Posts tagged as:

arbitration

  • NLRB rules employment contracts that specify arbitration for group grievances violate federal labor law even in nonunion workplaces [D. R. Horton, Inc. and Michael Cuda; Ross Runkel, Corporate Counsel]
  • Richard Epstein on “living wage” legislation [Defining Ideas]
  • In Greece, law providing early retirement for “hazardous” jobs was extended to some that are not so hazardous, like hairdressing, pastry making and radio announcing [Mark Steyn via Instapundit, IBTimes, Reuters]
  • “Prosecutor’s double-dippers draw millions from New Jersey pension funds” [Mark Lagerkvist, DC Examiner] Even if convicted on felony charges of misappropriation of public funds, Beverly Hills school superintendent unlikely to forfeit pension [LA Times]
  • “Against Forced Unionization of Independent Workers” [Ilya Shapiro on Cato amicus brief in Harris v. Quinn]
  • Whoops: UAW officials appeal extortion sentence, 6th Circuit sends it back as too lenient [AutoBlog via Kaus]
  • New York appeals court makes it harder to get weak NYC job-bias cases dismissed on summary judgment [Judy Greenwald, Business Insurance] Connecticut’s job-bias commission doesn’t seem to consider any cases frivolous any more [Daniel Schwartz]

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November 8 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 8, 2011

Remember the “Halliburton rape” case, where the national media uncritically passed along claims that a young woman had been viciously assaulted by co-workers while stationed in the Middle East, then confined to a container by beastly managers when she tried to complain, and finally suffered the ultimate indignity when her employment contract required her to submit the claims to arbitration? It’s a tale that was advanced by politicians like Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), by some of the usual suspects in opinion journalism, and especially by the litigation lobby as part of its campaign against contractually provided-for arbitration (as with the much-reviewed, HBO-aired “Hot Coffee“). Not a few of these advocates — like the left-leaning ThinkProgress — threw “allegedly” to the winds and flatly accused the co-workers of rape.

Unless you’d read one of the very few skeptical evaluations of the case — many of them written by Ted Frank — you may have been shocked this July when a Houston jury summarily rejected Jamie Leigh Jones’s lawsuit. Now — better late than never — the Houston Chronicle shreds the popular narrative of the affair and its media coverage in particular (ABC News: a tale of “sexual brutality, corporate indifference and government inaction.”) Is it too much to hope that anyone will be embarrassed enough to apologize?

More: As commenter E-Bell notes, journalist Stephanie Mencimer, with whom we’ve had our differences in the past, deserves due credit for this July coverage in the unlikely venue of Mother Jones. And quoth @Popehat: “‘Putting the victim on trial’ is code for ‘defending yourself and testing the evidence.’”

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On upholding consumer and employee agreements to arbitrate, as in the days before the telegraph, it can take a while for the word to get from D.C. to the West Coast. [Cal Biz Lit]

July 10 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 10, 2011

  • Jury rejects Jamie Leigh Jones rape claim against Halliburton/KBR. Next, a round of apologies from naive commentators and some who used the case to advance anti-arbitration talking points? [WSJ; Ted Frank/PoL and more; WSJ Law Blog (plaintiff's lawyers sought shoot-the-moon damages)]
  • Time magazine vs. James Madison on constitutional law (spoiler: Madison wins) [Foster Friess via Ira Stoll]
  • Andrew Trask reviews new Curtis Wilkie book on the Dickie Scruggs scandal;
  • “Right to family life” evolution in human rights law deters UK authorities from deporting various bad actors [Telegraph]
  • Paging Benjamin Barton: How discovery rules enrich the legal profession at the expense of the social good [PoL]
  • USDA heeds politics, not science, on genetic crops [Henry Miller/Gregory Conko, PDF, Cato Institute Regulation]
  • “Legal Questions Raised by Success of Monkey Photographer” [Lowering the Bar]

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Contractually stipulated arbitration works less poorly than the NYT editorialists seem to think — and lawyer-driven class action litigation not nearly as well [Daniel Fisher, Forbes, more]

