Twenty years after the multistate tobacco settlement, cigarette companies are mostly not facing suits in the U.S. for damages to individual smokers’ health — except in Florida, with its Engle line of cases. [Fair Warning/Industrial Safety and Hygiene News; earlier here, here, and more]
- After parking lot shooting Pinellas County, Florida sheriff “claim[ed] his hands were tied by Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. But that is not true” [Jacob Sullum, Reason, more; David French, NRO]
- Major USA Today story on origins of Baltimore’s devastating crime and murder wave [Brad Heath; Jonathan Blanks, Cato]
- Related: in Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force police scandal, plea bargains punished the innocent [Capital News Service investigation by Angela Roberts, Lindsay Huth, Alex Mann, Tom Hart and James Whitlow: first, second, third parts]
- California Senate votes 26 to 11 to abolish felony murder rule, under which participants in some serious crimes face murder rap if others’ actions result in death [ABA Journal, bill]
- New Jersey’s reforms curtailing cash bail, unlike Maryland’s, seem to be working reasonably well [Scott Shackford; longer Shackford article on bail in Reason; earlier here, here, etc.]
- “Miami Police Union Says Head-Kicking Cop ‘Used Great Restraint,’ Shouldn’t Be Charged” [Jerry Iannelli, Miami New Times]
- Wrong on many other issues, the American Medical Association is right to resist an artificial 3-day limit on opiate prescriptions [Jeffrey Singer, Cato; Jacob Sullum]
- “Does Ride-Sharing Substitute for Ambulances?” [Leon S. Moskatel and David J. G. Slusky, Cato Research Briefs in Economic Policy No. 114]
- Fourth Circuit tosses Maryland law banning “price gouging” of “essential” generic drugs, finding that state violates Dormant Commerce Clause by presuming to control transactions entirely outside its boundaries [Zack Buck, Bill of Health; Stephen McConnell, Drug and Device Law]
- President Trump signs “right to try” legislation expanding right of terminally ill patients to enter unapproved therapies; squaring this with existing FDA regulation may present knotty problems [Michael Cannon, Cato; Michael Maharrey (“In fact, victories in 40 state legislatures preceded Trump’s signing ceremony”); earlier here, here, and at Cato Unbound last year] More cautions from Jim Beck on liability angle [Drug and Device Law]
- Florida, departing from other states’ practice, caps its outside lawyers’ recovery at $50 million: “Latest Wave Of State Opioid Lawsuits Shows Diverging Strategies And Lawyer Pay Scales” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]
- In medical innovation, “equality is a mediocre goal. Aim for progress.” [Tyler Cowen]
A big piece by Mike Spies in the New Yorker on the history of Florida as a battlefield on gun issues asserts that 1) Florida enacted the nation’s first Stand Your Ground law in the early 2000s, and broadly hints that 2) the law resulted in a jury’s 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin.
Is that so? Though both points are often claimed, as we’ve pointed out in the past, neither stands up to scrutiny. As Peter Jamison of the Tampa Bay Times noted in this 2014 piece, the “truth is that Florida did not pioneer the controversial rules” abolishing duty-to-retreat in favor of Stand Your Ground; many states had long since done so through case law development. Much more on the legal background in Ilya Shapiro’s 2013 Senate testimony, which points, for example, to a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision from 1895. (Florida’s statute did introduce new procedural protections at the charge stage for defendants, which is a different matter.)
Meanwhile, Zimmerman’s acquittal came after his lawyers advanced a conventional self-defense theory as opposed to one rooted in Stand Your Ground.
The magazine’s celebrated fact-checking system does not seem to have functioned well in this case.
