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And purported reforms in 2012 didn’t help. Connecticut’s is second most expensive. [Insurance Journal]

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After Wanetta Gibson falsely accused Brian Banks of rape (earlier), her family won a settlement in a civil suit against the Long Beach, Calif. schools; Banks himself, a former prep football star, served more than five years in prison. Now the school district has obtained a $2.6 million default judgment against Gibson, whose whereabouts are unknown. “According to the school district, the judgment recoups a $750,000 settlement paid to Gibson and also includes attorney’s fees, interest and $1 million in punitive damages.” [Long Beach Press-Telegram] Earlier accounts had erroneously reported that Gibson had been paid $1.5 million.

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Megan McArdle is the latest to refute the notion that Ford’s high-wage policy was meant to put workers in a position to buy his products [Bloomberg View] We linked Marc Hodak on the same subject in July.

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has extracted an $85,000 settlement and other relief from Atchison Transportation Services, Inc., of South Carolina on charges that one of its managers terminated two motorcoach drivers who were 75 and 76 years old respectively. As with disability discrimination, federal law on age discrimination generally requires that termination be based only on cause-based individualized determinations of unfitness; in practice, an employer may be well advised to premise such determinations only on evidence that would stand up under legal scrutiny as objective, such as, for example, a driver’s loss of license or involvement in an accident. [EEOC press release, h/t Roger Clegg]

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Pitching a civil-Gideon entitlement as salvation to economically insecure faculty and administrators in legal academia [Edward Rubin via Caron, TaxProf]

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After BuckyBalls surrendered to the Consumer Product Safety Commission the Denver-based company Zen Magnets was the last standing in the tiny-recreational-magnets field, and its founder, 27-year-old Shihan Qu, isn’t planning to go quietly. [WestWord]

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October 10 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 10, 2014

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My new Cato piece on New York’s crazy “gravity-knife” law, picking up on an excellent Village Voice investigation by Jon Campbell. More: Scott Greenfield.

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The story from Montana, on Bloomberg, updates our earlier report [link fixed now] including this link. Writes correspondent R.T.:

Big difference in liability theories here:

Plaintiff: Defective steering mechanism;

Defendant: The fireworks that were going off INSIDE THE CAR at the time of the crash.

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Tyler Cowen and Arnold Kling salute the new Robert Litan book Trillion Dollar Economists, on how economists and their ideas have contributed to the world in practical ways ranging from auction design and financial innovation to telecommunications and prediction markets.

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“Because a blind or visually impaired individual cannot discern the visual cues displayed on the kiosk controls, they cannot independently browse, select and pay for DVDs at kiosks, and instead must rely upon sighted companions or strangers to assist them,” states the complaint, filed in a Pittsburgh federal court by Robert Johoda. “Further, the blind or visually impaired consumer must divulge personal information, including their zip codes, to sighted companions or strangers in order to complete a transaction at the kiosks.” [Legal NewsLine]

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U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett of the Northern District of Iowa, presiding over a product liability case, has asked defense counsel “to show cause as to why he should not be sanctioned for the ‘serious pattern of obstructive conduct’ he displayed” in a client’s deposition, which seemed aimed both at interruption for its own sake and at coaching the witness as to how to answer. “The attorney objected so many times that his name was found, on average, three times per page of deposition transcript.” [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use]

Rather than fine the lawyer, Judge Nelson ordered him to create and write a training video explaining the basis of the sanctions and demonstrating how to comply with the rules during depositions in state and federal court.

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Environment roundup

by Walter Olson on October 8, 2014

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The R.T. Davis Milling Co.’s Aunt Jemima brand of self-rising pancake mix was a big hit at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, thanks in part to the efforts of Nancy Green, the first of a series of women hired (after auditions) to promote the established brand, which had been named after a vaudeville tune of the day. (It is now owned by Pepsico’s Quaker Oats subsidiary.) Green’s popularity in the role won her a lifetime contract with the company which ended with her death in 1923, but now, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal]:

a lawsuit claims that Green’s heirs as well as the descendants of other black women who appeared as Aunt Jemima deserve $2 billion and a share of future revenue from sales of the popular brand.

If courts are to take statutes of limitation seriously, it is hard to see why such a suit does not deserve sanctions. If on the other hand courts are to begin ignoring statutes of limitation, Quaker might want to check into the packaging on its round box of breakfast oats, lest the heirs of William Penn (1644-1718) get any ideas. (& Debbi Baker, San Diego Union-Tribune; Amy Alkon, Advice Goddess)

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Nature magazine: one reason our retractions of flawed papers are slow and ambiguous is that we’re afraid authors will sue us [Retraction Watch]

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“It Has A Mission Creep Problem,” argues David Harsanyi, noting that large chunks of the Centers for Disease Control’s budget and attention now go “to temporary health scares and trendy crusades that often go well beyond any mission it should be pursuing.” Glenn Reynolds has more at USA Today on how the agency has far more on its plate than communicable disease these days, “having involved itself in everything from playground safety to smoking in subsidized housing.” (And binge drinking, and obesity, and suburban zoning, and….)

It seems that as government has gotten bigger, and accumulated more and more of its own ancillary responsibilities, it has gotten worse at its primary tasks. It can supervise snacks at elementary schools, but not defend the borders; it can tax people to subsidize others’ health-care plans but not build roads or bridges; and it can go after football team names but can’t seem to deal with the Islamic State terror group.

Earlier on the Centers for Disease Control and on director Thomas Frieden, who of course won fame before his CDC appointment for his activism as NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s health commissioner, crusading against salt, sugar, guns, and so forth. More: Chris Edwards chart at Cato; Nick Gillespie, Reason; Michael Tanner. (& welcome Instapundit/Glenn Reynolds, Craig Newmark/Newmark’s Door readers).

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