Posts Tagged ‘overwarning’

Prop 65’s well-oiled lawyer/activist machine

I’m quoted at length in a piece on why California’s Proposition 65, despite public scorn and outrage over cases like the latest on coffee warnings, is so hard to reform.

“The bias is toward listing chemicals just to be cautious even though they probably are not harmful, counting ‘exposures’ such as poker chips and doorknobs that are unlikely to touched in such a way as to transfer relevant amounts of chemicals to the human body, and concentrations that are almost certainly harmless under likeliest-case rather than worst-case scenarios,” Olson said.

The senior fellow said people will nod in agreement when asked if they should be warned of risks to health.

“But every time I start my car and drive it onto the street I create a risk of hitting you as a pedestrian,” Olson said. “Do you have a right to be warned of that risk? Each time, or only once?”

He added the balance of scientific opinion these days leans toward the view that moderate coffee drinking probably provides overall health benefits and maybe even net anti-cancer benefits.

“The idea of putting a cancer warning on such a product is not merely irrelevant to public health goals, but actively in conflict with them,” Olson said.

Much more at the link [Angela Underwood, Northern California Record] And more on the coffee case as well as Prop 65 generally.

California judge: Prop 65 requires warnings on coffee

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle ruled Wednesday that coffee merchants are liable under Prop 65 for not warning of the possible cancer risks of the beverage. I’ve got a write-up at Cato at Liberty noting that the primary problem is with the law itself, jealously guarded by lawyers who make out well from it. Excerpt:

Almost everyone agrees by now that the over-proliferation of warnings makes it less likely that consumers will pay attention to those few warnings that actually flag notable risks. …

What happens next? As the Post reports, “In addition to the warning signs likely to result from the lawsuit, the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, which brought the lawsuit, has asked for fines as much as $2,500 for every person exposed to the chemical since 2002, potentially opening the door to massive settlements.” And the financial shakedown value here is far from incidental; it’s the very motor that keeps the law going.

Earlier here. See also Michael Marlow, Cato “Regulation,” 2013-14 (study finds “little to no statistical support” that Proposition 65 “significantly influenced cancer incidence in California.”) And a furniture warning via Timothy Lee (link fixed now). More: Omri Ben-Shahar, AICR (evidence that coffee is cancer-protective on net).

Take three steps back from the bell, avoiding any sudden movements

From Bill Childs on Twitter:

“WARNING: Cycling can be dangerous. Bicycle products should be installed and serviced by a professional mechanic. Never BicycleBellLabelmodify your bicycle or accessories. Read and follow all product instructions and warnings including information on the manufacturer’s website. Inspect your bicycle before every ride. Always wear a helmet and use lights at night. Failure to heed any of these warnings may result in serious injury or death.”

Which, as Bill says, seems a bit much for a warning on a bicycle bell.

September 30 roundup

  • “In reality, government officials often have strong incentives to mandate warnings that are misleading or flat-out wrong” [Ilya Somin] George Akerlof and Robert Shiller’s analysis of consumers as fools leaves something to be desired [Alex Tabarrok, New Rambler Review]
  • “The suppression of competition [is] a core driver of skyrocketing inequality.” New Steven Teles article sure to be much discussed touches on occupational entry restriction, land values inflated by municipal regulation, many other topics of interest [National Affairs]
  • “Patterico Prevails: Vexatious Legal Attack on Speech Fails” [Popehat]
  • On the topic of legal remedies against looks-ism, which I wrote about in The Excuse Factory, C-SPAN airs my comments as a counterpoint to Prof. Rhode [video, begins 1:30, more including transcript]
  • “How copyright is killing your favorite memes” [Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post “Intersect”]
  • University of Nebraska/Kearney agrees to pay $140,000 to two former students for not allowing psychological support dogs in dorms [Department of Justice press release]
  • Regulation of child care provision drives up costs, has unintended consequences [Diana Thomas and Devon Gorry, Mercatus]

Pharmaceutical roundup

  • “Report: Government warnings about antidepressants may have led to more suicide attempts” [Washington Post]
  • Celebrity doc known for touting diet-health snake oil told off by Senators known for touting socio-economic snake oil [NBC, Business Week]
  • Physicians’ prescription of drugs off-label may “seem odd to the uninitiated, but it is called the practice of medicine, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with [it].” [Steven Boranian/D&DLaw, Sidley, Steve McConnell/D&DLaw (False Claims Act angle, with much background on that law generally)]
  • “23andMe Closer to FDA Approval” [Matthew Feeney/Cato, earlier]
  • FDA guidance could foreclose most use of tweets, Google ads and other character-limited vehicles in pharmaceutical promotion [Jeffrey Wasserstein/FDA Law Blog, Elizabeth N. Brown/Reason]
  • Average wholesale price (AWP) litigation: “Pennsylvania High Court Joins Judicial Stampede That’s Trampling State Attorneys-General/Plaintiffs’ Bar Alliances” [WLF, Beck, earlier]
  • California infant’s death opens window on lucrative (for some prescribers) intersection of workers’ comp and compounded pharmaceuticals [Southern California Public Radio]

“The Disclosure Debates: Food and Product Labeling”

Last fall the editors of the Vermont Law Review were kind enough to invite me to participate in a discussion on food and product labeling, part of a day-long conference “The Disclosure Debates” with panels on environmental, financial, and campaign disclosure. Other panelists included Christine DeLorme of the Federal Trade Commission, Division of Advertising Practices; Brian Dunkiel, Dunkiel Saunders; George Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety; and David Zuckerman, Vermont State Senator and Farmer, Full Moon Farm.

Aside from my own segment above, you can find links to the other segments here. Plus: Environmental Health (VLS) summary of above panel.

Deck the halls, but first read the cord

XmasTreeWarnings
“I guess you can never be too careful with your Christmas lights.” — @doctorwes

A few other highlights of Overlawyered Christmas coverage past:

  • Claim: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” promotes bullying [2011]
  • “Cease this shouting!” cried Grinch, “From all Yule din desist!” But he’d Moved To The Nuisance and so, case dismissed [Art Carden 2010, original link]
  • “Law firm offers divorce vouchers for Christmas” [U.K., 2009]
  • Under the Christmas tree? Authorities penalize child care center in North Carolina after discovering plastic soldier figures on the premises, “reflect stereotyping and violence.” [2001]
  • “As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought…….The two turtle doves’… romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are therefore eliminated.” [“Restructuring at the North Pole,” 1999]