- Big win for scientific rigor in the courts as New Jersey joins 40 other states in adopting Daubert standards for expert testimony, in In re Accutane Litigation [Washington Legal Foundation: Evan Tager and Surya Kundu, Joe Hollingsworth and Robert Johnston] With the long domination of the Florida Supreme Court by its liberal bloc soon to end, is it too much to hope that Florida joins the national trend too? [Evan Tager and Matthew Waring, WLF]
- California lawyers sue electric scooter companies and manufacturers after users run into pedestrians on street, park improperly in handicapped spaces, and leave them in places where they can be tripped over [Cyrus Farivar, ArsTechnica]
- Defendants obtain fees and costs in suit against siren maker over firefighter hearing loss [Stephen McConnell, Drug and Device Law]
- Some safety advocates’ flip-flops on autonomous vehicle legislation in Congress might relate to trial lawyers’ agenda of the moment [Marc Scribner, CEI, more]
- “Labaton Sucharow agrees to return $4.8M in attorney fees after attorney finder fee is revealed” [ABA Journal, earlier on State Street/Arkansas Teacher Retirement System case here, etc.]
- MGM, Fox settle class action claiming that box set of “all” James Bond films lacked two made outside the franchise [Eriq Gardner/Hollywood Reporter, earlier]
- “Researchers from Duke and MIT… found that the possibility of a lawsuit increased the intensity of health care that patients received in the hospital by about 5 percent — and that those patients who got the extra care were no better off.” [Margot Sanger-Katz, New York Times]
- Cato Policy Analysis and podcasts (with Caleb Brown) by Terence Kealey: “The Feds’ Demonization of Dietary Fat” and “Why Does the Federal Government Issue Damaging Dietary Guidelines?” Related: Britain’s “food supply is being taxed, regulated and reformulated – on the pretext of a lie” [Christopher Snowdon, Spectator (U.K.)]
- New Jersey, a key state because of its volume of pharmaceutical liability litigation, joins national trend by adopting Daubert standard on expert evidence [Colleen O’Dea/N.J. Spotlight, Beck, John O’Brien/Legal NewsLine]
- “Criminal prosecution for violating HIPAA: an emerging threat to health care professionals” [Anne M. Murphy, Laura B. Angelini, and Jared Shwartz, STAT]
- Do-it-yourself workarounds for obtaining compounds blocked or restricted by FDA/pharma regulation, albeit entangled with IP issues. With bonus code-as-speech angle [Daniel Oberhaus, Vice Motherboard]
- “Hotels do want to tell you the real price. Until hospitals do too, they will find their way around disclosure regulations” [John Cochrane; related Cochrane on lack of price competition among air ambulances]
- After parking lot shooting Pinellas County, Florida sheriff “claim[ed] his hands were tied by Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. But that is not true” [Jacob Sullum, Reason, more; David French, NRO]
- Major USA Today story on origins of Baltimore’s devastating crime and murder wave [Brad Heath; Jonathan Blanks, Cato]
- Related: in Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force police scandal, plea bargains punished the innocent [Capital News Service investigation by Angela Roberts, Lindsay Huth, Alex Mann, Tom Hart and James Whitlow: first, second, third parts]
- California Senate votes 26 to 11 to abolish felony murder rule, under which participants in some serious crimes face murder rap if others’ actions result in death [ABA Journal, bill]
- New Jersey’s reforms curtailing cash bail, unlike Maryland’s, seem to be working reasonably well [Scott Shackford; longer Shackford article on bail in Reason; earlier here, here, etc.]
- “Miami Police Union Says Head-Kicking Cop ‘Used Great Restraint,’ Shouldn’t Be Charged” [Jerry Iannelli, Miami New Times]
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) proposes to regulate social media bots, or to put it differently, to regulate a form of speech carried on through automated mechanisms [John Samples, Cato]
- “The State of New Jersey Wants to Subsidize News. Uh-oh.” [Jack Shafer, Politico] Canada, farther down this road, moves toward outright government subsidies to newspapers [Mylene Crete and Jordan Press, Canadian Press]
- “Court tosses disbarred lawyer’s suit over newspaper article on his ethics case with a ‘crime’ header” [ABA Journal]
- Compelled speech in NIFLA v. Becerra: “A First Amendment Win in a Case That Was NOT about Abortion” [Ilya Shapiro and Meggan DeWitt, Eugene Volokh, Erica Goldberg] More: DeWitt Cato podcast;
- New Nadine Strossen book on hate speech challenges some conventionally accepted ideas about its effects [John Samples, earlier] Man in Pennsylvania charged with felony ethnic intimidation after calling officers who were arresting him Nazis, skinheads, and Gestapo [Joshua Vaughn, The Appeal]
- Will lawyers face punishment for using wrong-gender pronouns in social or bar-association activities? Lambda Legal suggests the answer is yes [Eugene Volokh]
- Using regulation to stomp political adversaries endangers rule of law: Gov. Cuomo directs New York financial regulators to pressure banks, insurers to break ties with National Rifle Association (NRA) [J.D. Tuccille, Reason]
- My opinion piece on New Jersey governor’s scheme for a state bank has now escaped its WSJ paywall; WSJ readers respond [letters] And Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand [D-N.Y.] has now introduced a plan to get the federal government into retail banking via the post office [Daniel Marans, Huffington Post, quoting Gillibrand’s interesting claim that “Literally the only person who is going to be against this is somebody who wants to protect payday lender profits.”] More: Nick Zaiac on postal banking;
- “From Kelo to Starr: Not Merely an Unlawful Taking but an Illegal Exaction” [Philip Hamburger on federal government’s acquisition of a dominant equity stake in AIG]
- Court’s opinion on consumer debt contract formed in New York specifying Delaware law undermines “valid-when-made” doctrine that promotes liquidity of secondary debt market [Diego Zuluaga, Cato]
- “Some blockchains, as currently designed, are incompatible with” the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation [Olga Kharif, Bloomberg via Tyler Cowen]
- And if you’re interested in the legal constraints holding back the extension of banking services to the cannabis industry, tune in to a Cato conference on that subject May 10.
