Posts tagged as:

Katrina

Environmental roundup

by Walter Olson on January 8, 2014

  • “A Milestone to Celebrate: I Have Closed All My Businesses in Ventura County, California” [Coyote, earlier]
  • “Louisiana Judge Ends Katrina Flooding Lawsuits Against Feds” [AP/Insurance Journal]
  • “Some shoppers who reuse plastic bags to dispose of animal waste will miss them” [L.A. Times via Alkon]
  • Alameda County, Calif. conscripts out-of-state drugmakers into product disposal program: public choice problem, constitutionality problem or both? [Glenn Lammi, WLF]
  • “Connecticut, Drunk on Power, Uses Bottle Bill to Steal Money” [Ilya Shapiro]
  • “If successful, the New York lawsuits would extend the scope of the [habeas corpus] writ to an undefined array of nonhuman creatures.” [Jim Huffman, Daily Caller]
  • Clean Water Act citizen suits never intended to be race to courthouse between officialdom, bounty hunters [Lammi, WLF on Eleventh Circuit ruling]
  • Let’s stop measuring congestion, it just makes our environmental plans look bad [Randal O'Toole, David Henderson on California policy]

October 8 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 8, 2012

  • Karma in Carmichael: serial Sacramento-area filer of ADA suits Scott Johnson, often chronicled in this space, hit by sex-harass suit by four former female employees, with avert-your-eyes details [Sac Bee; News10, autoplays] One of Johnson’s suits, over a counter that was too high, recently helped close Ford’s Real Hamburgers, a 50-year-old establishment. [KTXL/The Blaze]
  • Fifth Circuit reverses decision holding Feds liable for Katrina flood damages [Reuters]
  • “Your right to resell your own stuff is in peril”: SCOTUS takes up first-sale doctrine in copyright law [Jennifer Waters, MarketWatch on Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons]
  • Rubber room redux: “New York Teacher Live-Streams $75,000 Do-Nothing Job” [Lachlan Markay, Heritage] Teacher charged with hiring hitman to kill colleague should have been fired decade ago [Mike Riggs]
  • “George Zimmerman sues NBC for editing 911 audio to make him sound racist” [Jim Treacher, Daily Caller]
  • Prof. Mark J. Perry has moved his indispensable Carpe Diem economics/policy blog in-house to AEI;
  • New York will require newly licensed lawyers to do pro bono [WSJ, Scott Greenfield, Legal Ethics Forum]

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September 12 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 12, 2011

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During the long series of scandals that brought down former tort potentate Richard (“Dickie”) Scruggs, of tobacco-asbestos-Katrina-mass tort fame, no blogger achieved the status of “must” reading more consistently than David Rossmiller of Insurance Coverage Blog. Now Alan Lange of Mississippi site YallPolitics (and co-author of Kings of Tort, a book on the scandal) has posted a massive document dump of emails between the Scruggs camp and its public relations agency, as made public in later litigation (see also). It shows the principals:

* boasting of their success in manipulating major media outlets to inflict bad publicity on the targets of Scruggs’s suits;

* plotting ways of striking back against critics — in particular, Rossmiller — with tactics including going after him with legal process, as well as creating fake commenters and whole blogs to sow doubt about his reporting;

* wondering who they might pay to secure “Whistleblower of the Year” awards, or something similar, for their clients;

* apparently oblivious, just days before the fact, as to how the ceiling was going to cave in on them because of Judge Henry Lackey’s willingness to go to law enforcement to report a bribe attempt from the Scruggs camp.

The whole set of documents, along with Rossmiller’s summary and reaction, really must be seen to be believed. It will easily provide hours of eye-opening reading, both for those who followed the Scruggs affair in particular, and for everyone interested in how ambitious lawyers manipulate press coverage to their advantage — and how they can seek to use the law against their blogger critics. (& welcome readers from Forbes.com and Victoria Pynchon’s “On the Docket” column there).

