Posts Tagged ‘insurers’

July 20 roundup

  • Judge Henry Lackey, who went to feds to report bribe attempt by Dickie Scruggs associate, gets award and standing ovations at Mississippi bar convention, says he was just doing a judge’s job [NMC/Folo]
  • Related: should Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat have used official university stationery for his letter pleading leniency for chum/ benefactor Scruggs? [Daily Mississippian and editorial via YallPolitics, continuing coverage at Folo; earlier]
  • Stephen Dubner: if lawyer/subscriber can sue Raleigh News & Observer over perceived decline in its quality, who’s next? [NYT/Freakonomics blog, earlier]
  • Maneuvering over retrial of Kentucky fen-phen defendants Gallion and Cunningham [Lexington Herald-Leader]
  • A Fieger sideshow: though acquitted in recent campaign laundering prosecution, controversial lawyer fared less well in lawsuit against Michigan AG Michael Cox; Sixth Circuit tossed that suit and upheld order that Fieger fork over attorney fees to Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman over subjecting the justice to unfounded vilification [ABA Journal; fixed typo on Circuit]
  • Citing long history of frivolous litigation, federal judge in central Texas fines disbarred lawyer Charles Edward Lincoln and his client and bans Lincoln from bringing any more federal suits [SE Texas Record]
  • Faced with $18 million legal-malpractice jury verdict, Indiana labor law firm stays in business by agreeing to make token payment, then gang up on its liability insurer for the rest [Indianapolis Business Journal, Ketzenberger/Indy Star via ABA Journal]

November 26 roundup

All-automotive edition:

  • Court won’t unseal settlement arising from $105 million Aramark/Giants Stadium dramshop case for fear girl’s father will try to get his hands on money [NJLJ,, Childs; earlier]
  • Great moments in insurance defense law: you mean it wasn’t a good idea to infiltrate that church meeting to investigate the crash claim? [Turkewitz first, second posts]
  • Columnist Paul Mulshine rejoices: Ninth Circuit decision “if it stands, will lead to the end of the SUV as we know it” [Newark Star-Ledger]
  • Is it unfair — and should it be unlawful? — for insurers to settle crash victims’ claims too early? [Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog]
  • If Ron Krist prevails in shoot-out of Texas plaintiff titans, he vows to have sheriff seize John O’Quinn’s Batmobile [American Lawyer; see also Ted’s take earlier]
  • In much-watched case, Australian high court by 3-2 split upholds highway authority against claim defective bridge design was blameworthy after youth’s dive into shallow water [RTA NSW v. Dederer, Aug. 30]
  • Redesigning Toyota’s occupant restraint system? Clearly another job for the Marshall, Texas courts [SE Texas Record; Point of Law; more]
  • Bench trial results in $55 million verdict against U.S. government after Army employee on business runs red light and paralyzes small child [OC Register]
  • Vision in a purple Gremlin: her Yale Law days shaped Hillary in many ways [Stearns/McClatchy]
  • Zero tolerance for motorists’ blood-alcohol — are we sure we want to go there? [Harsanyi, Reason]
  • Driver falls asleep, so of course Ford must pay [two years ago on Overlawyered; much more on our automotive page]

Pop-Tart fire lawsuit

On June 1, 1998, Clark Seeley left the house while leaving Pop-Tarts heating in a toaster. Poor decision: there was a fire in the unattended toaster, and his house was damaged. Seeley blames not himself, but the toaster manufacturer. (The press doesn’t mention it, but Seeley’s insurance company initiated the suit before apparently settling.) The story is in the news now because (paging Peter Nordberg) the judge (probably correctly) held Wednesday that an expert’s study that a frosted-sugar pastry could conceivably start a toaster fire was admissible because it was falsifiable. The real question is why a court has let this case get to the stage where parties need to hire lawyers to supervise and submit reports from frosted-sugar pastry experts. (Michael Virtanen, “Judge Allows Expert on Pop-Tarts To Testify in Flaming Pastry Lawsuit”, AP/NY Sun, Dec. 17; Liberty Mutual Ins. v. Hamilton-Beach, 1:99-cv-01162-LEK-DRH (N.D.N.Y.)) The maker of Pop-Tarts was not sued, perhaps because the box warns consumers not to leave pastries unattended in the toaster. (Sean Carter, “Pop-torts”, November 2, 2001). Previous suit: Jul. 30, 2001. Update: New York Lawyer weighs in. (John Caher, “Engineer Ruled Expert Witness in Flaming Pop-Tart Case”, Dec. 21).

Bad lawyer files: Fourth yacht’s the charm

Or, “Not only loose lips sink ships.”

Bloggers Grace and Wallace point us to the tale of the infamous (and now suspended) attorney Rex DeGeorge, which has important lessons how the plaintiffs’ bar has made insurance more expensive for all of us: because insurers who suspect fraud risk substantial liability for “bad faith” denial of coverage (e.g., May 5, where an insurer who merely investigated an $8,000 chiropractor’s bill was hit with a $150,000 judgment), insurance scamsters can manipulate the system by threatening a suit. For an individual case, simply defending the non-payment may be more expensive than making the payment; even on a systematic basis, the risk of losing a case and facing punitive damages can put insurers in a bind. This is lengthy, but worth it.

Read On…