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Reader Dave Westheimer writes, regarding a news item that we briefly noted earlier:

Guess who’s coming to the suburb where I live? Erin Brockovich. She’s here and in the news.

Of course she’s not hearing “Fridley’s concerns” — she’s hearing the concerns of novices who’ve never heard of the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy.

FWIW, “one of the worst Superfund sites in the country” refers to the old FMC plant in the southwest corner of the city by the Mississippi, well away from the closest residential neighborhood and more likely to affect Minneapolis than Fridley, if it affected anything at all. Fridley’s biggest industry is Medtronic’s headquarters. It’s a typical postwar residential suburb, mostly built in the 50s and 60s.

The neighborhood newspaper ran what I thought was a fawning article about her appearance here, written by an intern, along with a separate article about how the intern who wrote the article was so excited to meet her. So much for objectivity.

As the city’s water report (PDF) says, Fridley has never been in violation of the cancer causing agents standards in the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pour myself another tall glass of city water.

Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on June 15, 2012

  • “Fla. jury awards $75M to family of dead smoker” [AP] Bad trends catch on 10+ years later up North: Quebec becomes fifth province to sue tobacco companies [Montreal Gazette] We passed a law to let us win, so there: “Manitoba sues tobacco companies” [provincial press release]
  • “Can There Be Liability When Sending Texts To A Driver?” A debate [Ray Mollica and Mark Bower, Turkewitz; earlier here and here]
  • Ted Frank vs. Ron Unz on Vioxx health effects [PoL, American Conservative]
  • Major Florida PI firm denies State Farm claims-inflation allegations [Orlando Sentinel]
  • East St. Louis, Ill.: jury awards nearly $179 million to 3 injured grain elevator workers [Post-Dispatch]
  • Siding with plaintiff’s bar, Minnesota Gov. Dayton vetoes legislation reducing state’s general statute of limitations from six years to four, reducing prejudgment interest from current 10%/year, reforming offer of settlement rules, and allowing interlocutory class certification appeal [NFIB] He does however sign one protecting state/local governments [Star-Trib]
  • Multiple asbestos claims raise eyebrows in Delaware [SE Texas Record] On trends in asbestos litigation [Ben Berkowitz, Reuters]

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April 4 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 4, 2012

  • N.Y. Times editorial flays Stand Your Ground, but dodges its (non)-application to Martin/Zimmerman case; Washington Post blasts same law, doesn’t seem to realize Florida homicide rate has gone down not up; chronology as of Sunday’s evidence [Frances Robles, Miami Herald] On the disputed facts of the case, it would be nice if NYT corrected its misreporting [Tom Maguire, more, yet more]
  • Lawprof Michael Dorf vs. Jeffrey Toobin on president’s power not to enforce a statute [New Yorker letter]
  • Israeli law bans underweight models [AP/Houston Chronicle]
  • Is price-fixing OK? Depends on whether the government is helping arrange it [Mark Perry]
  • Minnesota man arrested, jailed for neglecting to put siding on his house [KSTP via Alkon]
  • Once lionized in press, former Ohio AG Dann now fights suspension of law license [Sue Reisinger, Corp Counsel, earlier]
  • How California is that? “Killer got $30,000 in unemployment while in jail, officials say” [LAT]


Longtime Twin Cities attorney John Murrin lost money in a dodgy business deal, and started out by pressing what critics agree were some meritorious complaints arising from it. But courts began to look askance as he added more and more actions, pleadings and (nearly four dozen) defendants. Now a sanctions order has resulted in a bankruptcy proceeding. ["Lawyer's tactics leave him bankrupt," Minneapolis Star-Tribune].

January 16 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 16, 2012

  • Per Chevron, Kerry Kennedy getting undisclosed percentage of the take, potentially in millions, to side with plaintiffs in Ecuador suit [NY Post] Long New Yorker take-out on case [Patrick Radden Keefe]
  • Freetail Brewing fields a nastygram: “How to Comply With a Cease-and-Desist Letter But Still Win” [Lowering the Bar]
  • I.e. boycotts illegal? Odd Minnesota law bans economic “reprisals” based on “political activity.” [Volokh]
  • “Chris McGrath v. Vaughan Jones: An Unpleasant Peek Into U.K. Libel Law” [Popehat; suit over science-and-theology book review] Related: “You Can’t Read This Book: why libel tourists love London” [Nick Cohen, Guardian, on his new book]
  • Business experience isn’t be-all or end-all for presidential qualifications, but might avert some policy howlers [Kling]
  • “Arbitration Is Here to Stay and One Lawyer Says That Is Good for Consumers” [Alan Kaplinsky interview, Mickey Meese/Forbes, PoL]
  • Off-topic random thought: “Iranian nuclear scientist who moonlights in Broadway Spider-Man cast” must be world’s most uninsurable job description;
  • “D.C. Lawmakers Propose Requiring Students to Apply to College” [Fox]


Eugene Volokh predicts that a Minnesota jury’s award will not stand; not only are people “constitutionally entitled to speak the truth about others, even with the goal of trying to get them fired,” but the “First Amendment constrains the interference with business relations tort, just as it constrains the infliction of emotional distress and other torts.” [Volokh Conspiracy]

A volunteer clearing debris after the recent tornado in north Minneapolis has been hit with a $275 fine for tree trimming without a license [Star-Tribune via Coyote]

More: In other legal news of tree-trimming, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has settled a battle with San Francisco neighbors over charges that the growth of their trees was spoiling his view [WSJ, more] And the city of Charlotte, N.C., has fined a local church $4,000, or $100 a branch, for excessively trimming crape myrtle trees on its own property under a city tree ordinance [Brittany Penland, Charlotte Observer via Amy Alkon]


“A judge [last week] threw out a lawsuit filed by a Duluth physician who said he was defamed by a man who publicly criticized his bedside manner.” [Grand Forks Herald, earlier] More: Heller, OnPoint News.


