Posts Tagged ‘roundups’

Stories that shouldn’t get away, part II

Three cases of catastrophic injury to children, three defendants asked to pay:

  • Freak accident in school parking lot “foreseeable”. According to a Los Angeles jury, it was reasonably foreseeable that an ailing parent driving a disability-converted van with hand-controlled accelerator and brakes would lose control of her vehicle and jump the curb at full speed, killing first-grader Jordan Sandels in the company of her father at Encino’s Lanai Road Elementary School in 2005. Aside from the many and baffling supposed lessons of the resulting $10 million verdict for school grounds planners (always build lots big enough that parents won’t have to park off-site?), a highlight was the jury’s finding that the parent behind the wheel was only 20 percent to blame and shouldn’t have to pay anything [LA Times via Handel on the Law]
  • Destroy evidence, then win $41 million from second defendant. Joseph Provenza, 13, was catastrophically burned in 2001 when he “jumped a 15-year-old Yamaha motorcycle resulting in a crash and post-crash fire” [Bowman & Brooke summary] The plaintiff’s father, himself a plaintiff in the suit, later admitted that he willfully removed and discarded a bypass wire from the motorcycle before Yamaha’s investigators could see it because he thought the evidence of modification might interfere with his son’s lawsuit, and either he or members of the legal team removed or modified other relevant equipment on the vehicle. A judge dismissed the claims against Yamaha, citing willful and pervasive spoliation of evidence as well as lack of candor in discovery responses on the issue. The family then proceeded to trial against a Wisconsin clothing manufacturer which it argued should have made its garments flame-retardant because they were promoted for use with motorcycles, although federal law did not and does not require flame retardance in such garments. The jury awarded $41 million; a defense lawyer says the jurors were never allowed to learn about the hot-wire modification, though it was the cause of the accident, or the subsequent spoliation. [Las Vegas Review-Journal, Janesville (Wis.) Gazette; Carcione law firm (also of Romo v. Ford Motor fame)]. More: BrooklynWolf.
  • Schools sometimes responsible for injuries after school hours.The South Main Street Elementary School in Pleasantville, N.J. had long preannounced a 1:30 p.m. early dismissal on a certain day in 2001. Third-grader Joseph Jerkins was allowed to leave, in accord with school policy for youngsters whose families had not requested that they be released only into adult custody. Two hours and twenty minutes later, while playing with a friend, Joseph ran into the street and was struck by a car and horribly injured. The family said it had not been adequately informed of the early dismissal. A trial court dismissed the suit, but the New Jersey Supreme Court, announcing a new duty of care for school districts, ruled that the family could sue on the grounds that the school’s policies should have restrained the boy from leaving. The district settled for $6 million. [AP/; NJ Principals and Supervisors Association]
Our first installment of stories from 2007 that merited coverage but slipped away is here.

January 4 roundup

  • Housekeeping service in Florida proclaims, “We Speak English”. So will they get sued? [Smerconish/Phila. Daily News]
  • Update: Dad who long ago walked out on his family won’t get chunk of estranged son’s $2.9 million 9/11 fund benefit [NY Post (link fixed now); earlier]
  • Did Illinois state’s attorneys advise Marine sergeant complaining of car vandalism that there wasn’t much point trying to recover from the suspected offender since he was a lawyer? [Blackfive via Zincavage and many readers; Kass/Tribune] And what kind of trouble might the lawyer be in if he suggested slipping the repair costs along to an insurer? [Patterico commenters, Goldberg/NRO Corner correspondent] More: Bainbridge.
  • Not long after American Lawyer pronounces the demise of securities class actions, we learn they may be back on a cyclical upswing [August TAL; new Stanford Clearinghouse]
  • If rising tide of outrage leads to abolition of peremptory challenges, many lawyers won’t have anyone to blame but themselves [Reed]
  • Brooklyn judge’s presenting of box of candy to plaintiff among grounds for reversal of $14 million brain-damaged infant verdict [NYLJ]
  • Yet more health privacy madness: “HIPAA is adversely affecting our ability to conduct biomedical research” [Reuters on JAMA study via Kevin MD; relatedly, Karvounis/HealthBeat]
  • People kept tearing down no-swimming signs at much-used park in Bellingham, Wash., and you know what’s going to happen next without our having to tell you [AP/Seattle Times]
  • Two Illinois judges in drunk-driving accident that broke other driver’s leg draw mere reprimand with “no consequences other than public embarrassment” [Post-Dispatch]
  • Suit against Avvo lawyer-rating suit dismissed on First Amendment grounds [Seattle Times, Post-Intelligencer; earlier]
  • Saves her friend’s life, then sues her [seven years ago on Overlawyered]

