- “Furniture company founder files federal chair-collapse suit against rival manufacturer” [ABA Journal]
- Wrangling over Pennsylvania tobacco settlement aftermath “a never-ending buffet for attorneys” [Allentown Morning Call] Florida $27 million smoking award upheld [Daily Business Review]
- Autonomous cars and tort liability [Kyle Colonna, Case Western RJLTI/SSRN]
- Asbestos: Death of single fiber theory [Sean Wajert, Pa.] Radiologist Herron says he did nothing wrong [W.V. Record]
Peculiar tale of Russian asbestos-mining town [Foreign Policy] More: Lester Brickman on smokers’ asbestos cases [Chamber-backed LNL]
- From the defense side, Beck chooses favorite and least-favorite drug and medical-device decisions of 2013;
- One can always hope: Will 3-D printing end product liability litigation as we know it? [Nora Freeman Engstrom, SSRN] “Philadelphia Becomes First City To Ban 3D-Printed Gun Manufacturing” [Zenon Evans] Once again on the vacuous but oft-repeated “NRA is a front for gunmakers” line [Tuccille]
Fifteen years after the $246 billion tobacco settlement, an ingenuous National Public Radio retrospective wonders where all the money went, if not to smoking-reduction programs and Medicaid. Absent from the piece, as indications where some of the money went, are phrases like “lawyers’ pockets” or “political contributions,” or names like “Dickie Scruggs.” Speaking of the latter, the Supreme Court has refused to hear the disbarred Mississippi attorney’s appeal of his corruption conviction. AP, reporting this development, calls Scruggs “the architect of the multibillion dollar tobacco lawsuits of the 1990s.”
Funny thing, though: its state members aren’t exactly financially impartial about the matter. [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]
You know, the money that was said to be so vital to fund “tobacco control” programs. What percentage of the state of Massachusetts’s haul (more than $250 million a year from legal settlement proceeds, aside from outright taxes) do you think actually gets spent on such things? Guess, then click through to my new Cato post.
The New York Times reports on some experienced plaintiffs’ lawyers who are hoping to rip big sums out of food companies alleging mislabeling; one is particularly outraged at a yogurt maker’s use of the “evaporated cane juice” euphemism for sugar. “The lawyers are looking to base damages on products’ sales…. [They] are being selective about where these suits are filed. Most have been filed in California, where consumer protection laws tend to favor plaintiffs.” The Times article, which reads somewhat like a press release for the lawyers involved, flatteringly describes them as “the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco,” though in fact a much larger group of lawyers played prominent roles in the Great Tobacco Robbery of 1998, and no evidence is presented that most of that larger group are taking any interest in the food-labeling campaign. What’s more, the many efforts by the plaintiff’s bar to identify a suitable Next Tobacco in the intervening years have been full of false starts and fizzles, including such mostly-abortive causes as mass litigation over alcohol, slavery reparations, HMOs, and dotcom failures.
The Times does draw the link to Proposition 37, the lawyer-sponsored measure I wrote about last week, which could open up a basis for rich new suits based on failure to correctly affix labeling tracking the sometimes-fine distinctions between genetically modified foodstuffs and all others. The text of Proposition 37 proposes to base minimum damages on the total sales volume of a product sold out of compliance, not on any measure of actual harm to consumers (& Thom Forbes, Marketing Daily; Ted Frank, Point of Law). Earlier on Don Barrett here and on Walter Umphrey and Provost Umphrey here and here.
A jury rejects a strained health-outlay recoupment claim. [Mass Tort Lit]
- New Yorker suing boss for $2M because working in New Jersey caused him “anguish” [Biz Insider]
- British lawyer’s libel threats impede UK publication of Paul Offit vaccine book [Respectful Insolence]
- Lawsuit settlement leads to Florida push to curb tobacco discounter [WSJ; background, Jeremy Bulow]
- Allegation: attorneys made personal use of cy pres fund in Armenian genocide settlement [PoL]
- “Telecommuting employees raise special wage and hour issues” [Hyman]
- UK bias cops wonder whether to ban gay-preferred along with gay-not-preferred guesthouses [Ed West, U.K. Telegraph]
- Copyright mills: “Local law firm wants to defend people sued by local law firm” [TBD] Related: [Citizen Media Law, Coleman]
- “Top 10 Reasons to Not Open a Bar or Restaurant in NYC” [NY Enterprise Report]
The Supreme Court should strike down the multistate compact by which state attorneys general carried out the Great Tobacco Heist of a decade ago, argues Hans Bader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute [Washington Times and CEI; earlier here, here]. I’ve discussed the MSA at chapter length in my book The Rule of Lawyers as well as in shorter form here and elsewhere.
P.S. AEI’s Michael Greve analyzes the legal background at Balkinization.
- Notables including Alan Morrison, Richard Epstein, Kathleen Sullivan sign amicus brief urging court review of multistate tobacco settlement [Daniel Fisher/Forbes, Christine Hall/CEI, Todd Zywicki]
- “Congress rediscovers the Constitution” [Roger Pilon, WSJ]
- Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. profiled [Roger Parloff, Fortune]
- When outside investors stake divorce litigants: yes, there are legal ethics angles [Christine Hurt]
- Mexico, long noted for strict gun control laws, has only one legal gun store [WaPo]
- Judge throws out “parasitic” lawsuit piggybacking on Wisconsin drug-pricing settlement [Madison.com]
- Erin Brockovich sequel: Talking back to the Environmental Working Group on dangers of chromium-6 in drinking water [Oliver, Logomasini/CEI]
- “Little white lies” to protect the bar’s image [five years ago on Overlawyered]