- Safe Drinking Water Act along with other federal laws helped scare consumers away from public fountains and tap water, with unintended bad consequences for health and the environment [Kendra Pierre-Louis, Washington Post]
- Austin, Tex. ban on plastic bags isn’t working out as intended [Adam Minter, Bloomberg View]
- After BP’s $18.7 billion settlement with five Gulf states, here come huge private lawyer paydays [Louisiana Record]
- Energy efficiency in durable goods: mandates “based on weak or nonexistent evidence of consumer irrationality” with government itself hardly free of behavioral biases [Tyler Cowen]
- “How Trophy Hunting Can Save Lions” [Terry Anderson and Shawn Regan, PERC/WSJ]
- CPSC’s hard line on CPSIA testing of natural materials in toys based on “precautionary principle run amuck” [Nancy Nord]
- Is the ideal of sustainability one we ultimately owe to hunter-gatherers? [Arnold Kling]
- All aboard! “Louisiana AG hires nine private law firms, 17 attorneys for federal antitrust pharmaceutical lawsuit” [Legal NewsLine]
- National Association of Insurance Commissioners has, and exploits, legally privileged status as collector of insurance data. Time for open access [Ray Lehmann]
- Europe’s antitrust charges against Google remind us of “the poverty of the standard antitrust doctrine” [Pierre Lemieux]
- Court blasts Morrison Foerster for ‘nonsensical’ legal theories and ‘carnival fun house’ arguments [ABA Journal]
- “Trolls aren’t the primary problem with the patent system. They’re just the problem Congress is willing to fix.” [Timothy Lee, Vox] What makes you think lawyers and rent-seekers aren’t going to turn “patent reform” to their own purposes? [Mark Mills]
- “It only goes that one direction, too.” Rachel Maddow recognizes the fairness problem with one-way fee shifting, this one time [Huffington Post on pro-defendant Colorado firearms law]
- CPSC still going after Zen Magnets, which isn’t backing down [Nancy Nord, earlier]
- “On what planet is it remotely constitutional to *raid someone’s home* and forbid them from speaking about it?” [Julian Sanchez on new at-length National Review account of Wisconsin John Doe raids; my earlier writing on the raids at Cato and here; Scott Shackford, Reason; Walker opponents still defending John Doe proceeding, to praise from (updated) left-leaning national Alliance for Justice and Center for American Progress]
- Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoes bill to provide more transparency in state’s hiring of outside counsel [Legal NewsLine]
- BuckyBalls gone, Zen Magnets still standing: “Two Cheers for 10th Circuit’s Temporary Stay of CPSC’s New Magnet Safety Standard” [Mark Chenoweth, WLF]
- Arkansas governor vetoes “right of publicity” bill [Volokh]
- NY Times profiles prolific privacy lawsuit filer Jay Edelson, whose class action firm we’ve met before;
- Recusal motion gamesmanship from trial lawyers at Illinois Supreme Court [Richard Samp, WLF]
- Law faculty diversity: Republican women “were — and are — almost missing from law teaching.” [James Lindgren, SSRN via TaxProf; more from Lindgren]
- “The FAA Says You Can’t Post Drone Videos on YouTube” [Vice] Agency rethinking position following outcry? [Photography Is Not a Crime]
- Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) proposes bill directing Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to issue safety rules for detergent pods [Paula Bolyard, Heartland, quotes me; earlier] Bonus: Lenore Skenazy on CPSC zipper hooded sweatshirt recall;
- New Jersey high court — Gov. Christie’s appointees included — will now take over direct enforcement of court’s previous decisions (“Mount Laurel”) requiring towns to adopt low-income housing quotas [Bergen County Record, earlier]
- Bureau of Indian Affairs revises federal guidelines on Indian Child Welfare Act, and a nonprofit group of adoption attorneys says that not only were it and other stakeholder groups not consulted, but “entire sections” of the revision “completely disregard the best interest of children,” something ICWA alas encourages by its text [American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, earlier]
- Should winning class action plaintiff lawyers be able to mark up their expenses, such as photocopying, as two law professors propose? [Andrew Trask last year]
- “Attorney who appeared in more than 3,000 asbestos cases disbarred … ‘Excuse Man’ also loses license” [Chamber-backed Madison-St. Clair Record]
- If you see an online ad for $199 divorce, maybe think twice before giving them your debit card info over the phone [KTVK, Phoenix]
According to an account in The Hill last month, “the number of deaths caused by Christmas lights has declined to about one person each year from a high of 13 people each year in the early 1990s.” That might seem like an encouraging record, leaving what might seem a low residual risk considering the millions of households that decorate with seasonal lights, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is moving ahead with expensive regulations anyway [Hannah Yang, Heartland]. I’m quoted:
The CPSC’s filing notes that less than one percent of holiday lights affected by the rule have been determined to contain defects, as “voluntary conformance” with industry standards is nearly universal.
Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies, criticized the new rules against cheery Christmas lights, explaining “the CPSC—like other agencies—has an interest in justifying its own existence.”…
“They’ve become somewhat truculent from all the criticism,” he said, adding that CPSC actions and regulations often seem to be intended to send a message of “‘see how much you laugh when we send our lawyers after you.’ …As we know from other CPSC regulations, it can be quite expensive to comply with a CPSC rule, even if your product is not in violation.”
Apparently they’re associated with one death a year and that’s a risk we mustn’t be allowed to take [The Hill]
Last month federal district judge Claude Hilton dismissed an antitrust suit filed against rival makers of table saws by SawStop, a company that has patented a table saw with innovative safety features. “Hilton’s ruling, while a blow to SawStop, has no legal bearing on the company’s efforts to get the Consumer Product Safety Commission to require the use of their technology on most table saws sold in the U.S.” Trial lawyers at Boies Schiller and elsewhere have also filed numerous product liability suits against makers of conventional saws; many saw users prefer to go on buying conventional saws, which are much less expensive, in preference to using the SawStop system [David Frane, Tools of the Trade, background; earlier]
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission:
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is announcing a voluntary recall of all Buckyballs and Buckycubes. … Refunds will be processed through a Recall Trust that will be funded by Mr. Zucker, but created and controlled by CPSC.
According to Zucker in a press release:
The settlement amount is less than 1% of the original $57 million that the CPSC estimated a recall to cost and is not a fine or penalty….
In February of 2013, the CPSC took unprecedented action by naming Zucker personally under the controversial Park Doctrine as an officer of the company that sold Buckyballs®.
This happened after Zucker, in what was itself an unusual if not unprecedented stand for an executive at a firm subject to CPSC regulation, took a vigorous public stand defending his product against the commission’s recall demands and even employed jokes and caricatures to make fun of CPSC commissioners. Earlier coverage here. More: Nancy Nord.