Posts Tagged ‘joint and several liability’

NYC responds to jury verdict on speeder-friendly street design

After a biker was badly injured by a speeding motorist on Gerritsen Avenue in Brooklyn, a jury in 2011 held New York City legally responsible for not having more speeder-unfriendly street design. The city is now instituting such changes, which according to one advocate should no longer be deemed “subject to debate.” The city was held 40 percent liable, but paid 95 percent or $19 million of a $20 million settlement. “‘This ruling from New York’s highest court puts an end to the notion that traffic safety improvements should be subject to debate and contingent on unanimous local opinion,’ said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. ‘The scientific verdict has been in for several years: traffic calming works to save lives and prevent injuries.'” [Alissa Walker, Curbed]

Environment roundup

  • Eminent domain on the silver screen: “Wild River” (1960) starring Montgomery Clift and Lee Remick tells story of TVA’s taking of the last parcel for a dam [Gideon Kanner]
  • Berkshire Hathaway: up to now, climate change has not produced more frequent insured weather-related events [Tyler Cowen]
  • Erin Brockovich goes on the Dr. Oz show to spread doubts about fluoride in drinking water [Hank Campbell, ACSH; more Brockovich follies]
  • California declares relatively unprocessed “aloe vera whole leaf extract” to be a dangerous chemical, which means it can be added to the Prop 65 list; note however that the refined aloe vera used in consumer products is not so included [Conkle Law]
  • Some environmentalists plan to sue fund managers who don’t act against global warming [The Guardian, Nature]
  • A tale of Superfund joint and several liability: “How tort reform helped crack down on polluters” [Ross Marchand, R Street Institute]
  • “Great Moments in US Energy Policy: In the 1970’s, The US Government Mandated Coal Use For New Power Plants” [Coyote]

Pa. jury: inadequate curve signage partly at fault

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania: “A jury in a Luzerne County civil case ruled that PennDOT was partially responsible for a deadly crash in 2011 that killed a 15-year-old girl, even though the driver of the SUV was driving at roughly twice the speed limit and did not have a driver’s license.” While the driver admitted he was going nearly 90 miles an hour when he lost control, the family’s lawyer “told jurors in closing arguments that PennDOT’s own manuals showed Suscon Road needed more so-called chevron signs that reflect light and warn of an upcoming sharp curve.” [WNEP]

Motel owner 99% liable for murder

“[An Indiana appeals] court has found that an ever so slightly negligent (2%) business owner needs to pay for 99% of the harm caused by a murderer. Citing the Restatement (Third) of Torts. Section 14, a public policy in favor of adequately compensating the wronged … and the difficulty murderers have in procuring insurance to cover their rampages, the appellate court in Santelli v. Rahmatulla found that the Restatement provides a handy way of escaping Indiana’s reform of its joint and several liability rule.” [David Oliver] More: Point of Law (motel “[adhered] to the non-discriminatory EEOC principle of not performing criminal background checks”).

“Minivan-drownings suit could cost taxpayers plenty”

Following the horrific murder-suicide of a woman who intentionally drowned herself and three of her four children, the woman’s estranged boyfriend is suing the city of Newburgh, N.Y. and its surrounding county for failing to prevent the crime. Joint and several liability reform would help, if only Albany were more sympathetic to the cause. [Thomas Stebbins, Poughkeepsie Journal; Daily News]

July 6 roundup

June 10 roundup

February 22 roundup

Deep pocket files: Highway 101 crash

In 2007, on Highway 101 north of Ventura, Jeremy White plowed his pickup truck into a vehicle parked along the roadside, killing its driver and paralyzing a California highway patrolman who was standing alongside. White “pleaded guilty in September 2008 to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and selling and transporting marijuana. He was sentenced to 15 years.” While he had an insurance policy, its limit was a paltry $15,000. So which deep pockets will be left responsible for paying the nearly $50 million a jury has awarded in damages? The answer, apparently: 1) White’s insurance company, despite the policy limit, due to the magic of “insurance bad faith” law; 2) Bert’s Mega Mall in Covina, whose employees, according to the plaintiffs in the case, “didn’t properly strap down two dirt bikes in the back of White’s truck, which caused a distraction and contributed to the crash.”

After the trial ended Tuesday, the mall’s lawyer, Terrence Cranert, said they would appeal.

He said there was significant evidence the jury didn’t receive, including a statement from White’s passenger who told the CHP that he and White had stopped to smoke marijuana after leaving the mall. Cranert said they weren’t able to find White’s passenger for the trial, but felt the information should have been allowed.

The judge, however, disagreed.

White’s passenger also told the CHP that he and White went into the back of the truck and opened a tool box to get the marijuana, according to Cranert. “They would have to unstrap the motorcycles,” Cranert said.

[Ventura County Star reporting, liability and damages phases]