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January 14 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 14, 2010

  • Anti-vaccine activist files defamation suit over much-discussed Wired article against Dr. Paul Offit, author Amy Wallace and Conde Nast [Orac and many followup posts]
  • “Kid Suspended for Bringing Peppermint Oil to School” [Free-Range Kids]
  • Eric Turkewitz names his favorite Blawg Reviews of the year and has kind words for ours;
  • “New Guide to FTC Disclosure Requirements for Product Endorsements” from Citizen Media Law;
  • U.K. safety panel: press misreported our views, we do want businesses to grit icy public paths [update to earlier post]
  • Another kid trespassing on the railroad tracks, another case headed to court [Oregonian]
  • “Katrina negligence lawsuit has implications for all hospitals” [USA Today, earlier]
  • “Judicial Misconduct: The Mice Guard The Cheese” [WSJ Law Blog on this Houston Chronicle piece]

Hurricane Katrina legal aftermath, cont’d: “About 200 lawsuits have been filed in Louisiana alleging that these institutions [hospitals and nursing homes] are liable for the deaths and for the suffering of other patients who survived because corporate failure to plan adequately for flooding and implement evacuation constituted negligence or medical malpractice.” [New York Times] (& welcome Above the Law, On the Record readers)

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USA Today on the Fifth Circuit’s recent ruling on a Katrina case, Comer v. Murphy Oil. More on the case at Point of Law here, here, and here.

November 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 20, 2009

  • Judge finds Army Corps of Engineers negligent in Katrina levees suit [WSJ Law Blog, Krauss/PoL]
  • Feds raise the Gibson guitar factory in Nashville on an exotic-woods rap [The Tennessean] Eric Scheie has a few things to say about what turns out to be a remarkably comprehensive federal regulatory scheme on trade in wood enacted with little public discussion as part of the 2008 farm bill [Classical Values]
  • In the mail: Amy Bach’s new book Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court, very favorably reviewed by Scott Greenfield not long ago (AmLaw Daily interview with author);
  • Pension tension: link roundup on CALPERS mess [Reynolds]
  • Maine passes very sweeping law banning marketers from collecting or using wide array of information about minors, but state acknowledges that much of the law probably wouldn’t pass constitutional muster and won’t be enforced [Valetk/Law.com, Qualters/NLJ]
  • StationStops, which provides a mobile app for NYC commuter schedules, seems to have survived its legal tussle with New York’s MTA and thanks those who helped call attention to the story, with generous words for a certain “great blog”;
  • Lawsuits cost Chicago taxpayers $136 million last year [Fran Spielman, Sun-Times]
  • Blawg Review #238 is from Joel Rosenberg and bears the title, “Celebrating the International Day of Tolerance … and the NRA’s Birthday” [WindyPundit]

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July 14 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 14, 2009

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April 24 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 24, 2009

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March 25 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 25, 2009

  • Driver on narcotic painkillers crashes car, lawyer says pharmacists liable [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
  • Who’s that cyber-chasing the Buffalo Continental Air crash? Could it be noted San Francisco-based plaintiff’s firm Lieff Cabraser? [Turkewitz]
  • Axl Rose no fan of former Guns N’ Roses bandmate or his royalty-seeking attorneys [Reuters]
  • Cheese shop owner speaks out against punitive tariff on Roquefort, now due to take effect April 23 [video at Reason "Hit and Run", earlier]
  • Too many cops and too many lawsuits in city schools, says Errol Louis [NY Daily News]
  • Law professor and prominent blogger Ann Althouse is getting married — to one of her commenters. Congratulations! [her blog, Greenfield] Kalim Kassam wonders when we can look forward to the Meg Ryan film “You’ve Got Blog Comments”.
  • “Louisiana panel recommends paying fees of wrongfully accused Dr. Anna Pou” (charged in deaths of patients during Hurricane Katrina) [NMissCommentor]
  • U.K.: “Privacy Group Wants To Shut Down Google Street View” [Mashable]

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March 24 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 24, 2009

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Judge Kurt Engelhardt of the Eastern District of Louisiana, who held in October that the Federal Emergency Management Agency does not enjoy immunity from suit by plaintiffs seeking to recover from exposure to formaldehyde in trailers, yesterday dealt plaintiffs a setback by holding that they are not entitled to present their claims against various trailer manufacturers through a class action.

