- Bad lawsuit on bad theory: “Cantor Fitzgerald, American Airlines Settle 9/11 Lawsuit” [Financial Advisor mag]
- New Jersey court: only golfer, not his companions, responsible for yelling “Fore” to warn of errant ball [TortsProf]
- “The New Lawsuit Ecosystem: Trends, Targets and Players,” 158-page report for Chamber of Commerce, topics include emerging areas of litigation (food class actions, data privacy); also lists leading plaintiff’s lawyers in various areas [Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform]
- “Eleventh Circuit Stacks Deck Against Defendants in Never-Ending Engle Product Liability Litigation” [Cory Andrews, WLF]
- Beck vs. Prof. Chemerinsky on prescription drugs and pre-emption [Drug and Device Law]
- “Outrageous Court Decisions: O’Brien v. Muskin Corp.” [Schearer; above-ground pool dive defect claim, New Jersey 1983]
- New York rejects medical monitoring cause of action [Behrens]
I’ve got a new post up at Cato at Liberty on three important decisions for the business community decided today at the Supreme Court, two on employment law and one on pharmaceutical pre-emption: Vance v. Ball State on liability for supervisorial harassment, University of Texas Southwestern v. Nassar on mixed-motive retaliation, and Mutual v. Bartlett (more) on design default preemption for a generic drug. (& welcome Coyote, Point of Law, SCOTUSBlog, Taegan Goddard/WonkWire readers)
A WSJ editorial and news coverage have called attention to a case from the Alabama high court holding Pfizer liable for a drug it didn’t produce, namely a generic knockoff of its acid reflux drug Reglan. Michael Greve agrees that it’s daffy to allow such suits, but traces the problem to the U.S. Supreme Court’s popular (at least with the media) 2009 decision in Wyeth v. Levine, okaying state tort actions over federally approved labels — and cautions that any victories for regulated business on the issue of federal-state preemption tend to be temporary at best. More: Coyote, FedSocBlog.
After the quarter-century disgrace that is Proposition 65 litigation — run by and for lawyers’ interests, with no discernible benefit to the health of the citizenry — you’d think California voters would have learned a thing or two. But unless poll numbers reverse themselves, they’re on the way to approving this fall’s Proposition 37, ostensibly aimed at requiring labeling of genetically modified food, whose main sponsor just happens to be a Prop 65 lawyer. I explain in a new piece at Daily Caller. More coverage: Western Farm Press; Hank Campbell, Science 2.0; Ronald Bailey, Reason (& Red State).
More: defenders of Prop 37 point to this analysis (PDF) by economist James Cooper, arguing that 37 is drafted more narrowly than 65 in ways that would avert some of the potential for abusive litigation. And from Hans Bader: would the measure be open to challenge as unconstitutional, or as federally preempted?
Under the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetics Act (FDCA), drugs sold in the United States require an FDA-approved label—the elaborate, incomprehensible (to laymen) sheets you find inside every package. Every sentence is dictated by FDA requirements, down to the font and letter size. Violations of these requirements, and the sale of drugs without the label or a different label, are subject to very severe penalties. The statutory scheme operates to the explicit exclusion of any state regulatory (administrative) scheme. What Wyeth asks us to believe is that state juries may nonetheless hold drug manufacturers liable, for accidents caused by use in direct contravention of the federal label, on the grounds that the federally required label was inadequate. Meticulous compliance with federal requirements doesn’t preempt “failure to warn” liability under state common law.
James Beck explains and Orac has some strong views as well (“I’m afraid Justice Sotomayor borders on the delusional when she blithely proclaims that courts are so good at efficiently disposing of meritless product liability claims.”) More: Kathleen Seidel and footnotes.
P.S. But preemption does not carry the day in an automotive case, Williamson v. Mazda.
- Jack Park on Bruesewitz v. Wyeth vaccine preemption case at Supreme Court [Heritage]
- Incidentally happening to assure lawyers more access to work: Harvard’s Tribe devises “access to justice” initiatives for Obama administration [BLT]
- New Haven cops accidentally photograph themselves deleting video of an unlawful arrest [Balko]
- How elite law culture miscomprehends the military [Second Circuit chief judge Dennis Jacobs speech at Federalist Society convention, YouTube]
- “Later, Bad Lawyer”: a blogger heads to prison [Greenfield]
- Reform medical liability? Depends on how badly you want neurosurgeons’ services [Michael Lavyne, NYDN]
- “Cab-rank principle” in legal ethics explained [Lawyers’ Lawyer, Australia; via Legal Ethics Forum]
- $3.5 million award to unsuccessful suicide-while-in-custody is one of long series of such cases [six years ago on Overlawyered]
- Gulf spill fund flooded with dubious claims [Fred Smith, CEI]
- If these cases go forward, it will make it economically unfeasible for anyone to make vaccines in this country” [NYT quoting Beck on Bruesewitz v. Wyeth preemption case now before SCOTUS]
- Barney Frank’s evolving views on Fannie/Freddie oversight [Mankiw, Globe]
- $5.2 million legal bills to Michael Jackson estate [TMZ]
- Frederick, Maryland pizzeria owner asked to pay $200K for unsolicited faxes [Gazette; my WSJ take four years ago]
- UK: “Migration Watch” may sue critic [David Allen Green via Richard Wilson, more]
- Parody of cheesy law firm promotes TV series “Breaking Bad” [“Better Call Saul“, autoplays video/audio]
- N.J.: “Drowns while fleeing cops, family sues for $50M” [five years ago on Overlawyered]
As we have seen in earlier coverage, automakers will get sued over some kinds of accident if they decide to use laminated glass, and sued over others if they decide to use nonlaminated glass. Now Ted at Point of Law has details of another case, this one against Ford, in which the South Carolina Supreme Court held that NHTSA regulations resolved the issue at hand and should not be second-guessed by tort litigation. Unfortunately, as Ted notes, the trial bar and its allies in the Obama administration are doing their best to weaken the preemption defense, which would open up maximum scope for sued-if-you-do, sued-if-you-don’t litigation of this sort.
- Federal preemption of state law: compare and contrast illegal-immigration control with auto and drug design [Ted and Carter at PoL; upcoming (Jul. 21) Cato panel discussion in DC]
- Authorities in Scotland let Lockerbie bomber off on doctor’s note. How’d that work out? [Bainbridge]
- Pay for your rescue: “French tourists may be billed if high-risk trips go wrong” [Guardian]
- Must revoke honorific California-state-rock status of serpentine! It contains asbestos! [L.A. Times “Booster Shots” via Amy Alkon]
- “Zero tolerance for bullying” — nice slogan, but think before endorsing [Helene Guldberg, Daily Mail via Skenazy]
- “The New Black Panther Case: A Conservative Dissent” [Abigail Thernstrom, NRO; earlier]
- $113,800 in damages in pregnancy-bias suit against Lucasfilm, but demand for attorney’s fees could reach $1.2 million [SF Chronicle]
- Trial lawyers fear being cut out of BP TransOcean pie [WSJ Law Blog, Bainbridge, Calif. Civil Justice]