Posts Tagged ‘Larry Klayman’

“Judicial Watch: Barking at the Moon?”

Daniel Libit at Politico (Dec. 17) quotes me in a new piece on Judicial Watch, the more-or-less-conservative activist group that brought disrepute on itself in the Clinton years by advancing litigation (often of highly dubious merit) as a scorched-earth method of politics-by-other-means. Since the departure of eccentric founder Larry Klayman the group has been edging back toward respectability, but the return of Hillary Clinton to the Executive Branch seems to have rekindled a “Pavlovian” impulse to sue first and think later.

June 20 roundup

  • Federal judge: asking employee to get coffee not an intrinsically sexist act [Legal Intelligencer]
  • Kilt-clad Montgomery Blair Sibley, at press conference, adds certain je ne sais quoi to tawdry Larry Sinclair sideshow [Sydney Morning Herald]
  • Remind us why Florida Gov. Crist is supposed to be an acceptable veep pick? [PoL]. Also at Point of Law: Hill’s FISA compromise may end pending telecom-privacy suits; interesting Second Circuit reverse-preference case on New Haven firefighters.
  • Virginia bar authorities shaken by charges that Woodbridge attorney Stephen T. Conrad pocketed $3.4 million in injury settlements at clients’ expense [Va. Lawyers Weekly; case of Christiansburg, Va. lawyer Gerard Marks ties in with first links here]
  • U.K.: Local government instructs staff that term “brainstorming” might be insensitive to persons with epilepsy, use “thought showers” instead [Telegraph; Tunbridge Wells, Kent]
  • Big personal injury law firm in Australia, Keddies Lawyers, denies accusations of client overcharging and document falsification [SMH]
  • Will this be on the bar exam? Massachusetts law school dean eyes war crime trials culminating in hanging for high officials of Bush Administration [Ambrogi and more, Michael Krauss and I at PoL]
  • “Just another cash grab”? New Kabateck Brown Kellner “click-fraud” class actions against Google AdWords, CitySearch [Kincaid, TechCrunch/WaPo]
  • Former Rep. Bob Barr, this year’s Libertarian presidential candidate, is no stranger to the role of plaintiff in politically fraught litigation [six years ago on Overlawyered, and represented by Larry Klayman to boot]

“Inappropriate and unethical behavior”

Litigious populist Larry Klayman, once a legal scourge of the Clinton White House and a repeat mentionee on this site (May 7 and links from there), has once again drawn rebuke from the bench. This time Judge Walter Tolub has denied Klayman the right to appear in his Manhattan courtroom, saying Klayman’s “record demonstrates more than an occasional lapse of judgment, it evinces a total disregard for the judicial process”:

The judge cited seven instances in which Klayman had been rebuked or sanctioned by federal judges. One of those was Southern District of New York Judge Denny Chin, who in 1997 sanctioned Klayman for making “preposterous” claims and engaging in “abusive and obnoxious” behavior.

Klayman, who vows to appeal the ruling, is seeking the right to represent former New York Post gossip reporter Jared Paul Stern in a lawsuit against billionaire Ronald Burkle. (Anthony Lin, “Klayman Denied N.Y. Admission in Former Gossip Reporter’s Suit Against Billionaire”, New York Law Journal, Sept. 7).

Where are they now? Larry Klayman watch

How the mighty have fallen. Once able to harass the president of the United States, professional gadfly Larry Klayman — former head of Judicial Watch — is now reduced to filing lawsuits over zoning issues. The town of Pompano Beach approved plans by the Islamic Center of South Florida to build a mosque; at least one resident of the neighborhood disapproved, and hired Klayman:

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, claims the leader of the mosque, Imam Hassan Sabri, has repeatedly been associated with others who are tied to terrorist groups including Hamas, al-Qaida and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The connections outlined in the filing appear loose and there is no accusation of direct wrongdoing.

Having reviewed the complaint (PDF), it appears to range from meritless to frivolous; this about sums up Klayman’s argument:

Larry Klayman, the lawyer for Wright, said the filing does not amount to an anti-Muslim action but maintained that the mosque sacrificed public safety.

“The mosque is radical, the imam is radical,” Klayman said. “We believe they will go out and recruit people in the African-American community to do their bidding.”

I may not be a fan of “radical” Muslims, but as you can imagine, a church being “radical” and “recruiting people” are protected activities under the First Amendment. And while Klayman failed to name the town that approved the allegedly-suspect rezoning as a party in the case, he sued the completely unrelated Council on American-Islamic Relations for some inexplicable reason. (I suspect the phrase “cheap publicity stunt” may be the answer.)

By the way, one of these things is not like the others:

Klayman also has brought cases against Dick Cheney, Osama bin Laden, Fidel Castro and the Teamsters, as well as his own mother.

(Previous coverage of Klayman: Apr. 2002, Jul. 2005, Apr. 2006)

Update: Larry Klayman and respectability

Litigious gadfly Larry Klayman (Apr. 16-17, 2002), having cut a rare publicity swath filing mostly long-shot legal actions against both the Clinton and Bush administrations, is now setting up a Florida office on behalf of a more conventional-seeming law firm, Cleveland, Ohio-based Walter & Haverfield. (Jessica M. Walker, “Ohio Firm Taps Judicial Watch’s Klayman for Miami Launch”, Daily Business Review, Jul. 15). For more on Klayman, see Jacob Weisberg, “Nut Watch”, Slate, Jun. 6, 1998 (sues own mother), Curmudgeonly Clerk, Sept. 23, 2003 (similar). But at least Alan Keyes admires him (Timothy Noah, “Larry Klayman for Attorney General”, Slate, Jan. 24, 2000).

Archived politics items, pre-July 2003

A tangled Mississippi web“, Jun. 16-17, 2003; “Mississippi investigation heats up“, May 7, 2003; “‘High court judge had use of condo owned by group that includes trial lawyer’“, Oct. 11-13, 2002; “Rumblings in Mississippi“, Oct. 9-10, 2002.

Sen. Edwards, 2003:More on Edwards’ law-firm donations“, May 8; “Edwards leads in fund raising“, Apr. 7-8; “‘Edwards doesn’t tell whole story’“, Mar. 4 (& letter to the editor, Mar. 31). 2002:‘Bush urges malpractice damage limits’“, Jul. 29; “‘Edwards’ fund raising a strong suit’“, Jul. 18 (& Sept. 3-4); “‘The trials of John Edwards’“, May 20-21; “What big teeth you have, Sen. Edwards“, May 1-2; “Trial lawyer smackdown!”, Feb. 20-21.  2001:Trial lawyer president?“, Mar. 9-11.  2000: The Veep that got away”, Aug. 15. 

