“Following in the footsteps of two California counties, the city of Chicago this week filed suit against five pharmaceutical companies, contending that they drove up the city’s costs by overstating the benefits of their addictive painkillers and failing to reveal the downside of taking the drugs.” [ABA Journal, Bloomberg] The city’s press release asserts, among other things: “there is no scientific evidence supporting the long-term use of these drugs [opioids] for non-cancer chronic pain.”
Suits like this are typically, though not invariably, concocted by private law firms which then pitch them to governments hoping for contingency-fee representation deals. (Orange and Santa Clara are the California counties that have signed on to such actions.) For more on the war on painkillers and their marketing, check the ample resources at Reason mag from Jacob Sullum, Brian Doherty, and others; note also a recent book, A Nation in Pain by Judy Foreman, via Tyler Cowen. Our earlier coverage is here.
For Daniel Taylor to be convicted of a murder committed while he was actually behind bars, at least three things had to happen: 1) a supposed confession extracted by Chicago police; 2) a conveniently corroborative sighting of Taylor at the scene by another cop; 3) improper withholding of exonerating evidence by the Illinois prosecutor. A Center on Wrongful Convictions video (via Balko)(& welcome Above the Law readers).
Following up on the sensational Blue Line crash at the Chicago Transit Authority’s O’Hare Airport terminus: “The CTA’s contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union authorizes the agency to fire rail operators who have had two serious safety violations in a short period of time [emphasis added], and officials said the two incidents when [Brittney] Haywood dozed off qualify her for termination.” Falling asleep just once at the controls of a train wasn’t enough! [CBS Chicago] More: Bill Zeiser, American Spectator.
Not an April Fool’s: we’ve covered the saga of Judge Cynthia Brim in two earlier posts. Chicago voters re-elected her to the bench despite troubles which eventuated in a successful defense to misdemeanor battery charges on the ground of insanity. [Chicago Tribune, auto-plays annoyingly]
Martha Neil at the ABA Journal reports on a setback for one fast-out-of-the-gate filing over the fate of Flight 370:
“These are the kind of lawsuits that make lawyers look bad—and we already look bad enough,” Robert A. Clifford, one of Chicago’s best-known personal injury lawyers, told the Chicago Tribune earlier, calling Ribbeck’s filing “premature.”
Much more from Eric Turkewitz.
P.S. Representatives of American law firms swarm bereaved families in Peking and Kuala Lumpur, talk of million-dollar awards: “a question of how much and when.” [Edward Wong and Kirk Semple, NY Times]
…circa 1897,” in Chicago. It is well recognized that a legal culture of entrepreneurial claims-making and suit-filing, especially as regards road and transport mishaps, had emerged in some large American cities by the early Twentieth Century. But its development in all likelihood can be traced to even earlier points than that, perhaps stimulated in part by the widespread electrification of urban streetcar lines (previously animal-drawn) in the early 1890s. [Kyle Graham]
The practice of destroying guns seized by police makes approximately as much sense as shredding money that falls into local governments’ hands, unless, like the Chicago police department, you adopt the view that “guns are the equivalent of free-roaming cobras, being lethal and unmanageable by any means except elimination.” [Steve Chapman, syndicated]
At Cook County Judge Cynthia Brim’s trial this week, “she was found not guilty of misdemeanor battery because she was ‘legally insane’ at the time.” Cook County voters re-elected Brim in November despite reports of her troubles [South Bend Tribune/Chicago Tribune, earlier]
According to the retailers group [Illinois Retail Merchants Association], Mr. [Stephen] Diamond’s Chicago law firm, Schad Diamond & Shedden P.C., has filed no fewer than 238 lawsuits in recent years against retailers small and large, which in its view failed to collect said shipping-and-handling sales taxes. Since the suits have been filed under a “whistle-blower” section of law, the firm is entitled to as much as 30 percent of any recovered taxes as well as attorneys’ fees for its trouble. And because it’s often easier and cheaper for defendants to settle rather than continue to fight, Schad Diamond reportedly has pocketed millions of dollars.
The office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says the whistleblower provisions were intended for use by insiders disclosing misconduct rather than by outsiders, while “Illinois Revenue Director Brian Hamer says [the wave of suits] ‘has given Illinois a black eye’ and victimizes those who have made only an ‘inadvertent’ mistake.” [Greg Hinz, Crain's Chicago Business]
I’ve expanded into a longer Cato post my item about how (according to the New York Times) incoming French president François Hollande demanded and got the dismissal of the editor of Le Figaro, the leading opposition (conservative) newspaper. If you think such things would never happen in this country, you might want to catch up on a couple of stories from Chicago and Boston. The post is here.
P.S. They’re still fighting in Washington over media cross-ownership rules.
“Behold the power of incumbency,” including Judge Cynthia Brim’s successful campaign to retain her $182,000/year job; her “18-year tenure,” as the Chicago Tribune puts it with wry understatement, “has been marked by controversy.” [Above the Law]