An 85-year-old driver crashed into the back of a tractor-trailer, both vehicles traveling at relatively low speed, and was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. A Michigan appeals court agreed that a jury could hear an expert witness’s theory, dismissed by a cardiologist as “silly,” that Abdulla Kassem had suffered a heart attack that “could have been caused by a ‘fear of impending doom,’ just before the 2008 crash in Dearborn. There was no autopsy.” An insurance company has now paid $300,000 to settle the case. [AP/WDIV]
- Alan Dershowitz, Harvard lawprof, suing TD Garden over slip and fall in bathroom three years back [Boston Globe]
- “Harsh Sanction Proposed For Attorney Who Blogged About Probate Case” [Mike Frisch, Legal Profession Blog]
- Maryland veto sets back reform: “Governor Hogan, Civil Asset Forfeiture Is Inherently Abusive” [Adam Bates, Cato]
- “‘Vape’ bans have little to do with public health” [Jacob Grier, Oregonian in February]
- Academics prosper through expert witness work, part one zillion [Ira Stoll]
- Sounds good: call for civil procedure reform includes fact-based pleading, strict discovery limits, case-specific rules, and more [Jordy Singer, Prawfs, on recommendations from American College of Trial Lawyers Task Force on Discovery and Civil Justice and Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System]
- Draft plan would arm FTC with vast power over data practices [James C. Cooper, Morning Consult, via @geoffmanne]
Kick out the pseudo-science and fix the broken incentives for witnesses and information gatherers, advises Radley Balko, which happens to be good advice on the civil forensics/expert witness side as well. More from Balko: “A brief history of forensics” and some thoughts on the lessons learned, or mostly not-learned, from the satanic sex abuse cases of the 1990s. And from Ed Pilkington at The Guardian: “Thirty years in jail for a single hair: the FBI’s ‘mass disaster’ of false conviction,” earlier on that here and here.
We posted earlier about a court’s dismissal after five years of the suit by Santa Fe, N.M. resident Arthur Firstenberg against neighbor Raphaela Monribot, over his claims that her electronic devices were exacerbating his condition of “electromagnetic hypersensitivity.” Don’t miss George Johnson’s excellent New York Times write-up, which fills in many more details:
…I assumed the case would be quickly dismissed. Instead, in 2010, it entered the maze of hamster tubes that make up the judicial system.
…About a week ago, after the Court of Appeals upheld the decision, I stopped by the office of Ms. Monribot’s lawyer, Christopher Graeser, with a tape measure. The files for the case sat in boxes on a table. Piled together, the pages would reach more than six feet high.
Court costs, not counting lawyers’ fees, had come to almost $85,000, or more than $1,000 an inch. Because of what the court described as Mr. Firstenberg’s “inability to pay,” the bill went instead to Ms. Monribot’s landlord’s insurance company — as if someone had slipped on an icy sidewalk, or pretended to.
Mr. Graeser and another lawyer, Joseph Romero, represented her pro bono, writing off an estimated $200,000 in legal fees.
Duel of the expert witnesses: “The ‘violent sleepwalking’ defense worked for a man who strangled his 4-year-old and tried to kill his other two children. A jury decided unanimously that Joseph Anthony Mitchell is not guilty of murder and attempted murder after an expert witness said he was effectively unconscious at the time of his attacks four years ago.” [AP/Fayetteville, N.C. Observer]
Following the unexplained death of a gardener at a millionaire’s estate in Hampshire, England, a coroner has been told that it is more likely than not that brushing against the poisonous common garden plant aconitum, known variously as wolfsbane or monkshood, must have caused the man’s decease. [Independent]
Maggie Bloom, who is representing the family, said in the pre-inquest hearing yesterday that the initial blood sample had been destroyed – despite being against hospital policy – and that later samples that were retained could be useless as the poison leaves the body within a day.
New questions about the work in a shaken-baby-conviction case of Steven Hayne, the controversial state medical examiner whose work has been much defended by Mississippi Attorney General and perennial Overlawyered favorite Jim Hood. [Radley Balko, Washington Post; earlier on Hayne and on shaken baby cases]
After the spectacular crash of a Porsche Carrera GT killed driver Roger Rodas and his passenger, Hollywood actor Paul Walker, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and California Highway Patrol investigated and concluded that the crash was due not to mechanical problems but to unsafe speeds of up to 94 mph; the vehicle crashed into three trees. Longtime Overlawyered favorite attorney Mark Geragos “said he hired the top experts in the country” for an unbiased evaluation. The resulting wrongful death lawsuit by Kristine M. Rodas against automaker Porsche “says her husband was driving at 55 mph” contrary to the official version. [New York Post]
- “Nullification” a non-starter, but states do have ways to resist federal encroachment [Amy Pomeroy, Libertas Utah, with podcast] Passport to Baraboo? State GOP resolutions committee backs “Wisconsin’s right, under extreme circumstances, to secede.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]
- Flawed forensics: “DUI expert pleads no contest to perjury charges, gets house arrest and probation” [PennLive]
- “Insurance: The Musical” turned out to be an April Fool’s, a pity since I was looking forward to the actuary production number [Insurance Journal, but see (David Skurnick, “Cut My Rate,” set in California Insurance Department) and more (“The Sting”)]
- Executive power grab? New F.H. Buckley book on “The Rise of Crown Government in America” [Tyler Cowen, with Canada comparison]
- My appearance on Anne Santos’s radio show discussing lawsuit culture [KNTH]
- If General Motors objects to direct consumer sales freedom for Tesla, perhaps the answer is to set GM free too [Dan Crane, Truth on the Market; James Surowiecki/New Yorker, Adam Hartung via Stephen Bainbridge]
- James Maxeiner on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure after 75 years [Common Good]