Politicians’ ATM, 2003:‘Lawyers find gold mine in Phila. pension cases’“, Mar. 21-23; “ATLA’s hidden influence“, Jan. 21-22.  2002:Some election results“, Nov. 7; “Campaign roundup“, Nov. 4-5; “Pa. statehouse race: either way, Big Law wins“, Oct. 24; “Trial lawyers and politics: Michigan, Texas“, Oct. 9-10; “Last-minute friends in Texas politics“, Jul. 22-23; “Trial lawyer smackdown!” (Scruggs vs. Sen. Edwards), Feb. 20-21.  2001:Third Circuit cuts class action fees“, Sept. 25-26; “‘Trial lawyers derail Maryland small claims reform’” (Gov. Parris Glendening), July 25; “Villaraigosa and the litigation lobby” (Calif. assembly speaker), June 18; “Ness monster sighted in Narragansett Bay” (Rhode Island contributions by Ness Motley), June 7; “‘Nursing homes a gold mine for lawyers’” (Fla. lawyer said he probably gave $1 million to politicians last election cycle), Mar. 13-14; “‘Angelos made rare donation to GOP’” (Sen. Hatch’s campaign), Feb. 16-19; “Sen. Kennedy flies the trial-lawyer skies“, Jan. 8. 2000:O’Quinn a top Gore recount angel“, Dec. 15-17; “California’s lucrative smog refunds” (Lerach and Gov. Gray Davis), Dec. 5; “Friend to the famous” (Williams Bailey), Oct. 12; “‘Money to burn’” (Ness Motley), Oct. 6-9; “I know [you] will give $100K when the president vetoes tort reform, but we really need it now“, Sept. 14, 2000 (& more coverage: Sept. 15-17, Sept. 19); “Clinton’s trial-lawyer speech, cont’d“, Aug. 1; “Trial lawyers give $500,000 as legislation heads to Senate floor“, Jun. 14-15; “Texas tobacco fees” (recycling into party politics), May 22; “Gore among friendly crowd (again)“, April 12; “Al Gore among friendly crowd“, Mar. 30; “‘Trial Lawyers Pour Money Into Democrats’ Chests“, Mar. 24-26; “Bill Clinton among friendly crowd“, Feb. 14; “‘Tracking the trial lawyers’: a contributions database“, Jan. 21-23 (& Sept. 25-26).  1999: Hurry with those checks“, Dec. 1; “Give, and receive“, Sept. 25-26. 

Judicial elections, 2002:Some election results“, Nov. 7; “Campaign roundup“, Nov. 4-5; “Mudslinging in Ohio high court races“, Nov. 1-3 (& Nov. 4-5); “Ohio’s high-stakes court race“, Oct. 16-17; “Judicial selection, the Gotham way“, Oct. 15; “Rumblings in Mississippi“, Oct. 9-10. 2001:Don’t try rating our judges, or else” (Phila.), Oct. 24-25; “‘Philadelphia judicial elections still linked to cash’“, Oct. 12-14; “‘Reflections of a Survivor of State Judicial Election Warfare’” (Justice Robert Young, Mich.), July 3-4.  2000:More election results” (Mich., Ohio), Nov. 9; “Michigan high court races” (and earlier coverage Aug. 23-25, May 15, May 9, Jan. 31, 2000; Aug. 6, 1999); “Just had to donate” (Mississippi), Nov. 3-5; “Ohio high court races“, Oct. 30 (and earlier coverage Aug. 18, Aug. 6, 1999); “Campaign consultants for judges“, Aug. 28. 

Lobbying clout:Florida: ‘New clout of trial lawyers unnerves legislators’“, Mar. 20, 2003; “Let’s go to the tape” (ATLA lobbies Sen. Grams), Apr. 27, 2000; “House passes liability reforms“, Feb. 24, 2000; “Sixth most powerful” (Only sixth? Trial lawyers among Washington lobbies), Dec. 10, 1999; “Calif. state bar improperly spent dues on politicking“, Aug. 25, 1999. 

RN, 2003:‘Public deceit protects lawsuit abuse’“, Mar. 15-16; “ATLA’s hidden influence“, Jan. 21-22.  2002:Nader credibility watch” (calls fast-food restaurants “weapons of mass destruction”), May 24-26.  2001:Channeling Chomsky” (Trade Center attacks), Oct. 22 (& Oct. 1); “Trial lawyers (some of them) yank Nader funding“, Feb. 16-19.  2000:Election special: Nader non grata“, Nov. 10-12; “Coercive capitalism?“, Nov. 6; “Election roundup” (Nader “dashboard saint” to trial lawyers), Oct. 23; “RN’s illusions“, Sept. 22-24; “Bush-Lieberman vs. Gore-Nader?“, Aug. 14; “Nader cartoon of the year“, Jul. 31; “Nader, controversial at last“, Jun. 13. 

Friends in high places, cont’d” (Kansas governor), May 5, 2003. 

Politico’s law associate suspended over ‘runner’ use” (Louisiana), Feb. 14-16, 2003.

Trial lawyer’s purchase of Alabama governor’s house said to be ‘arm’s-length’“, Jan. 7-8, 2003.

Friends in high places, cont’d“, May 5, 2003; “Gotham’s trial lawyer-legislators“, Dec. 13-15, 2002; “Trial lawyers’ clout in Albany“, Oct. 4, 2000. 

Lawyers as candidates:To tame Madison County, pass the Class Action Fairness Act” (Ill. Senate seat), Jun. 12-15, 2003; “Some election results“, Nov. 7, 2002; “Campaign roundup“, Nov. 4-5; “‘Wealthy candidates give Democrats hope’“, Oct. 11-13, 2002; “Trial lawyer candidates“, Jul. 6, 2000 (& update Sept. 15-17: Ciresi defeated in primary bid); “Tort fortune fuels $3M primary win” (House race in W.V.), May 11, 2000 (& updates Oct. 23, Nov. 9 (lawyer defeated); “‘Lawyer’ label hurts at polls“, Dec. 8, 1999.

‘Morales’ $1 Million Tobacco Fee Under Fire’” (Texas), Jul. 15, 2002; “Texas tobacco fees: Cornyn’s battle“, Sept. 1-3 (& May 22, 2000, June 21, 2001, Aug. 29-30, 2001, Nov. 12, 2001).

