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Perhaps on the theory that socializing losses beats reducing crime and litigiousness: “The high cost of auto insurance has been one of the key reasons residents have been leaving the city for years,” [Mayor Mike] Duggan said in a statement. [Allan Lengel, Deadline Detroit]

Environment roundup

by Walter Olson on June 13, 2013

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March 9 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 9, 2012

  • Roundup of James Q. Wilson appreciations [Michael Greve] The controversial book a 29-year-old Wilson never wrote [Helen Rittelmeyer]
  • “Secret Class Action Settlements” [Rhonda Wasserman (Pitt), SSRN, via Stier] “Classic scholarship: Class action cops” [Trask/Class Strategist] Where should class-action scholarship go next? [same, more]
  • So does this mean GOP’s overturn-Kelo bill would kill the Keystone pipeline? [Stoll]
  • Stossel on illegal lemonade stands and vague laws that make everyone guilty; guest star is Cato’s Harvey Silverglate [YouTube]
  • No Fluke? Linda Greenhouse’s recollection of Lilly Ledbetter case is fairly fictionalized [Ed Whelan, earlier]
  • Footsie with plaintiff-lawyer adversaries: “Allstate vs. former Allstate adjuster” [Ron Miller]
  • Benjamin Barton reviews the Winston-Crandall deregulate-lawyers book [MSLR/SSRN via Instapundit, earlier]

Britain: “The government is to ban referral fees in personal injury claims in an attempt to curb the ‘compensation culture’. It says the current system in which personal injury details are sold on by insurance companies to lawyers has led to rising insurance costs.” [BBC]

September 6 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 6, 2011

Eugene Volokh, Michael Cannon and Ed Morrissey react to the Secretary’s announcement that her Department of Health and Human Services will show “zero tolerance” for regulated health insurers who inflict “misinformation” on the public in the course of blaming ObamaCare for rate increases. More: Monday WSJ editorial (“Zero tolerance for expressing an opinion, or offering an explanation to policyholders? They’re more subtle than this in Caracas.”) And Michael Cannon at Cato at Liberty has a further roundup post of reactions.


How litigious can insurance companies be when they find themselves in the plaintiff’s seat during the process known as subrogation? This litigious, per Patrick at Popehat.


A compulsory subpoena could follow if they don’t fork over information on “compensation of highly paid employees” and “expenses stemming from any event held outside company facilities in the past 2 1/2 years”, among other topics. As AP notes, industries that vocally support, rather than oppose, health care reform aren’t targets of the investigation. More: Politico.


Their lawyers are locked in a dispute over who gets to use the phrase “aha moment”. [L.A. Times, Omaha World-Herald, Yakima Herald-Republic]


April 3 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 3, 2009

  • Those enviro-hazard warnings plastered all over because of Prop 65? They may be not merely pointless but untrue [California Civil Justice; a still-timely 2000 piece]
  • Is it somehow wrong for a public medical examiner to testify against cops — even when it’s in another county? [Radley Balko, Reason]
  • UCLA research scientists fight back against animal rights fanatics’ violence and intimidation [Orac/Respectful Insolence, "Pro-Test"]
  • Ezra Levant, himself a target of Canada’s official speech tribunals, has written a new book denouncing them, buy before they ban it [Amazon; Andrew Coyne, Maclean's] Has odious censorship-complaint-filer Richard Warman finally gotten his comeuppance? [Ken @ Popehat] More: another Warman case [Cit Media Law]
  • Roundup of recent sports/assumption of risk cases [John Hochfelder]
  • Already in trouble on charges of faking a will, Allentown, Pa. police-brutality attorney John Karoly now faces tax charges including alleged failure to report $5 million in income for 2002, 2004 and 2005 [TaxGirl]
  • Lawprof’s “Reparations, Reconciliation and Restorative Justice” seminar led to introduction of Maryland bill requiring insurers to disclose antebellum slaveholder policies [DelmarvaNow]
  • Judge tosses suit by Clarksville, Tennessee officials against activists who called them cozy with developers [Sullum, Reason "Hit and Run"]


I discuss a silly new lawsuit at Secular Right; those who would like a more thorough treatment should check out what Eugene Volokh has to say.

Coyote also points to this page, which magically promises simultaneously to reduce health premiums while requiring insurers to cover pre-existing conditions and doing lots of other generous stuff. Total discussion of medical liability issues consists of the following bullet point:

Prevent insurers from overcharging doctors for their malpractice insurance and invest in proven strategies to reduce preventable medical errors.

