“…but she can’t sell the mistletoe.” “No selling in the park” undoubtedly makes sense as a rule, but here, as in so many legal situations, an understood *de minimis* exception would help a lot. [Portland, Ore.; ABC News, Institute for Justice] But note (as reader James points out) that the setting was an established open-air bazaar with vendor waiting lists and fees, not a conventional open grassy park. That makes a pretty big difference, no?
Mike Masnick on a jury verdict against Newegg: “Having Whit Diffie (who invented public key cryptography) and Ron Rivest (who basically made it practical in real life) present on your behalf, showing that they did everything prior to Jones’ patent, while further showing that what Newegg was doing relied on their work, not Jones’, should have ended the case. But…” [TechDirt; Joe Mullin, Ars Technica]
John Steele Gordon, Commentary:
[Steve Coll] also leaves out the fact that very, very few people earning the minimum wage are the sole breadwinners of a family of four. Most are entry-level employees, often teenagers, with no developed skills. Most people who take a job at the minimum wage are earning above that level within a year, having learned marketable skills.
To be polite, Mr. Coll is being tendentious.
P.S. Meanwhile, as part of its “new focus on inequality,” the New York Times ran a feature on “Life on $7.25 an Hour” and chose to profile someone whose lifestyle includes three cars and a NYC residence bought for more than $500,000. [SmarterTimes] And the Washington Post awards President Obama two Pinocchios for his comments on what economists think.
Perhaps it was overreach for a prominent New York City plaintiff’s law firm to file asbestos litigation on behalf of Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, the famously fond-of-smoking Long Island Congresswoman now fighting lung cancer, against General Electric, Pfizer and more than 70 other companies. The high-profile case is focusing public attention on the legal fictions by which lawyers have been lassoing seemingly conventional lung cancer cases and bringing them into the asbestos litigation system [Joe Nocera, New York Times; Daniel Fisher; earlier]
P.S. Patterns of filing non-mesothelioma cancer cases reflect asbestos lawyers’ economic incentives [Daniel Fisher]
On a practical level, corporate and organizational “personhood” has worked coherently for more than a century. Will this? [Reuters, Science; earlier on corporate personhood ("established and relatively uncontroversial," and progressive in its legal implications)] A Twitter reaction: “If they get the right to air political ads they can only improve the discourse.” [@jacobgrier]
More seriously, Prof. Bainbridge provided an answer to the question both on Twitter (“We treat corporations as people because it is a useful fiction. Animals as persons is not useful.”) and then in a longer blog post, which concludes:
The problem, I believe, is that attempts to define the debate in moral or philosophical terms ignores the basic fact that the rationale for corporate personhood sounds in neither. Instead, it is based on practicality and utility. Put another way, we treat the corporation as a legal person because doing so has proven to be a highly efficient way for real people to organize their business activities and to vindicate their rights. Put yet another way, we treat the corporation as a legal person because it is a nexus of contracts between real persons. Which is something no animal can ever be.
“There’s plenty of money. The problem is interminable environmental review.” That’s Philip K. Howard in the Wall Street Journal [summarized here; related Common Good forum with Regional Plan Association] Excerpt:
Canada requires full environmental review, with state and local input, but it has recently put a maximum of two years on major projects. Germany allocates decision-making authority to a particular state or federal agency: Getting approval for a large electrical platform in the North Sea, built this year, took 20 months; approval for the City Tunnel in Leipzig, scheduled to open next year, took 18 months. Neither country waits for years for a final decision to emerge out of endless red tape.
Per Eugene Volokh‘s new article, a wide range of actors from landlords to employers to colleges to product manufacturers correctly see themselves as being at legal risk if they don’t surveill, probe, and share information about those they deal with:
Gathering or disclosing information about people’s backgrounds, tendencies, and actions is increasingly inexpensive, and increasingly effective at helping avoid, interrupt, or deter harm. …Failure to take those precautions thus becomes negligent. … Failure to provide camera surveillance is now a common claim in negligence cases.
An especially fertile source of such incentives is the duty (much expanded by modern developments in liability law) to take reasonable precautions against criminal acts by others. It will soon be feasible at low cost, if it is not already, for automakers to install electronic components in new cars that send a warning communication — to police monitors, for example — when a motorist tries to drive at very high speed. What will happen after automakers begin to be sued after accidents for not installing such components?
Having defied the Securities and Exchange Commission and beaten its inside trading allegations in court, the investor and team owner is not through giving them a piece of his mind: “I think they exemplify what type of organization you should expect when you have nothing but attorneys and in particular former prosecutors running the show. …There is a culture of trying to win, not trying to find justice.” In the absence of bright-line rules, notes Cuban, the commission resorts to “regulation through litigation,” trying to ram through doubtful legal interpretations by way of sheer vehemence of enforcement. [Kevin Funnell/Bank Lawyer's Blog, Alexander Cohen/Business Rights Center, earlier] Attorney Lyle Roberts, who represented Cuban, will also be known to some of our readers for his blogging at The 10b-5 Daily.
The case against Dillard’s we noted earlier this month, and the one against Saks a while back, are no outliers: “Just in the past seven years, the Hells Angels have brought more than a dozen cases in federal court, alleging infringement on apparel, jewelry, posters and yo-yos.” [New York Times]
French researcher Gilles-Eric Seralini is not taking particularly gracefully the withdrawal of “a controversial and much-criticized study suggesting genetically modified corn caused tumors in rats” [Reuters]:
“Were FCT [Reed Elsevier's journal Food and Chemical Toxicology] to persist in its decision to retract our study, CRIIGEN would attack with lawyers, including in the United States, to require financial compensation for the huge damage to our group,” he said in a statement.
CRIIGEN is short for the group with which Seralini has worked, the Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering.
And has now been awarded $18 million on the theory that although there was some warning signage, there should have been more. The 23-year-old driver was traveling “admittedly 15-20 miles per hour over the speed limit” when he encountered a rough patch of roadway at a resurfacing project. The claimant’s attorney, Gerald A. McHugh Jr., “a current nominee for U.S. district judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, declined to comment on the case.” [Philadelphia, Legal Intelligencer]
Known to some of our readers through his Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog, and to many others as one of our most valued commenters (bringing the perspective of a seasoned plaintiff’s attorney, a perspective I will confess is sometimes lacking here otherwise), Ron also teaches a course on insurance law at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Last week he was kind enough to invite me to stop by and present my own perspective on the role of insurance in tort law. (Nutshell version: the insurance mechanism is exceedingly imperfect, and legal theorists and policy makers often go astray by assuming that it works more smoothly than it does.) Thanks, Ron!
An extra reason to be cautious in your holiday driving:
If you live in one of 30 cities, you may find yourself pulled over soon at roadblocks where police and federal contractors ask to swab your cheeks, take your blood or give a breath sample to see if you’re on drugs without any probable cause that you’ve committed a crime. Such an exciting time for your civil liberties!
[Jalopnik via @ProfBainbridge] On the separate issue of “no-refusal” blood draws at DUI stops in states like Texas and Tennessee, see Sept. 30.
Scott Johnson at Power Line has a lookback-with-updates on the controversy over Minnesota CLE (continuing legal education) requirements precariously balanced between indoctrination and vacuity. “What bias does the Court seek to eliminate? If the elimination-of-bias requirement can be satisfied by courses such as ‘Understanding Problem Gambling,’ as it can, the requirement has become just one more way of making a statement while making the practice of law slightly more unpleasant than it already was or is.” We covered the issue back in 2003 (“compulsory chapel”).
On concussion lawsuits. [AP, earlier]