Posts Tagged ‘General Motors’

Microblog 2008-12-26

Wounded feelings, hostage rescues by lawyers, and Philadelphia politics:

In the next edition of Microblog, we’ll answer the question, “How many lawyers does it take to change a lightbulb?”

Answer to Mickey Kaus

A. Because protecting the UAW’s contract, and the entrenchment of auto dealers under horrible state laws, and the executives’ perks, and the CAFE-law irrationalities, and the various goodies a half-dozen other constituencies want to hold on to, is the whole point of structuring the bailout the way Congress is structuring it. You’re welcome. (Dec. 11).

P.S. At Forbes, Dan Gerstein wonders why Chrysler’s rich parent Cerberus deserves bailing out.

Microblog 2008-11-19

  • Some backers of big national service plan say better roll it out now before the crisis atmosphere passes [Welch, Reason “Hit and Run”]
  • Sorry ma’am, if hubby’s policy excludes coverage for injury to family members, you can’t blame him as “uninsured motorist” [The Briefcase, Ohio]
  • Much-cited “$70/hr” figure for GM labor costs misleading: covers army of retirees, not just current workers [Salmon; but see McArdle]
  • Thoughts on alleged inability of GM to get debtor-in-possession financing for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy [Oman, ConcurOp]
  • Texas p.i. atty Mark Lanier famous for Xmas parties headlined by top stars, this year it’s Miley Cyrus a/k/a Hannah Montana [ABA Journal]
  • “I Want Angry Jurors With Low Self-Esteem” [Bennett, Defending People]
  • “We just really wanted to shatter the cupcake-pizza dichotomy. It’s just existed for too long.” [Seth Gitter via Tyler Cowen]

Microblog 2008-10-28

  • ’98 master tobacco settlement: not just bootleggers and Baptists, but also “televangelists.” [Morriss, Regulation, h/t Ted] #
  • Slants and biases in Associated Press reporting aren’t new, but they’ve become impossible to ignore [WaPo] #
  • Unplanned result of bailout: lenders back off from deals to sell distressed real estate at cut price [Coyote] #
  • GM needs to tear up contracts with its unions, retirees, and dealers, which means it needs bankruptcy [Bainbridge] #
  • No kidding: gorgeous photography of slime molds [English Russia] #
  • Blog primer on credit default swaps and other financial derivatives [Derivative Dribble] #
  • Wouldn’t it be more helpful to save the epithet “socialist” for times when it’s really, you know, accurate? [Ron Coleman] #
  • State of New York staring into fiscal chasm, years of $10 billion+ deficits [NYPost] #

July 15 roundup

  • New York attorney suspended from practice after attempting as guardian to extract $853,000 payday from estate of Alzheimer’s victim [ABA Journal, Emani Taylor]
  • Bought a BB gun to fend off squirrels, now his 20-year-old son faces three years for bare possession [ via Zincavage]
  • U.K.: “Sports clubs face being put out of business following a landmark court ruling forcing them to be liable for deliberate injuries caused by their player to an opponent.” [Telegraph]
  • Prosecutors in Norwich, Ct. still haven’t dropped their case against teacher Julie Amero in malware-popup smut case. Why not? [TalkLeft, earlier]
  • Dealership protection laws, deplored earlier in this space, work to make a GM bankruptcy both likelier and messier [The Deal]
  • Strange new respect for talk show host Joe Scarborough in quarters where conservatives are ordinarily disliked? Some of us saw that coming [NYMag]
  • Following Rhode Island rout of lawsuit against lead-paint makers, Columbus, Ohio drops its similar case [PoL, Akron Beacon Journal editorial]
  • In latest furor over free speech and religious sensitivity in Europe, Dutch authorities have arrested cartoonist “suspected of sketching offensive drawings of Muslims and other minorities” [WSJ; “Gregorius Nekschot”]

July 6 roundup

  • Beck and Herrmann fisk a NEJM anti-preemption editorial. [Beck/Herrmann; NEJM]
  • Lessons of the Grasso case. [Hodak]
  • You think BigLaw has it bad? Plaintiffs’ attorney who invented the benefit-of-the-bargain theory for pharmaceutical class actions where no one has suffered any cognizable injury, has made his firm tens of millions, but still hasn’t made partner. “Zigler said he never meets most of the people he represents in these high-profile cases.” [St.L. Post-Dispatch; related analysis from Beck/Herrmann]
  • Speaking of harmless lawsuits, “an atrocity in Arkansas,” as Arkansas Supreme Court ignores basic principles of due process and civil procedure to certify an extortionate pre-CAFA class action from MIller County. [Hmm, that’s Beck/Herrmann again; General Motors v. Bryant; related from Greve]
  • Speedo competitor: unfair competition to say your innovative swimsuit has an advantage just because 38 out of the last 42 world records (as of June 30) were broken in the suit. [Am Law Daily]
  • Background on bogus shower curtain scare story (earlier). [NYT; related AEI event]
  • EMTALA-orama: don’t discuss payment in the emergency room if you don’t want to get sued. [ER Stories]

