“The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union is pleading with consumers to ‘just say no to reusable bags’ for the duration of the pandemic, in order to protect baggers and cashiers who’ve inadvertently been placed on the front line.” [Patty Wetli, WTTW] Many cities and states are listening: “San Francisco has reversed its 13-year ban on plastic bags and will now prohibit the reusable bags city leaders once championed because of the coronavirus.” Massachusetts, New Hampshire and other states have taken similar steps. [Jeff Mordock, Washington Times] “We have always been at war with Reusable Totes” [Iowahawk]
Government is just a word for the things we do together, like cracking down on free popcorn at hardware stores [Peter Rowe, San Diego Union-Tribune]
- For best effect, read it aloud: “Do YOU appear in the form of water droplets? Are YOU found on grass and windows in the morning? If so you MAY be dew condensation.” [Andy Ryan]
- “Bezos could get out of Trump’s kitchen by telling the editors and reporters at his newspaper to shut up about the President.” [John Samples]
- Wave of ADA web-accessibility suits hit banks: “N.Y. lawyers sue 40-plus companies on behalf of blind man in a month” [Justin Stoltzfus, Legal NewsLine] More: Jonathan Berr, CBS MoneyWatch;
- “Law schools should not continue hiring faculty with little to no practical experience, little to no record of scholarship, and little to no teaching experience. ” [Allen Mendenhall, Law and Liberty]
- U.K.: “Couple claiming compensation for food poisoning exposed by holiday selfies” [Zoe Drewett, Metro]
- Federal judge: “every indication” that prominent Philadelphia personal injury firm “essentially rented out its name in exchange for referral fees” [ABA Journal]
- Minimum 18 age for marriage, stadium subsidies, bill requiring landlords to distribute voter registration material, dollar-home programs, and more in my latest Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes; earlier on NJ first-in-nation ban on under-18 marriage]
- Now shuttered by California regulation: startup that allowed home cooks to sell meals directly to neighbors [Baylen Linnekin]
- Guess who’s hosting a program of his own on Russia’s RT network? Tub-thumping plaintiff’s lawyer, sometime RFK Jr. pal and longtime Overlawyered favorite Michael Papantonio;
- “Should the governments give LGBT-owned businesses a leg up in public contracts?” (Answer: no. Set-asides and preferences are unfair in themselves and deprive taxpayers and those served of the best price/value proposition.) [Bobby Allyn, NPR Marketplace]
- “Network effects” bogeyman gets deployed to bolster many an antitrust nostrum [David S. Evans and Richard Schmalensee, Cato “Regulation”] “The Future of Antitrust” Federalist Society video with Ronald Cass, Daniel Crane, Judge Douglas Ginsburg, Jonathan Kanter, Barry Lynn, moderated by Judge Brett Kavanaugh;
- Arguments fated to lose: “After 4th DWI, man argues legal limit discriminates against alcoholics” [Chuck Lindell, Austin American-Statesman]
- “She Asked for Help for Postpartum Depression. The Nurse Called the Cops.” [Darby Saxbe, Slate] Under one Montana prosecutor’s announced policy, pregnant mother “proven to be using alcohol … might be monitored by law enforcement or sent to jail.” [Andrew Turck, Big Horn County News]
- “The Florida Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether a judge may be Facebook friends with lawyers who appear before the judge.” [Raymond McKoski, Orlando Sentinel]
- Nation’s highest military court unanimously tosses sexual assault conviction of Coast Guard enlisted man, finding juror selection stacked by higher-ups; of seven jurors, four were trained sexual assault victim advocates [Rowan Scarborough, Washington Times; decision]
- Report on legal landscape of cottage food industry [Jennifer McDonald, Institute for Justice] Deregulation efforts of Trump administration have yet to reach food sector [Baylen Linnekin]
- So large and so diverse is the 400-member lower house of the New Hampshire legislature that it appears to contain a sovereign citizen believer [Jack Smith IV, Mic]
- “Stash House Stings: When the Government Can Invent Crimes and Criminals” [Trevor Burrus and Reilly Stephens]
“Produce growers represent a textbook example of what businesses describe as regulatory fatigue….’It is just that one layer after another gets to be — trying to top the people before them,'” says an apple grower near Albany. Food law expert Baylen Linnekin sees a comparative compliance advantage going to mass-scale growers as well as foreign produce suppliers. And now here comes the Food Safety Modernization Act, often warned of in this space [Steve Eder, New York Times]
Act I: In a widely read Nov. 15 piece in Atlas Obscura, Priya Krishna reports on “the quest to save Baltimore’s Berger Cookie,” a beloved local food institution. “One of the most essential ingredients in the Berger Cookie is trans fats. Trans fats are what make the chocolate super creamy, prevent the fat and the water in the dough from separating (which would yield an overly crumbly cookie), and keep the cookie stable in both very warm and very cold settings.” However, the Obama administration enacted a federal ban on trans fats — for your own good, you know — which goes into effect next year.