I have not read the opinion, but one can find a good summary of the issues presented in this story from the Times Picayune, which emphasizes the court’s concern over impossibility of determining liability, proximate causation of injury, and damages for a “class” of people of varying health, age, demographics, and lengths of exposure.  Each plaintiff will have to try his or her case separately.

All of the above are individual issues that render analysis on a class-wide basis utterly impossible, ” Engelhardt ruled in a 50-page decision. “Each plaintiff’s claims and alleged injuries will require an examination of individual evidence.

This makes sense because, from a practical standpoint, it would be impossible to present over 100 chemical injury claims to one jury, a problem that isn’t present in class settlements such as Vioxx.  (The Vioxx case still had problems aplenty.)  The opinion also emphasizes that each of the trailer manufacturer defendants may have separate defenses, including different manufacturing techniques and levels of formaldehyde within its trailers.

If anyone knows of a publicly available link to the opinion (I’m not writing this from a computer where a PACER download would be practical), it would be greatly appreciated.

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July 31 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 31, 2008

  • Raft-flip mishap at Riviera Beach, Fla. water park: family’s collective weight far exceeded posted limit on warning signs, they’re mulling suit [Palm Beach Post]
  • New Rigsby/Katrina depositions include sensational new allegations of Scruggs misconduct as well as touches of pathos [Point of Law]
  • “Al Gore Places Infant Son In Rocket To Escape Dying Planet” [The Onion]
  • So much coverage of Hasbro vs. Scrabulous but so little solid reportage by which readers might judge strength of copyright infringement claims [Obbie]
  • City of Seattle spokesman says police actions in shootout with gunman might have “saved countless other lives”, which hasn’t saved city from being sued by injured bystander [Seattle Times]
  • First the vaccine-autism scare, now this? “Mercury militia” crows after FDA agrees to move forward with statement on possible risks of dental amalgam, but maybe there’s not a whole lot for them to chew on [Harriet Hall, Science-Based Medicine]
  • Of lurid allegations in paralegal Angela Robinson’s suit against Texas plaintiff potentate Richard Laminack, the most printable are the ones about chiseling fen-phen clients and not paying overtime [American Lawyer; Laminack response]
  • U.K. attorney suing former bosses for £19 million: that wasn’t me at the interview, that was my alternative personality [Times Online]
  • Allegation: Foxwoods croupier thought he could mutter lewd comments in Spanish about Anglo female patrons, but guess what, one was entirely fluent [NY Post]
  • “Richard Branson claims to own all uses of ‘Virgin’” [three years ago on Overlawyered]

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July 25 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 25, 2008

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May 28 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 28, 2008

  • More on that New Mexico claim of “electro-sensitive” Wi-Fi allergy: quoted complainant is a longtime activist who’s written an anti-microwave book [VNUNet, USA Today "On Deadline" via ABA Journal]
  • Your wisecracks belong to us: “Giant Wall of Legal Disclaimers” at Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor at Disneyland [Lileks; h/t Carter Wood]
  • New at Point of Law: AAJ commissions a poll on arbitration and gets the results it wants; carbon nanotubes, tomorrow’s asbestos? California will require lawyers operating without professional liability insurance to inform clients of that fact (earlier here and here); and much more.
  • Actuaries being sued for underestimating funding woes of public pension plans [NY Times via ABA Journal]
  • City of Santa Monica and other defendants will pay $21 million to wrap up lawsuits from elderly driver’s 2003 rampage through downtown farmers’ market [L.A. Times; earlier]
  • Sequel to Giants Stadium/Aramark dramshop case, which won a gigantic award later set aside, is fee claim by fired lawyer for plaintiff [NJLJ; Rosemarie Arnold site]
  • Privacy law with an asterisk: federal law curbing access to drivers license databases has exemption that lets lawyers purchase personal data to help in litigation [Daily Business Review]
  • Terror of FEMA: formaldehyde in Katrina trailers looks to emerge as mass toxic injury claim, and maybe we’ll find out fifteen years hence whether there was anything to it [AP/NOCB]
  • Suit by “ABC” firm alleges that Yellow Book let other advertisers improperly sneak in with earlier alphabetical entries [Madison County Record]
  • Gun law compliance, something for the little people? A tale from Chicago’s Board of Aldermen [Sun-Times, Ald. Richard Mell]
  • Think twice about commissioning a mural for your building since federal law may restrain you from reclaiming the wall at a later date [four years ago on Overlawyered]

