April 11 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 11, 2008

  • Plenty of reaction to our Tuesday post questioning the NYT school-bullying story, including reader comments and discussion at other blogs; one lawprof passes along a response by the Wolfe family to the Northwest Arkansas Times’s reporting [updated post]
  • Geoffrey Fieger, of jury-swaying fame, says holding his forthcoming criminal trial in Detroit would be unfair because juries there hate his guts [Detroit News]
  • Another Borat suit down as Judge Preska says movie may be vulgar but has social value, and thus falls into “newsworthiness” exception to NY law barring commercial use of persons’ images [ABA Journal]
  • Employer found mostly responsible for accident that occurred after its functionaries overrode a safety device, but a heavy-equipment dealer also named as defendant will have to pay more than 90 percent of resulting $14.6 million award [Bloomington, Ill. Pantagraph]
  • New Mexico Human Rights Commission fines photographer $6600 for refusing a job photographing same-sex commitment ceremony [Volokh, Bader]
  • “Virginia reaches settlement with families of VA Tech shooting victims” [Jurist]
  • Roger Parloff on downfall of Dickie Scruggs [Fortune]
  • Judge in Spain fined heavily and disbarred for letting innocent man spend more than a year in jail [AP/IHT, Guardian]
  • Hard to know whether all those emergency airplane groundings actually improved safety, they might even have impaired it [Murray/NRO "Corner", WSJ edit]
  • “Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value” — tracking down the context of that now-celebrated quote from a Canadian Human Rights Commission investigator [Volokh]
  • Who was it that said that lawyers “need to be held accountable for frivolous lawsuits that help drive up the cost of malpractice insurance”? Hint: initials are J.E. [three years ago on Overlawyered]

{ 7 comments }

1 Supremacy Claus 04.11.08 at 8:59 am

Bottom line on the school bullying matter from your comments section?

http://www.overlawyered.com/2008/04/a-nyt-schoolbullying-story-com.html#comment-16521

Criticism of a special ed student is to become a constitutional tort. School discipline gets lawyerized, and teachers get silenced by the fear of ruinous litigation.

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=632303

2 Jim Collins 04.11.08 at 9:05 am

You have to love our legal system. Someone disables a safety switch and the people who sold them the machine end up paying. I had to give a statement a few months ago concerning a lawsuit over a machine that I helped design. A man lost 3 fingers while trying to replace a part with the machine in operation. That he had to override 4 separate safety interlocks to do this is apparently irrelevant. I’m more than a bit concerned about this since the company being sued downsized me about 10 months ago and my name is in the “Designed By:” box of a lot of blueprints there.

You have to wonder if someone is going to sue American Airlines because they were in a car accident because of a canceled flight. I wouldn’t put it past them.

3 Tom T. 04.11.08 at 11:11 am

Murray’s squib on air travel ignores cause and effect. The reason air travel is safer than car travel is because air travel is subject to greater safety checks. If the airline ignores those safety checks, then the safety advantage of air travel goes away.

4 Matthew 04.11.08 at 12:09 pm

Poor Fieger… it’s puzzling that he’s unable to see that when you’ve devoted your career to making a fool of yourself, being aggressively rude, dishonest, greedy and obnoxious, people generally form a negative opinion of you. He calls it bias, but that word suggests that people are making a decision based on a lack of knowledge rather than what they actually have, which is a working knowledge of the sham he calls a career.

You made your bed, Jeff. Time to lie in it. Here’s to hoping for prison time. Good riddance.

5 A Reader 04.11.08 at 2:53 pm

New Mexico Human Rights Commission fines photographer $6600 for refusing a job photographing same-sex commitment ceremony

A rabbi refused to officiate my wedding because my wife is not Jewish. Do I have a case?

(He said he would officiate weddings between two Jews or two non-Jews, but would not participate in an inter-religious wedding.)

6 OBQuiet 04.11.08 at 3:05 pm

Tom T.

It was my understanding that majority of all Aircraft and auto accidents were the result of weather or driver/pilot error, not equipment failures. Though I could certainly be misinformed on this. But if the claims being made about lack of oversight are true, then the fact that we have not seen a significant increase in airplane accidents does suggest I am correct.

I am not trying to minimize the importance of maintaining equipment in either case, just pointing out that unless it is really ignored, it is not likely to have a significant impact on the numbers.

7 Bill Poser 04.11.08 at 3:19 pm

That the equipment dealer has to pay the bulk of the verdict does seem unfair, but I think that the case is not as clearcut as it seems. The news article says:

“Vermeer was accused of negligence by not removing the wire holding the solenoid open and not telling G.M. Sipes to stop using the cutter until after fixing an engine problem that had previously caused it to shut down without apparent reason.”

This seems to indicate that Vermeer did not merely supply the machine but was responsible for maintenance and was aware of the fact that the contractor had disabled the emergency stop button and did nothing about it. If so, Vermeer did indeed contribute to the accident.

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