“Though blogger John (Johnny Northside) Hoff told the truth when he linked ex-community leader Jerry Moore to a high-profile mortgage fraud, the scathing blog post that got Moore fired justifies $60,000 in damages, a Hennepin County jury decided Friday.” Moore, who was fired by the University of Minnesota after the post appeared, sued on a theory of “tortious interference” with his employment. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]


March 15 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 15, 2011

  • “A conversation with class action objector Ted Frank” [American Lawyer]
  • Reviews of new Lester Brickman book Lawyer Barons [Dan Fisher/Forbes, Russell Jackson] Plus: interview at TortsProf; comments from Columbia legal ethicist William Simon [Legal Ethics Forum]
  • “Collective Bargaining for States But Not for Uncle Sam” [Adler] Examples of how Wisconsin public-sector unionism has worked in practice [Perry] Wisconsin cop union: nice business you got there, shame if anything were to happen to it [Sykes, WTMJ] “Union ‘rights’ that aren’t” [Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe]
  • “Minnesota House Considering Significant Consumer Class Action Reform Measures” [Karlsgodt]
  • 10,000 lawyers at DoD? Rumsfeld complains military overlawyered [Althouse via Instapundit]
  • “Are Meritless Claims More Prevalent in Copyright?” [Boyden, Prawfs]
  • Claim: availability of punitive damages reduces rate of truck accidents. Really? [Curt Cutting]
  • Now with improved federalism: “The Return of the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act” [Carter Wood, more, earlier here].

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Dennis Laurion took to the web to criticize a doctor he said had behaved in a rude and insensitive manner toward his family during the treatment of his elderly father. The doctor sued for defamation, and a judge is considering whether to allow the suit to proceed. [Duluth News Tribune and more]


December 13 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 13, 2010

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BadMrsGinger3bA Minnesota seller of imported and specialty playthings closes its doors, and its owner reflects on the ill-conceived Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. [Allison Kaplan/St. Paul Pioneer-Press, AmendTheCPSIA]

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE from Honor C. Appleton, The Bad Mrs. Ginger (Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1902), courtesy

Only after the settlement was in hand did a Minnesota lawyer let slip the rather material fact that his client had some time back departed this earthly frame. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune "The Whistleblower" via ABA Journal] Ironically, the lawyer was suing over a credit report that had mistakenly reported his client as dead (back when he was alive). The lawyer, who had been disciplined seven other times, has now been barred from working for a year.

More: Discussion in comments at Legal Ethics Forum, including Prof. Monroe Freedman: “I disagree with [this kind of] result.”


The car hadn’t been operated and it wasn’t clear that it was even operable, but Minnesota, like so many states, has a strictly worded DUI law. “Intending to sleep off a night of drinking [is] treated as the same crime as attempting to drive home under [the state's] legal theory which does not take motive into account.” [The Newspaper; Minnesota v. Fleck, PDF; Alkon]


December 31 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 31, 2009

  • “Court to Plaintiffs: You Have Zero Forum Shopping Days until Xmas” [Jackson; New Yorker seeks to refile pharmaceutical case in Minnesota to overcome statute of limitations defense]
  • Miller-Jenkins battle: Mathew Staver of whimsically named Liberty Counsel won’t comment on whether client has kidnapped child in pursuit of continued defiance of court order [BTB, WSJ Law Blog, background]
  • “How many college football coaches have law degrees?” [Above the Law; Mike Leach vs. Texas Tech] More: Michael McCann, Sports Law; Carter Wood at Point of Law.
  • “Struck by a restaurant’s decor” good if it’s just a figure of speech, bad if it’s falling taxidermy [Lowering the Bar]
  • Trial lawyer message in support of med-mal litigation falls on some credulous ears in media [White Coat]
  • On airport whole-body imaging, some privacy advocates seem to have changed tune [Stewart Baker]
  • “Litigant Guru of Gwinnett, Georgia Loses Lawsuit” [sanctioned over defamation claim; Bad Lawyer via AtL]
  • Step right up and win cash for your vote in the ABA’s blogospheric beauty pageant [Scott Greenfield] Update: contest wraps up [Legal Blog Watch]

Surely it would have been possible to line up a lead plaintiff who did not himself turn out to run a competing collection agency [ABA Journal]

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“In Minnesota legal circles, a newspaper once wrote of him, David Moskal was ‘known for several remarkable achievements, including the fastest disbarment in the state’s history.’” Not content with making more than $1 million a year through his injury practice, Moskal also stole millions from clients. Even after his disgrace, he passed himself off as an attorney while working as a client liaison at a spine-injury center. [Legal Blog Watch, MinnLawyer, WestWord (which also has an interesting background article on the relations between lawyers and injury-treatment clinics in Denver)]

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