- Really, I never want to hear one word ever again about Gov. Andrew Cuomo being “at least good on economic issues” [Peter Suderman and Nick Gillespie, Reason (New York will mandate $15/hour for most fast-food workers, which in many upstate cities could amount to 75 percent of average wage); Heather Briccetti/New York Post (activists bused from one hearing to next to jeer opponents); Nicole Gelinas/City Journal (Cuomo picks online guy to represent business on brick-and-mortar-endangering wage board), Joanna Fantozzi/The Daily Meal (possible legal challenge); Coyote on Card and Krueger study]
- Labor markets don’t behave the way sentimental reformers wish they behaved, part 53,791 [Seattle minimum wage hike: Mark Perry (largest half-year decline in foodservice jobs in region since Great Recession; but see, Brian Doherty on problems with that number series) and Rick Moran (“Employees are begging their bosses to cut their hours so they can keep their food stamps, housing assistance, and other welfare benefits.”); David Brooks via Coyote]
- Employers scramble to monitor, control time worked in response to Obama overtime decree [WSJ] “No one wants to go back to filling out time sheets…. managers fear (rightly) that I will have to set arbitrary maximum numbers of work hours for them.” [Coyote] Business resistance aims for the moment at (deliberately abbreviated) public comment period [Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner] “Can Obama Really Raise Wages for Millions of People So Easily? Quick answer: no” [David Henderson; WSJ/@scottlincicome on seasonal pool-supply company]
- Hillary Clinton and the Market Basket Stores myth [James Taranto]
- Labor Department proposes tightening regulation of retirement financial advisers [Kenneth Bentsen, The Hill]
- Proposed: “well-orchestrated” state ballot initiatives aimed at overturning employment at will [Rand Wilson, Workplace Fairness] My view: “Everybody wins with at-will employment” [Ethan Blevins, Pacific Legal amicus briefs in Supreme Court of Washington, followup on oral argument, and thanks to PLF for citing my work in its amicus brief in Rose v. Anderson Hay and Grain; much more on employment at will in my book The Excuse Factory, also some here]
- The SEIU’s home caregiver membership motel: you can check in, but just try checking out [Watchdog Minnesota Bureau]
- House Ways & Means — yep, Charlie Rangel’s own — passes bill slamming taxpayers for innocent errors [James Peaslee, WSJ, via Alkon]
- Must protect the children! “Parents banned from British school sports event” [Common Room] After-school pickup procedures can get a little crazy too [Free-Range Kids, Florida]
- Once again, America’s Most Irresponsible Public Figure® (that’d be RFK Jr.) sounds off on an environmental dispute to which he turns out to have personal financial ties [Greenwire via Eco-Pragmatism]
- Allegations in ugly Florida law firm breakup include misallocation of Hillary Clinton campaign money [DBR]
- When in court, try to avoid following the example of “Girls Gone Wild” impresario Joe Francis [Lowering the Bar and more, earlier]
- “Judge Allowed to Sue N.Y. Daily News, But Not a Lawyer Thought to Be a Source” [ABA Journal, NYLJ]
- New Hampshire judge rules for divorced father who disapproves of homeschooling [Volokh]
- ABA Journal is taking nominations for its annual best-of “Blawg 100″ list [hint, nudge]
Daniel Libit at Politico (Dec. 17) quotes me in a new piece on Judicial Watch, the more-or-less-conservative activist group that brought disrepute on itself in the Clinton years by advancing litigation (often of highly dubious merit) as a scorched-earth method of politics-by-other-means. Since the departure of eccentric founder Larry Klayman the group has been edging back toward respectability, but the return of Hillary Clinton to the Executive Branch seems to have rekindled a “Pavlovian” impulse to sue first and think later.
The ten big donors who bootlessly pledged up to $12 million include some familiar names, such as John Eddie Williams and Peter Angelos, as well as a new one, Calvin C. Fayard, Jr., of the firm Fayard & Honeycutt, A.P.C., who boasts connections with former Louisiana AG Charles Foti (Folo, Mar. 20; “Michigan Missives”, The Caucus (NY Times), Mar. 19).
- Speaking of prostitutes and politicians, Deborah Jeane Palfrey has come to recognize that Montgomery Blair Sibley (Oct. 29; May 4; etc.) may not be the best lawyer for her. [WTOP via BLT]
- Update: Nearly two years later, trial court gets around to upholding $2 million verdict in lawn-mower death we covered Jun. 16 and Aug. 18, 2006. [Roanoke Times (quoting me); opinion at On Point]
- In other lawn mower news, check out Jim Beck’s perceptive comment on a Third Circuit lawn-mower liability decision.
