Posts Tagged ‘insurance’

Thwarted love and insurance coverage

From the First Circuit’s opinion introducing the case of Sanders v. Phoenix Insurance Company, arising out of somewhat lurid facts touching on both insurance coverage and professional responsibility:

SELYA, Circuit Judge. This case begins with a tragic tale of unrequited love and morphs into a series of imaginative questions regarding the coverage available under a standard form homeowner’s insurance policy. But when imagination runs headlong into settled legal precedent, imagination loses. Recognizing as much, the court below dismissed the complaint. After careful consideration, we affirm.

Liability roundup

  • Recent easing of lawsuit crisis in U.S. owes much to rise of arbitration. Now organized litigation lobby is intent on taking that down, and Obama administration has helped with steps in labor law, consumer finance, and nursing-home care [James Copland, Manhattan Institute, related op-ed]
  • SCOTUS should grant certiorari to clarify lawyers’ obligation to clients in class settlement, argues Lester Brickman [amicus brief courtesy SCOTUSBlog; earlier on Blackman v. Gascho]
  • St. Louis, California, NYC asbestos litigation, south Florida and the Florida Supreme Court, and New Jersey are top five “winners” in latest annual “Judicial Hellholes” report, which also includes a focus on qui tam/whistleblower suits [American Tort Reform Association, report and executive summary]
  • Deep pocket lawsuits remain systemic problem in America for political branches to address [David Freddoso, Washington Examiner investigation]
  • Florida insurers struggle with secondhand suits under assignment of benefits doctrine [Insurance Journal]
  • Storm lawsuits in Texas: “All Hail Breaks Loose” [Mark Pulliam, City Journal]

Liability roundup

  • “Big Bucks and Local Lawyers: The Increasing Use of Contingency Fee Lawyers by Local Governments” [Michael Maddigan, U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform]
  • Class actions: “The New Rule 23 Is Available for Public Comment,” comment period ends Feb. 15 [Andrew Trask]
  • Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association urges Supreme Court to review Third Circuit case approving liability for FAA-approved part design [AOPA, Sikkelee v. Precision Airmotive Corp.]
  • “An FCC ban on arbitration of privacy claims would be the anti-consumer-protection approach” [Geoffrey Manne & Kristian Stout, Truth on the Market]
  • Montana case could bypass Daimler limits on state-court jurisdiction in cases under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, Washington Legal Foundation urges certiorari [BNSF v. Tyrrell]
  • Insurers brace for new tilt of adverse doctrine as American Law Institute mulls Restatement of the Law of Liability Insurance [Nicholas Malfitano, Legal Newsline/Forbes]

Closing costs and cartel capture

Pulling up stakes and moving is tough enough. Regulations that drive up closing costs make things worse [Naomi Schaefer Riley/New York Post, thanks for quotes]

Cato Institute Senior Fellow Walter Olson says that it’s not just the taxes that make some states more expensive than others. “States regulate real-estate transfers so as to require additional stages and the involvement of certain professionals’ services, like lawyers’, at more stages.” He says New York is “particularly bad.”

Olson notes: “The title-insurance industry is also regulated in ways that make consumers pay much more in some states, independent of any difference in underwriting risk.”

And the “high-cost methods required in some states are stoutly defended by lobbies of professionals who make a living from the expensive way of doing things.”

“When It Comes To Police Reform, Insurance Companies May Play A Role”

To what extent can insurance companies, which seek to minimize payouts for official misconduct, play a constructive role in police reform? “One of the first things I found was this pamphlet from Travelers Insurance about how to do a strip search, and I just thought people in my world have no idea that this stuff is out there and it’s really fascinating,” says University of Chicago assistant law professor John Rappaport, who “says he spent years studying police reform before it dawned on him to ask” what role insurance companies might play. After-the-fact review of use-of-force incidents and training of officers are among existing roles for some insurers. One factor, according to Joanna Schwartz of UCLA: the private companies are relatively free from “the political counterforces that could prevent the city council or mayor from pushing hard on a law enforcement agency to reform.” [NPR] Much more: Radley Balko.

Liability roundup

  • Mechanics of high-volume injury litigation: “A disgruntled former law firm employee spills secrets on a mass tort factory” [Paul Barrett, Business Week] More on chasing clients: new Chamber Institute for Legal Reform research finds 23 of top 25 Google key words linking ads to user searches are for personal injury law firms; TV advertising by lawyer is projected to reach $892 million in 2015, up 68% from 2008. Yet more: Daniel Fisher/Forbes (“San Antonio car wreck attorney” goes for $670 per click on Google), Tampa Bay Times (“Highly groomed attorney duo …shown moving in slow motion on courthouse steps to a hard rock beat”);
  • Flurry of other new papers by U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, many connected with its annual Legal Reform Summit, include one on how the trial bar has been successful at lobbying the Obama administration. Plus a new edition of “101 Ways to Improve State Legal Systems”;
  • In speech, Rudolph Giuliani recalls tort-law challenges he faced as NYC mayor [Corpus Christi Caller-Times]
  • A quarter century later, trial lawyers’ initiative to take revenge against insurer adversaries continues to harm California insurance customers [Ian Adams, “The troublesome legacy of Prop 103,” R Street Institute, paper in PDF, summary]
  • A story we’ve covered before: Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood and the flow of funds from and to private lawyers he hires [Steve Wilson/Mississippi Watchdog, quotes me]
  • Most New York counties have passed resolutions calling for reform of the state’s unique scaffold law [Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York]
  • You’d think indictment of Mikal Watts, Texas law major-leaguer with friends in high D.C. places, would be playing bigger in the press [Tim Carney]

Banking and finance roundup

  • “Fee-shifting: Delaware’s self-inflicted wound” [Stephen Bainbridge, more] Needed: a new Delaware [Reuters] Fordham lawprof Sean Griffith fights trial bar on shareholder suits [Bainbridge, more]
  • Goodbye, insurance (hugs). I think I’ll miss you most of all. [Bridget Johnson on anti-cinema, anti-stock-trading views of radical Islamist British activist and former lawyer Anjem Choudary]
  • Rare coalition of bankers, housing advocates urges limits on mortgage-related suits [W$J]
  • “The Administrative State v. The Constitution: Dodd-Frank at Five Years” hearing includes testimony from Mark Calabria of Cato (law delegates vast authority to bureaucracy, has failed to generate clear rules for regulated parties) and Neomi Rao of George Mason (unconstitutionality of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) [Senate Judiciary Committee, related on a CFPB constitutional challenge]
  • Do-it-yourself Operation Choke Point: letter from one Illinois sheriff shut down adult-ad credit card payments [Maggie McNeill, Daniel Fisher]
  • “Obama DOJ Channels Bank Shakedown Money To Private Groups” [Dan Epstein, Investors Business Daily]
  • “The U.S. listing gap” [Doidge, Karolyi, & Stulz NBER paper via Tyler Cowen, MR]