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Scruggs in guilty plea

by Walter Olson on March 14, 2008

The WSJ and Mississippi’s WLOX have the news up on Dickie Scruggs’ plea of guilty to conspiracy in the attempted bribe of Judge Henry Lackey. Earlier today, the Journal had an illuminating page-one feature on Dickie Scruggs’s history of fee disputes with other lawyers. YallPolitics‘ server seems to be down at the moment from traffic, but is back up now; in an email alert, YP’s Alan Lange said the surprise plea came three days before the deadline for Scruggs to plead before his approaching trial. Our past coverage is here, or check our Scandals page.

Update 12:18 EST: AP coverage is here (via Rossmiller). Sid Backstrom also pleaded and, per Folo rapid updates, is cooperating with prosecutors. No deal for Zach Scruggs yet. Also per Folo, Scruggs pleaded to conspiracy in the Lackey bribe attempt but did not resolve possible charges in the DeLaughter case, per the government side.

12:44: Now Folo’s server has crashed. Temporary replacement site up here.

1:16: Per Patsy Brumfield at the NEMDJ:

…The government recommended a sentence of five years in prison for Scruggs and 2 1/2 years for Backstrom. They also will pay a maximum fine of $250,000 each and a court fee. …

Before Biggers accepted their pleas, Scruggs and Backstrom admitted in open court that they had done what the government said they had done in Count One – they had conspired to bribe Circuit Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun City for a favorable order in a Katrina-related legal fees case….

Dickie Scruggs, arguably the most famous plaintiffs’ attorney in the U.S., looked pale and thin but carried himself with a bit more control than his younger colleague at The Scruggs Law Firm, headquartered on the storied Square in Oxford.

The 61-year-old Ole Miss Law School grad and legal giant-killer, as well as Backstrom, likely will voluntarily surrender their law licenses, as has co-defendant Timothy Balducci of New Albany, who pleaded guilty in December although he was wired and cooperating with the government at least a month earlier.

“Do you fully understand what is happening here today,” Biggers asked him.

“Yes, I do,” Scruggs responded.

Questioned about whether he had discussed his decision to plead guilty with his attorney, Scruggs responded, “With my attorney, my wife and my family.”

1:25 p.m.: Rossmiller has an update from a correspondent at the scene. And Folo is up at a temporary site until its server gets back online. Excerpts from Folo’s on-the-scene report:

…* Richard Scruggs is pleading to conspiracy to bribe a state court judge, count 1 of the indictment, with other counts to be dismissed. This was an open plea, that is, no recommended sentence.

* The government expects that he will get the full five year sentence on that count. …

* There was no mention of cooperation by Scruggs. …

* There was an interesting and unusual disagreement with the government’s statement of facts in the plea colloquy. The government stated in its facts for both Backstrom and Scruggs that a conspiracy began in March to corruptly influence the state court judge, and Scruggs spoke to say that he had agreed to earwig the judge but not corruptly influence him in March, and that he later agreed to join a conspiracy to corruptly influence the judge. Sid Backstrom took a similar stance….

