A securities lawyer has been advertising for snitches at screenings of Oliver Stone’s new Wall-Street-bashing movie. [NYPost]
- “Family sues for $25 million over death of Virginia Beach homeless man” [Pilot Online]
- New paper proposes voucherizing indigent criminal defense [Stephen Schulhofer and David Friedman, Cato Institute, more]
- “Why the Employee Free Choice Act Has, and Should, Fail” [Richard Epstein, SSRN]
- Free-market lawprofs file brief in class action arbitration case, Concepcion v. AT&T [PoL]
- Enactment of Dodd-Frank law results in flood of whistleblower-suit leads for plaintiff’s bar [Corporate Counsel, ABA Journal] “Will Whistle-Blowing Be Millions Well Spent?” [Perlis/Chais, Forbes]
- Sept. 28 in House: “Congressional Hearing on the Problems of Overcriminalization” [NACDL]
- Abusive-litigation angle seen in NYC mosque controversy [Painter, Legal Ethics Forum]
- Snark alert: Mr. Soros does something nice for Human Rights, and Human Rights does something nice for him [Stoll]
Because even if the government can’t maintain a paid informer on every street corner, it can at least try to maintain one in every family. [Connecticut Law Tribune]
- “Why Do Employers Use FICO Scores?” Maybe one reason is that government places off limits so many of the other ways they might evaluate job applicants [McArdle, Coyote]
- Michael Fumento on $671 million verdict against nursing home in California [Forbes]
- Ted Frank is looking for a pro bono economics expert [CCAF]
- Lester Brickman, “Anatomy of an Aggregate Settlement: The Triumph of Temptation Over Ethics” [Phillips Petroleum explosion; SSRN via Legal Ethics Forum]
- Ice cream trucks return to Niskayuna, N.Y. 34 years after a panic-occasioned ban [Free-Range Kids, Mangu-Ward]
- Galloping trend toward “whistleblower” enactments: this time lawmakers are rushing one on oil workers [Smith/ShopFloor, more, earlier]
- Class action lawsuit filed against Trident Xtra Care gum, marketed as good for one’s teeth [Hoffman/ConcurOp; compare Russell Jackson on Wrigley’s settlement of a class action over Eclipse chewing gum]
- EEOC officials urge employers to ban foul language and swearing in workplace [seven years ago at Overlawyered]
A new report in the WSJ quotes a retiring NHTSA official as saying higher-ups are refusing to release the results of the agency’s staff investigation into charges of Toyota sudden acceleration, because those findings are not unfavorable enough toward the automaker. I’ve got more detail in a new post at Cato at Liberty, and Ted covers the story at PoL.
Meanwhile, proponents of a sweeping expansion of federal auto safety law, one that would thrust Washington much more deeply into the operations of the automotive industry, are really in a hurry — a quick, urgent, must-do-now hurry — to pass it, even though many of its provisions have not had much airing in public debate. An editorial today in the New York Times — a newspaper that almost comically underplayed the revelations earlier this month about the NHTSA probe’s pro-Toyota results — flatly asserts that the Japanese automaker’s vehicles suffer “persistent problems of uncontrolled acceleration,” and demands that the sweeping new legislation “be passed into law without delay.” It’s almost as if they are afraid of what might happen if lawmakers pause to take a closer look.
Among the many other things the new legislation would do is greatly enhance the legal leverage of automaker or dealership employees who adopt the mantle of “whistleblowers”. But if the new revelations from a responsible career employee of NHTSA are ignored, we will have another confirmation that some types of whistleblowing are more welcome in America’s governing class than others. (& welcome Coyote, Gabriel Malor, Death by 1000 Papercuts, Mark Hemingway/D.C. Examiner (“the indispensable Overlawyered blog”), Allen McDuffee/Think Tanked readers).
As I’ve been warning: under the new Dodd-Frank provisions, companies “should expect at least some of their employees to report to the government first rather than relying on internal disclosure mechanisms.” [NYT “DealBook”, earlier here, here, etc.] More: various perspectives on FCPA whistleblower bounties [Koehler]
I’m quoted in this report by Dunstan Prial of FoxBusiness.com and in this report by David Savage of the Los Angeles Times on the large-scale bounty incentives in the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill, which bring us closer to an “informer model of law enforcement” that “encourages people to be disloyal to their friends and co-workers.” Earlier here and here. Other coverage of the whistleblowing provisions: Coyle/NLJ, Koehler/FCPA Professor, Baer/Prawfsblawg.
During the long series of scandals that brought down former tort potentate Richard (“Dickie”) Scruggs, of tobacco-asbestos-Katrina-mass tort fame, no blogger achieved the status of “must” reading more consistently than David Rossmiller of Insurance Coverage Blog. Now Alan Lange of Mississippi site YallPolitics (and co-author of Kings of Tort, a book on the scandal) has posted a massive document dump of emails between the Scruggs camp and its public relations agency, as made public in later litigation (see also). It shows the principals:
* boasting of their success in manipulating major media outlets to inflict bad publicity on the targets of Scruggs’s suits;
* plotting ways of striking back against critics — in particular, Rossmiller — with tactics including going after him with legal process, as well as creating fake commenters and whole blogs to sow doubt about his reporting;
* wondering who they might pay to secure “Whistleblower of the Year” awards, or something similar, for their clients;
* apparently oblivious, just days before the fact, as to how the ceiling was going to cave in on them because of Judge Henry Lackey’s willingness to go to law enforcement to report a bribe attempt from the Scruggs camp.
The whole set of documents, along with Rossmiller’s summary and reaction, really must be seen to be believed. It will easily provide hours of eye-opening reading, both for those who followed the Scruggs affair in particular, and for everyone interested in how ambitious lawyers manipulate press coverage to their advantage — and how they can seek to use the law against their blogger critics. (& welcome readers from Forbes.com and Victoria Pynchon’s “On the Docket” column there).
Bonus: Amy Kolz at American Lawyer (“Serial whistle-blower Joseph Piacentile makes millions helping the government uncover fraud. That’s how the False Claims Act is supposed to work. Or is it?”). And David Walk at Drug and Device Law assails as “dumb,” credulous, and based upon a biased sample a New England Journal of Medicine feature on whistleblowing in the pharmaceutical industry:
The New England Journal of Medicine bills itself as “the world’s most influential medical journal,” and it unquestionably publishes groundbreaking articles about medicine. But all too often in recent years the NEJM has strayed from what it knows — medicine – into what it doesn’t – law and public policy, particularly tort policy. No longer content with editorials encouraging litigation against anyone but doctors, the NEJM now publishes public policy advocacy pieces dressed up as scientific studies, with the implicit suggestion that those studies should get the benefit of the NEJM’s good name in public policy debates.