- Update: Willie Gary wins his child-support dispute. [Gary v. Gowins (Ga.); Atl. Journal-Const.; via ABA Journal; earlier: Nov. 2]
- Tobacco-lawyer Mike Ciresi drops out of Minnesota senate race. [WCCO]
- Belfast court quashes libel ruling against restaurant critic. [AFP/Breitbart]
- Trial-lawyer-blogger happy: jury returned $1.25 million med-mal verdict for death of totally disabled person suffering from end-stage renal disease, pulmonary hypertension, oxygen dependent lung disease, and obesity, after rejecting businessperson from jury “for cause” because he was head of local Chamber of Commerce. [Day]
- Car-keying anti-military attorney Jay Grodner faced the law in January; here’s the transcript. [Blackfive]
- Anonymous blog post not reliable evidence of factual allegations. [In re Pfizer, Inc. Sec. Litig., 2008 WL 540120 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 28, 2008) via Roberts, who also reports on fee reduction in same post]
- Clinton’s nutty mortgage plan. [B&MI (quoting me)]
- A supposed DC cabbie’s take on DC v. Heller. [DC Cabbie blog]
Before they officially became presidential candidates, the Illinois and New York senators co-authored an article in the May 25, 2006 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, entitled “Making Patient Safety the Centerpiece of Medical Liability Reform.” (See: http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/354/21/2205)
They sympathized with physicians over escalating insurance costs and condemned the current tort system for creating an “intimidating liability environment.” Still, Clinton and Obama said, it’s more important to focus on how to improve patient safety than “areas of intense disagreement,” such as caps on financial awards to patients.
They introduced legislation, which died in committee in 2006, to provide money and assistance to physicians, hospitals, insurers, and health care systems to start programs for disclosure of medical errors and compensation to patients. The bill would have created an office of patient safety and health care quality to establish a database to track incidents of malpractice and fund research into guidelines to prevent future injuries.
“Physicians would be given certain protections from liability … in order to promote a safe environment for disclosure. … This legislation would provide doctors and patients with an opportunity to find solutions outside the courtroom. In return, [hospitals, insurers, and others] would be required to use savings achieved by reducing legal defense costs to reduce liability insurance premiums and to foster patient-safety initiatives.”
That’s the most favorable thing I’ve heard about Hillary Clinton in quite a while; naturally, it’s provoking heartburn in some quarters where Dellinger is viewed as neither leftist enough nor pro-litigation enough. (Stephanie Mencimer, Mother Jones blog, Jan. 28).
As a number of commentators have noted (e.g. Brett Kittredge @ Majority in Mississippi, Alan Lange @ YallPolitics), Booneville attorney Joey Langston, who just entered a guilty plea on charges of judicial corruption, is someone accustomed to throwing the weight of his pocketbook around in Mississippi politics. In particular, he has been among the biggest donors to incumbent Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood, even as Hood employed Langston and partner Tim Balducci on contract to handle the controversial MCI tax bill negotiations, with their resulting $14 million legal fees payable to Langston et al, and the potentially very lucrative Zyprexa litigation.
Equally interesting in some ways, however, are Langston’s activities on the national political scene. To take just one example: this CampaignMoney.com listing tabulates the top “527” contributions to a group called the Democratic Attorneys General Association, whose political and electoral mission is implied by its name. In the listing, two donors are tied for first place, with contributions of $100,000 apiece. One is the large Cincinnati law firm of Waite Schneider Bayless Chesley, associated with one of the country’s best-known plaintiff’s lawyers, Stanley Chesley. The other $100,000 contribution is from Joey Langston.
In presidential politics, Langston has recently been a repeat donor to the quixotic (and, since Iowa, defunct) campaign of Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), a lawmaker whose high degree of seniority on the Senate Judiciary Committee makes him important to ambitious lawyers whether or not he ever attains the White House. When the Scruggs scandal was still in its early stages, the WSJ law blog (Dec. 10) noted that two key figures in the affair, Tim Balducci and Steve Patterson, were strong backers of the Biden campaign: “Their bet on Biden was that he wouldn’t win the presidency but would become Secretary of State under a Hillary Clinton administration, according to two people familiar with their thinking.” The Journal reprinted (PDF) an invitation to an Aug. 10, 2007 fundraising reception for Biden at the Oxford (Miss.) University Club, sent out above the names of six hosts, three of whom (Scruggs, Balducci and Patterson) were soon indicted. Scruggs, of course, is better known for his support of Mrs. Clinton, a fundraiser for whom he had to cancel after the scandal broke.
