- Cohen Milstein contracts with attorney general on opioid claims: “New Hampshire’s fleet of private pirate lawyers” [editorial, Manchester Union-Leader] Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting (TiPAC) legislation would help [Tiger Joyce] New Louisiana AG Jeff Landry cancels Buddy Caldwell contracts with outside law firms [Louisiana Record] States with governor-appointed AGs have seen fewer scandals than the majority in which the post is elected [Phil Goldberg, RCP]
- Judge declines to dismiss Newtown families’ suit against rifle maker Remington Arms, PLCAA notwithstanding [Connecticut Post] Sandy Hook gun lawsuit “almost surely won’t succeed, nor should it.” [USA Today editorial] More: David French [extremely narrow ruling went to jurisdiction only, PLCAA as bar to recovery explicitly not at issue]
- Sen. Dick Durbin, long a guardian of trial lawyer interests, leads opposition to federal bill on transparency in asbestos claims [Illinois Business Daily]
- Judge tosses one wrongful death suit against Porsche over Paul Walker crash, another still pending [EOnline, earlier] GM ignition bellwether trials going exceptionally badly for plaintiffs as judge dismisses all but one claim in spun-out-on-black-ice case [Daniel Fisher]
- Litigation destroys business confidentiality and that’s by design [Steve McConnell, Drug and Device Law]
- “Justice Scalia’s Product Liability Legacy” [Anand Agneshwar and Emily M. May (Arnold & Porter), Lexology]
- After State Farm defeats hailstorm claim, judge threatens to sanction Texas attorney Steve Mostyn [Southeast Texas Record]
Leading tort law scholar Victor Schwartz describes as “pure fiction” Hillary Clinton’s claims, which I’ve discussed before, that the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) gave gun manufacturers a sweeping immunity from litigation. “Putting rhetoric aside, this much is clear: Traditional liability law still applies to gun manufacturers. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act specifically states that makers of firearms are liable for any defect in their products, such as if a gun misfires and harms someone, or if it does not work at all and fails at the moment it is lawfully needed.”
I doubt Scalia has been gone long enough for this to work [Joe Palazzolo, WSJ, on case arguing, e.g., that sale to mother years before Sandy Hook shooting by her son was “negligent entrustment,” in teeth of PLCAA]
- As an experienced lawyer Hillary Clinton surely knows better than to say the things she’s saying about gun lawsuits. [Charles Cooke, thanks for citing my work]
- While we’re at it, Ms. Clinton, there is so much wrong with your contemplated business exit tax [Ira Stoll, New York Sun]
- Metallica vs. cover band cease/desist spat gets patched up quickly [Rockfeed, followup]
- Alas, RICO suits harassing Colorado legal-pot business appear to be prospering [Jacob Sullum/Reason, my Cato take]
- Judge tosses $21.5 million award in that colorful Holland America case we’ve covered [Seattle Times, earlier]
- Labor-rights case from Colombia causing further difficulty for Terry Collingsworth, attorney known for Alien Tort suits [Daniel Fisher, earlier]
- “Harvard Law Review Freaks Out, Sends Christmas Eve Threat Level Over Public Domain Citation Guide” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]
“If you’re not for gun control, at least you should be for gun safety. That’s a line you hear a lot these days.” My response is at Ricochet, and touches on gun locks, the Obama idea of requiring more persons who sell firearms on an occasional or incidental basis to register as gun dealers, the notion of liability insurance mandates for gun owners, and, inevitably, the subject of gun control through litigation against manufacturers and dealers, a topic on which Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has been doing a little backsliding of late.
Related, Charles Cooke in the New York Times “Room for Debate” feature, on “smart gun” myths: “Eventually, all American gun control advocacy descends into science fiction.” “Ban under-25-year-olds from owning guns? Not so fast.” [Eugene Volokh] And this looks like a don’t-miss story from Brian Doherty in the new Reason: “You Know Less Than You Think About Guns” (via David Henderson, who excerpts highlights).