[See also WSJ law blog and later NMC post, as well as WikiScruggs on "earwigging" as a Mississippi tradition.]

1:56: Welcome Glenn Reynolds/Instapundit and David Rossmiller/Insurance Coverage Blog readers.

3:18: The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports: “As part of the plea deal, federal prosecutors agreed to defer prosecution of Scruggs’ son, Zach Scruggs, who agreed to give up his license to practice law.” [N.B.: NMC @ Folo has a very different take, and other sites are also questioning the C-L's reporting on this point.] Folo at its temporary bivouac has PDFs of the Scruggs and Backstrom pleas and underlying facts, as does David Rossmiller. ABA Journal coverage includes the text of a forthcoming article by Terry Carter on the affair, written pre-plea. Other reactions: Above the Law (“has Scruggs employed bribery as a tactic in other matters — e.g., the tobacco cases that made him famous …?”), Beck and Herrmann (“What a week. First Spitzer, and now Scruggs. What goes around, comes around.”), TalkLeft, Michelle Malkin, NAM Shop Floor (“So what are the odds that this was Dickie Scruggs’ first and only crime during his decades-long career as a trial lawyer?”).

6:27: Roger Parloff wonders whether Scruggs will cooperate, and whether the statute of limitations might have run already on tobacco skullduggery. NMC @ Folo wonders what prosecutors will make of a slew of fresh documents from the Scruggs Law Firm, or whether perhaps such documents have already had an effect. Not so surprising a plea, says Jane Genova at Law and More, but rather “widely expected“.

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Big news day in the Scruggs scandals: a judge has turned down defense motions to throw out the charges and to suppress the evidence, a hearing on those motions has showcased the testimony of government informant Tim Balducci, and the government in responding to the motions has released extensive and often quite damning transcripts of the wiretap conversations among the principals. Folo as usual provides the most in-depth coverage, with posts on the judge’s rulings here and here, on the hearing and Balducci’s testimony here and in numerous preceding posts, and on the wiretap transcripts here and in numerous preceding posts. David Rossmiller is on the judge’s ruling here, and on the hearing and transcripts here. More: Patsy Brumfield, NEMDJ, was at the courthouse.

Picking through the rich contents of the transcripts and Balducci’s testimony is going to keep Scruggsians busy for a good long time. In the meanwhile, some odds and ends:

* Want to review all the major events of the central alleged bribery case, skillfully narrated in chronological sequence? Of course you do. Folo’s NMC has it in six parts beginning here and ending here (follow links to find those in between).

* John Grisham’s “Too Dumb for Dickie” theory encounters some serious strain [Rossmiller and again]

* Mississippi legislature won’t give AG Jim Hood authority to wiretap his enemies suspected white-collar criminals. Gee, wonder why that might be? [WLBT via Lange] Plus: description of Hood as a Pez dispenser coughing out multi-million-dollar cases for his chums [Rossmiller]

* More unpretty details surface on Scruggs’s (and other lawyers) use of informants in Katrina litigation [Rossmiller] and tobacco [Lange]

* More Hood: prosecuting the accused judge-bribers “would be like prosecuting a relative” [Salter, Clarion-Ledger, Rossmiller, Folo]. Give back tainted money? “That’s up to DAGA [Democratic Attorneys General Association]” [Lange]

* Former Louisiana attorney general Richard Ieyoub gets a mention, as does Sen. Trent Lott [Folo, same] Update: feds investigating what Sen. Lott knew [WSJ]

* Small world, Mississippi: member of arbitration panel that awarded Scruggs huge fees was later hired by the tort potentate for legal work [Lange]

* Blogosphere has been a major source for breaking news on the scandal [LegalNewsLine]

* Liberal columnist Bill Minor recalls when a certain Sen. McCain let Dickie Scruggs and Mike Moore run their tobacco lobbying campaign out of his Hill office [NEMDJ via Folo; more at PBS "Frontline" and NY Times]

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