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May 4 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 4, 2011

November 12 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 12, 2010

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November 9 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 9, 2010

  • White House panel’s counsel: no evidence corner-cutting caused Gulf spill [NYT, Reuters] Furor ensues [WaPo]
  • Report: grief counselors assigned to Democratic congressional staffers [Maggie Haberman, Politico]
  • “Lawyer Sues for Humiliation and Lost Business Due to Misspelled Yellowbook Ad” [ABA Journal, South Dakota]
  • Argument today in important Supreme Court case, AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion: will courts respect freedom of contract in consumer arbitration context, or yield Litigation Lobby the monopoly it seeks over dispute resolution? [Ted at PoL]
  • No search warrant needed: armed deputies in Orlando storm unlicensed barbershops, handcuff barbers [Balko, Reason "Hit and Run"]
  • After Colorado hit-run, banker allowed to plead down to misdemeanors lest his job be at risk [Greenfield]
  • FDA to decide whether to ban menthol in cigarettes [CEI]
  • Reshuffling blackjack decks is not “racketeering” [ten years ago on Overlawyered]

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For a number of years organized trial lawyerdom has made it a top priority to attack contractual clauses providing for arbitration of employment, consumer and other disputes, arguing that only litigation — that is to say, their own services — can provide the needed fairness, deterrence and compensation. Such is the Litigation Lobby’s overreach in this matter that even a veteran liberal, former Ninth Circuit judge and Carter education secretary Shirley Hufstedler, is constrained (with co-author William Webster) to part company with bills introduced by Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold and others: “Astonishingly, such legislation would effectively abolish arbitration as a viable alternative for such disputes.” [National Law Journal]

September 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 20, 2010

  • “Family sues for $25 million over death of Virginia Beach homeless man” [Pilot Online]
  • New paper proposes voucherizing indigent criminal defense [Stephen Schulhofer and David Friedman, Cato Institute, more]
  • “Why the Employee Free Choice Act Has, and Should, Fail” [Richard Epstein, SSRN]
  • Free-market lawprofs file brief in class action arbitration case, Concepcion v. AT&T [PoL]
  • Enactment of Dodd-Frank law results in flood of whistleblower-suit leads for plaintiff’s bar [Corporate Counsel, ABA Journal] “Will Whistle-Blowing Be Millions Well Spent?” [Perlis/Chais, Forbes]
  • Sept. 28 in House: “Congressional Hearing on the Problems of Overcriminalization” [NACDL]
  • Abusive-litigation angle seen in NYC mosque controversy [Painter, Legal Ethics Forum]
  • Snark alert: Mr. Soros does something nice for Human Rights, and Human Rights does something nice for him [Stoll]

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The Center for Class Action Fairness filed an amicus brief yesterday on behalf of consumers in the Supreme Court case of AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion; Public Citizen brought a suit successfully striking an arbitration provision in a cell-phone contract as “unconscionable” because it did not provide for bringing class actions—even though consumers as a whole would be better off with the generous arbitration provision than with opportunity for the class action. Of course, then trial lawyers lose out. More at Point of Law; and Public Citizen’s page on the case has other briefs and links to (generally pro-trial-lawyer) blog commentary.

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June 16 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 16, 2010

  • Shameless: House leadership exempts NRA lest it sink bill to regulate political speech [John Samples, Cato]
  • Employment law: “Arbitration Showdown Looms Between Congress, Supreme Court” [Coyle, NLJ]
  • “Wake Up, Fellow Law Professors, to the Casualties of Our Enterprise” [Tamanaha, Balkinization]
  • Move to allow international war crimes trials over “aggression,” a notoriously slippery term [Anderson, Brett Schaefer/NRO "Corner" via Ku]
  • Litigation slush funds: “Cy pres bill in Ohio House” [Ted Frank, CCAF]
  • “Recent Michigan Prosecutions for ‘Seducing an Unmarried Woman’” [Volokh]
  • Scalia: “…least analytically rigorous and hence most subjective of law-school subjects, legal ethics” [LEF]
  • Silicosis settlement scandal update: “As 2 Insurance Execs Admit Bribes, PI Lawyer Says He Can’t Be Retried” [Houston Chronicle via ABA Journal, earlier]