- “Executive Power in the Age of Obama,” podcast interview with Prof. David Bernstein about his new book Lawless, from Encounter Books [Liberty and Law] And so many choices: Bernstein picks his top five acts of Obama administration lawlessness;
- Donations-wise, law firms love Hillary Clinton [Above the Law] as do teachers’ unions [RiShawn Biddle]
- “The Criminalization Of Politics: Is It Happening, And Is It A Problem?” David Lat covers the Federalist Society convention panel [Above the Law]
- Donald Trump’s fondness for legal threats can be traced back to his early association with infamous attorney Roy Cohn [Business Insider video with Michael D’Antonio; June 1989 Spy magazine “Those Who Can, Sue” noting the Trump/Cohn connection; a Steven Brill anecdote about Cohn and Ford Motor that I quoted in my first book] More: @andrewmgrossman on “Ex. 1 to defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion,” Trump on Kasich;
- “Sheldon Silver lied to us” [New York Daily News editorial] More: Lawyers for Silver “don’t plan to call any witnesses. They will instead enter some documents as evidence in their defense, offering a case so minimal that U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni used air quotes when referring to it.” [WSJ]
- Raunchy emails in Kathleen Kane saga: “Pennsylvania’s attorney general seems to have decided that if she has to go, she’s going to take others down with her.” [AP/Yahoo]
- Eternal return? Ex-con reinstalled as mayor of Bridgeport, Ct. played key role in cities-sue-gun-business episode [U.S. News, back then]
The topic came up again at Tuesday’s Democratic debate, and even if Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) hesitated to defend his vote in favor of the gun-lawsuit-curbing Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), I’m happy to defend it for him at Cato. More: David Freddoso, Washington Examiner, Adam Lidgett, International Business Times. Earlier on PLCAA and Hillary Clinton last week and more generally on the law.
P.S. Although some critics of PLCAA describe it as if it were some sort of absolute and across-the-board bar to liability, the law in fact is carefully crafted to permit liability across a range of situations. Taking advantage of one of those exceptions, plaintiffs just obtained a $6 million verdict against a Wisconsin gun dealer that they argued had winked at evidence that a customer was really a “straw buyer” purchasing a firearm for someone else. More: Jacob Sullum; George Leef/Forbes.
Remarks by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have brought an old topic of mine — gunmaker liability, and the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act — back into the news [Brian Doherty, Reason] I last wrote about it in this piece for Power Line Blog two years ago, and the attempt to use coordinated litigation to take down the gun industry, thus achieving gun control by other means, was the subject of a chapter in my 2004 book The Rule of Lawyers.
The new lawsuit by the prominent Connecticut personal-injury firm of Koskoff, Koskoff, and Bieder [news coverage: WSJ Law Blog, CNN] seeks to get around the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act by latching on to the law’s narrow exception for “negligent entrustment.” That’s not a reasonable reading of the law, and I argue in a new post at Cato at Liberty that courts should toss attempts like these to revive gun control through litigation, all the more so because legislative attempts to overturn PLCAA (as I discussed last year) are rightfully going nowhere.
Some out there seem to think it’s okay to use litigation as a way of lashing out against opponents, whether by way of a winning case or not:
Newtown families sue gunmaker for massacre http://t.co/ZmbbAqd0lL good for them even tho may be dismd at least they take a swing at them
— Danny Wash (@danwash) December 15, 2014
More: “The Sandy Hook Families’ Lawsuit Against Bushmaster Will Fail. Here’s Why.” [Bob Adams, Bearing Arms] And Eugene Volokh’s analysis breaks down the provisions of PLCAA and its interaction with the specifics of Connecticut law, concluding that “unless there is some evidence that the defendant manufacturers and gun sellers in this case violated some specific gun regulations (judgments actually made by legislatures), plaintiffs’ claim will go nowhere — and rightly so, I think.” Yet more: Steve Chapman.
I’ve got a guest column up at the widely read PowerLine blog, my first there, countering misleading criticisms of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in the Washington Post and elsewhere. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is trying to rally efforts to gut or repeal PLCAA in line with the critics’ charges, but his efforts have picked up little traction thus far.
P.S. Thanks to Eugene Volokh for the link and kind words (“I generally quite agree with it, except that the title (‘six myths about the law that bans gun lawsuits’ is imprecise — the law bans many lawsuits against gun manufacturers and dealers, but by no means all,” citing the law’s sec. 4(5)(A).)