Yes, because suppressing current malpractice insurance rates by adopting artificially rosy premises as to future payouts worked out so well when tried in New York. Update Monday: transition yanks entire “Agenda”, this section and others.


Subprime mortgage catastrophe

by Walter Olson on September 16, 2008

The Andrew Cuomo (as HUD secretary) connection (Wayne Barrett, “Andrew Cuomo and Fannie and Freddie”, Village Voice, Aug. 5)(via Bader, who has much more). I have more on the credit crisis here, here, and here at Point of Law.

Related: Jack Shafer has a bipartisan list of Fannie Mae friends.


September 3 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 3, 2008


July 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 20, 2008

  • Judge Henry Lackey, who went to feds to report bribe attempt by Dickie Scruggs associate, gets award and standing ovations at Mississippi bar convention, says he was just doing a judge’s job [NMC/Folo]
  • Related: should Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat have used official university stationery for his letter pleading leniency for chum/ benefactor Scruggs? [Daily Mississippian and editorial via YallPolitics, continuing coverage at Folo; earlier]
  • Stephen Dubner: if lawyer/subscriber can sue Raleigh News & Observer over perceived decline in its quality, who’s next? [NYT/Freakonomics blog, earlier]
  • Maneuvering over retrial of Kentucky fen-phen defendants Gallion and Cunningham [Lexington Herald-Leader]
  • A Fieger sideshow: though acquitted in recent campaign laundering prosecution, controversial lawyer fared less well in lawsuit against Michigan AG Michael Cox; Sixth Circuit tossed that suit and upheld order that Fieger fork over attorney fees to Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman over subjecting the justice to unfounded vilification [ABA Journal; fixed typo on Circuit]
  • Citing long history of frivolous litigation, federal judge in central Texas fines disbarred lawyer Charles Edward Lincoln and his client and bans Lincoln from bringing any more federal suits [SE Texas Record]
  • Faced with $18 million legal-malpractice jury verdict, Indiana labor law firm stays in business by agreeing to make token payment, then gang up on its liability insurer for the rest [Indianapolis Business Journal, Ketzenberger/Indy Star via ABA Journal]


November 26 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 26, 2007

All-automotive edition:

  • 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,, 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]


Pop-Tart fire lawsuit

by Ted Frank on December 20, 2004

On June 1, 1998, Clark Seeley left the house while leaving Pop-Tarts heating in a toaster. Poor decision: there was a fire in the unattended toaster, and his house was damaged. Seeley blames not himself, but the toaster manufacturer. (The press doesn’t mention it, but Seeley’s insurance company initiated the suit before apparently settling.) The story is in the news now because (paging Peter Nordberg) the judge (probably correctly) held Wednesday that an expert’s study that a frosted-sugar pastry could conceivably start a toaster fire was admissible because it was falsifiable. The real question is why a court has let this case get to the stage where parties need to hire lawyers to supervise and submit reports from frosted-sugar pastry experts. (Michael Virtanen, “Judge Allows Expert on Pop-Tarts To Testify in Flaming Pastry Lawsuit”, AP/NY Sun, Dec. 17; Liberty Mutual Ins. v. Hamilton-Beach, 1:99-cv-01162-LEK-DRH (N.D.N.Y.)) The maker of Pop-Tarts was not sued, perhaps because the box warns consumers not to leave pastries unattended in the toaster. (Sean Carter, “Pop-torts”, November 2, 2001). Previous suit: Jul. 30, 2001. Update: New York Lawyer weighs in. (John Caher, “Engineer Ruled Expert Witness in Flaming Pop-Tart Case”, Dec. 21).

Or, “Not only loose lips sink ships.”

Bloggers Grace and Wallace point us to the tale of the infamous (and now suspended) attorney Rex DeGeorge, which has important lessons how the plaintiffs’ bar has made insurance more expensive for all of us: because insurers who suspect fraud risk substantial liability for “bad faith” denial of coverage (e.g., May 5, where an insurer who merely investigated an $8,000 chiropractor’s bill was hit with a $150,000 judgment), insurance scamsters can manipulate the system by threatening a suit. For an individual case, simply defending the non-payment may be more expensive than making the payment; even on a systematic basis, the risk of losing a case and facing punitive damages can put insurers in a bind. This is lengthy, but worth it.

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