Author Archive

What You’ve Been Missing

Here is a summary of the posts from my own blog, A Stitch in Haste, that I did not cross-post here at Overlawyered

Peace Corps Quotes of the Day
–Serving in the Peace Corps is an entirely selfish endeavor.

George Allen’s “My-Ca-Ca” Apology
–Allen is under the false impression that he is running for President in 2008.

“Afghan” — It’s Not Just Rugs and Dogs Anymore
–Hey U.S. Government, how that’s War on Drugs going?

NYC-TV = W-T-F-?
–Why does the City of New York own a commercial television station?

Shall We See a “Defense of Solar System Act”?
–Damn activist astronomers legislating from the telescope!

The Road to Bigotry is Paved With…
–Thomas Sowell gets pulled over for speeding down the Highway to Hell.

Terrorists, Wal-Mart, Whatever…
–Biden is under the false impression that he is running for President in 2008.

Town “Drug” Into Football “Deer Decoy” Scandal
–No wonder these kids think theft and reckless endangerment are no big deal.

Feel free to stop on by!

Mother’s Day Stadium Promotion: What’s “Frivolous” About It?

Regarding Walter’s post below, I’d just like to point out that the judge probably had no choice in declining to dismiss the lawsuit. Indeed, the plaintiffs may very well win.

What is often overlooked (but not by Walter) is that California has a monstrous law called the “Unruh Act” that specifically authorizes such a cause of action for what most people consider harmless, de minimis gender-based discrimination.

I’ve heard that there are California law firms that specialize in Unruh claims. I can remember back in high school watching Judge Wapner of “The People’s Court” arbitrate an Unruh claim over a “Ladies’ Night” at a California bar — the male plaintiff won.

So, we are dealing here not with a frivolous lawsuit, but with a frivolous law. Passed by frivolous politicians.

To whom, for some reason, judges are supposed to show great deference. Go figure.

Paternalism and Your Money — Part Two

In Part One, I proposed the following heuristic regarding paternalism:

To summarize, although it is not a proper function of government to proscribe “bad” decision making, perhaps a few isolated, objectively defensible carve-outs can be allowed in which the government makes it just a little bit harder to make a bad decision. Perhaps. Stated differently, a paternalist exception that actually proves the libertarian rule should probably be embraced and not shunned.

But does this qualify as such an exception?

In a payday loan transaction, the lender makes a small advance (typically $100-$500) to its customer, agreeing to hold a personal check for the loan amount plus a fee until the customer’s next payday. … The borrower receives cash immediately. Fees charged can range from $15 to $30 on each $100 advanced, although the typical fee is at the lower end of that range.

The fee may seem modest when presented as a dollar amount, but when calculated as an annual percentage rate (APR), the cost is relatively high. A charge of $15 to borrow $100 for 14 days amounts to an APR of 391%. A survey by consumer advocates found APRs on 14-day payday loans ranging from 390% to 871%.

No fewer than five separate bills were introduced in this session of Congress to limit or even ban payday loans. No fewer than four federal financial regulatory agencies, including the Federal Reserve, have launched investigations of the practice. Not to mention the states.

Read On…

Paternalism and Your Money — Part One

President Bush has signed H.R. 4, the Pension Protection Act of 2006, into law.

The bill is mostly sound and fury, signifying nothing. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation will be “saved,” even though we were repeatedly assured until now that there was in fact nothing to “save” it from. Private employers will be required, over time, to go from 90% funding to 100% funding of their pension plans — which is nothing more than hollow accounting gimmickry. And the real volcanoes under the city — public employee pensions — are not addressed at all. Neither of course is the Social Security crisis.

But one afterthought of the bill is worth looking at:

Employers can encourage their workers to save by automatically enrolling them 401(k) retirement accounts.

This proposal has been bouncing around for years. A good primer on the subject is available from the Congressional Research Service.

Read On…

Warrantless Wiretapping Program Struck Down

I have perused the decision by a federal district judge in Michigan declaring the NSA warrantless wiretapping program to be in violation of both FISA and the Fourth Amendment and have some thoughts.