An unusually strong New Jersey law, the Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Notice and Warranty Act (“TCCWNA”), “prohibits consumer documents from containing provisions that violate clearly established rights or responsibilities,” whether or not the business that distributed the document then acts on the provision. Businesses that imprudently employ standard-form contracts available from office-supply stores, for example, may violate the law if the language deviates (as it often will) from more pro-consumer New Jersey doctrines. The law carries a $100 per-infraction fee that can be multiplied to large numbers applied across a range of transactions. A cottage industry of entrepreneurial suit-filing has grown up under the statute but now, in the case of Spade v. Select Comfort, a unanimous New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that only consumers who have suffered actual damage can sue under the law, though damages can be non-monetary. The decision is likely to cut back on entrepreneurial uses of the law and in particular class actions where no evidence can be shown that a document’s improper wording harmed many members of a putative class. [Ryan P. Phair and Emily K. Bolles (Hunton & Williams), Lexology; earlier here, here, and related]
When New Jersey repealed its requirement for periodic auto safety inspections, there was no statistically meaningful rise in the frequency of accidents due to car failure, or to road fatalities whether linked to car failures or not. Alex Tabarrok: “It’s time to ditch the annual safety inspection and either move to no inspection system at all or like Maryland move to a system that requires safety inspections only at transfer. I’m not convinced that is necessary either, since at transfer is precisely when the buyer will run an inspection anyway, but at least that system would reduce the number of inspections significantly.” [Marginal Revolution, New York Post editorial; Alex Hoagland and Trevor Woolley]
“Politicians Want to Start a Bank. What Could Go Wrong?” is the title of my new Wall Street Journal op-ed about New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s very bad idea.
The article will be paywalled for many, but you can read some of the journalistic coverage of the bank issue: Matt Friedman, Politico, Samantha Marcus/NJ Advance Media. Some articles I cite in my piece along with relevant links/research: The Economist on German Landesbanken, Aaron Fernando, The Progressive (citing German example, and noting current campaigns for city-owned banks in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and other cities); Erica Jedynak letter, MyCentralJersey.com (“A 2011 report based on research provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and other state agencies recommended the Massachusetts legislature not pursue the idea”).
Research on public-owned banks across the world suggests [that lending is politicized]. A 2002 paper from a Northwestern University economist found that areas with stronger political parties get lower interest rates from public banks. Political interference is likely the reason that public banks have been found to underperform compared to private banks in underdeveloped countries, according to a 2012 paper written by Taiwanese researchers.
On corruption rankings, Transparency.org on Germany; Five Thirty-Eight and Harvard Safra Ethics Center on U.S. states. On New Jersey’s outstandingly bad record for corruption: Olivia Nuzzi, Daily Beast and Philip Bump, Washington Post.
— Virus X (@robertnlee) January 3, 2018
Until this week, Oregon and New Jersey were the only two states to ban self-serve gas stations. Oregon just ended its ban as to rural counties, despite warnings from defenders of the old law that ordinary motorists might not be up to the task of handling pumps without causing fiery infernos or spills. [Brian Manzullo, Detroit Free Press]
As for New Jersey’s ban, Paul Mulshine wrote a column three years ago exploring its unlovely origins. He explains the oft-remarked New Jersey paradox — the state beats its neighbors on gas price even though all pumps are full-service — by noting that the Garden State has had (until recently) a relatively low gas tax and is located amid refineries and import operations, helping keep transport costs down. More: R.J. Lehmann, 2015.
- “Baseball rule” win for Yankees at appeals court: “Court Rules Against Fan in New York State Foul-Ball Case” [Zach Spedden, Ballpark Digest]
- More on the downfall of the $417 million baby powder verdict against Johnson & Johnson [Steven Boranian/Drug & Device Law, Robert H. Wright/WLF, earlier]
- Dear SCOTUS: certification of a class action should be based on admissible evidence [Andrew Grossman, Ilya Shapiro, and Meggan DeWitt on Cato cert amicus brief in Taylor Farms v. Pena]
- What could make the Florida hurricane season even costlier in this year of Irma? Giving contractors legal authority to take over claims under assignment of benefits (AOBs) [Nicole Friedman and Leslie Scism, WSJ]
- “NY’s Scaffold Law Could Add $300 Million Needlessly To The Cost of the Gateway Rail Tunnel Project” [Common Good] Letter: law hinders Habitat for Humanity [Albany Times-Union] More: editorial, Utica Observer-Dispatch;
- C’mon, New Jersey courts, get Daubert and scientific evidence screening right, it’s important considering how many pharmaceutical cases you see [Andis Robeznieks, AMA Wire; Devin Griffin/Drug & Device Law]