, says the drug company didn’t warn patients that Requip could cause compulsive behavior. And it cites a 2005 Mayo Clinic study that documented 11 Parkinson’s patients who developed compulsive gambling habits while taking Requip or a similar drug called Mirapex.” (Claire Osborn, Austin American-Statesman, Feb. 22; KevinMD, Feb. 22). More: Derek Lowe comments (Feb. 26).
Now they’ve reached France:
A ruined French gambler yesterday sued a casino for failing to prevent him losing his money. Jean-Philippe Bryk, 44, claimed the Grand Cafe casino in the spa town of Vichy owed him a duty of “information, advice and loyalty”….
A spokesman for the casino said the “idea of gambling is that one runs the risk of losing”.
“Two problem gamblers have filed a potential class-action lawsuit alleging that Detroit’s three casinos have failed to enforce a state program designed to permanently bar gambling addicts from their properties. … Virginia Ormanian of Wyandotte and Norma Astourian of Taylor asked to be barred from the casinos in the summer of 2002. But they couldn’t stay away.” They are now suing the establishments for not doing enough to enforce the program, under which “gamblers who sign up for the program and return to the casino are subject to up to a year in prison, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.” (Becky Yerak and Kim Kozlowski, “Gamblers sue Detroit casinos for not barring them”, Detroit News, Nov. 5). For earlier you-didn’t-exclude-us cases, see Sept. 7, Aug. 1 (Canada).