Posts Tagged ‘John Edwards’

The Overlawyered iMix

On August 25, a San Mateo County court will hold a fairness hearing over a nationwide class action settlement over iPod batteries that will provide $50 coupons for class members and $2,768,000 in fees for the attorneys. Because the lawsuit was filed before the Class Action Fairness Act took effect, the state court does not have to comply with the new federal requirement that attorneys’ fees reflect the actual redeemed value of the coupons, rather than the face value, one of many sensible provisions of the Act that trial lawyers, the New York Times, and dozens of prominent Democrats (including leading 2008 presidential contenders Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and John Edwards) opposed. In honor of this fairness hearing (as well as in honor of a pending lawsuit alleging that Apple is monopolizing the music market by selling music in a proprietary format), Overlawyered presents the Overlawyered iMix:

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Welcome newspaper readers

Catching up on some overdue thanks to newspaper reporters and contributors who’ve mentioned this site, quoted me, or done both in the past few months (several of them, alas, without currently active links):

* David Boaz, “New York’s Big Think”, New York Post, Dec. 5 (an excellent piece on the Manhattan Institute);

* Jon Robins, “A pair of lawyers who could change the world”, The Times (London), Nov. 2 (on John Edwards’s debate performance);

* Itai Maytal, “Too Early To Give Up on Edwards’s Star”, New York Sun, Nov. 4 (on Edwards’s prospects on departing the U.S. Senate);

* Heidi J. Shrager, “State’s law guardian system in need of overhaul”, Staten Island Advance, Sept. 28 (on the need for reform of New York’s law guardian system, under which lawyers are appointed to represent the interests of minors and others not able to look out for themselves);

* Kate Coscarelli, “Police protect, serve — and sue”, Newark Star-Ledger, Sept. 12, reprinted at Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer site (on legal doctrines allowing police officers injured in the course of their duties to sue allegedly negligent private parties (see Aug. 31);

* David Isaac, “USG Corp.: Election And Elation For Wallboard Maker”, Investor’s Business Daily, Nov. 5 (on post-election prospects for asbestos legislation);

* Ed Wallace, “Wheels: You Can Fool Some of the People…”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Oct. 3 (on network crash-test journalism).

For other press mentions, check our “About the site” page.

Upholding democracy, frivolous election challenge thrown out

The Ohio Supreme Court’s Chief Justice threw out a lawsuit backed by Jesse Jackson and funded by a partisan Massachusetts election monitoring group. The lawsuit claimed that Pres. Bush unfairly won Ohio due to some indescribable fraud by his supporters as this excerpt from this article indicates:

The complaint questioned how the actual results could show Bush winning when exit-poll interview findings on election night indicated that Kerry would win 52 percent of Ohio’s presidential vote.

Without listing specific evidence, the complaint alleges that 130,656 votes for Kerry and John Edwards in 36 counties were somehow switched to count for the Bush-Cheney ticket.

The Ohio chief justice ruled that

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“Lost an election that wasn’t your fault?”

While Democratic candidate John Kerry was reaching his decision to concede President Bush’s victory in the presidential race, rather than pursue an almost certainly unsuccessful challenge to the Ohio vote count, running mate John Edwards “counseled [him] against swift surrender”, according to the AP:

One senior Democrat familiar with the discussions said Edwards was suggesting to Kerry that he shouldn’t concede.

The official said Edwards, a trial lawyer, wanted to make sure all options were explored and that Democrats pursued them as thoroughly as Republicans would if the positions were reversed.

The mischievous headline is that of James Taranto at WSJ “Best of the Web“.

Agenda: gun suit pre-emption, class action reform

The U.S. Senate has been the graveyard of federal liability reform legislation for years now, but yesterday’s election may start upheaving the tombstones in an entertaining manner. The new Senate should be perceptibly more favorable to litigation reform than the old — by three or four votes, at least. Gone, for example, will be the Carolinas’ Ernest Hollings and John Edwards, two lions of the trial bar.

The most obvious impact will be on measures which already commanded a substantial majority of Senators, including many Democrats, but had nonetheless been blocked by parliamentary gamesmanship — specifically, the bill to pre-empt lawsuits against lawful gun sellers over the illegal later use of their products, and the bill to redirect most national class actions into federal courts. Also significant will be the defeat of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, whose tendency to talk like a litigation reformer back home in South Dakota, while working closely with trial lawyer interests in Washington, has been the subject of scrutiny in this space (Apr. 12, Aug. 19, Dec. 18).

Daschle’s defeat may cause prudent Democratic colleagues to rethink the policy of filibustering all major liability measures rather than letting them come to a vote. Also significant is the greatly strengthened hand of organized gun owners in the next Senate, on which see Dave Kopel’s roundup. If the Republicans know what they’re doing, they’ll call up and pass gun-suit pre-emption at an early point, with some version of class action reform not far behind.