Congress, 2003:To tame Madison County, pass the Class Action Fairness Act” (Ill. Senate seat), Jun. 12-15. 2002:Some election results“, Nov. 7; “Campaign roundup“, Nov. 4-5; “Durbin’s electability“, Apr. 25.  2001:‘Angelos made rare donation to GOP’” (Hatch), Feb. 16-19; “Philadelphia juries pummel doctors” (Sen. Arlen Specter), Jan. 24-25; “Sen. Kennedy flies the trial-lawyer skies“, Jan. 8. 2000:Litigation reform: what a Democratic Congress would mean” (comments of Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.)), Nov. 7; “Friend to the famous” (Williams Bailey), Oct. 12; “Owens Corning bankrupt” (House Judiciary Democrats), Oct. 6-9; “Veeps ATLA could love” (Durbin, D-Ill., and Cohen, R-Me.); “Trial lawyers give $500,000 as legislation heads to Senate floor“, June 14-15. 

Pres. & Sen. Clinton, 2001:Humiliation by litigators as turning point in Clinton affair“, May 24; “Push him into a bedroom, hand him a script” (Bill’s testimonial for tobacco lawyers), March 9-11. 2000:Friend to the famous” (Williams Bailey & HRC), Oct. 12; “I know [you] will give $100K when the president vetoes tort reform, but we really need it now“, Sept. 14, 2000 (& more coverage: Sept. 15-17, Sept. 19); “Clinton’s trial-lawyer speech, cont’d“, Aug. 1 (& “a footnote”, Aug. 2); “Clinton’s date with ATLA“, Jul. 31; “Bill Clinton among friendly crowd“, Feb. 14. 1999:Gun litigation: a helpful in-law” (Hugh Rodham surfaces as middleman in gun cases), Oct. 25; and see 2000 campaign.

State attorneys general, 2002:Some election results“, Nov. 7; “Campaign roundup“, Nov. 4-5; “Spitzer riding high” (N.Y.), Jun. 17-18; “Microsoft case and AG contributions“, Apr. 3-4; “Like father, like daughter?” (Lisa Madigan, Ill.), Jan. 7-8. 2001:Vast new surveillance powers for state AGs?” (“biggest showboaters in American politics”), Sept. 25-26. 2000:Ness Motley’s aide-Gregoire, July 17; “Rewarded with the bench” (Connecticut AG Blumenthal), June 12.  1999:Illinois tobacco fees“, Oct. 16-17; “My dear old tobacco-fee friends” (Kansas attorney general picks her old law firm for lucrative contract suing tobacco firms), Oct. 11; and see state tobacco fees.

Judicializing politics (cont’d)“, Jun. 19-20, 2002; “Unlikely critic of litigation” (Larry Klayman, Judicial Watch), Apr. 16-17, 2002.

‘”Little” done for firm, Rendell says’” (law firms provide no-show jobs for politicians), May 9, 2002.

Texas trial lawyers back GOP PAC“, Mar. 12, 2002.

Third Circuit cuts class action fees“, Sept. 25-26, 2001; “ABA thinks it can discourage pay-to-play“, Aug. 11, 1999.

Update: Alabama high court reverses convction in campaign-tactics case“, Jul. 7, 2001; “Update: Alabama campaign-tactics case“, Aug. 31, 2000; “‘Bama bucks“, Nov. 16, 1999; “Alabama story goes national“, Sept. 1; “Playing rough in Alabama“, Aug. 26, 1999.

Chapman, Broder, Kinsley on patients’ rights” (Kinsley: “pretty true” that Democratic Party in lawyers’ pocket), Jun. 28.

‘Lender hit with $71M verdict’” (Mississippi legislators), Jun. 15-17, 2001.

‘The last tycoon’” (Peter Angelos), April 12, 2001; “Czar of Annapolis, and buddy of Fidel“, Dec. 9, 1999; “Maryland’s kingmaker“, Oct. 19, 1999.

Trial lawyer heads Family Research Council“, Mar. 2-4, 2001.


Archived entries on the 2000 presidential race and recount can be found here.

Monitor vote fraud, get sued for ‘intimidation’“, Oct. 24, 2000.

New page on Overlawyered.com: trial lawyers and politics” (this page launched), Jul. 28-30, 2000.

Lenzner: ‘I think what we do is practice law’” (private investigator’s tactics), Jul. 28-30, 2000.

Trial lawyers’ political clout“, May 8, 2000. 

Progressives’ betrayal” (Jonathan Rauch), Apr. 4, 2000; “Trial lawyers on trial” (Reader’s Digest), Dec. 23-26, 1999; “The reign of the tort kings“, Oct. 26; “Arbitrary confiscation, from Pskov to Pascagoula” (Michael Barone), Jul. 24, 1999.

Pro-litigation measures on California ballot“, March 6, 2000 (update Mar. 8: measures defeated).

From the Spin-To-English Guide” (“access to justice” rhetoric), Oct. 25, 1999.

June 2002 archives, part 2


June 19-20 — Supreme Court clarifies ADA. This term the Supreme Court handed down four decisions interpreting the Americans with Disabilities Act, in each case rejecting expansive readings of the law. Our editor analyzed the three employment cases in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (Walter Olson, “Supreme Court Rescues ADA From Its Zealots,” Wall Street Journal, Jun. 18 (online subscribers only)). See also David J. Reis and Dipanwita Deb Amar, “U.S. Supreme Court in ‘Echazabal’ Puts Federal, State Disability Laws in Line”, The Recorder, Jun. 17) (even California employment law, nearly always more favorable for employees than its federal counterpart, acknowledges that employees may refuse to employ disabled workers in jobs that endanger their safety). (DURABLE LINK)

June 19-20 — Judicializing politics (cont’d). Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), active in the 1998 battle over impeachment of then-Pres. Clinton, “has filed suit in a Washington federal court against the former president, Clinton loyalist James Carville and politically active pornographer Larry Flynt seeking compensatory damages ‘in excess of $30 million’ for ‘loss of reputation and emotional distress’ and ‘injury in his person and property’ allegedly caused by these three — who Barr claims conspired to ‘hinder [the plaintiff] in the lawful discharge of his duties.'” Barr is being represented by Larry Klayman of the famously litigious organization Judicial Watch (see Apr. 16-17). (Lloyd Grove, “Bob Barr’s Believe It or Not”, Washington Post, Jun. 13). (DURABLE LINK)

June 19-20 — To run a Bowery flophouse, hire a good lawyer. What with New York City’s absurdly anti-landlord rental code and the ongoing predations of publicly funded legal services groups, “it takes a tough lawyer to run a decent flophouse.” (John Tierney, “A Flophouse With a View (on Survival)”, New York Times, Jun. 11). Tierney, whose columns have been a highlight of the Times‘ Metro section, is moving to Washington to cover that city for the paper. (DURABLE LINK)