January 3 roundup

  • Surely not something 007 would do: judge reproaches Sean Connery and opponent neighbor over “slash-and-burn” litigation tactics in long-running townhouse dispute [NYLJ, NYTimes]
  • Famed attorney Mark Geragos suing San Francisco Zoo on behalf of tiger maulees [AP/KPIX, Mercury-News, SFist]
  • Clients, lawyers who formerly worked for it have many complaints ethical and otherwise about heavy-advertising San Diego law firm Pacific Law Center [Union-Tribune via San Diego Injury Board]
  • Who knew the demanding workload of law students and federal-judge clerks left any time for (allegedly) tying up, robbing and torturing boyfriends? [Reynolds; Lat]
  • The Scruggs et al prosecution continues to evolve and develop, but at present we haven’t much to add to the energetic threesome of sites that have been leading the news hunt [Rossmiller, Lotus/Folo, YallPolitics]
  • UK man wrongly accused of rape will get public compensation, but minus a fee for bed and board at the prison [Daily Mail]
  • Under Louisville’s new smoking ban, business owners are required to call cops if customers refuse to stop smoking inside [Catallaxy]
  • Garry Wise takes issue with our comments on free speech in Canada, but we may be talking past each other since we never got to the question whether the proper fix is a motion by columnist Steyn to quash the dangerous inquiry [Wise law blog]
  • Injury suits filed against little kids? “It does happen.” More on the Scott Swimm ski-collision case [L.A. Times/Chicago Tribune; earlier]
  • Hope he’ll reconsider: David Giacalone says he’s weary of the legal-ethics beat he’s covered so well, and intends to leave it behind [f/k/a]

Stories that shouldn’t get away, part I

A guestblogger will be joining us momentarily, and I’ll be posting less over the holidays. Meanwhile, my pipeline is still backed up with items from the past year that deserve a more serious treatment than a hurried roundup mention permits. Here are four of them:

  • More docs moving to Texas? Watch out, they must be quacks! After the New York Times reported that doctors seemed to be showing fresh interest in practicing in Texas since its enactment of litigation reforms, our frequent sparring partner Eric Turkewitz of New York Personal Injury Law Blog quickly countered by noting that disciplinary actions in the state are way up, and — quite a jump here — concluded with a suggestion that the newly arriving docs must be causing quality problems. Among bloggers who took this idea and ran with it: Phillip Martin of Burnt Orange Report. Then Prof. Childs had to spoil the fun by asking whether the doctors being disciplined were in fact newcomers to the state and found that, to judge by an initial sampling, no, they’re not. And the medical blogs then knocked the remaining props out from under the reform-made-care-worse theory by linking to coverage documenting how the increase in disciplinary actions reflected the Texas medical board’s concerted recent effort to get tough on doctors — too tough, said many critics. In other words, the Texas medical profession was doing exactly what many skeptics demanded it do — submit to stricter oversight in exchange for liability reform — and now that very submission was being cited as if it proved that standards of care were slipping.
  • Uninjured car owners can sue GM over seatbacks. No class members claim to have been injured, but Maryland appeals court allows class action over cost of replacing allegedly weak seatbacks in GM cars. [DLA Piper; opinion, PDF; Maryland Courts Watcher]
  • The litigious stylings of Jonathan Lee Riches. We mostly ignore litigants who file handwritten pleadings from prison cells complaining of obviously hallucinated events, but there’s no getting around it: the South Carolina convict has become a pop culture phenomenon with his scores of lawsuits against sports figures, President Bush, Perez Hilton, William Lerach and Elvis Presley over a host of imagined legal injuries. Some of the coverage: The Smoking Gun, Dreadnaught, Deadspin, Justia, Above the Law. He even has several Facebook fan groups.
  • Taxpayers and vaccine-compensation lawyers. Under the federally enacted vaccine-compensation program, notes Kathleen Seidel, “a petitioner who brings a claim in good faith is entitled to reimbursement for reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, regardless of whether the claim is successful.” (Forget about loser-pays; this ensures that taxpayer-defendants can win but pay the other side’s fees anyway.) What sorts of bills do you think attorneys file for reimbursement under those circumstances? Yep, very optimistic bills, in which they expect taxpayers to shell out for their attendance at “advocacy group meetings, and attendance at a conference of trial lawyers representing autism plaintiffs”. In this case, HHS successfully appealed (PDF) an order that it pay the fees. Seidel’s Neurodiversity blog offers a remarkable trove of insight into litigation relating to autism causation theories, vaccines and thimerosal, and this post is no exception. (Updated to include links.)
More stories that shouldn’t get away in another post to come.

