Posts Tagged ‘toxic torts’

Environment roundup

  • Behind a YouTube anti-fracking video labeled “Hydraulic Fracturing turns gardenhose to flamethrower,” there’s quite a story [Star-Telegram]
  • BPA-endocrine alarms: “Why Nick Kristof’s Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Us All” [Trevor Butterworth, Forbes]
  • Incy wincy spider shuts down $15 million construction project [Fox]
  • Regulatory Balkanization of gasoline market worsens price volatility [Morriss/Boudreaux via David Henderson; more, WSJ] Will CAFE sink GM? [Holman Jenkins via same]
  • “After a fire at a massive oil plant in California, residents want compensation. But it’s not that easy” [Above the Law]
  • “Dispatches from the Duke Conference on ‘Conservative Visions of Our Environmental Future'” [Jonathan Adler]
  • Broadway, dark? “The high cost of closing Indian Point” [Lesser & Bryce, NYP]

Colorado: $7.2 million award in claim of “popcorn lung”

The lung disorder bronchiolitis obliterans has been diagnosed in food processing workers who regularly breathed in the flavoring chemical diacetyl, but this was a claim of consumer, not occupational, exposure; Wayne Watson’s physician testified that he suffered lung damage after years of regularly consuming microwave popcorn. The jury found the Kroger supermarket chain as well as the popcorn manufacturer liable for not warning of the potential problem. “An attorney for the defendants had told jurors that Watson’s health problems were from his years of using dangerous chemicals as a carpet cleaner.” [Reuters]

Erin Brockovich in Fridley, Minn.

Reader Dave Westheimer writes, regarding a news item that we briefly noted earlier:

Guess who’s coming to the suburb where I live? Erin Brockovich. She’s here and in the news.

Of course she’s not hearing “Fridley’s concerns” — she’s hearing the concerns of novices who’ve never heard of the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy.

FWIW, “one of the worst Superfund sites in the country” refers to the old FMC plant in the southwest corner of the city by the Mississippi, well away from the closest residential neighborhood and more likely to affect Minneapolis than Fridley, if it affected anything at all. Fridley’s biggest industry is Medtronic’s headquarters. It’s a typical postwar residential suburb, mostly built in the 50s and 60s.

The neighborhood newspaper ran what I thought was a fawning article about her appearance here, written by an intern, along with a separate article about how the intern who wrote the article was so excited to meet her. So much for objectivity.

As the city’s water report (PDF) says, Fridley has never been in violation of the cancer causing agents standards in the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pour myself another tall glass of city water.

Claim: smart meter wi-fi caused ear infection

A local woman says wi-fi emanations from new “smart” parking meters in Santa Monica, Calif., have caused her various health injuries including tightness in her neck and an ear infection that took antibiotics to heal. She wants $1.7 billion: “I know it seems a little big,” [Denise] Barton said, “but they can’t do things that affect people’s health without their consent. I think that’s wrong.” [Santa Monica Daily Press, LAist]

Environment roundup

  • “A loose coalition of eco-anarchist groups is increasingly launching violent attacks on scientists.” [Nature]
  • “Jury Blames ‘Erin Brockovich’ Doc For His Patient’s Illness, Not Defendants” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]
  • “Judge declines to toss Chevron RICO case against lawyer over $18bln award” [Reuters, Folkman/Letters Blogatory] Videos tell Chevron side of story in hotly disputed Ecuador Lago Agrio dispute [“Amazon Post“]
  • NGOs’ bag of tricks: Greenpeace helped pack International Whaling Commission thirty years ago by paying dues for small states to join [Skodvin/Andresen via Spiro/OJ]
  • Distinguishing the areas of clear vision from the blind spots in Chicago Tribune’s flameproofing series [Coyote, earlier]
  • Wilderness regs prevent town of Tombstone, Ariz. from rebuilding water pipes destroyed in fire [Daily Caller]
  • Look! Over that factory! It’s a plume of (shudder) … water vapor! [Coyote]
  • National Science Foundation grantee: “Tort actions may impel industry to … redesign chemical molecules … to be less toxic.” [David Oliver, Ted Frank]

The twitching teens of LeRoy, N.Y.

Susan Dominus explores an outbreak of tics and other neurological symptoms among teenage girls in a town near Rochester, as hyped on outlets like “Today” and CNN. Roving Tort-Finder Erin Brockovich, who parachuted into the town to blame possible chemical spills, does not come off well either: “Things only go wrong,’ [King’s College London epidemiologist Simon] Wessely wrote in 1995, ‘when the nature of an outbreak is not recognized, and a fruitless and expensive search for toxins, fumes and gases begins.’” [NY Times Magazine]

Brockovich meets Tourette’s in Leroy, N.Y.

“In non-Western countries, demons and witchcraft are still sometimes blamed for outbreaks of fainting and fits [PDF]. Pollution, poisoning, chemical weapons, and other environmental concerns are dominant in the West (a fact that makes Brockovich something of a mass hysteria machine). Some bloggers are now claiming that the upstate New York girls fell ill because of the HPV vaccine or fracking.” [Ruth Graham, Slate]

January 31 roundup

  • Latest of periodic Towers Watson (formerly Towers Perrin/Tillinghast) surveys: tort costs fell in 2010 excluding oil spill liability [Towers Watson]
  • “Will Newt Neuter the Courts?” [James Huffman, Defining Ideas] Obama’s high court appointees are fortunately friendlier toward civil liberties than he is [Steve Chapman]
  • Unanimous Cal Supremes: companies not legally responsible for other companies’ asbestos products used as replacement for theirs [Cal Biz Lit, Jackson, Beck, Mass Tort Prof]
  • Claim: jurors considered policy implications of verdict and you can’t have that [On Point; defense verdict in Baltimore, Maryland school-bullying case]
  • Airfare display mandate: “‘Protecting’ Consumers from the Truth About the Cost of Government” [Thom Lambert, TotM]
  • Critical assessment of AP-backed new copyright aggregator “NewsRight” [Mike Masnick] Promises not to be “Righthaven 2.0” [Cit Media Law]
  • Restatement (Third) of Torts drafters vs. Enlightenment scientific views of causation [David Oliver in June]

June 23 roundup