Another burden for legacy automakers

State laws providing a kind of tenure protection for no-longer-needed car dealers are among the reasons it can be extremely expensive to close down a failing marque. General Motors, which closed Oldsmobile eight years ago, “spent more than five years battling dealer lawsuits” despite having set aside almost $1 billion to handle the transition, and Ford may face similar challenges if it tries to shutter its ailing Mercury line. (Martin Zimmerman, “Mercury may be coming to the end of the road”, Los Angeles Times, May 10). Earlier: Oct. 5, 2006. For more see this 2001 speech by FTC commissioner Thomas Leary, and this article by Missouri lawyer Gene Brockland on the federal Auto Dealers’ Day in Court Act, which is exceeded in stringency by some of its counterpart laws at the state level.

Suing Streisand for not staying retired?

According to the New York Daily News’ columnists Rush & Molloy (Jun. 13): “Barbra Streisand’s emergence from ‘retirement’ has set off a buzz among longtime Streisand fans, who say they paid exorbitant amounts of money for her last ‘retirement’ tour and may file a class-action suit against the legend for tricking them into thinking they were seeing her for the final time.”

For those who find this idea utterly far-fetched, it should be noted that quite a number of years ago an unsuccessful class-action suit was pursued against General Motors following its reintroduction of convertible Cadillac models; a few years earlier, some enthusiasts had purchased some other convertible Caddies following press buzz about how they were going to be the last convertibles built in America.

“Drunk driver sues truck maker”

By reader acclaim: an FBI agent who was pulled unconscious from his burning truck with blood alcohol level of 0.306, and subsequently pleaded guilty to drunken driving, “has sued the maker of his pickup because it caught fire after he passed out behind the wheel.” The lawsuit, against General Motors and dealership Bill Heard Chevrolet, says Clymer “somehow lost consciousness” — possibly the empty bottle of Captain Morgan Rum found on the passenger seat had something to do with that? — and that while he lay there with the engine running the 2004 Chevy Silverado “somehow” began to give off smoke from some sort of combustion, which may or may not be code for “theory to be filled in later”.

At sentencing in November — he drew a suspended 30-day jail term and 48 hours community service — “Clymer’s lawyer said his client wanted to take responsibility for his actions.” (Brian Haynes, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Apr. 14).

Maquiladoras caused birth defects? $17M later, maybe not

In 1991 portions of Texas’s Rio Grande Valley saw an upsurge in babies born with neural-tube defects. Litigation resulted:

Residents and lawyers had blamed pollution, and General Motors and other U.S.-owned factories paid $17 million without admitting wrongdoing to settle a lawsuit accusing their border factories of poisoning the air.

The claimed linkage of cause and effect between the factory pollution and the birth defects was, to say the least, much controverted at the time, and is looking even less impressive in hindsight:

no chemical links to the disease were ever proven, and Texas health officials began suspecting fumonisin, a toxin in corn mold. Experts had noted a high concentration in the corn harvest just before the outbreak. Some Texas horses died from brain disease caused by the toxin.

Now, a study in the February issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives adds impetus to the corn-mold theory:

The study found that pregnant women who ate 300 to 400 tortillas a month during the first trimester had more than twice the risk of giving birth to babies with the defects than did women who ate fewer than 100 tortillas.

Blood samples indicated that the higher the level of fumonisin, the greater the risk of neural tube defects.

Tortillas are an inexpensive dietary staple along the Texas-Mexico border, and studies suggest that the average young Mexican-American woman along the border eats 110 a month.

(“Study: Bad corn caused birth defects”, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Feb. 8). See also Dallas Morning News, Mar. 4, 2001; AP, Jan. 2001; Nicole Foy, “Border birth defects are tied to poverty”, San Antonio Express-News, Apr. 9, 2004.

Among its other implications, the episode may suggest the safety gains to be had in the shift from a pre-modern food regime based on local farm and home production to the sort of industrially based food regime more familiar to most Americans. Even aside from the issue of folic acid fortification, a big-city tortilla factory run by a large company would probably have had a better likelihood of screening out moldy batches of corn.