At Abnormal Use, Nick Farr brings some scrutiny to what’s looking like the big trial-bar media venture of the season.
P.S. And a follow-up that really stands on its own as a resource: “The Stella Liebeck McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case FAQ“
Like others who’ve looked at the question of how to close the federal government’s vast budget deficit, it finds promise in the idea of curbing liability payouts and defensive medicine. Trial lawyers are vowing to fight. [National Law Journal, Point of Law]
A breach-of-contract trial under way in D.C. this week “pits the trial lawyers group American Association for Justice against its would-be lender, Wachovia Bank.” [ABA Journal]
According to Kelley’s Blue Book, consumers are trending back toward the Japanese maker in their buying plans. [New York Times "Bucks" blog] That’s despite the menace of rays from outer space, as denounced by one anonymous informant to NHTSA. [Detroit Free Press, which has a PDF of the submission from "A Concerned Scientist"]
More: On a more serious note, Holman Jenkins has a good column today [WSJ, sub-only] tracing the key role of bandwagon effects in sudden acceleration consciousness (which is one reason waves of complaints tend to occur in clumps, by carmaker and otherwise). Excerpt:
…In 2001, at least four papers were presented at the annual meeting of the Trial Lawyers Association urging a revival of sudden unintended acceleration litigation, insisting that such cases could prevail in absence of evidence of a defect, and even amid evidence of driver error, simply by harping in front of a jury on a record of “Other Similar Incidents” (OSI).
That’s the roadmap being followed now, as lawyer Randy Roberts told CNBC this week: “Toyota is very good at taking one consumer complaint about sudden unintended acceleration and dissecting it and convincing you that it may have been a floor mat or driver error or a sticky pedal. But when you put all those complaints out on the table, then you can see the big picture. That’s how you connect the dots.”
Huh? The logic here is ridiculous. To wit: 15 examples of X causing Y are proof that something other than X must cause Y.
Last week my colleagues at the Manhattan Institute put out a report in their Trial Lawyers Inc. series taking a look at the lobbying clout of the plaintiff’s bar in Washington and elsewhere. It’s full of interesting details and vignettes, and now Jim Copland, who presided over the compiling of the report, will be blogging it all week at Point of Law. His first installment is here.
Things you’re missing if you’re not reading my other site:
According to the Washington Times, a decline in membership dues and the collapse of a real estate deal are causing difficulties for the American Association for Justice, the trial lawyers’ lobby. [typo fixed now, h/t John H.] (& welcome Above the Law, ABA Journal, WSJ OneSpot readers).
P.S. Lawrence Powell at RiskProf finds irony in the courtroom loss that followed the group’s real estate foulup: “AAJ was unable to collect [from its lender, Wachovia] the $120 million it sought in the lawsuit.” It’s always that way, the cobbler’s children going barefoot.
In an op-ed in the Examiner last week, I express curiosity why the trial bar continues to insist that the infamous McDonald’s coffee case came out correctly decided, to the point that trial lawyer blogs express excitement that a documentary is going to be made about the subject. Of course, if the movie just parrots the urban legends trial lawyers have spread about the case, that would be something else—the fact that the filmmaker was fundraising at the AAJ convention but hasn’t shown her face around any of the tort reform conventions suggests a certain direction about the film.
Speaking of McDonald’s, I’ll be in the Bay Area next week at a couple of law schools giving a presentation called “The Law of McDonald’s: Hot Coffee, Obesity, and Prank Phone Calls” : Golden Gate University Law School on September 10, and UC-Davis on September 11. I’ll also be at UC-Berkeley Law on September 8, and Santa Clara University Law on September 9 talking more generally about tort reform and patent reform specifically.