While the decision contains a wealth of flowery language reminiscent of, say, a post by a libertarian blawger, it is rather weak on actual analysis. On the other hand, what little analysis it contains is spot-on accurate.

Read On…

“Have You Tried Rebooting?”

A few quick thoughts about the massive Dell battery recall:

The relatively new Restatement (Third) of Torts: Product Liability proposes some modifications of the common law duty to warn after a sale (as opposed to a duty to warn — i.e., on the packaging — before a sale).

Of course, a manufacturer remains strictly liable for any damages proximately caused by a manufacturing defect before a post-sale warning or recall is announced. Under the Restatement (Third), Section 11, there is still never a “duty to recall,” unless imposed by the government.

Previously, the determination of whether there was a “duty to warn after the sale” was no different than any other test for duty: Did the benefits of a post-sale warning outweigh the costs?

Read On…

“Legislating Discovery” Pop Quiz

Which of the following was recently uttered by a Member of Congress?

“Cutting-edge research by top scientists from the United States and Israel could…”

a) discover a cure for cancer.
b) locate Noah’s Ark.
c) reduce our reliance on foreign oil.
d) prove the existence of an Intelligent Designer.
e) find a way to end world hunger.

Oh, and if you need a reason to care, is $20 million of taxpayer money annually reason enough?

My previous post on the folly of trying to “legislate discovery” here.

Via Coyote Blog.

European Court Denies Proactive Request for “Food & Water” Order

There but for “the grace…” –

A man with an incurable brain condition has lost his final legal appeal to insist that doctors give him food and drink in the final stages of his life.

Leslie Burke, from Lancaster, feels he will be denied sustenance when his illness makes him unable to speak.

The European Court of Human Rights said it did not believe there was a real threat that his food would be stopped. The European judges refused to reverse a UK ruling that allows doctors to decide a patient’s treatment.

Mr Burke, 46, has Friedreich’s ataxia. It causes a lack of co-ordination, but does not affect mental faculties.

This is certainly not the forum to reopen the Terri Schiavo affair — my posts are the subject can be found at this chain. And I have remained on the sidelines regarding the teenaged cancer victim who was almost forced to undergo debilitating and painful chemotherapy against his will.

I’ll simply note that I consider it axiomatic that food and water are, um, food and water and not “medical care” in the strict sense. And that knowingly permitting a patient under your care for Friedreich’s ataxia to die against his wishes — not of Friedreich’s ataxia, but of dehydration — is homicide.

Discuss.

(Via Medpundit.)

Perhaps the European courts are correct and Mr. Burke’s litigation was simply not ripe, as we say in the U.S. And perhaps a properly drafted “living will” would preempt any issues or concerns.

On the other hand, a legally recognized spouse would certainly also address those concerns. Generally speaking, when there is any uncertainty, a spouse has the final say about medical decisions when the patient cannot communicate. No living will necessary. Advisable, but not strictly necessary.

Just one of the more than 1,000 ways in which gays suffer in the name of “defending traditional marriage.”

It’s absolutely barbaric.

The Return of the Coffee Tort

Where’s Ted Frank when you need him?

A bad experience at Starbucks turned into big bucks — 301,000 of them — for a Manhattan lawyer who got a painful hotfoot when a steaming cup of coffee toppled onto her at the java palace.

“I jumped back and looked down,” Alice Griffin, 42, testified. “My foot was steaming, and the puddle was steaming.”

The jury’s April verdict was upheld yesterday by [New York] Supreme Court Justice Emily Jane Goodman — even though the jurist said she was “inclined to agree” the $301,000 that Griffin won at trial “was excessive.”

Gee, absolute deference by a judge. Go figure. I guess remittitur (let alone JNOV) would be “judicial activism.”

In any event, I’m far too humble to blog about hot coffee lawsuits at this site.

Maybe Ted will make a cameo today… [Editor’s note: And he did.]