- Court slaps “nightmare” Sacramento litigant Raj Singh with sanctions [KXTV, auto-plays, earlier]
- Child overprotection: “I don’t think they even drink liquid soap, the gateway drug for sunscreen.” [Lenore Skenazy, Free-Range Kids]
- Three-fer: personal injury, qui tam lawsuits against guardrail maker coordinated by disappointed patent litigant [Insurance Journal]
- Donald Trump hit with sanctions in lawsuit for not disclosing insurance policy [South Florida Business Journal, our Trump coverage]
- On AirBnB and sharing services, it’s lefty economist Dean Baker (con) vs. David Henderson (pro). Go David! [EconLib] London black cabs seek level playing field with Uber. Good idea, let’s deregulate ’em both [Matthew Feeney, Cato]
- Waffle House chairman claims attorneys committed extortion in ex-housekeeper’s sex lawsuit [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
- “Tenth Circuit Says No to ‘Death by Discovery’ in Dispute over Agreement to Arbitrate in Class Action” [Lars Fuller, Class Action Blawg on Howard v. Ferrellgas Partners LP]
Still pretty much the Litigation Lobby’s number one target, and still worth defending with appropriate vigor. [Andrew Pincus, American Lawyer]
For those who freaked out at those headlines Thursday, Daniel Fisher at Forbes has a corrective to the New York Times’ latest story advancing the trial lawyer campaign against arbitration. More: Eric Goldman. Sequel: General Mills quickly withdraws new policy, perhaps reasoning that even when the New York Times is wrong, a consumer marketing company really can’t win trying to argue with it. Yet more: Dave Hoffman with an analysis of whether the language actually creates a contract.
- “In a nationally representative sample, higher patient satisfaction was associated with…increased mortality.” [White Coat/BirdStrike]
- Low premiums! Few glitches! Larger states “working faithfully to implement the law with as few glitches as possible”! New Yorker’s Oct. 7 “Talk of the Town” on ACA’s smooth launch is a retrospective hoot;
- Massachusetts Nurses Association goes all Venezuelan on hospital governance [Ira Stoll]
- “Can a healthcare provider make an arbitration agreement with patients for resolving future malpractice disputes?” [Alex Stein]
- “FDA Proposal To Curb Painkiller Overdose Deaths Would Add Burdens For Pain Patients” [Radley Balko]
- Georgia DUI expert in hot water [PennLive] “Deconstructing the mechanical engineer” [Manhattan; Eric Turkewitz]
- “FDA Suspension of Ponatinib: Serious Problem, Wrong Solution” [Richard Epstein, leukemia drug]
- “Missouri Lawmakers Override Veto to Enact Good Samaritan Law” [Michael Cannon, Cato]
- Court agrees to hear case that could be vehicle for reconsidering “fraud on the market” theory embraced in Basic Inc. v. Levinson, 1988, which would spell huge news for securities class actions [Daniel Fisher, Class Defense Blog, Halliburton v. Erica P. John Fund at SCOTUSBlog; noteworthy amicus brief (PDF) from former SEC commissioners and officials and law professors]
- Elane Photography files certiorari petition [PDF] seeking review of ruling compelling owner to shoot same-sex partnership celebration [Adam Liptak, NYT, citing Cato brief in New Mexico case below, more on which here]
- Court hears oral argument on Hood v. AU Optronics: is state attorney general’s parens patriae antitrust suit removable to federal court under CAFA? [Ronald Mann/SCOTUSBlog, Class Defense Blog]
- “Party autonomy reigns supreme: arbitration and class actions in the Supreme Court’s 2012 term” [Mark Morril, WLF]
- More views on Bond v. U.S., the treaty case [Nick Dranias, Oona Hathaway, Spiro et al/Opinio Juris, Will Baude, earlier]
- Housing disparate impact: “St. Paul landlords’ suit may move forward, after New Jersey case settled” [St. Paul Pioneer-Press, Josh Blackman and more, earlier]
- Hee hee: SCOTUSBlog is for sale, and Kyle Graham is handicapping the possible purchasers [Non Curat Lex]
- There’s no constitutional authority for federal hate crime law [Ilya Shapiro, Cato]
Having been at times lacking in enthusiasm for the work of journalist Stephanie Mencimer, it’s only fair we credit her again with considerable courage for returning to the failed Jamie Leigh Jones case in a new article in Washington Monthly. (Jones alleged a brutal rape in Iraq for which her lawyers said employer Halliburton/Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) should have been held responsible; the case served as a springboard for numerous misleading attacks on pre-dispute arbitration). Following the evidence wherever it leads against the likely inclinations of many Washington Monthly readers, Mencimer leaves Jones’ credibility in tatters and the various liberal and trial-lawyer sources that ballyhooed her case — including Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and TV talker Rachel Maddow — looking highly gullible, to go with the kindest interpretation.
