- Hilton Head dispute over pet turkeys leads to $4.25 million verdict [Island Packet via Lowering the Bar]
- “Lucasfilm lightsaber legal threat letter sells for $3,850” [BoingBoing, earlier]
- Raw milk: “If The Government Says That It’s Not About Freedom, Then It’s Just NOT” [Ken at Popehat vs. L.A. Times]
- Dell “failed to stress” accounting disclosure. SEC: that will be $100 million [TJIC]
- Dodd-Frank dubbed “Lawyers’ and Consultants’ Full Employment Act of 2010″ [Mark Perry, WSJ Law Blog]
- “Did liberal judges invent the standing doctrine? An Empirical Study of the Evolution of Standing, 1921-2006” [Ho/Ross, Stanford Law Review]
- Office of Connecticut AG Blumenthal doesn’t emerge with glory from fertility doctor case [Pesci]
- Massachusetts high court tosses 125-year-old rule: owners now face wider liability for snow/ice hazards [Globe]
Commenter “Anonymous Attorney” writes:
Part of the litigation explosion includes every other person with a back injury claim being sent for invasive “fusion” or other drastic spinal surgery. Of course, defendants, often through insurance, foot the bill for these very expensive procedures. In my time I saw dozens of cases involving, say, a 5-mph fender bender that resulted in these surgeries. It was almost as if plaintiff attorneys and doctors worked together to push them through because they would multiply damages 5-fold for the lawyer, and of course the doctor gets paid handsomely, too. The cost of some surgeries can approach $100,000. A few doctors were known for never seeing a patient who didn’t “need” these surgeries. Courts and juries, of course, take anything a doctor says on its face, and so they’d go along.
A study in JAMA now confirms these are grossly overprescribed and often a really bad idea, medically. Note that this particular study excluded patients admitted as a result of vehicle crashes or with vertebral fractures or dislocations, which nonetheless leaves many other injuries that can fit the pattern: slip-falls, workers comp back strains and so on. I think it’s safe to say that if the JAMA authors ever do a study looking at car crash plaintiffs, they’ll make similar findings.
By the way, the New York Times actually beat JAMA to the punch on some of this, like the doctors owning financial stakes in the surgical equipment companies.
“…[T]he professional body that represents health and safety experts has issued a warning to businesses not to grit public paths – despite the fact that Britain is in the grip of its coldest winter for nearly half a century. … The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents expressed its disappointment that public safety was being neglected because of fears of possible litigation.” A past president of the British Orthopaedic Association said: “If people want to clear pavements, they should just do it. I would have thought it’s a public service and it is a shame we have ended up with a culture where if someone slips, they want to sue someone. People need a bit of grit, in both senses.” [Telegraph] Update: IOSH, the health and safety group, says newspapers misstated its position and that it is indeed in favor of businesses’ gritting public paths (h/t commenter Yossarian).
“I strongly disagree that this case is a classic example of the legal system run amok; in truth, it is a classic example of justice being served,” said David Brill, Florida-based attorney for plaintiff Danny Simpson, a fitness instructor on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Crown who slipped on a wet floor area. [Gene Sloan, USA Today “Cruise Log” blog]
- Online game purveyor Evony threatens to sue UK critic in Australian court [GameSetWatch, Ken at Popehat, Patrick at Popehat]
- 106: number of (counted) cases filed since 2005 that blame errant grapes for slip-fall injuries [ABA Journal]
- Bayonne, N.J.: “Connolly suing county for $1M over job switch” [Jersey Journal; background (city councilman took six months off from job as coordinator of 9/11 emergency call center; “doctors won’t let him go back because it’s too stressful.”)]
- “Lessons from Andrew Sullivan’s pot bust” [Sullum, Reason] More: Patrick at Popehat.
- “The Appraisal Debacle: How Not to Regulate” [Jack Guttentag, Yahoo Finance, via Fountain]
- Bizarre: “Paralegal Guilty in Fake-Libel-Suit Scam That Briefly Won $3M” [ABA Journal]
- Idea for immigration reform: “Let the smart people in”. [Farhad Manjoo, Slate, via Alkon] More: “Free the H-1Bs, free the economy” [Vivek Wadhwa, TechCrunch]
- Academic finds that depending on whom you ask, “It’s not about the money” or maybe it is [Relis, SSRN/Pittsburgh 2007, via Burch, Mass Tort Lit]
The Chicago Zoological Society and Brookfield Zoo, according to Allecyn Edwards’ suit, “recklessly and willfully trained and encouraged the dolphins to throw water at the spectators in the stands making the floor wet and slippery,” among other derelictions. [Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times, Riverside/Brookfield Landmark] More: Lowering the Bar (“based on my extensive Discovery Channel research, most dolphins live in water, either a pool of it or, in some extreme cases, an entire ocean. It appears to be not uncommon for surfaces near these bodies of water to become wet and slippery.”)
Disney, Universal and Busch Entertainment weren’t eager to discuss the details of their legal defense but that didn’t stop the Orlando Sentinel from developing a searchable database of 477 state and federal cases filed against the three companies over the years 2004-08. Most cases were slip-falls, very few went to trial as opposed to settling, and in general the companies seemed to enjoy a fair bit of success both at satisfying patrons before their discontents reached the stage of lawsuits and at defending against the suits if brought.
It seems the companies are also willing to utilize provisions of Florida law that go further in the direction of “loser-pays” than do the laws of many other states:
Plaintiffs who lose sometimes end up footing the theme parks’ legal bills. The theme-park companies can, and do, go after unsuccessful plaintiffs, seeking reimbursement for their legal expenses. Under Florida law, anyone who sues anyone else over a personal injury faces this possibility. If the defendant offers a settlement but the plaintiff rejects it and then loses the case (or, in some circumstances, even if the plaintiff wins the case), the defendant can demand the plaintiff pay the defendant’s legal bills.
Reports of other successful defendants pressing their rights under such provisions in Florida or elsewhere are not exactly common, leaving the question of whether 1) the theme parks are making more aggressive use of the Florida rules than other defendants, 2) plaintiffs who go to trial against theme parks are atypical in some way, or 3) other defendants use the fee-shift provisions too, but we just don’t hear about it much.