- Federal judge: asking employee to get coffee not an intrinsically sexist act [Legal Intelligencer]
- Kilt-clad Montgomery Blair Sibley, at press conference, adds certain je ne sais quoi to tawdry Larry Sinclair sideshow [Sydney Morning Herald]
- Remind us why Florida Gov. Crist is supposed to be an acceptable veep pick? [PoL]. Also at Point of Law: Hill’s FISA compromise may end pending telecom-privacy suits; interesting Second Circuit reverse-preference case on New Haven firefighters.
- Virginia bar authorities shaken by charges that Woodbridge attorney Stephen T. Conrad pocketed $3.4 million in injury settlements at clients’ expense [Va. Lawyers Weekly; case of Christiansburg, Va. lawyer Gerard Marks ties in with first links here]
- U.K.: Local government instructs staff that term “brainstorming” might be insensitive to persons with epilepsy, use “thought showers” instead [Telegraph; Tunbridge Wells, Kent]
- Big personal injury law firm in Australia, Keddies Lawyers, denies accusations of client overcharging and document falsification [SMH]
- Will this be on the bar exam? Massachusetts law school dean eyes war crime trials culminating in hanging for high officials of Bush Administration [Ambrogi and more, Michael Krauss and I at PoL]
- “Just another cash grab”? New Kabateck Brown Kellner “click-fraud” class actions against Google AdWords, CitySearch [Kincaid, TechCrunch/WaPo]
- Former Rep. Bob Barr, this year’s Libertarian presidential candidate, is no stranger to the role of plaintiff in politically fraught litigation [six years ago on Overlawyered, and represented by Larry Klayman to boot]
My latest Liability Outlook examines the problems of retroactive lawmaking and litigation, especially reviver statutes, and even Obama fans will find something to like:
The controversy over whether and how to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations at the Democratic National Convention shows the danger of changing rules midstream and upsetting settled expectations. Reviver statutes not only obviate statutes of limitations, which are a critical aid to justice, by “reviving” claims that have expired or never existed, but they can also pose the danger of undoing the benefits of future prospective legislation. In evaluating laws, the issue is not merely one of retroactivity, but of the importance of promoting legal certainty. For example, the FISA Amendments Act, S. 2248, while ostensibly acting retroactively to grant immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperated with the Bush administration’s antiterror surveillance program, works to protect settled expectations.
Among matters discussed: litigation against the Catholic church over child abuse by priests and the Michigan legislature’s proposed retroactive repeal of pharmaceutical tort reform in H.R. 4045. Walter has previously discussed the subject.
- Speaking of patients who act against medical advice and sue anyway: doctor who advised against home birth is cleared by Ohio jury in $13 million suit [Plain Dealer and earlier via KevinMD]
- UK: “A feud over a 4ft-wide strip of land has seen neighbours rack up £300,000 in lawyers’ bills, and left one family effectively homeless.” [Telegraph]
- Last of the Scruggs judicial bribery defendants without a plea deal, Dickie’s son Zack, takes one [Folo]
- By reader acclaim: securities trader sues over injury from lap dancer’s attentions [AP/NY Sun]
- Amid the talk of FISA and retroactive telecom immunity, it would be nice to hear more about the actual lawsuits [Obbie]
- Australian worker loses suit over firing despite a doctor’s note vouching that stress of worrying about upcoming football game made it medically necessary for him to take day off to go see it [Stumblng Tumblr]
- Megan McArdle and Tyler Cowen toss around the question of federal FDA pre-emption of drug liability suits, as raised by Medtronic;
- Should Coughlin Stoia have bought those stolen Coke documents? For one lawprof, question’s a real head-scratcher [David McGowan (San Diego), Legal Ethics Forum] And WSJ news side is oddly unskeptical of trial lawyers’ line that the affair just proves their power to go on fishing expeditions should never have been curtailed [Jones/Slater]
- Dashboard-cam caught Tennessee cops red-handed planting marijuana on suspect, or so Jonathan Turley suggests — but could it be a little more complicated than that? [WSMV, AP/WATE] (& Greenfield)
- “Heck Baptists don’t even sue you for disagreeing with them,” though no doubt there are exceptions [Instapundit; NYT on Danish cartoons; Ezra Levant with more on those Canadian speech tribunals]
- Bestselling authors who sue their critics [four years ago on Overlawyered]
- Oregon Supreme Court plays chicken with SCOTUS over $79.5 million punitive damages award in Williams v. Philip Morris case. [Sebok @ Findlaw; Krauss @ IBD; POL Feb. 1]
- Speaking of punitive damages, I did a podcast on Exxon Shipping v. Baker. I can’t bear to listen to it, so let me know how I did. [Frank @ Fed Soc]
- Arkansas case alleged legal sale of pseudoephedrine was “nuisance” because meth-makers would buy it; case dismissed. [Beck/Herrmann]. This is why I’ve stockpiled Sudafed.