Campaign-contributions databases such as OpenSecrets.org and NewsMeat indicate that Langston has been a prolific and generous donor to incumbent and aspiring Senators across the country, mostly Democrats (Murray, Cantwell, Daschle, Nelson, etc.) but also including a number of Republicans who might be perceived as swing votes or reachable, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Susan Collins (Me.), and Arlen Specter (Penn.)
Incidentally, some critics have intimated that Langston’s generous support to DAGA, the Democratic Attorneys General Association, should actually be interpreted as a roundabout gift to Hood, who was the beneficiary of interestingly timed largesse from DAGA. It does not appear, however, that any of the parties involved — Langston, Hood or DAGA — have acknowledged any connection between the timing of the donations (& welcome Michelle Malkin, David Rossmiller, YallPolitics readers).
[Second of a two-part post. The first part is here.]
“A federal grand jury today indicted one of the nation’s most successful trial lawyers, Richard F. Scruggs, on criminal charges that he and other lawyers engaged in a scheme to bribe a judge.” The 13-page indictment charges five lawyers, including Scruggs and his son and law partner Zach, with offering Mississippi state judge Henry Lackey $40,000 for favorable action in a lawsuit filed against the Scruggs firm over Katrina insurance fees. “The indictment says Judge Lackey, who sits in Mississippi’s Third Circuit Court District, reported the ‘bribery overture’ to federal authorities and agreed to assist investigators in an ‘undercover capacity.'” (AP/New York Times, Nov. 28; Biloxi Sun-Herald).
Jerry Mitchell of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger is out front on the story, reporting: “Some of the conversations between Balducci and the judge were apparently taped,” and reporting alleged language uttered by some of the indicted lawyers, including: “We paid for this ruling; let’s be sure it says what we want it to say.” (“Scruggs arrested on bribery charges”, Nov. 28). David Rossmiller is following developments at Point of Law and at his blog, where he has a PDF of the indictment.
More: Y’all Politics has considerable reader comment about the implications for other Mississippi political figures, and notes drily that “for starters, Dickie Scruggs fundraiser for Hillary Clinton on December 15th featuring Bill Clinton, will likely be cancelled.” Many sites, including Michelle Malkin’s, RedState, and Tim Noah’s “Chatterbox” at Slate, are speculating on the close proximity of these developments to the surprise retirement of Scruggs’ brother-in-law, Sen. Trent Lott.
- Court won’t unseal settlement arising from $105 million Aramark/Giants Stadium dramshop case for fear girl’s father will try to get his hands on money [NJLJ, NorthJersey.com, Childs; earlier]
- Great moments in insurance defense law: you mean it wasn’t a good idea to infiltrate that church meeting to investigate the crash claim? [Turkewitz first, second posts]
- Columnist Paul Mulshine rejoices: Ninth Circuit decision “if it stands, will lead to the end of the SUV as we know it” [Newark Star-Ledger]
- Is it unfair — and should it be unlawful? — for insurers to settle crash victims’ claims too early? [Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog]
- If Ron Krist prevails in shoot-out of Texas plaintiff titans, he vows to have sheriff seize John O’Quinn’s Batmobile [American Lawyer; see also Ted’s take earlier]
- In much-watched case, Australian high court by 3-2 split upholds highway authority against claim defective bridge design was blameworthy after youth’s dive into shallow water [RTA NSW v. Dederer, Aug. 30]
- Redesigning Toyota’s occupant restraint system? Clearly another job for the Marshall, Texas courts [SE Texas Record; Point of Law; more]
- Bench trial results in $55 million verdict against U.S. government after Army employee on business runs red light and paralyzes small child [OC Register]
- Vision in a purple Gremlin: her Yale Law days shaped Hillary in many ways [Stearns/McClatchy]
- Zero tolerance for motorists’ blood-alcohol — are we sure we want to go there? [Harsanyi, Reason]
- Driver falls asleep, so of course Ford must pay [two years ago on Overlawyered; much more on our automotive page]