Posts Tagged ‘Michigan’

Courts to officials: do not insult religions

A federal judge in Michigan has ruled for a Catholic foster-care program, but religious objectors may find it a victory built on sand. I’m in the online Wall Street Journal today with an opinion piece explaining why. Related on Judge Robert Jonker’s opinion in Buck v. Gordon, in which he rebuked Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel [Sue Ellen Browder, National Catholic Register] and on Fulton v. Philadelphia [Mark Rienzi](and mentions: New York Post, Kathryn Lopez/National Review)

Liability roundup

  • Court of appeals throws out class action against provincial lottery Loto-Quebec: “[The lead plaintiff] said she wouldn’t have bought the tickets had she known the odds were so slim.” [Canadian Press/CBC]
  • And there was much rejoicing: Florida high court finally adopts Daubert, meant to curb use of faulty and unproven science in litigation [Karen Kidd, Florida Record, Beck]
  • Fake car-crash claims alleged: “5 SoCal Chiropractors Busted In $6M Insurance Fraud Scheme” [CBS Los Angeles] “Three Men Found Guilty Of $31 Million Slip-And-Fall Scheme Involving Homeless People” [Jen Chung, Gothamist] Cambridgeshire, England: “Footage shows moment car ‘runs over foot’ of binman accused of crash-for-cash scam” [Alex Matthews, The Sun (U.K.)]
  • If appellate review somehow leaves intact the scientifically baseless $2 billion Oakland verdict over glyphosate/Roundup, new changes in federal tax law might cut into plaintiffs’ winnings [Robert Wood, Forbes]
  • Tamper proof? Old bottles of baby powder bought on eBay are central to plaintiffs’ claims that Johnson & Johnson baby powder may have contained asbestos fibers, a theory that has underlain several large verdicts [Daniel Fisher, Legal NewsLine; John O’Brien, same; Jef Feeley and Margaret Cronin Fisk, Bloomberg]
  • “Michigan’s lawmakers have passed legislation to reform the state’s worst-in-the-nation auto insurance market.” [Ray Lehmann, R Street/Insurance Journal, earlier]

Campus speech roundup

  • At UCLA as elsewhere, pledges and obligatory statements about diversity threaten academic freedom [Robert Shibley, Minding the Campus, Paul Caron/TaxProf, Christian Schneider, New York Post, earlier]
  • 2019, 1673, whatever: By calling ourselves “inclusive,” Cambridge explains, we mean “there is no place here for” those who fail to accept key tenets of faith and morals [Robby Soave] He “had just chosen to move from Australia, the country where he earned his degrees and spent most of his career, to China. Why? Because, as a researcher, he has more freedom in China.” [Peggy Sastre, Quillette] Heresy hunts in American academia aren’t exactly new, consider what happened fifty years ago to once-lauded “culture of poverty” anthropologist Oscar Lewis [Bryan Caplan]
  • Remarkable glossary of terms “intended to structure and referee conversations on campus” circulates at Amherst College, whose Office of Diversity and Inclusion has a staff of 20, more than one for every hundred of the institution’s 1800 students [Rand Richards Cooper, Commonweal via Christina Sommers] University of Michigan has at least 82 full-time diversity officers at payroll cost of $10.6 million, a sum would cover full in-state tuition for 708 students [Mark Perry on Twitter] At the University of Texas, diversity-related staffers cost $9.5 million annually [Derek Draplin, College Fix]
  • Some conservatives do their bit to undermine academic freedom when they try to get professors fired for bad speech unrelated to teaching and scholarship [David French, Robby Soave]
  • Law schools debate whether to be even more ideological, although the product of the academy is supposed to be knowledge rather than activism [John McGinnis responding to Samuel Moyn] Outcry after Emory Law School suspends professor who had uttered racial slur in context of critically describing others as using the slur [Paul Caron/TaxProf, more]
  • Rhode Island student drummed out of state college for not advancing “value of social and economic justice” can take his case to a jury, rules state’s high court; Cato Institute had filed amicus brief on his behalf [Ilya Shapiro and Patrick Moran]

February 13 roundup

  • Michigan’s Oakland County seizes rental property owned by elderly man over $8.41 unpaid tax bill plus $277 in fees and interest, sells property for $24,500, keeps all the surplus cash for itself. Constitutional? [Joe Barnett, Detroit News]
  • Pruning obsolete laws: “Teaneck Council repeals more than a dozen old laws, including ban on cursing” [Megan Burrow, North Jersey Record, quoting Councilman and longtime friend of this site Keith Kaplan]
  • “What does the Constitution have to say about national emergencies, both real and imagined?” [Cato Daily Podcast with Gene Healy and Caleb Brown]
  • Lawyer in drunk-driving case: my client’s chewing on her coat could’ve thrown off breath test [AP/WSBT (Berwick, Pa.)]
  • Baltimore police corruption, tax policies that attract people, densifying MoCo and more in my latest Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes]
  • Busybodies in Bismarck: “North Dakota’s Excellent Food Freedom Act Is Under Attack Yet Again” [Baylen Linnekin]

A reader query on Michigan fee-shifting

Reader B.B., an attorney, writes:

In Michigan, the American Rule for paying attorney fees has been abolished in civil cases valued at more than $25,000 when filed. I am curious whether anyone has done an analysis to see if this has changed the cost of medical care in Michigan and states that have similarly adopted “loser pays” procedures. I often hear the argument that this is a needed reform, but I never hear an analysis of how this reform has worked where implemented.

