- Speech-curbing proposals continue to get polite academic reception: NYU’s Jeremy Waldron, big advocate of laws to curb “hate speech”, delivered Holmes Lectures at Harvard this past week [HLS, schedule]
- Lawsuit over collectible baseball hit into stands by Phillies’ Ryan Howard, his 200th career homer [Howard Wasserman, PrawfsBlawg; NJLRA]
- Orchid-importer prosecution a poster case for the evils of overcriminalization? Maybe not [Ken at Popehat]
- Texas State Fair and city of Dallas don’t have to allow evangelist to distribute religious tracts inside the fair, judge rules after three years [Dallas Observer blog]
- Drug maker: FDA’s curbs on truthful promotion of off-label uses impair our First Amendment speech rights [Beck and Herrmann and more, Point of Law and more]
- Did plaintiff Eolas Technologies go to unusual lengths to ensure Eastern District of Texas venue for its patent litigation? [Joe Mullin, IP Law and Business via Alison Frankel, AmLaw]
- Update: “Lesbian Denied Infertility Treatment Settles Lawsuit” [San Diego 6, earlier]
- Even in the Ninth Circuit, “psychological injury resulting from a legitimate personnel action” is not compensable [Volokh]
- The wages of addiction: former basketball star Roy Tarpley settles his $6.5 million ADA lawsuit against NBA and Dallas Mavericks [Randy Galloway, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Sports Law Blog]
- One result of litigation-fed “vaccines cause autism” scare: parents turn to dangerous quack treatments [Arthur Allen, Slate; in-depth coverage at Kathleen Seidel’s and Orac’s sites]
- Julie Hilden on First Circuit “true statements can be defamatory” ruling [FindLaw, earlier here and here]
- More coverage of conviction of Kentucky lawyers for grabbing much of fen-phen settlement [Louisville Courier-Journal, earlier]
- Judge dismisses most counts in lawsuit against Richard Laminack of Texas’s O’Quinn law firm [Texas Lawyer, earlier; FLSA overtime claims remain]
- All but three of the outstanding 9/11 airline suits due to settle for $500 million [AP/NorthJersey.com]
- One needn’t make the Community Reinvestment Act a scapegoat for unrelated credit woes to recognize it as an ill-conceived law [Bank Lawyer’s Blog]
- U.K.: Woman who plays classical music to soothe horses told she must pay for public performance license [Telegraph]
Jacob Sullum at Reason “Hit and Run” (Dec. 10):
I want to write a blog post about H. Walker Royall, the Dallas developer who sues people when they criticize his abuse of eminent domain, but I’m afraid he’ll sue me. After all, he sued Wright Gore III over a website that detailed the city of Freeport’s attempt to condemn land occupied by the Western Seafood Company, a business owned by Gore’s family, so Royall could use it for a luxury marina project. And he sued Carla Main, a journalist who wrote a book about the legal struggle over the Gores’ land, along with her publisher, Encounter Books [also a publisher of mine — W.O.]. He sued University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein, one of the country’s leading authorities on eminent domain, for writing a blurb that appeared on the cover of Main’s book. He even sued two newspapers that published reviews of the book.
So after thinking carefully about my potential legal exposure, I have decided not to say that Royall…
I can’t go on. I just can’t. I’m so scared of Royall that I can’t even repeat the colorful epithets that Sullum might apply to Royall if he dared (which he doesn’t) for fear that Royall will then find some excuse to sue me too. But you can go read them if you dare. More: Tim Sandefur, PLF on Eminent Domain.
- Don’t miss Roger Parloff’s tour de force coverage in Fortune blowing whistle on that dodgy suit in Moscow against Bank of New York Mellon, adorned by participation of lawprofs Dershowitz and Blakey [PoL overview, main article]
- Digital remixes and copyright law [Lessig, WSJ]
- Surgeon at Connecticut’s Greenwich Hospital revealed as drug abuser, Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder now pressing suit on behalf of general class of patients, which sounds like it means “whether harmed or not” [Greenwich Time, Newsday via TortsProf weekly roundup]
- Chicago sheriff halting foreclosures, or maybe not, reportage is confused [Reuters, big discussion at Steve Chapman blog] And is Obama taking the idea national with bid for 90-day moratorium on foreclosures? [AP]
- Foie gras-style financial gavage? “None of banks getting government money was given a choice about it, said one of the people familiar with the plans.” [Bloomberg, Bernstein @ Volokh] More: Ann Althouse, Kuznicki/Cato at Liberty.
