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arbitration

According to what seems to be the sense of many in the Florida legal profession, doctors and their patients should not have the right to enter enforceable arbitration agreements before the fact to resolve disputes, but lawyers and their clients should have the right to enter enforceable agreements before the fact to limit liability for excessive charging of legal fees. Thanks for clarifying! [White Coat, scroll; earlier]

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February 8 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 8, 2012

  • Popular proposal to curb Congressional insider trading (“STOCK Act”) could have disturbing unintended consequences [John Berlau, CEI "Open Market"] A contrary view: Bainbridge.
  • Here’s Joe’s number, he’ll do a good job of suing us: “Some Maryland hospitals recommend lawyers to patients” [Baltimore Sun, Ron Miller]
  • Bribing the states to spend: follies of our fiscal federalism, and other themes from Michael Greve’s new book The Upside-Down Constitution [LLL, more, yet more] “Atlas Croaks, Supreme Court Shrugs” [Greve, Charleston Law Review; related, Ted Frank]
  • “… Daubert Relevancy is the Sentry That Guards Against the Tyranny of Experts” [David Oliver on new First Circuit opinion or scroll to Jan. 23]
  • Goodbye old political tweets, Eric Turkewitz is off to trial;
  • State laws squelch election speech, and political class shrugs (or secretly smiles) [George Will]
  • Too bad Carlyle Group got scared off promising experiment to revamp corporate governance to curb role of litigation [Ted Frank, Gordon Smith] AAJ should try harder to use people’s quotes in context [Bainbridge]

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January 23 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 23, 2012

  • Copyright violations on PIPA sponsors’ websites? [VICE] “A SOPA Analogy” [David Henderson]
  • DEA agent who mistakenly shot self loses appeal [BLT, earlier]
  • “And people say libertarians lack empathy”: AP adopts pre-emptively disapproving tone toward advances in pain control [Coyote; related, Alkon on Primatene Mist]
  • Cordray, NLRB recess picks allow President to reward key Democratic interest groups [Copland, Examiner] Litigation Lobby gunning for ban on consumer finance arbitration as Cordray priority [CL&P] Mike Rappaport on the recess appointment clause [LLL, earlier here, etc.]
  • Keystone’s just the half of it: US environmental funders push shutdown of Canada energy production [Vivian Krause, Financial Post]
  • Hot potato, or just hot business sector? “Credit Suisse Parts with Litigation Finance Group” [WSJ Law Blog]
  • Speaking of shoplifters in elected office [Harrisburg Patriot-News on Perry County, Pa. case h/t commenter A.A.; earlier on California case]

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January 16 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 16, 2012

  • Per Chevron, Kerry Kennedy getting undisclosed percentage of the take, potentially in millions, to side with plaintiffs in Ecuador suit [NY Post] Long New Yorker take-out on case [Patrick Radden Keefe]
  • Freetail Brewing fields a nastygram: “How to Comply With a Cease-and-Desist Letter But Still Win” [Lowering the Bar]
  • I.e. boycotts illegal? Odd Minnesota law bans economic “reprisals” based on “political activity.” [Volokh]
  • “Chris McGrath v. Vaughan Jones: An Unpleasant Peek Into U.K. Libel Law” [Popehat; suit over science-and-theology book review] Related: “You Can’t Read This Book: why libel tourists love London” [Nick Cohen, Guardian, on his new book]
  • Business experience isn’t be-all or end-all for presidential qualifications, but might avert some policy howlers [Kling]
  • “Arbitration Is Here to Stay and One Lawyer Says That Is Good for Consumers” [Alan Kaplinsky interview, Mickey Meese/Forbes, PoL]
  • Off-topic random thought: “Iranian nuclear scientist who moonlights in Broadway Spider-Man cast” must be world’s most uninsurable job description;
  • “D.C. Lawmakers Propose Requiring Students to Apply to College” [Fox]

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  • 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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