In Michigan civil cases valued over $25,000 when filed are argued before a three-attorney panel during pre-trial proceedings. The panel then assigns a value to the case. If both parties accept that value, the case is settled. If either party rejects that value, that party must do 10% better than that value at trial, or they are deemed to have lost, and then they pay the other side’s attorney fees. A plaintiff could get a jury verdict of $100,000 and be deemed the loser if he rejected an award of $90,909.10 or more. This system can be far more punitive than the English Rule.

The problem with any system that shifts the burden of paying for attorney fees to the loser is that it disproportionately impacts the middle class. A poor person does not have to worry about becoming liable to pay the other side’s attorney fees because they don’t have it and the insurance company won’t pursue it. If the insurance company attempts to take what little assets they might have, they will just file for bankruptcy. The insurance company does not have to worry about becoming liable to pay attorney fees because it is a cost borne equally by all insurance companies that do business in Michigan. They just price that risk, like every other risk, into the insurance premium. Only a person who has assets that would not be protected in bankruptcy, and is not wealthy enough to risk paying the other side’s attorney fees, is impacted by a system that shifts the burden to the loser.

So those would be two interesting questions for anyone concerned about the issue to consider: Have “loser pays” systems actually changed medical costs in states that have adopted them, and can “loser pays” systems impact enough litigants to have any effect at all?

Reactions from readers knowledgeable about Michigan legal practice?

Everything you know about Flint water is wrong

“Reference levels” aren’t poisoning, Flint at the height of the episode had lower blood-lead incidence in children than many other communities large and small, the number of cases with lead exposure calling for therapeutic measures appears to have been zero, and so forth. “It is not possible, statistically speaking, to distinguish the increase that occurred at the height of the contamination crisis from other random variations over the previous decade.” In short, everything you know about the Flint water episode is wrong. [Hernán Gómez and Kim Dietrich, New York Times; earlier here, here, and here]

“Guardians from Hell”

More, this time from Michigan, on how guardianship in the wrong hands can turn into a “completely legal, utterly grotesque system for undermining the rights of the elderly,” cutting out kids and legitimate heirs. Last fall the New Yorker ran a chilling investigative piece by Rachel Aviv exposing guardianship abuses in Nevada. [Gretchen Rachel Hammond, Tablet; coverage last October of the Rachel Aziz piece]

Liability roundup

“Local Governments and Occupational Licensing Absurdity”

“The proliferation of state licensing requirements is already bad enough. There’s no need for cities to pile their own mandates on.” Detroit, which requires licenses for at least 60 occupations, is among the worst offenders. [C. Jarrett Dieterle, Governing]

Also in Michigan: “Shampooing Hair And Piloting Commercial Airliners Require Same Number Of Training Hours In Michigan” [Michigan Capitol Confidential]

Police roundup

  • BBC on Baltimore police gun trace task force scandal [Jessica Lussenhop] Didn’t even bother using the real kind: “Baltimore Cops Carried Toy Guns to Plant on People They Shot, Trial Reveals” [Drew Schwartz, Vice]
  • Kentucky state police to media: do not put anything out about our investigations on social media “until OUR (KSP) press release is sent out.” Really? [Scott Greenfield]
  • “In unmarked cars, Orlando, Fla. officers box in car whose occupants are suspected of not wearing seatbelts; the driver drives off; the police catch up, ram the car, and shoot the driver dead. Allegation: Contrary to the officers’ testimony, the driver wasn’t about to run over an officer when he was killed; he couldn’t have, as the car’s engine had died after police rammed the vehicle. Eleventh Circuit: Qualified immunity. (H/t: Police4aqi.)” [John K. Ross, “Short Circuit”]
  • Police unionization may increase misconduct: “Our primary result is that collective bargaining rights lead to about a 27% increase in complaints of officer misconduct for the typical sheriff’s office.” [Dhammika Dharmapala, Richard H. McAdams, and John Rappaport via Jonathan Adler]
  • Dept. will publish accounts of misconduct investigations, but with names of officers omitted: “NYPD Argues They Simply Can’t Be More Transparent About Its Violent Cops” [Molly Osberg, Splinter News]
  • Michigan: “Seven Current and Former Police Officers Charged with 101 Felony Counts related to Fraudulent Auto Inspections”
    [Attorney General Bill Schuette]