A WSJ editorial and news coverage have called attention to a case from the Alabama high court holding Pfizer liable for a drug it didn’t produce, namely a generic knockoff of its acid reflux drug Reglan. Michael Greve agrees that it’s daffy to allow such suits, but traces the problem to the U.S. Supreme Court’s popular (at least with the media) 2009 decision in Wyeth v. Levine, okaying state tort actions over federally approved labels — and cautions that any victories for regulated business on the issue of federal-state preemption tend to be temporary at best. More: Coyote, FedSocBlog.
Can courts even do that? Both houses of the Alabama legislature passed a measure called House Bill 84 revamping education policy; the state teachers’ union, the Alabama Education Association, went to court with a challenge; and Montgomery Circuit Judge Charles Price issued an injunction forbidding the Clerk of the House from enrolling the bill for the signature of Gov. Robert Bentley, who has said he would sign it. The AEA argued that lawmakers violated the state Open Meetings Act in the course of bringing the bill to passage. Republican lawmakers are appealing the judge’s action to the state supreme court; presumably they’ll argue for the old principle that equity will not enjoin legislative acts, even if it can enjoin legislation from taking effect once it is signed. [WAFF, more] Further: some background on the education bill from Jeff Poor at the Daily Caller.
Shelby County, Ala. judge Hub Harrington had some scathing words for the town of Harpersville and a private probation company over “debtors’ prison” treatment of local defendants milked for large fines and fees. [Birmingham News via ABA Journal] More on abusive fine extraction and privatization of law enforcement here, here, etc.
The good, the bad, and the beyond belief:
- “Ten Commandments” judge no favorite with business defendants: “Trial lawyers putting their campaign cash behind Roy Moore for Alabama chief justice” [Birmingham News via Charlie Mahtesian, Politico; same thing twelve years ago]
- From James Taranto, a brief history of Supreme Court leaks [WSJ "Best of the Web," mentions my Daily op-ed]
- Pennsylvania: Judge’s swearing-in ceremony “was filled with appreciation to those who helped him get elected, including some convicted felons” [Judges on Merit; Walter Phillips, Philadelphia Inquirer]
- Roberts just carrying forward the Frankfurter-Bickel-Bork tradition of judicial deference? [Steven Teles, Carrie Severino, further Teles] Ted Olson on just-finished Supreme Court term [FedSoc and video]
- Columnist-suing attorney doesn’t lack funding in race for appellate judgeship in Illinois’ Metro-East [Chamber-backed Madison County Record]
- Study: SCOTUS Justices time their resignations depending on political party of President [James Lindgren, Volokh]
- Alameda County judge charged with elder theft, perjury [The Recorder]
- Profile of 5th Circuit’s Edith Jones; law wasn’t her first career choice, and Cornell riots influenced her path [Susanna Dokupil, IWF]
I’ll be speaking in Birmingham, Alabama tomorrow to a lunch gathering of the city’s Federalist Society Lawyers’ chapter, about my book on legal academia, Schools for Misrule. The event will be at noon at the Summit Club, Sixth Ave. N. More details here.
Speaking of Alabama, the Eleventh Circuit has broadly sided with artist Daniel Moore over his right to create and sell artistic depictions of Crimson Tide sporting events without paying a licensing fee to the University of Alabama [Jon Solomon/Birmingham News, AP/Tuscaloosa News, earlier here and here]
P.S. Music lover? You might see me at this.
The trademark case between artist Daniel Moore and the University of Alabama, over his paintings of Crimson Tide athletics without permission from the university’s licensing operation, has reached the Eleventh Circuit. [Ben Flanagan, Al.com; earlier]
Alabama: “A Jefferson County jury has awarded $2.4 million from an emergency physicians group to the mother of a 2-year-old who died after ingesting methadone.” Lawyers said the emergency department failed to take proper steps to rule out drug overdose as a reason for the child’s condition. [AP/WHNT via White Coat]
Plus: A more explanatory news account (h/t commenter John Rohan).
Attorneys at the powerhouse Alabama plaintiff’s firm of Beasley Allen “gave more than $600,000 to a candidate for the state Supreme Court in 2008 without appearing on a list of her contributors, a recent report shows.” [Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine via PoL, Justice at Stake (PDF)]
Big Collegiate Licensing has appealed a federal court’s ruling in favor of an artist who depicted Alabama’s Crimson Tide football team without consulting, and paying a fee to, the university’s rights department. [Ron Coleman]
And electronic bingo players have now sued under the 158-year-old law to demand reimbursement of their losses. [Kent Faulk, Birmingham News]
Patsy Hamaker, who in 2007 had an alcohol-related one-car wreck on the way home from The Furnace (NSFW link, unless you work some place that approves of stripclub websites) and sued her employer over the accident, claiming that the club encouraged her to drink, won $100,000 from a Jefferson County, Alabama, jury, somewhat less than the $1.2 million she sought.
Hamaker, whose stage name was Tessa, went to work at The Furnace on Oct. 17, 2007. She drank enough that night for her blood-alcohol content level to rise to nearly three times the legal limit, was pulled by security from one of the VIP rooms, and then left after at least three attempts to stop her, according to testimony during the trial. Her car wrecked on the interstate, and she suffered a broken nose and back.
The club’s records show a customer bought Hamaker one “dancer drink,” a commission drink or bottle ranging in price from $12 to $2,500. The club did not have a record of other drinks she may have [ordered on her own].
Attorneys for the Furnace pointed out that dancers can specify their preference for non-alcoholic or diluted dancer drinks. And the club’s general manager, Jennifer Etheridge, testified that she does not want dancers getting intoxicated. Asked why, Etheridge said: “You try working with 30 drunk people.”
(Erin Stock, “Former stripper gets $100,000 in lawsuit: Blamed club for drunken wreck”, Birmingham News, Feb. 2) (h/t P.E.).