June 19-20 — “Suits Against Schools Explore New Turf”. Sexual harassment suits are on the rise, suits demanding concessions for special education students are already well-established, and although many states’ laws give schools some protection against personal-injury suits, “attorneys are finding creative new ways to get around the roadblocks”. (Alan Fisk, National Law Journal, Jun. 11). (DURABLE LINK)

June 17-18 — No “flood” of Muslim or Arab discrimination complaints. After the terrorist attacks last fall some major media outlets reported that state and local civil rights agencies were being flooded with complaints of discrimination by Muslims and persons of Arab descent. Notwithstanding a widely publicized recent suit against airlines for alleged misdeeds in passenger security profiling (see Jun. 6), the official numbers on other types of discrimination cases “tell a less alarming story. While there certainly was a hike in such bias claims since September, it’s hard to say that the increase was serious or even statistically significant.” (Jim Edwards, “Post-Sept. 11 ‘Backlash’ Proves Difficult to Quantify”, New Jersey Law Journal, Jun. 12). (DURABLE LINK)

June 17-18 — Spitzer riding high. In the New York Times Magazine, James Traub profiles New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, currently enjoying a wave of favorable publicity after negotiating a settlement in which Merrill Lynch agreed to change its analyst policy and fork over money to the states; Spitzer’s efforts to bludgeon the national gun industry into accepting unlegislated gun controls, however, have been markedly less successful. Quotes this site’s editor (James Traub, “The Attorney General Goes to War”, New York Times Magazine, Jun. 16). On abusive litigation by AGs, see the recently published analysis by Cumberland law prof Michael DeBow, “Restraining State Attorneys General, Curbing Government Lawsuit Abuse” (Cato Policy Analysis No. 437, May 10). On the federalism angle, see Michael S. Greve, “Free Eliot Spitzer!”, American Enterprise Institute Federalist Outlook, May-June. Plus: Boston Globe columnist Charles Stein on the trouble with policymaking by prosecution, also quotes our editor (“Memo to Policy Makers: Make Policy”, Jun. 16). (DURABLE LINK)

June 17-18 — Jury nails “The Hammer”. Rochester, N.Y.: “A state Supreme Court jury nailed personal-injury lawyer James ‘The Hammer’ Shapiro with a $1.9 million judgment Tuesday in a legal-malpractice case. Jurors found that Shapiro, best known for flamboyant television commercials in which he promises to deliver big cash to accident victims, mishandled the case of client Christopher Wagner, who was critically injured in a two-car crash in Livingston County. They also found that Shapiro’s advertising, which led Wagner to him, was false and misleading. … Wagner’s lawyers, Patrick Burke and Robert Williams, said the award should chasten Shapiro, who gleefully refers to himself as ‘the meanest, nastiest S.O.B. in town’ in his commercials.”

After suffering a severe auto crash which left him in a coma for a month, Wagner “hired Shapiro after his brother saw one of Shapiro’s TV commercials. Wagner dealt with a paralegal and never met a lawyer from Shapiro’s firm until after he agreed to a $65,000 settlement.” The jury found that the law firm had negligently failed to press Wagner’s case against the other motorist, instead accepting from that motorist’s insurer a settlement which undervalued the case and was insufficient to pay Wagner’s medical bills. “Shapiro, whose firm of Shapiro and Shapiro is based in Rochester, didn’t attend the trial. He testified by a videotaped deposition in which he admitted that he has never tried a case in court, leaves the legal work to subordinates and lives in Florida.” (Michael Ziegler, “Award claws ‘The Hammer'”, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Jun. 12)(link now dead). Shapiro is also known for his role in websites entitled Million Dollar Lungs (asbestos client recruitment) and CPalsy.com (“Your child’s cerebral palsy may be the result of a mistake. Don’t Get Mad, Get Even”). See also Dec. 5, 2003. Update May 24, 2004: court suspends Shapiro from practice in New York for one year. (DURABLE LINK)

June 17-18 — Not worth the hassle? “Home Depot Inc., the nation’s largest hardware and home-improvement chain, has told its 1,400 stores not to do business with the U.S. government or its representatives.” Most managers in the chain surveyed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said “they had received instructions from Home Depot’s corporate headquarters this month not to take government credit cards, purchase orders or even cash if the items are being used by the federal government. … One Home Depot associate at a store in San Diego said, ‘It feels weird telling some kid in uniform that I can’t sell him 10 gallons of paint because we don’t do business with the government.'” Although the Atlanta-based chain is close-lipped about the reasons for its policy, companies that sell more than nominal quantities of products or services to the federal government risk being designated as federal contractors, a status that brings them under a large body of regulation over their practices in employment and other areas. (Andrew Schneider, “Home Depot stops doing business with federal government”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jun. 16). Update Jul. 1-2: company reverses policy. (DURABLE LINK)

June 17-18 — Alamo’s stand. “Alamo Rent A Car had no ‘duty to warn’ a Dutch couple visiting Miami not to drive into high-crime areas of the city, lawyers for the company told a three-judge panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal Wednesday in an effort to overturn a $5.2 million jury verdict. Lawyers for Alamo told the judges that there is no way their client could have known that the couple would venture into Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood, where Tosca Dieperink was shot to death as she sat in the rental car in 1996.” We last covered this story Jun. 29, 2000, at which time we wondered: how many different kinds of legal trouble would Alamo have gotten into if it had warned its customers to stay out of the toughest urban neighborhoods? (Susan R. Miller, “Car Rental Agency Fights $5.2M Verdict for Slain Tourist”, Miami Daily Business Review, Jun. 14). (DURABLE LINK)

June 14-16 — “Civil Rights Agency Retaliated Against Worker, EEOC Rules”. Do as we say dept.: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the federal agency which claims for itself the role of public watchdog on discrimination matters, unlawfully retaliated against its former staff solicitor, Emma Monroig, after she filed a discrimination complaint against it in 1995. The commission, which has a staff of about 75, has been hit with nine recent EEOC complaints from employees, of which at least three have been settled. (Darryl Fears, Washington Post, Jun. 13). (DURABLE LINK)

June 14-16 — Dealership on the hook. “A Michigan auto dealership that failed to complete the title transfer on a car involved in a fatal accident has been hit with a $12 million jury verdict.” In July 1999 Les Stanford Oldsmobile in suburban Troy allowed Mohammad Bazzi, then 20, to drive away his newly purchased 1996 Camaro convertible although the paperwork to transfer title was not complete. Bazzi was supposed to return to sign the papers, but never made it: two days later, driving intoxicated at an estimated 100 mph on I-75 at 2:30 in the morning, he smashed the car into the rear of a slower moving truck, killing his 18-year-old passenger, Ronny Hashem. Hashem’s survivors sued the dealership citing Michigan’s 70-year-old Owner Liability Statute, “which holds the owner of a car liable whenever the car is being operated consensually”. (Peter Page, “High-Speed Death”, National Law Journal, Jun. 12). (DURABLE LINK)

