Because of the 1920 law, backed by labor unions and U.S.-flag maritime interests, it’s infeasible to ship propane directly from Texas to the Northeast, so instead Texas ships sail to Europe and other ships sail back with propane for Northeastern customers. [Bloomberg News; earlier on road salt]
Following its loss in a California trial, J.M. Eagle, a large manufacturer of industrial pipe, is pushing back hard against its qui tam legal adversaries. [Daniel Fisher/Forbes, Plastics News] Earlier on the False Claims Act here and here.
She talked about her new book The Up Side of Down, on failure, which has many policy implications (and quotes me on “blamestorming”); her examples included Hollywood production cost overruns, New Coke, L.A.’s healthy school lunch program, and (in the book) Avenue Q. Arnold Kling contributed very illuminating comments, and my Cato colleague Dalibor Rohac moderated. More here (including audio podcast version) and at Arnold Kling’s site.
“So… stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Man sues staffing agency and Biglaw firm for overtime — because document review isn’t really legal work. Man then applies to the exact same staffing agency for more document review work — touting all his legal experience reviewing documents.” [Alex Rich, Above the Law]
I’ve been blogging about a different political poster each day this week at Cato:
* Monday, “Socialism Would Mean Inspectors All Round,” 1929 British Conservative Party poster;
* Tuesday, “Come on, Dad! We’re going to vote Liberal,” 1929 British Liberal Party poster;
* Wednesday, “I Need Smokes,” World War One American poster;
* Thursday, Art Deco Prohibitionist traffic safety poster.
Update: and here’s Friday’s final installment, a contemporary freedom-of-the-press poster from Jordan.
“Patrick Coulton’s lawyers ripped him off to the tune of $275,000 and left him to rot in prison.” But few stories end this way: he’s living in one of the former lawyers’ houses. [Sun-Sentinel, auto-plays video]
I discussed it yesterday at Cato at Liberty, shortly before Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the bill. My Cato colleague Ilya Shapiro’s thoughts are here. For those who want a deeper dive, here’s the Douglas Laycock-drafted letter on the bill in its entirety, and here is the student note he cites making a case for courts’ application of RFRA to private lawsuits. (& welcome visitors: Ramesh Ponnuru, Paul Mirengoff, Stephen Richer/Purple Elephant, Memeorandum, Hans Bader)
P.S. To clarify, the Arizona bill would have enacted into law as part of the state’s mini-RFRA two broad applications of RFRA that many courts have been unwilling to concede to advocates heretofore. One is its availability as a defense in private litigation, not just in discrimination complaints but across the entire range of legal disputes arising in some way from state (in this case) law. That’s potentially a broad intervention into otherwise available private rights, and the fact that it’s in no way limited to discrimination law is one reason I would foresee that it would wind up having some surprising or unintended consequences along the line. A second broad application which drew fire from some critics would be to make available to businesses and various other nonprofit and associational forms of organization the defenses and other remedies otherwise available to individuals. I noted in this post a few weeks ago a high-profile case in which a panel of the D.C. Circuit, parting company from the Fifth, declined to recognize business coverage under the federal RFRA.
Bill Marler, the ubiquitous food-poisoning lawyer, argues that in undertaking to “audit” food distributors’ safety practices, the Santa Maria, Calif.-based firm assumes legal duties that extend to the general public at risk for foodborne illness. [Lora Abcarian, Produce News]
Ilya Shapiro sorts out the issues for SCOTUSblog. Earlier here.
Way back in 2000 we noted that copyright litigation over quilt designs had gotten to be a hot area and that it was even possible for lawyers to specialize in “quilt law.” If you thought the only targets were large retailers and home furnishing lines with IP lawyers on retainer, though, think again.
“A number of years ago, an Amish woman created a pattern for the quilt,” Ken Treadwell said. “A friend of hers got her to register it, but being Amish, she truly didn’t enforce the copyright.”
But [Treadwell's company] Almost Amish bought the copyright, and the owners intend to vigorously enforce the design rights.
“We have stopped numerous people from selling and making this quilt,” Treadwell said. “We have an attorney that has informed the Mennonite Central Committee that they can’t sell it anymore.”
Local fire company officials were the latest to get the notice.