Cookie producer Charlie DeBaufre, interviewed by Krishna, “refers to the past year as ‘frustrating and scary,’ as so many of his trans fat-free experiments have been failures. ‘I have spent $10,000 trying to get this worked out. I am not a big business. I don’t have an R&D Department. I have to shut down production for a few hours, still pay people for labor, and then most of the product gets trashed. It’s tough.'” More background in a piece I wrote for Cato last week.
Act II: Then a twist, reported by Sarah Meehan in the Baltimore Sun Nov. 21: the fudge supplier had managed to replace trans fats months ago and didn’t tell Berger’s. While early attempts to reformulate fudge frosting without trans fats had suffered from various quality defects, the new recipe was much improved to the point where neither consumers nor Berger’s had noticed.
So a happy if unexpected ending, at least for this one company, right? But the regulatory downside — you just knew there had to be one — was that in changing its recipe the fudge supplier had added more sugar, which appears to have boosted the calorie count and might have changed other things reported in the Nutrition Facts box as well. Since Berger’s says it didn’t know about the new formula, one inference might be that for a while it has been shipping cookies with a faulty calorie/nutrition count on the package. Hello to class action woes and, if the FDA is in a bad mood, regulatory liability?
“Tens of thousands of UK tourists have put in for compensation [for food poisoning] in the past year, even though sickness levels in resorts have remained stable,” reports the BBC, in what Mark Tanzer, chief executive of trade travel association Abta, says is “one of the biggest issues that has hit the travel industry for many years”. Travel firm Tui “said it had experienced a 15-fold rise in holiday sickness claims in the past year, costing between £3,000 and £5,000 a time.”
Joel Brandon-Bravo, managing director of Travelzoo UK, told BBC Radio 5 live’s Wake Up To Money that the upward trend was being driven by claims management companies.
“People are being called when they get back from holiday and encouraged to make claims and we’ve also seen evidence of them employing touts outside resorts encouraging people to make a claim and walking them through the process to make it easy for them,” he said….
Abta says the cases usually involve holidaymakers who have been abroad on all-inclusive deals, who argue that because they only ate in their hotel, that must have been the source of their alleged food poisoning.
Sometimes it is possible to cast doubt on the claims, per a report by Tanveer Mann at Metro:
Two British tourists who claim they were left ‘bed-ridden’ as a result of food poisoning actually had more than 100 drinks while on an all-inclusive holiday in Gran Canaria, according to their hotel bill….
The CEO of [defendant] Jet2holidays, Steve Heapy, said: ‘The sharp rise in the number of sickness claims is costing hoteliers and travel companies dearly, and it’s frustrating when so many are made a year or more after the holiday has ended.
There is also fear that some overseas resorts will begin barring access to British holidaymakers entirely as unprofitable.
In the BBC report, Abta “says laws designed to stop fraudulent claims for whiplash have instead pushed the problem of false insurance submissions on to overseas holidays instead. This is because of a cap on the legal fees that can be charged by law firms pursuing personal injury cases at home.”
- “Hilariously Truthful Defense of Waffle House Goes Viral” [Jeffrey Tucker, FEE]
- New York joins 26 states in limiting liability for pick-your-own and other agritourism businesses [Paul Post, The Saratogian]
- “Removing Glyphosate from Our Food Won’t Make Us Safer” [Jenny Splitter, Vice]
- U.K.: advisor to World Health Organization suggests drinking be “de-normalized” by making compulsory cancer warnings on alcoholic beverages [Benedict Spence, The Spectator]
- “Mandating Menu Labeling is Foolish, Not ‘Easy'” [Baylen Linnekin, Reason, earlier]
- How exactly is limiting the size of meal portions in restaurants a proper function for the government of India? [Rupa Subramanya/LiveMint via Alex Tabarrok]