“The Latest On Occupational Licensing Reform: At the federal level and in the state of Michigan, there have been encouraging moves toward market liberalization.” [Thomas A. Hemphill and Jarrett Skorup, Cato Regulation mag] Related: George Leef, Regulation (reviewing “Bottleneckers” by William Mellor and Dick M. Carpenter II). “Florida Lawmakers Are Fast-Tracking Licensing Reforms” [Boehm] “But sadly Elias Zarate is no closer to being a barber, because he still doesn’t have a high school diploma. And, yes, that matters for some reason.” [same] “Inside the Insane Battle Over Arizona’s Blow-Dry Licensing Bill” [same] “Tennessee has imposed nearly $100K in fines for unlicensed hair braiding since 2009” [Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal] Licensing bars on applicants with criminal histories, often related hardly at all to the risks of crime in licensed occupations, make re-entry of offenders harder [Arthur Rizer and Shoshana Weissmann, The Blaze] A Twitter thread on board certification of music therapists, which are licensed in 10 states [Shoshana Weissmann et al.] Study: “optician licensing appears to be reducing consumer welfare by raising the earnings of opticians without enhancing the quality of services delivered to consumers.” [Edward J Timmons and Anna Mills, Eastern Economic Journal]
- Activist high court, no-fault PPI auto insurance, assignment-of-benefits (AOB) claims helped Florida win top Judicial Hellhole ranking from American Tort Reform Foundation [Amy O’Connor, Insurance Journal]
- Maybe getting people interested in the age-old ethical dangers of champerty and maintenance would be easier if litigation finance were framed as a Chamber of Commerce vs. Peter Thiel match-up [Jacob Gershman, WSJ] “Prosecutors Investigate Firms That Offer Plaintiffs Early Cash” [Matthew Goldstein and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, New York Times]
- Seventh Circuit: parents, not Starbucks, bore duty of protecting 3-year-old from harm resulting from playing on crowd-control stanchions [Roh v. Starbucks]
- British Columbia is only Canadian province without limits on soft-tissue injury claims after car crashes, and now fiscal implosion at province-owned auto insurer ICBC may force leftist NDP government to reconsider that [Mike Smyth/The Province, Jason Proctor and Karin Larsen, CBC]
- “NYS Exposed: The one law adding $10,000 to the cost of a new home” [WHEC, New York Post editorial on scaffold law and other elements of state liability scene, earlier]
- “Former South Carolina Lawmaker Sentenced for Improperly Using Office to Help Trial Lawyers” [U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform; Glenn Smith, Post and Courier; John Monk, The State]
A small town in the Florida Panhandle has long tried to live down its special place in the history of insurance fraud. “By the time the early 1960s rolled around, according to the Tampa Bay Times, Vernon, Florida was responsible for roughly two-thirds of all loss-of-limb-related insurance claims in the United States.” I’ve written on the story a number of times, and Dan Lewis of the oft-recommended-here Now I Know website penned this account in 2012 which I seem to have overlooked at the time, an omission I remedy herewith.
- Critique of Obama-era Education Department initiative on racial disparities in school discipline [Gail Heriot and Alison Somin, Texas Review of Law and Politics forthcoming/SSRN] Minnesota among states riding herd on local disparities [Roger Clegg; related, Federalist Society podcast with Roger Clegg and Jason Riley]
- Pointed questions asked about Broward County handling of future shooter before rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school [Paul Sperry, Real Clear Investigations; Max Eden, City Journal; Valerie Richardson, Washington Times; earlier]
- A contrasting view: “Parkland Shooting Doesn’t Justify More Cops and Harsh Discipline” [RiShawn Biddle, Dropout Nation]
- “Philly Schools Tormented by Decision to Reduce Suspensions” [Max Eden, Philadelphia Inquirer/Manhattan Institute]
- DeVos urged to rescind Obama guidelines [Bloomberg editors (“School Discipline Isn’t Washington’s Business,” calling current policy “a classic case of Washington overreach”); Valerie Richardson, Washington Times]
- Authorities often refuse to back up teachers assaulted by students [Madeline Will, Education Week]
“A 54-year-old Florida woman was arrested Sunday after she was caught stealing cement pavers from a home in Port Richey….Upright said she thought they were trash. Deputies said she then threatened to sue the owner because she hurt her back on his property while loading the blocks into her vehicle.” The homeowner said the 42 decorative blocks, worth an estimated $420, were being stored not far from the roadway as part of a remodeling project. [WFLA]
Federal judges have fined the Jacksonville law firm of Farah & Farah $9.1 million over improperly handled claims against a fund set up after litigation to compensate smokers in the state of Florida [WTLV/First Coast News]:
The judges’ order states 1,250 frivolous tobacco claims were filed by Farah & Farah and the Wilner Firm against the Engle Trust Fund….
…cases filed collectively by Jacksonville attorneys Charlie Farah and Norwood Wilner prompted a U.S. Attorney Special Master seven month investigation into possible misconduct in 2012.
The investigation revealed some cases filed by the attorneys were for deceased clients, non-smokers, those who did not suffer from one of the required diseases, and 572 that did not authorize the attorneys to file lawsuits on their behalf.
More: Glenn Lammi.