- Trey Allen law firm in Dallas agrees to pay $840,000 restitution after profiting from staged car crash scheme, but Allen’s lawyer says client wasn’t aware of any fraud [ABA Journal]
- Smoking bans, alcohol taxes contributing to steep decline of English village pubs [Newsweek]
- Bias-law panel rules Wal-Mart within its rights not to hire a female applicant for Santa Claus position [eight years ago on Overlawyered]
Fort Worth Star-Telegram consumer columnist Dave Lieber, 50, had an argument with his son in the restaurant parking lot the morning of Aug. 13, told him to walk home, but doubled back to return minutes later after thinking better of it. Police later arrested him on two felony charges of child abandonment. Watauga, a suburb of Fort Worth, has crime rates well below the national average. (Alex Branch, “S-T Watchdog columnist Dave Lieber arrested”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Aug. 27; Dave Lieber, “How parents can learn from serious mistakes”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Aug. 15; Chuck Lindell, “Father’s arrest ignites debate over child abandonment”, Austin American-Statesman, Aug. 28).
We described the Dallas attorney as poster boy for legal ethics for his astoundingly brazen conduct in the scandal over an asbestos testimony-coaching memo. Now his name is hitting front pages on the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter affair:
Dallas lawyer Fred Baron told The Dallas Morning News today that he paid relocation and housing expenses for the woman that former presidential candidate John Edwards has confessed to having an affair with.
Mr. Baron, who was chairman of Mr. Edwards’ presidential campaign finance committee, said he paid money for Rielle Hunter to move from North Carolina to another location. …
He said Mr. Edwards did not know about the arrangement.
(Gromer Jeffers Jr., “Dallas lawyer Fred Baron paid for Edwards’ mistress to relocate”, Dallas Morning News, Aug. 8).
More coverage of Edwards’s (partial or otherwise) confession: ABC News, AP, Memeorandum, Marc Ambinder, Ben Smith/Politico, News & Observer, Just One Minute, Shaun Mullen/Moderate Voice. Readers will remember that Ted had the story very, very early, before it was much noticed even on the blogs (more). As for Edwards’s own credibility, Mickey Kaus, whose news judgment in pursuing the matter now stands vindicated, has this to say: “There is now one player in this scandal with far less credibility than the National Enquirer, after all.”
“I decided independently to help two friends and former colleagues rebuild their lives when harassment by supermarket tabloids made it impossible for them to conduct a normal life,” Baron, a Dallas trial lawyer said in a statement, Rob Christensen reports.
“John Edwards was not aware that assistance was provided to anyone involved in this matter,” Baron said. “I did it of my own voilition and without the knowledge, instruction, or suggestion of John Edwards or anyone else. The assistance was offered and accepted without condition.”
York points out:
Hunter and Young, the recipients of Baron’s generosity, were not high-ranking officials in the Edwards campaign. How Baron got to know them and how he decided to fund their move to California, and why he decided to do so without Edwards’ knowledge, might be the subject of more questions as the Edwards matter goes forward.
Blogger Gina Cobb hopes the window of Baron’s generosity is still open:
I am touched and moved by your generosity. I especially like the part about “The assistance was offered and accepted without condition.” Accordingly, I would like to request the same generosity from you. Henceforward, I would like you to rent me an enormous house and pay my living expenses in perpetuity. I can assure you that the assistance you offer will be accepted without condition.
And see Ted’s follow-up post.
We hear frequently that the medical profession doesn’t do enough to police its own. Cases like that of Lawrence Poliner might explain why. In 1997, in response to complaints by nurses at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, and the allegation by a doctor that Poliner had performed an angioplasty on the wrong artery, the hospital asked Poliner to stop work while they investigated. These limited privileges lasted 29 days, followed by a unanimous decision to suspend, a five-month suspension from echocardiography privileges, and then reinstated Poliner five months later subject to conditions that he consult with other cardiologists.