Most damning of all, as readers of posts in this space (especially those by Ted Frank) will recall, Jones was given center stage in Susan Saladoff’s film “Hot Coffee,” which periodically airs on HBO and on college campuses and has established itself as one of the litigation industry’s most durable and successful propaganda vehicles. All future discussion of “Hot Coffee” — and certainly any cable/broadcast airings or public screenings whose sponsors care about accuracy and fairness — will need to warn audiences that the Jones case can now be seen in retrospect as almost unrecognizably different from the picture of it presented in that trial-lawyer-produced “documentary.” If this is what becomes of one of Saladoff’s central cases, how reliable ought we to consider the rest of her film?
- The bureaucracy in India brings Gilbert & Sullivan to life: “He has been corresponding with himself for the last 26 days as an officer wearing different hats.” [Deccan Chronicle via @tylercowen]
- “Certificate of Need” laws: “You Shouldn’t Have to Ask Your Competitors for Permission to Start a Business” [Ilya Shapiro]
- No massive shift to arbitration clauses in franchise world since SCOTUS rulings [Peter Rutledge and Christopher Drahozal via Alison Frankel; Andrew Trask]
- Evergreen headline in slightly varying forms: “Anti-abuse group’s director quits after arrest in assault” [Sacramento Bee; related here, here, etc.]
- Economic liberalization increases growth [Alex Tabarrok]
- “With Auto Amber Alerts, We’re Opted In By Default To A ‘Little Brother’ Surveillance Society” [Kashmir Hill]
- How Florida trial lawyers plan to crack the tobacco-verdict vault [Daniel Fisher]
- Radley Balko on a roll with harrowing, Louisiana-focused piece on misbehaving prosecutors and the system that protects them [HuffPo] “Former Cops Speak Out About Police Militarization” And a BBC interview (auto-plays video);
- Judge Alsup: pay-to-play allegations against Democratic Attorneys General Association, Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood, MSPERS won’t derail class action [Courthouse News]
- “Smoker’s Son Recovers $12.8M for Loss of Consortium” [NLJ]
- How easy is it to get a free federal cellphone (or two or three) without actually qualifying? [Jillian Kay Melchior, NR]
- “‘Total’ly Milking the FCPA Cash Cow?” [Koehler, FCPA Professor]
- “The unfair attack on arbitration” [Hans von Spakovsky]
- How public interest litigators got 501(c)(3) charitable status [Scott Walter, Philanthropy Daily; related earlier]
Left-leaning lawprofs like Erwin Chemerinsky and Arthur Miller regularly flog the idea that decisions they disagree with — such as Twombly and Iqbal on pleading, AT&T v. Concepcion and AmEx v. Italian Colors on arbitration, and Vance v. Ball State and Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire on workplace liability — show the Supreme Court to be biased in favor of business defendants. Richard Epstein rebuts.
Today’s Supreme Court decision in American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant is a victory for freedom of contract, a boost for arbitration as an alternative to litigation, and a step forward in the Court’s ongoing recognition that the class action is just one legal vehicle among many, not some priority express train to be favored over other traffic. The restaurant had agreed with American Express to settle disputes by way of arbitration, and to waive any rights to have future disputes handled through class actions. When a potential antitrust claim arose, it nonetheless sought to slip out of its contractual agreement and invalidate the waiver. Split along familiar ideological lines with Justice Sotomayor not participating, the court ruled 5-3 that the Second Circuit erred in striking down the waiver as inconsistent with the Federal Arbitration Act. While the Court has previously held that arbitration agreements must be construed to provide “effective vindication” of statutory claims, the class action format — which did not even exist for these purposes until decades after the Sherman Act’s passage — was not so crucial to the restaurant’s legal rights as to be unwaivable.
A dissent by Justice Kagan — both longer and more spirited than Justice Scalia’s majority opinion — seeks to extend the Court’s earlier rulings that arbitration clauses cannot thwart “effective vindication” of statutory rights by such devices as requiring overly high fees for entry into arbitration. Interestingly, the dissent outdoes the majority in claiming to favor the true spirit of arbitration as an alternative to litigation; in that respect, at least, it departs from the tone of much commentary from the Legal Left which treats arbitration as an evil corporate plot to deprive the world of the benefits of zealous litigation. It also proposes two paths of argument that the majority declines to pursue: 1) that skepticism toward contractual waivers might be especially appropriate in antitrust contexts because the alleged monopolist under scrutiny may use its putative market power to put across unfair contract terms; 2) that confidentiality clauses in Amex’s contract (not addressed by the majority) might fail the “effective vindication” test by preventing Amex customers from joining forces to collaborate on expert reports to use on their behalf in individualized assertion of their disputes.
For years, organized trial lawyers have been publicly campaigning against arbitration — which keeps money out of their pockets by diverting disputes from knock-down litigation — claiming that it is unfair and one-sided. But many studies support the view that disputants’ overall satisfaction in arbitration compares very favorably to that in litigation, in part because it is a speedier and less acrimonious process. And consumers and small businesses by millions sign away their class action rights not because they are all hoodwinked or coerced, but because at some level they have rational grounds to recognize that those class-action rights are very unlikely to pay off for them in durable future benefits (as opposed to benefits for participants in the litigation industry). Congress will be asked to overturn Supreme Court decisions like Amex v. Italian Colors and the earlier, related AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion. It should resist. (expanded from an earlier post at Cato at Liberty; and welcome SCOTUSblog readers.)