June 14-16 — Batch of reader letters. Readers take issue with our coverage of a Canadian court’s ruling on welfare reform (we stand accused of citing a conservative columnist) and of the recent suit against a baseball-bat maker by a teenager hit by a line drive; offer a different perspective on the Audubon String Quartet litigation; and track down the drunk driving defense law firm that has trademarked the phrase “Friends don’t let friends plead guilty”. (DURABLE LINK)

June 13 — Breaking news: slaying at Texas law firm. 79-year-old Richard Joseph Gerzine of Vidor, Tex. is in custody following a fatal shooting at the offices of the prominent Beaumont plaintiff’s firm of Reaud, Morgan & Quinn, known for its role in the asbestos and tobacco controversies. The victim was senior partner Cris Quinn. The perpetrator was said to have been angered by the law firm’s refusal to represent him in an asbestos case. (Beaumont Enterprise, Jun. 13; AP/Houston Chronicle, Jun. 13). (DURABLE LINK)

June 13 — “Student gets diploma after threatening lawsuit”. “A threatening letter from her lawyer and an opportunity to retake an exam hours before graduation helped a West Valley high school student get her diploma last month. … On May 22, Stan Massad, a Glendale attorney representing the Peoria family, faxed a letter to [English teacher Elizabeth] Joice asking her to take ‘whatever action is necessary’ for the student to graduate or the family would be forced to sue. ‘Of course, all information regarding your background, your employment records, all of your class records, past and present, dealings with this and other students becomes relevant, should litigation be necessary,’ he wrote to the teacher.” (Monica Alonzo-Dunsmoor, Arizona Republic, Jun. 10; lawyer’s letter; teacher’s response; Joanne Jacobs, Jun. 12).

UPDATE: The case has mushroomed into a cause celebre in Phoenix (Arizona Republic coverage: Maggie Galehouse, “Decision to allow Peoria student to graduate draws outrage”, Jun. 12; “State Bar probes threat against teacher over student’s graduation”, Jun. 13; “Failing your classes? Get a better lawyer”, (editorial), Jun. 11; “Pathetic plight in Peoria” (editorial), Jun. 12; Benson cartoon, Jun. 11; Richard Ruelas, “Lawyer made an offer school couldn’t refuse”, Jun. 12). In the blog world, see Thomas Vincent, Jun. 11 and later posts; Edward Boyd, Jun. 11 and later posts; DesertPundit, Jun. 13. And InstaPundit and “Max Power” discuss issues of whether the lawyer might face bar discipline and why the family members have been allowed to keep their names confidential. More update: Monica Alonzo-Dunsmoor, “Peoria district issues an apology for furor”, Arizona Republic, Jun. 15. (DURABLE LINK)

June 13 — “The NFL Vs. Everyone”. “Why is it that football players/owners/teams are in court all the time? And why would the Broncos sue fans? The NFL is a great case study in litigiousness gone haywire.” (Dan Lewis, dlewis.net, Jun. 12; see “NFL Bootleg: Making the Court Circuit”, Bootleg Sports/FoxSports, Jun. 12). Lewis’s blog also calls our attention (Jun. 11) to this article explaining one remarkable implication of new “medical privacy” laws: “Law May Forbid Leagues to Say if Player Is Hurt” (Buster Olney, New York Times, Jun. 11 (reg)) (DURABLE LINK)

June 13 — He’s at it again. It seems Kevin Phillips has published another of his awful books. Here’s what we said about one of the earlier ones. (DURABLE LINK)

June 11-12 — “French ban sought for Fallaci book on Islam”. The true meaning of hate-speech laws? In France, an “anti-racist” group has filed a legal action demanding a ban on the publication of a new book by outspoken Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci criticizing Islamic fundamentalism and defending the United States in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. (Reuters/MSNBC, Jun. 10)(& welcome InstaPundit readers). (DURABLE LINK)

June 11-12 — Malpractice crisis latest. More problems with the notion of suing our way to quality medical care: Philadelphia’s Jefferson Hospital, citing rising malpractice insurance bills, has laid off 99 workers and eliminated 80 vacant jobs. (Linda Loyd, “Jefferson Hospital cuts 179 positions”, Philadelphia Inquirer, May 21). Brandywine Hospital, which operates the only trauma center in Chester County, Pa., said it would temporarily close its center, with the result that “trauma patients — the most severely injured accident victims — will be diverted to trauma centers at hospitals in surrounding counties.”. It blamed malpractice costs for difficulty in recruiting qualified physicians (Josh Goldstein, “Hospital closing trauma center”, Philadelphia Inquirer, Jun. 5). The closure of a Wilkes-Barre ob/gyn practice typifies the forces driving doctors out of Pennsylvania, according to the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader (M. Paul Jackson, “Frustrated doctors look to quit area”, May 1). The supply of neurosurgeons in central Texas is likewise under pressure, resulting in the family of an accident victim’s “being told a city of Austin’s size had no spine surgeon available when they desperately needed one”. (Mary Ann Roser, “Neurosurgeons in short supply”, Austin American-Statesman, May 19). Update: Francis X. Clines, “Insurance-Squeezed Doctors Folding Tents in West Virginia”, New York Times, Jun. 13). (DURABLE LINK)

June 11-12 — Flash: law firm with sense of humor. This one’s been around for a while, but we’ve never paid it due tribute: Denver’s Powers Phillips maintains the only law firm website we’ve seen that’s laugh-out-loud funny (and even manages to tell you a lot about the firm) (& update:Metafilter thread). (DURABLE LINK)

June 11-12 — “San Francisco Verdict Bodes Ill for Oil Industry”. Oil refiners are unhappy about a recent verdict in which a West Coast jury declared that the gasoline additive MTBE, which has a nasty tendency to seep into water tables, is defective and should never have been marketed. The refiners have contended that the federal government itself pushed the industry into adding MTBE to gasoline by way of the Clean Air Act’s 1990 amendments, which mandated the use of reformulated and oxygenated gas to reduce air pollution. At least two earlier courts did accept that defense, but now the industry may stand exposed to potential billions in damages. (June D. Bell, National Law Journal, May 3). Background: Energy Information Administration, “MTBE, Oxygenates, and Motor Gasoline” (Mar. 2000). (DURABLE LINK)

June 11-12 — Welcome “Media Watch” (Australia). On the Australian Broadcasting Corp. program, which monitors the press, Steve Price traces the circulation of the much-forwarded “Stella Awards”, a list of (fictitious, invented) outrageous lawsuits (see Aug. 27, 2001) (June 10). (DURABLE LINK)