The docket keeps expanding and Legal NewsLine is out with a story quoting me and others:
…“In recent years, you’ve seen some pushback from the business community, but given the record of congressional expansion, they’ll be doing pretty well if they can just keep Congress from expanding it further,” said Olson, who also founded and still runs the popular blog Overlawyered.com. …
The Department of Justice announced in December that it secured $3.8 billion in settlements and judgments from civil cases involving fraud against the government in 2013. According to the office, the amount represents the second largest annual recovery of its type in history and brings total recoveries under the False Claims Act to $17 billion since January 2009….
Olson explains that the business community’s growing discontent over the False Claims Act includes concerns over incentives for whistleblowers. In many cases, the whistleblower either participated in the misconduct, or knew about the misconduct but failed to inform their company.
He adds that in worse cases, whistleblowers intentionally ignored misconduct so damages would pile up and result in a “better bounty.”
“These are all incentives that are at odds with the wish that employees be ethical and loyal to their employers, and are also sometimes at odds with the object of minimizing fraud,” Olson said.
Much more, including more quotes from me, at the link; related Peter Hutt interview piece.
Coyote advances a geographically based hypothesis. Since occupational licensure is found in ethnically uniform nations, it can hardly owe its origins exclusively to this sort of tension. In the common American pattern, however, where one ethnic group dominates a given trade or occupation for a time and then gives way to or is challenged by a newer ethnic group, it may be easier to assemble political coalitions that slow down the advance of the newcomers. Milton Friedman’s famous chapter on occupational licensure from Capitalism and Freedom is here.
Hat tip Richard Morrison: a container of monosodium glutamate (MSG) with the advisory (promise? warning?) “No MSG.” Original here.
The proposal by New York state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., D-Bronx (earlier) is beginning to break out into wider coverage. I’m quoted in this report by Steven Nelson of US News:
Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies, blogged about the bill earlier this month and tells U.S. News “people see this not just as bossy, but as sinister.”
“Imagine treating every parent in New York as though they are on probation,” he says.
Olson says the bill would force parents to “show up and be re-educated” and “lectured about the shortcomings of how they are raising their kids and be inoculated with whatever the fad of the year is.”
“If you thought the public reaction to the soda ban was big,” Olson says, “wait until you see the public reaction to telling people the government knows better than they do how to raise their kids.”
Speaking of helicopter governance, if you’re near Washington, D.C. be sure to mark your calendar for next week’s (Mar. 6) talk at Cato by Lenore Skenazy of Free-Range Kids. Details and registration here.
“…by allowing them to proceed with class-action lawsuits alleging that millions of front-loading washing machines they bought suffered from mold or musty odors.” Thus Reuters’ Lawrence Hurley and Jonathan Stempel. Can you spot the two buried assumptions here? One is that moving forward with a class action on behalf of the many millions who bought washers, rather than a narrower class action of those who actually reported problems with their washers, constitutes a “victory” for consumers. That is to presuppose one of the points in dispute, since the defendants argued that consumers as a group would be ill-served that way. (Nor did the Supreme Court resolve the question either way, since it turned away the cases without explanation.) The second buried assumption is that the “consumers” themselves, most of whom have never shown any interest in participating, were the ones who were going to be proceeding. In reality, of course, the ones moving forward, and the ones who won a victory yesterday, were lawyers.
Although organized business worked hard to win Supreme Court review for the cases, and was duly disappointed by yesterday’s denial, the impact on the Supreme Court’s rapidly evolving class action jurisprudence is uncertain at best and perhaps negligible. So many other class actions raise likely issues of typicality, representativeness, or unity of interest among represented classes that the Court is sure to have the chance to visit the area before long, if it wishes, in other cases bubbling up from the lower courts; of the variety of fact patterns these new cases will present, some may be more compelling for the defense side.
More on the mandatory-conservation element of the washing machine saga here.
“All you would be asked is the same few rubbish questions,” said the lawyer. “Just make it up.” However, the 2010 conversation was being secretly recorded by the feds as part of an investigation that “has led to the prosecution of at least 30 people” including lawyers, paralegals and others employed by ten law firms, as well as a church employee “accused of coaching asylum applicants in basic tenets of Christianity to prop up their claims of religious persecution.” [Kirk Semple, Joseph Goldstein and Jeffrey E. Singer, New York Times] Earlier on asylum law here, here, here, etc..
Heeding demands from constituency groups, President Obama orders a $10.10 hourly wage even for the most severely disabled workers under the scope of his federal-contractor order [USA Today] Writes Mike Bennett on Twitter: “As a parent of a disabled son, I would much rather he have a real job at five dollars an hour then a theoretical job at $10.10.”