December 18 roundup

  • “Of all the body parts to Xerox!” Another round of stories on efforts to reduce liabilities from office holiday parties [ABA Journal, Above the Law, and relatedly Megan McArdle]
  • New edition of Tillinghast/Towers Perrin study on insurance costs of liability system finds they went down last year, which doesn’t happen often [2007 update, PDF]
  • Vermont student sues Burger King over indelicate object found in his sandwich; one wonders whether he’s ruled out it being a latex finger cot, sometimes used by bakery workers [AP/]
  • Good discussions of “human rights commission” complaints against columnist Mark Steyn in Canada [Volokh, David Warren and again @ RCP, Dan Gardner; for a contrasting view, see Wise Law Blog]
  • Having trousered $60-odd million in fees suing Microsoft in Minnesota and Iowa antitrust cases, Zelle Hofmann now upset after judge says $4 million in fees should suffice for Wisconsin me-too action [Star-Tribune, PheistyBlog]
  • Australian rail operator will appeal order to pay $A600,000 to man who illegally jumped tracks, spat at ticket inspectors, hurt himself fleeing when detained [Herald Sun]
  • Lawyers’ fees in Kia brake class action (Oct. 29, Oct. 30) defended by judge who assails honesty of chief defense witness [Legal Intelligencer]
  • Who deserves credit for founding Facebook? Question is headed for court [02138 mag]
  • Yes, jury verdicts do sometimes bankrupt defendants, as did this $8 million class action award against a Kansas City car dealer [KC Star, KC Business Journal]
  • Dispute over Burt Neuborne’s Holocaust fees is finally over, he’ll get $3.1 million [NY Sun]
  • So long as we’re only fifty votes behind in the race for this “best general legal blog” honor, we’re going to keep nagging you to vote for Overlawyered [if you haven’t already]

December 14 roundup

  • This tale of a class-action settlement over male, uh, enhancement products sure looks like a parody, and yet…. Please let it be a parody [Magill/DirectMag, Levine/CircleID,]
  • Big law firm partners say million a year really isn’t enough to keep up social status in Manhattan or Silicon Valley [ABA Journal]
  • Clerical error results in Disney characters’ getting subpoenaed in Italian criminal case [USA Today]
  • We’ve slipped to second place in this Blawg 100 contest thing, don’t you like us? [vote here]
  • Update on Miami’s fire-fee scandal (Sept. 19): law firm of Adorno & Yoss, which once sought $2 million fee, will now pay taxpayers $1.6 million; bar probe continues [Miami Herald, Florida Masochist]
  • Wife had begged him not to go kite-surfing in Long Island Sound in winter, but still sues town over its failure to warn against taking such risks [Conn. Post]
  • “I don’t do any medmal,” lawyer hastens to make known as he’s being stitched up in ER [GruntDoc]
  • Very expensive speech: “beyond cruel” shock-jock comments ridiculing Albany, N.Y. burn victim end in $1 million settlement, spoliation also raised as issue [ABA Journal]
  • Hassle of dealing with regs in charming Old Town Alexandria is one that only chain outlets may be up to shouldering [Balko, Reason]
  • Turkish lawyer sues Italian soccer team, deems its “Crusader-style” red crosses “offensive to Muslim sensibilities” [Times Online, UK]
  • Plaintiff’s lawyers tend to throw the most opulent holiday parties in Texas, but our readers knew that already [Houston Chronicle via Lat]
  • Two men shot in suspected drug deal win $1.7 million in negligent-security suit against hotel [eight years ago on Overlawyered]