Ballot measure results

As I documented through the night at, voters gave doctors and the business community some major victories in yesterday’s ballot measures. Limits on malpractice lawyers’ fees passed resoundingly in Florida, in a stinging rebuke to the trial bar. Among three other states considering med-mal ballot measures, doctors won decisively in Nevada and lost in Wyoming, while Oregon’s measure was slightly trailing but too close to call. (Update Nov. 9: late returns show one of the two Wyoming measures apparently passing after all.)

In California, in a convincing victory for the business community and good sense, voters approved Proposition 64 by a wide margin, requiring lawyers to demonstrate actual injury before invoking the state’s broad unfair-practices statute in private cases. (Thank you, Arnold.) Colorado voters lopsidedly defeated a trial-lawyer-sponsored measure to expand litigation over alleged construction defects. And in the two hot judicial contests, for seats on the Illinois and West Virginia Supreme Courts, trial-lawyer-backed candidates lost in both. Details on all these races can be found on Also, voters ignored this site’s advice and passed all eleven state marriage amendments on the ballot.

Finally, some politicians whose ambitions this website has followed were locked in too-close-to-call races: Washington state AG Christine Gregoire (see Oct. 28) was slightly trailing a GOP opponent in her bid for governor, while former trial lawyer lobbyist and Bush HUD secretary Mel Martinez (see Sept. 3) was leading by 80,000 votes in his Florida Senate race against Democrat Betty Castor. (Update: Martinez wins). John Edwards’s vice-presidential ambitions seem at the moment to depend on an unlikely reversal of Ohio results in late vote counting, while his home state of North Carolina went Republican both in the presidential race and in filling Edwards’s old seat. (Update: Kerry and Edwards concede).

The campaign: new at Point of Law

Over at our sister website Point of Law, Jim Copland memorializes one of the more entertaining moments of this election season: arch-litigation advocate Ralph Nader’s denunciation of Sen. John Edwards as a “sniveling coward” for not more forcefully countering Vice President Dick Cheney’s support for malpractice reform at their debate. Jim also comments on trial lawyers’ role in the recent Sinclair Broadcasting brouhaha. Finally, there’s a link to a provocative George Will column on the presidential race from earlier this month.

Lawsuit reform at the debates

Wednesday night transcript:

[Question about flu vaccine shortage]

BUSH: […] We have a problem with litigation in the United States of America. Vaccine manufacturers are worried about getting sued, and therefore they have backed off from providing this kind of vaccine. [ed.: see Dec. 24 and earlier links]

One of the reasons I’m such a strong believer in legal reform is so that people aren’t afraid of producing a product that is necessary for the health of our citizens and then end up getting sued in a court of law. […]

KERRY: […] This president has turned his back on the wellness of America. And there is no system. In fact, it’s starting to fall apart not because of lawsuits — though they are a problem, and John Edwards and I are committed to fixing them [Oct. 12] — but because of the larger issue that we don’t cover Americans. […]

[Question on medical insurance costs]

BUSH: […] I do believe the lawsuits — I don’t believe, I know — that the lawsuits are causing health care costs to rise in America. That’s why I’m such a strong believer in medical liability reform.

In the last debate [Oct. 9], my opponent said those lawsuits only caused the cost to go up by 1 percent. Well, he didn’t include the defensive practice of medicine that costs the federal government some $28 billion a year and costs our society between $60 billion and $100 billion a year. […]

[Kerry’s response addressed Medicare bulk purchasing, the uninsured, and prescription drug reimportation, but not medical malpractice reform.]

Alex Tabarrok also has more on vaccines.

“Did John Edwards Mean to Say What He Said He Meant?”

George Wallace more closely parses John Edwards’s answer at the debates (Oct. 5):

We do have too many lawsuits, and the reality is there’s something that we can do about it. John Kerry and I have a plan to do something about it. We want to put more responsibility on the lawyers to require before a case of malpractice, which the Vice President just spoke about, have the case reviewed by independent experts who determine the case is serious and meritorious before it can be filed; hold the lawyers responsible for that, to certify that, and hold the lawyer financially responsible if they don’t do it; have a three strikes and you’re out rule so that a lawyer who files three of these cases without meeting this requirement loses their right to file these cases.

If Kerry-Edwards are really proposing screening by “independent experts” to determine that a case is “serious and meritorious”, this is an innovative and very real reform. One suspects, however, that these are just focus group buzzwords: in the legislation Edwards co-sponsored in the Senate (POL Sep. 27), “independent” meant that the plaintiff’s attorney got to hand-pick an expert-for-hire to sign off on the case (which is, in most states, already a requirement to survive a summary judgment motion) and “serious and meritorious” meant simply “not brought to harass” or “colorable.” These are merely cosmetic hurdles to suit.