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AAJ

Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on August 13, 2012

  • “Targeting the red plastic gas can”: how product liability bankrupted Oklahoma manufacturer Blitz [editorial, earlier]
  • Summers v. Tice, the famous “which hunter shot him?” California tort case, re-examined [Kyle Graham, Green Bag/SSRN]
  • Paul Taylor of House Judiciary makes a case for the constitutionality of broad federal tort reform [Suffolk University Law Review via Point of Law]
  • New Ken Feinberg book on compensation plans in lieu of litigation [Scheuerman, TortsProf]
  • Hot propaganda: filmmaker Susan Saladoff faces off against Victor Schwartz on “Hot Coffee” [TortsProf]
  • Studies of tort reform’s effects underestimate effects of durable reforms by mixing them in with the many that are struck down by hostile courts [Martin Grace and Tyler Leverty, SSRN via Robinette, TortsProf]
  • Membership in AAJ, the trial lawyers’ lobby, said to be on the decline [Carter Wood, PoL]

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Politics roundup

by Walter Olson on August 2, 2012

  • Vice President Biden raises at least hundreds of thousands of dollars at AAJ annual convention in Chicago [PoL] Romney’s law and legal policy team [Brian Baxter, AmLaw Daily]
  • Law star Ted Cruz advances toward Senate [David Lat, AtL]
  • Can Republicans make hay out of Democrats’ platform endorsement of same-sex marriage? New Pew poll, as well as May polling round, offers reasons to doubt that [my new post at Maryland for All Families]
  • “Why Citizens United Has Nothing to Do with What Ails American Politics” [Ilya Shapiro, The American, more]
  • Bridgeport mayor Joseph Ganim, of gun-suit fame, a step closer to getting law license back after serving 7-year prison term for corruption [Courant] Eight more indictments as the Connecticut corruption scandals roll on [Conn Post]
  • Rob McKenna’s star on rise in Washington; he’s pursued public-liability reform as the state’s attorney general [Daily Caller, earlier]
  • Bypassing public financing, West Virginia judicial candidates pour their own injury-law fortunes into races [Richie Heath, Charleston Daily Mail]
  • “How hot is it in DC today? Congressman Paul is using a paper money substitute because his actual money melted.” [Tim Carney]

February 27 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 27, 2012

  • Department of Transportation cracks down on distraction from cars’ onboard information and entertainment systems; Mike Masnick suspects the measure won’t work as intended, as appears to have been the case with early texting bans [Techdirt; earlier here, etc.] “Feds Push New York Toward Full Ban On Electronic Devices In Cars” [Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit; Truth About Cars]
  • Oh no: Scott Greenfield says he’s ceasing to post at his exemplary criminal defense blog after five years [Simple Justice, Dave Hoffman]
  • California not entitled to pursue its own foreign policy, at least when in conflict with rest of nation’s: unanimous “blockbuster” decision by en banc 9th Circuit strikes down law enabling insurance suits by Armenian victims [AP, Alford/OJ, Recorder, related, Frank/PoL]
  • Playboy model’s $1.2M award against Gotham cops is a great day for the tabloids [NYDN]
  • To hear a pitch for fracking-royalty suits, visit the American Association for Justice convention, or just read the New York Times [Wood, PoL]
  • What the mortgage settlement did [John Cochrane, earlier]
  • Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 blows up an adoption: “She’s a 2-year-old girl who got shoved in a truck and driven to Oklahoma with strangers.” [Reuters, SaveVeronica.org]

July 18 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 18, 2011

  • Per New Jersey court, overly sedentary home office job can result in valid worker’s comp claim [Courier-Post, NJLRA]
  • Trial bar’s AAJ denies it played “direct” role in backing “Hot Coffee” [WaPo, some background]
  • “Cop repeatedly harasses waitresses, never disciplined. Feds defend their civil rights by . . . suing the restaurant.” [Palm Beach Post via Radley Balko]
  • On “unauthorized practice of law” as protective moat around profession’s interests, Britain does things differently [Gillian Hadfield via Andrew Sullivan; related, Larry Ribstein] Forthcoming book by Robert Crandall et al urges lawyer deregulation [Brookings]
  • “The Treaty Clause Doesn’t Give Congress Unlimited Power” [Ilya Shapiro, Cato on Golan v. Holder case headed to Supreme Court]
  • The small bank regulatory shakedown blues [Kevin Funnell] Why is the Department of Justice including gag orders as part of its enforcement decrees against banks on race and lending? [Investors Business Daily via PoL] “Emigrant fights back against mortgage-discrimination suits” [Fisher, Forbes] Dodd-Frank squeezing out community banks [Funnell]
  • “North Carolina to Seize Speeding Cars That Fail to Pull Over” [The Newspaper] “With what, a tractor beam?” [James Taranto]