December 10 roundup

December 5 roundup

  • Fear of “retribution” and “legal action” among reasons docs don’t report hazardous colleagues and conditions [WaPo on new Annals of Internal Medicine study]
  • Judge rips Milberg for high Chiron fee proposal, questions Skadden’s conflict [The Recorder]
  • Felony murder rule is an American exception with results that can be hard to defend [Liptak, NYT]
  • UK: “Man broke girlfriend’s leg in damages fraud” [Times Online]
  • Often driven by defensive medicine, CAT scans may pose their own risks to patients who undergo them [Newsday on NEJM study]
  • Commentator is glad post offices are lawyering up their Operation Santa gift programs [McDonough, CalLaw LegalPad; earlier; possibly related]
  • Quebec judge nixes suit by Concordia University mass murderer against former colleagues [Canadian Press]
  • Update on Kennewick man and Indian-remains legislation [WashTimes; earlier]
  • Magic of compound interest? Uncollected 1977 award for victim of Evel Knievel attack said to have mounted by now to $100 million [AP/Yahoo]
  • School discipline now a heavily lawyer-driven affair [Charleston Post & Courier courtesy Common Good]
  • Complaint: Cleveland housing authority should have done more renovations to accommodate extremely obese tenant [four years ago on Overlawyered]

December 3 roundup

  • Drunk driving by St. Louis Blues hockey player Rob Ramage killed his passenger in a Toronto crash, and now Missouri verdict puts car rental company on hook for $9.5 million [Post-Dispatch]
  • Consumers trust lawyer ads in phone book, or at least so say the Yellow Pages people [WV Record]
  • Latest flip in marine-mammal litigation: Ninth Circuit orders curbs on Navy’s sub-hunting sonar [L.A. Times; earlier coverage]
  • More on colorful Judith Regan suit against News Corp. [Carr, NYT]
  • Lesson for law-firm “foreclosure mills”: don’t file the action before your client actually acquires the instrument being sued on [ABA Journal]
  • John Fund on Salvation Army and English in the workplace litigation [WSJ/OpinionJournal; earlier]
  • Comstock Act for the web is one of departed Rep. Hyde’s less happy legacies [McCullagh, CNet]
  • A view from Boston on Lone Star State med-mal reforms [Globe]
  • Shaker abstinence, cont’d: FDA mulls petition to crack down on salt in foods, and AMA has joined busybody brigade [L.A. Times; earlier, see also]
  • Texas tort tycoon John O’Quinn probably isn’t winning prizes these days from historic preservationists [ABA Journal]
  • Run for your lives! Toxic chocolate! [six years ago on Overlawyered]

November 28 roundup

All-medical edition:

  • Shocker for New York docs: possible assessment of $50K apiece to make up losses at nonprofit med-mal insurer [White Plains Journal-News Chamber reprint]
  • Dr. Ray Harron, a central figure in furor over mass asbestos and silicosis screenings, seems rather hard to locate at the moment, though he does have a lawyer speaking on his behalf [NY Times, WV Record]
  • Another push to raise the threshold of liability for emergency room care in Arizona [AZ Business Gazette]
  • End run around Roe? Some state legislatures attaching sweeping new tort liabilities to the provision of abortions [Childs]
  • Three nominees for worst-founded medical lawsuit, lamentably unsourced [Medical Justice]
  • Spokane psychiatrist shouldn’t have engaged in romantic (though not sexually consummated) dalliance with forty-ish patient; that much is clear. But should she now get cash? [AP/Seattle Times]
  • “Baby falls to floor during home delivery, mom sues hospital for too-early discharge” [SE Texas Record]
  • A sensitive subject: malpractice and doctors’ suicides [KevinMD, a while back]
  • “If the ‘loser pays’ system is so bad, why do most other countries keep it around instead of switching over to an ‘Americanized’ system of tort law?” [WhiteCoat Rants]
  • Hospital, ambulance service among those sued after fatal crash of NFL’s Derrick Thomas [seven years ago on Overlawyered]