April 2002 archives, part 2


April 19-21 — Pitcher hit by line drive sues maker of baseball bat. Hurling for the Pittsfield (Ill.) High School baseball team, Daniel Hannant put one over the plate to a batter from opponent Calhoun High School, who smacked the ball in a line drive straight at the pitcher’s mound where it hit Hannant on the head. Now Hannant is suing … guess who? The maker of the baseball bat, Hillerich & Bradsby, known for its trademark Louisville Slugger. (“Lawsuit comes out swinging”, Chicago Tribune, Apr. 18) (& see letter to the editor, Jun. 14; update, Dec. 30). (DURABLE LINK)

April 19-21 — No apologies from RFK Jr. As the uproar continues in Iowa over Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s assertion that large hog-raising operations are more of a threat to American democracy than Osama bin Laden, Kennedy’s office has sent word to the Des Moines Register not to expect an apology or retraction. (Mark Siebert, “Kennedy stands by hog-lot remark”, Apr. 18; J. R. Taylor, “To the Preening Born”, New York Press “Billboard”, Apr. 18; earlier reports on this site Apr. 15, Apr. 17). Far from being an unconsidered slip of the tongue, the comparison seems to have been a feature of Kennedy’s speeches for months, to judge from a report published back in January on another of his Midwestern swings: “This threat is greater than that in Afghanistan,” he was quoted as saying. “This is not only a threat to the environment, it is a threat to the American economy and democracy.” (Gretchen Schlosser, National Hog Farmer, Jan. 15, linked in WSJ OpinionJournal.com “Best of the Web” Jan. 21). And a staff attorney from Kennedy’s office has sent us a letter responding to our editor’s Wednesday New York Post op-ed on the affair, to which we append a fairly lengthy response — see our letters page.

MORE: The food-industry-defense group Center for Consumer Freedom has been on the warpath against Kennedy and his band of lawyers for a while. It quotes Iowa Agriculture Secretary Patty Judge as saying: “The true agenda of this group is to sue farms and take the monetary rewards back to the East Coast.” (“Trashing Pork, Cashing In”, Apr. 11). Kennedy has estimated “damages” against the industry of $13 billion: “We have lawyers with the deepest pockets, and they’ve agreed to fight the industry to the end,” he has said. “We’re going to go after all of them.” (“Kennedy’s Pork Police Hit Iowa”, Apr. 2; “Waterkeepers, Farmers Weepers”, Dec. 12, 2001) “‘We’re starting with hogs. After the hogs, then we are going after the other ones,’ referring to the poultry and beef industries.” (“Warning”, Jan. 16, 2001, citing “Concerns that pork suit may be extended to other areas,” Des Moines Register, Jan. 8, 2001). (DURABLE LINK)

April 19-21 — Traffic-cams, cont’d. In the controversy (see Apr. 8-9) over the uses and abuses of automated traffic camera systems, a reader writes in (see letters page) to say we were wrong to describe Lockheed Martin as the current contractor on the systems; it actually sold the operation last August to another company. Our apologies. And Eugene Volokh reports on his blog (Apr. 17) that he found some inaccuracies in Matt Labash’s Weekly Standard investigative series on the cameras which Labash and the Standard have been happy to correct. See also “Hawaii scraps ‘Talivan’ traffic cameras”, AP/ABC News, Apr. 11. (DURABLE LINK)

April 19-21 — Clipboard-throwing manager = $30 million clipping for grocery chain. The Ralphs supermarket chain in California had a store manager who over the course of a decade “physically and verbally abused six female Ralphs employees by calling them vulgar names, manhandling them, and throwing items like telephones, clipboards and, in one instance, a 30- to 40-pound mailbag, at them.” So a San Diego jury awarded them $5 million each in damages. (Alexei Oreskovic, “$30M Awarded in Sex Harassment Suit Against Grocery Chain”, The Recorder, Apr. 9)(& update Jul. 26-28: judge cuts total award to $8 million). (DURABLE LINK)

April 19-21 — See you … at the Big Apple Blog Bash Friday night. (DURABLE LINK)

April 18 — “Tampa Taliban” mom blames acne drug. By reader acclaim: “The family of 15-year-old Charles Bishop has filed a $70-million lawsuit against the maker of acne medication Accutane, saying nothing else explains the teenager’s suicidal flight into a downtown Tampa high-rise.” Bishop, whose father bore an Arab surname, left a suicide note praising Osama bin Laden; the county medical examiner’s office found no trace of Accutane in his bloodstream, although it says that does not rule out the possibility that he might have been on the medication, for which he had been written a prescription. Although the maker of the widely used acne drug denies that it causes psychosis or suicidal impulses, its cautious consent form “required the Bishops to agree to tell their physician ‘if anyone in the family has ever had symptoms of depression, been psychotic, attempted suicide, or had any other serious mental problems.’ Julia Bishop, however, did not reveal that in 1984, she and Charles’ estranged father failed in a bloody suicide pact during which she stabbed him with a 12-inch butcher knife.” Mrs. Bishop’s lawyer, Michael Ryan of Fort Lauderdale, calls that earlier suicide pact incident “completely irrelevant”. (Robert Farley, “Suit: Drug behind suicide flight”, St. Petersburg Times, Apr. 17; Natashia Gregoire, “Teen Pilot’s Family Sues Drug Maker”, Tampa Tribune, Apr. 17; “Accutane acne drug maker sued over suicide”, USA Today/Reuters, Apr. 16; Broward Liston and Tim Padgett, “Despair Beneath His Wings”, Time, Jan. 13; Howard Feinberg, “Is Accutane to Blame?”, TechCentralStation.com, Apr. 18; see Feb. 1). Updates: manufacturer wins first jury trial (Margaret Cronin Fisk, “Suits Probe Acne Drug, Depression”, National Law Journal, Apr. 25; Michael Fumento, “The Accutane Blame Game”, National Review Online, May 9). (DURABLE LINK)

April 18 — Judge compares class action lawyers to “squeegee boys”. A Florida judge has rejected the tentative settlement of a shareholder lawsuit filed by Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach against power company Florida Progress Corp. over a 1999 merger, saying the evidence indicated that the suit did not leave class members in a better position than if it had never been filed. Added Pinellas County Judge W. Douglas Baird: “This action appears to be the class litigation equivalent of the ‘squeegee boys’ who used to frequent major urban intersections and who would run up to a stopped car, splash soapy water on its perfectly clean windshield and expect payment for the uninvited service of wiping it off.” (Jason Hoppin, The Recorder, Apr. 17). (DURABLE LINK)