For this, Poliner sued for defamation and under federal antitrust law, alleging that other cardiologists were trying to dominate the market and prevent his competition. The five-month suspension had federal immunity under the Health Care Quality Improvement Act, 42 U.S.C. § 11101 et seq. (just one of many federal tort reforms that promote safety), but the trial court held that the 29-day limited-privileges created a cause of action that should go to a jury. Poliner lost $10,000 in income over that time “but was awarded more than $90 million in defamation damages, nearly all for mental anguish and injury to career. The jury also awarded $110 million in punitive damages”–despite the fact that Poliner would have to prove damages were caused by the allegedly unprivileged temporary limitation rather than by the five-month suspension. We covered the initial $366 million verdict in 2004, the outraged medical blogosphere reaction, and the remittitur to a still ludicrous $22.5 million in 2006.
There was an auto accident in Dallas; plaintiffs sued Volkswagen in Marshall, Texas, in the notoriously plaintiff-friendly Eastern District of Texas, which has a hugely abnormal number of product liability cases—17% of all federal automobile product liability lawsuits in the United States. Let us quote from In re Volkswagen of America, Inc., 506 F.3d 376 (5th Cir.2007), earlier discussed on POL Nov. 27 and Feb. 23:
Volkswagen moved to transfer venue to the Dallas Division of the Northern District of Texas (“Dallas Division”). Volkswagen asserted that a transfer was warranted as (1) the Volkswagen Golf was purchased in Dallas County, Texas; (2) the accident occurred on a freeway in Dallas, Texas; (3) Dallas residents witnessed the accident; (4) Dallas police and paramedics responded and took action; (5) a Dallas doctor performed the autopsy; (6) the third-party defendant lives in Dallas County, Texas; (7) none of the plaintiffs live in the Marshall Division; (8) no known party or significant non-party witness lives in the Marshall Division; and (9) none of the facts giving rise to this suit occurred in the Marshall Division.
The district court refused to transfer to the Northern District, VW sought mandamus, and got it on the second try, with the Fifth Circuit ordering transfer. (See also John Council, “5th Circuit Restricts Trial Courts’ Discretion in Venue Motions”, Texas Lawyer, Nov. 5; John Council, “5th Circuit Case Could Reduce Product Liability Caseload in Texas’ Eastern District”, Texas Lawyer, Aug. 7).
In February, however, the Fifth Circuit vacated the decision, and granted en banc rehearing. Argument is Thursday in New Orleans, and the decision will determine whether the Fifth Circuit will tolerate forum shopping in the federal courts. (Michelle Massey, “Appeals court scheduled to hear arguments over forum shopping”, SE Texas Record, May 20). The case is of special importance to the patent bar, given the fact that Marshall, Texas, has become the unlikely capital of United States patent litigation. Blog coverage: PatentlyO, Prior Art.
En banc briefs in 07-40058, In re Volkswagen AG:
- Petitioners (Volkswagen)
- Respondents (plaintiffs)
- Product Liability Advisory Council, amicus on behalf of petitioners
- American Intellectual Property Law Association, amicus on behalf of petitioners
- Railroads, amicus on behalf of petitioners
- Law professors, amicus on behalf of respondents
- Trial lawyers, amicus on behalf of respondents
Department of Strangely Shifting Academic Positions: In December 2007, law professor Georgene Vairo wrote a LexisNexis Expert Commentary on the Volkswagen case explaining its consistency with Supreme Court precedents, and writing
The Fifth Circuit is not alone in permitting the use of mandamus in limited circumstances. For example, in Lemon v. Druffel, 253 F.2d 680 (6th Cir. 1958), a case decided shortly after Congress codified § 1404(a), the Sixth Circuit ruled that mandamus was an appropriate remedy to test a district court’s discretion on a motion to transfer.
In April 2008, she signed on to a brief taking precisely the opposite position, which does not cite Lemon. Curious.
Anna from Estonia mak[es] it a point to show visiting friends a sight they could never see in the old country. They laugh, they point, they whip out cameras and take pictures. Of the Everglades? No. Of Mount Rushmore or Lady Liberty? No.
Anna said they take pictures of the idiot signs. These she said, crack her friends up. “Caution: Coffee is hot.” Apparently, elsewhere in the world, you don’t need a sign to know this.