- Lawyers advertise for refinery explosion victims before fire goes out. [Hou Chron/TLR]
- Connecticut Supreme Court: cat-attack victim can sue without showing past history of violence by animal. [On Point] Looking forward to comments from all the anti-reformers who claim to oppose reform because they’re against the abrogation of the common law.
- Op-ed on the Great White fire deep pockets phenomenon. [SE Texas Record; earlier: Feb. 2]
- “FISA lawsuits come from Twilight Zone.” [Hillyer @ Examiner]
- Legislative action on various medical malpractice tweaking in Colorado, Hawaii, and Wyoming. [TortsProf]
- Request for unemployment benefits: why fire me just because I asked staffers for a prostitute? [Des Moines Register]
- “So much for seduction and romance; bring in the MBAs and lawyers.” [Mac Donald @ City Journal; contra Belle Lettre; contra contra Dank]
- Where is the Canadian Brandeis standing up for free speech? [Kay @ National Post]
- In defense of lobbying. [Krauthammer @ WaPo]
- Raising ticket revenue seems more important to NYC authorities than actually recovering stolen cars [Arnold Diaz/MyFoxNY video via Coyote]
- Subpoena your Facebook page? They just might [Beck/Herrmann]
- Rhode Island nightclub fire deep pockets, cont’d: concert sponsor Clear Channel agrees to pay Station victims $22 million, adding to other big settlements [ProJo; earlier]
- Manhattan federal judge says “madness” of hard-fought commercial suit “presents a cautionary tale about the potential for advocates to obscure the issues and impose needless burdens on busy courts” [NYLJ]
- Wooing Edwards and his voters? Hillary and Obama both tacking left on economics [Reuters/WaPo, WSJ, Chapman/Reason, WaPo editorial]
- Sad: if you tell your employer that you’re away for 144 days on jury duty, you actually need to be, like, away on jury duty [ABA Journal]
- New at Point of Law: Florida “three-strikes” keeps the doctor away; court dismisses alien-hiring RICO suit against Tyson (and more); Novak on telecom FISA immunity; fortunes in asbestos law; Ted on Avandia and Vioxx litigation; new Levy/Mellor book nominates Supreme Court’s twelve worst decisions; and much more;
- U.K.: “Lawyers forced to repay millions taken from sick miners’ compensation” [Times Online]
- Outside law firm defends Seattle against police-misconduct claims: is critics’ beef that they bill a lot, or that they’re pretty good at beating suits? [Post-Intelligencer]
- Cincinnati NAACP is campaigning against red-light cameras [Enquirer]
- Omit a peripheral defendant, get sued for legal malpractice [six years ago on Overlawyered]
Amid deep and growing divisions among Senate Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) last night abruptly withdrew [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that would have also] granted the nation’s telecommunications companies retroactive immunity from lawsuits charging they had violated privacy rights.
(Jonathan Weisman and Paul Kane, “Telecom Immunity Issue Derails Spy Law Overhaul”, Washington Post, Dec. 18). Reid had previously promised to pass the bill this month, but a handful of Democratic senators, most notably Dodd and Kennedy, threatened to block the bill because of the immunity provision. Reid had the votes to pass it (a filibuster attempt failed 76-10), but chose not to. Earlier: Nov. 5 and Oct. 31.
Update: Were the government’s actions were illegal? Maybe, though reasonable minds can differ. But the question is different from the one of the dynamic consequences of finding private liability here. If corporations are held liable every time they agree to cooperate with the government on a national-security issue that is potentially ambiguous, they just won’t cooperate at all without a court order. Perhaps that is the rule we want going forward. But if so, that policy choice should be the decision of Congress, not of unaccountable trial lawyers—and if it is the rule Congress wants, they should state it explicitly, so voters can hold them accountable for the consequences, rather than hiding behind trial-lawyer surrogates that later reward them for the earmarks to the trial bar. Should trial lawyers make terrorism policy?