April 18 — Welcome Humorix.org readers. The Linux-humor site started linking to us way back in 1999, if we remember correctly. Also sending us visitors lately: Auckland (N.Z.) District Law Society, Mar. 14 (“For a change of pace, spend some time with this digest of news stories … Most cases reported on are from the U.S., but there are quite a few examples from Europe, Australia, and elsewhere”); WTIC-AM Hartford, “Morning Links”, Apr. 7; American Civil Rights Union “ACLU Watch”, Nintendominion “Site Unseen”, Mar. 31; Dog Brothers Martial Arts (Hermosa Beach, Calif.), Mutual Reinsurance Bureau, Anne Klockenkemper (Univ. of Florida) Media Law Resources, Smith Freed & Eberhard P.C. (attorneys at law, Portland, Ore.), Univ. of Nevada-Reno Tau Kappa Epsilon, RKKA.org (Russian Red Army-themed wargaming); Fureyous.com, Mar. (“My dream site, a site where I can find the entire downfall of civilization due to frivolous and pathetic lawsuits and legal actions”), and many more. (DURABLE LINK)

April 17 — New York Post op-ed on RFK Jr. & hogs. Our editor has a piece today on the op-ed page of the New York Post about the furor that broke out in Iowa when celebrity environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. told a rally that large-scale hog farms are more of a threat to America than Osama bin Laden and his terrorists. For links to the local Iowa coverage, see our item here from Monday, of which the Post op-ed is an expansion. (Walter Olson, “Osama, the Pigs and the Kennedy”, New York Post, Apr. 17).

April 16-17 — Pharmaceutical roundup. The total cost of the settlement over the diet compound fen-phen has ballooned to more than $13 billion, swollen by mass recruitment by law firms of claimants who defendants believe have suffered no ill effects from the compound at all aside from possible worry. “Wyeth’s general counsel, Louis L. Hoynes Jr., said he believes that in a different legal climate his company might have been able to settle all serious claims for less than $1 billion. That would amount to an average of $1 million each for 1,000 cases.” (L. Stuart Ditzen, “Mass diet-pill litigation inflates settlement costs to $13.2 billion”, Philadelphia Inquirer, Apr. 9 — whole article well worth reading). Lawyers for a group of British women have filed what is believed to be the first injury suit over the “third-generation” birth control pill, which they say raises the risk of blood clots, and similar suits are expected to follow in the United States (Mary Vallis, “U.K. suit targets perils of The Pill”, National Post, Mar. 5). In one of the more recent applications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Daubert doctrine, courts have dismissed several lawsuits seeking to blame Pfizer’s anti-impotency drug Viagra for users’ heart attacks, ruling that the expert testimony in the cases was not based on scientific principles that had gained “general acceptance.” (Tom Perrotta, “Viagra Cases Dismissed”, New York Law Journal, Jan. 22). The Nov. 9, 2001 installment of CBS’s “48 Hours” launched a one-sided attack on psychiatric drugs used to treat attention deficit and hyperactivity and told the stories of two parents who say their use of the ADHD drug Adderall caused them to behave irrationally, resulting in the death of their children; but Hudson Institute fellow Michael Fumento finds that much was misstated or left out in the network’s account, including the exact role of the trial lawyers hovering in the background (Michael Fumento, “Prescription for Bias“, “Dawn Marie Branson: A Sad Story Only Half Told“) And although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not chosen to give a green light for the reintroduction of silicone breast implants for American women following the litigation-fueled panic that drove them from the market, they have regained popularity among women in Canada, reports the CBC (“Silicone implants back in style”, Sept. 20, 2001). (DURABLE LINK)

April 16-17 — A DMCA run-in. Tom Veal’s Stromata site, which covers topics ranging from pension regulation to science fiction, had a run-in a few days ago with its hosting service, Tripod, which abruptly closed down access to the site and then took its sweet time about reopening it. The reason? Tripod had received a nastygram from a law firm charging that Stromata was in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, not because it had posted any copyrighted material itself, but because it had linked to another site which had (it said) posted an unauthorized translation of a widely discussed piece on terrorism by Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci. Unfortunately, as Veal notes, the incentives under DMCA are for hosts to muzzle speech in haste and un-muzzle at leisure. (“Et Cetera”, Apr. 9). (DURABLE LINK)

April 16-17 — Unlikely critic of litigation. The Washington group Judicial Watch files lawsuits at a manic clip, but now its founder Larry Klayman is taking to the mails to decry our national problem of excessive litigiousness. “One may liken the overall effect of Klayman’s direct-mail sermon against frivolous lawsuits to that of a Weight Watchers commercial starring Marlon Brando or a temperance lecture given by Hunter S. Thompson.” (Tim Noah, “Larry Klayman Decries Evils of Litigation!”, Slate, Apr. 3). (DURABLE LINK)

April 15 — RFK Jr. blasted for hog farm remarks. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the highest-profile spokesman for the developing alliance between trial lawyers and some environmentalist groups (see Dec. 7, 2000), “made an ass of himself” in remarks last weekend at a Clear Lake, Ia. rally, according to veteran Des Moines Register political columnist David Yepsen. Kennedy’s “statement that large-scale hog producers were a bigger threat to America than Osama bin Laden’s terrorists has to be one of the crudest things ever said in Iowa politics. … [Kennedy] brought his Waterkeeper’s Alliance for a rally [in Clear Lake]. It’s a group that is threatening lawsuits against livestock industries. … Rural America needs positive solutions to this problem, not the corrosive rhetoric of another out-of-state political operative or lawsuits from greedy trial lawyers. … What was one of the finest hours of this legislative session was marred by this fool from the East. … Kennedy looks to be cashing in on his family’s name. … If his name were Bob Fitzgerald, he’d be dismissed as another one of the kooks on the fringe of this debate.” Other reaction was not much more favorable: “‘You have to be a complete wandering idiot to make that statement,’ said [Luke] Kollasch [of Algona, Ia.], whose family owns several hog farms and feed and construction companies in northwest Iowa.” (Donnelle Elder, “Big hog lots called greater threat than bin Laden”, Des Moines Register, Apr. 10; “Kennedy’s outrageous rhetoric” (editorial), Apr. 11; David Yepsen, “Kennedy cashes in on family name while acting like a fool”, Apr. 14) (DURABLE LINK)

April 15 — Updates. Stories that seem to have a life of their own:

* Richard Espinosa, “who is suing the city of Escondido because his dog was attacked by a cat inside a city library, now says the attack was a hate crime.” (see Dec. 4, 2001) (“Cat attack now described as hate crime”, MSNBC, Apr. 5)

* “The Florida Legislature has partially undone a landmark Florida Supreme Court ruling issued in November that gave slip-and-fall injury victims the upper hand in lawsuits against supermarkets and other premises owners.” (see Jan. 7). The ruling had required businesses to prove they were not negligent when presented with slip-fall claims. However, trial lawyers extracted a compromise in which plaintiffs will not have to prove that a slippery material was on the floor for long enough for the store owner to have known about it. (Susan R. Miller, “Florida Legislature Passes Bill on Slip-and-Fall Cases”, Miami Daily Business Review, Mar. 27).