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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

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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]

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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]

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July 15 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 15, 2010

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July 14 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 14, 2010

  • “Sources: Trial lawyers expect tax break from Treasury Department” [Legal NewsLine, PoL, earlier; measure would reportedly replicate contents of bill that didn't pass Congress]
  • No doubt totally unrelated: eight Dem Senate candidates journey to Vancouver for AAJ fundraiser [The Hill, David Freddoso, ShopFloor, more]
  • Report: elderly man jailed after making “bomb” joke about carry-on at airport [NBCNewYork]
  • New York debt collection law firm files 80,000 actions a year, critics say errors and lack of documentation inevitable [NYT]
  • Kimberly-Clark: quit letting asbestos plaintiffs forum-shop against us [SE Texas Record] How a new asbestos defendant can get “passed around” among claimants [Global Tort, scroll] Prosperity of one Cleveland asbestos law firm I’d never heard of [Briefcase]
  • North Carolina court of appeals: employee rushing to bathroom after getting off work not acting within scope of employment [Matthews v. Food Lion, PDF]
  • “Curse of the greedy copyright holders” [Woodlief, WSJ, via de Rugy, NRO; TechDirt]
  • Update: “Ninth Circuit suspends Walter Lack, reprimands Thomas Girardi” [famed California lawyers tripped up in Dole suit; Legal Ethics Forum, PoL, earlier]

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May 12 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 12, 2010

  • Charged $21K at purported “gentleman’s” club: “Plaintiff Has No Recollection of What Transpired in the Private Room” [Lowering the Bar]
  • Census Bureau sued for discriminating against applicants based on criminal, arrest records [Clegg, NRO] Class action against Accenture for screening job applicants based on criminal records [Jon Hyman]
  • Virtual indeed: “Virtual Freedom” author wants government to regulate Google’s search engine [ConcurOp]
  • Contingency fees for public sector lawyering could take California down dangerous path [CJAC]
  • “Harvard Law vs. free inquiry: Dean Martha Minow flunks the test” [Peter Berkowitz, Weekly Standard]
  • There’ll always be an AAJ: seminar for trial lawyers on “Injuries Without Evidence” [ShopFloor] More: The Briefcase.
  • Congress may expand law to enable more age-bias suits [BLT]
  • “FTC Closes First Blogger Endorsement Investigation” [Balasubramani, Spam Notes; Citizen Media Law]

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April 6 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 6, 2010

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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.

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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.

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New at Point of Law

by Walter Olson on January 12, 2010

Things you’re missing if you’re not reading my other site:

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December 11 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 11, 2009

  • Key Obama regulatory appointees at NHTSA (auto safety) and FTC [commerce, antitrust] used to work for AAJ, the trial lawyers’ lobby [Wood, PoL]
  • “Adventures in Lawyer Advertising: Muscle, Talent, Results, and Terrible Acting” [Above the Law]
  • Why so many great folk musicians are barred from U.S. tours [Jesse Walker/Reason, WSJ Law Blog]
  • Folks behind venerable Martindale-Hubbell lawyer directory wouldn’t stoop to comment spam, or would they? [Turkewitz and more; related Popehat, Bennett]
  • Palestinian sues Baron Cohen, Letterman, others over “Bruno” portrayal [AP/Baltimore Sun]
  • A Rhode Island hospital settles a med mal case [White Coat]
  • For a “cockeyed caravan” of law stories, follow a certain site (thanks!) [Arthur Charity, NJEsq.net, alas it seems a short-lived venture]
  • Santa’s got a sleighful of health and safety problems [Bella English, Boston Globe]

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November 23 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 23, 2009

Financial woes at AAJ?

by Walter Olson on September 28, 2009

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.

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“Hot coffee is back!”

by Ted Frank on September 4, 2009

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.

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