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New at Point of Law

by Walter Olson on February 20, 2010

Things you’re missing if you aren’t checking out my other site:

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July 23 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 23, 2009

  • San Jose man says PlayStation online game network is public forum and sues Sony pro se for kicking him off it [Popehat] More: Ambrogi, Legal Blog Watch.
  • “Teacher lets kids climb hill, cops come calling” [Santa Barbara, Calif.; Free Range Kids]
  • Tip for journalists covering trials: stalk the rest rooms [Genova]
  • Lake Erie villages turn off street lights in summer to avoid attracting mayflies, town now sued over driver-jogger collision [Columbus Dispatch]
  • Some lawyers anticipate “astronomical” municipal liability from West Portal train collision in San Francisco [SF Weekly]
  • Radical notion: before filing lawsuit charging consumer fraud, maybe plaintiff should notify merchant and ask to have problem fixed [New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Watch]
  • No jurisdiction: Eleventh Circuit overturns contempt finding against Scruggs in Rigsby case [Freeland]
  • Successful trial lawyer campaign against arbitration is throwing credit card business into turmoil [ABA Journal, Wood @ Point of Law, Ambrogi/Legal Blog Watch (conflict of interests at one large arbitration supplier)]

Tucked away in the Obama administration’s proposals for revamping regulation of financial services is a provision that would apparently allow federal regulators to curtail or eliminate the preagreed arbitration of consumer complaints in stockbroker and other financial service disputes, thus shunting more cases as litigation to the civil courts. [Erin Geiger Smith, Business Insider]. Max Kennerly has a plaintiff’s-eye view.

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Not a misprint: the arbitration award in Chester v. iFreedom Communications Inc., (PDF), in favor of a former chief marketing officer fired without cause, was really $4.1 billion with a b. [Dennis Westlind, World of Work via Ohio Employer's Law; JAMS, Los Angeles]

P.S.: A commenter at an Alabama site: “So much for mandatory binding arbitration always favoring the big company.”

P.P.S.: More on how it happened, including serious lapses by the defendant in responding to the action, from AmLaw Litigation Daily, National Law Journal, and Daniel Schwartz.

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Today I testified before the Senate Republican Conference about the effect on the economy of excessive litigation. A podcast is available on-line and, for the insomniacs among you, the hearing will be broadcast on C-SPAN tonight at 10:56 PM Eastern and again at 2:09 AM Eastern. Also testifying was Life Without Lawyers author Philip Howard; Crystal Chodes, who lost her job because of the expense of a meritless ADA filing mill suit; Texas doctor David Teuscher; and arbitration expert and University of Kansas law professor Christopher Drahozal.

If you just prefer reading what I have to say, my written testimony is on-line also:

The total loss to the economy from excessive tort litigation above and beyond a baseline of an employment at will regime and an average industrialized tort system can be estimated at between over $600 billion and over $900 billion a year, 4.3% to 6.5% of GNP, or a tort tax of between $8,000 and $12,000/year for an average family of four. And this is very much a conservative estimate, as other economists find much stronger effects than I have estimated here, as I have not tried to estimate a number of identifiable secondary and tertiary effects of excessive tort litigation on allocation of economic resources, and as I have not tried to estimate the likely effect of recent Congressional expansions of tort liability in the last twelve months.

I was pleased to hear from multiple Congressional staffers who are regular Overlawyered readers: one even surreptitiously added the website into my official biography. Carter Wood talks about the hearing and Senator Cornyn’s remarks over at Point of Law.

Update: video on-line at C-SPAN; my segment begins at 43:15 or so. And C-SPAN2 is rebroadcasting at 4:16 pm Eastern on Tuesday, March 17, which suggests that my appearance will be at about 5 pm Eastern.

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