* “A Hays County judge has thrown out a default judgment that would have awarded $5 million to a local woman whose near-topless image was used in a national television ad for a ‘Wild Party Girls’ video without her permission. … Judge Charles Ramsay set aside the default judgment, ruling that the plaintiff had listed the wrong company in the lawsuit, and that the video’s makers were not either properly named or properly served.” (see Mar. 6-7) (Carol Coughlin, “Topless suit is groundless, judge rules”, San Marcos (Tex.) Daily Record, Mar. 30).

* More on the symbiotic relationship between state attorneys general and Microsoft competitors (see Apr. 3-4): “An April 2000 e-mail message from the Utah attorney general’s office to Novell, revealed in court, asked for ‘guidance … preferably without involving too many people seeing this language.'” (Declan McCullagh, “Report: MS Foes Bribed Attorneys”, Wired News, Apr. 6). (DURABLE LINK)

April 12-14 — Hey, no fair talking about the pot. During a 20-hour trip from California to Texas pulling a U-Haul trailer, three young women work their way through a bag of marijuana. Of course the ensuing rollover accident is, like, practically totally the fault of their Firestone tires and the U-Haul company, or at least so their lawyers argue in a suit against those companies, even though the tires did not suffer the “tread separation” that has heretofore been seen as the distinctive source of accident risk with the now-recalled Firestones. Now Matagorda County, Tex. Judge Craig Estlinbaum has declared a mistrial at the request of plaintiff’s lawyer Mikal Watts who complained that defense attorney Morgan Copeland “had breached a pretrial order by introducing detailed evidence of marijuana use” during the trip. If we read the AP story correctly, Judge Estlinbaum had ruled that the defense could mention only that portion of the marijuana it could prove the driver consumed, and attorney Copeland, who may now face sanctions in the famously pro-plaintiff county, had improperly let jurors know about the whole bag. The Ford Motor Co. was also named as a defendant but has already settled out of the case (“Texas judge declares mistrial in Firestone case”, Yahoo/ Reuters, Apr. 5; Pam Easton, “Judge declares Firestone mistrial”, AP/ MySanAntonio.com, Apr. 6). Update — additional coverage of ruling: Miriam Rozen, “Mistrial declared in Firestone case”, Texas Lawyer, Apr. 15).

April 12-14 — In the line of fire. Post-Enron, many companies feel the need to seek out savvier and more experienced executives to sit on boards and audit committees, but with escalating fears of personal liability “attracting talent may become nearly impossible. ‘Recruiting directors for the audit committee is like calling them on deck for a kamikaze attack,’ quips [corporate finance officer Bob] Williamson.” (Marie Leone, “Audit Committee? Thanks, But No Thanks”, CFO Magazine, Apr. 5).

April 12-14 — L.A. police sued, and sued. The family of the late James Allen Beck, who died in a fiery shootout with L.A. sheriff’s deputies last August after barricading himself in his home, has filed a wrongful death claim against the sheriff’s department. During the standoff Beck, an ex-police officer with a history of stockpiling weapons at his home, shot and killed Deputy Hagop Kuredjian. (“Mother of gunman who died in shootout files claim”, Sacramento Bee, Apr. 10)(& see Feb. 23, 2000). And: “Heirs of the late rap star Notorious B.I.G. have filed a wrongful death and federal civil rights lawsuit against Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard Parks, two former chiefs and the city of Los Angeles, claiming they did not do enough to prevent the rapper’s death five years ago in a drive-by shooting.” (“Notorious B.I.G. heirs sue LAPD, officials, city”, CNN, Apr. 11).

April 11 — Don’t ban therapeutic cloning. Though not usually the petition-signing types, we (our editor) have signed a petition being circulated by Virginia Postrel’s just-launched Franklin Society opposing the current stampede in Congress to ban all scientific use of cloned human cells including “therapeutic” (non-reproductive) uses, and even the use of imported pharmaceuticals developed via such methods (see “Criminalizing Science” (symposium), Reason, Nov.). If you agree with us that this proposed law is a bad idea, you can sign the petition here and view the list of distinguished signers: despite efforts in some conservative quarters to hand down a party line opposing this potentially life-saving branch of biomedical research, support for it in fact cuts across the political spectrum. For information on contacting elected representatives, see InstaPundit, Apr. 10. (DURABLE LINK)

April 11 — Texas doctors’ work stoppage. Monday’s one-day work stoppage by South Texas doctors outraged at spiraling malpractice costs (see Mar. 15-17) drew national attention (“Texas docs protest malpractice claims”, AP/CNN, Apr. 8; see also Dean Reynolds, “Crushing Cost of Insurance”, ABCNews.com, Mar. 5 (Nev., Pa.)). And a Florida physician has launched an insurance policy for doctors “that aims to provide them with the legal resources they would need to countersue lawyers or expert witnesses filing frivolous lawsuits”. (Tanya Albert, “Frivolous suits feel wrath of Medical Justice”, American Medical News, Feb. 11). (DURABLE LINK)

April 11 — Batch of reader letters. Topics include the “pedal-extender” suit against Ford; OxyContin; suing food companies for waistline problems; police getting ticketed while responding to calls; laws mandating handicap accessibility in private homes; and why schools would send kids home when they have a slight sniffle. One writer upbraids blogger Natalie Solent for thinking it crazy to impose strict product liability on British blood suppliers that currently offer their services free of charge to patients; he thinks she (and by extension we) must not have stopped to consider that blood transfusions can transmit lethal diseases like AIDS and hepatitis.

Best of all, we hear from attorney Jack Thompson, the anti-videogame crusader who has just filed a lawsuit claiming that Sony’s EverQuest game is responsible for the suicide of a user, and he turns out to be every bit as suave and ingratiating as we dared hope (“go to Afghanistan where your anarchist, pro-drug views will be greatly rewarded”), though we wonder whether he caught the phrase “as if” in our original Apr. 3 posting. Mr. Thompson will probably not appreciate Eugene Volokh’s new satirical piece for TechCentralStation.com (“Worse than Internet Addiction”, Apr. 10). (DURABLE LINK)