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Mississippi

Now this is bound to end well: Mississippi lawmakers vote to give Attorney General Jim Hood, a frequent mentionee in this space, his own strike forces [Radley Balko, AP]

Ethics roundup

by Walter Olson on December 10, 2013

  • Wilkes-Barre, Pa.: “one of the most egregious cases of attorney theft of clients’ escrow funds that I have seen” [ABA Journal]
  • Chamber cheers Wisconsin for enacting strongest sunshine law for state hiring of outside contingency-fee lawyers [U.S. Chamber/Business Wire]
  • Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s contributions on professional responsibility and the role of the legal profession [Steven Hobbs, SSRN]
  • “Mississippi Supreme Court sanctions judge for refusing to step aside in asbestos suit” [ Walter L. Cofer, Greg Fowler and Simon Castley, Lexology]
  • Alameda County ex-judge gets 5 years of probation in theft from elderly neighbor [ABA Journal, earlier here, etc.]
  • Study: Wisconsin high court justices tend to side with attorney donors [Fed Soc Blog]
  • Suit by Garlock claims misconduct by opposing asbestos lawyers including concealment of exposure and implantation of memories [Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine, related] A Lone Star State asbestos litigation revival? [Eric Lasker and Richard Faulk, WLF]

August 2 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 2, 2013

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A “staff attorney at the Deepwater Horizon Court Supervised Settlement Program… was suspended after being accused of accepting fees from law firms while processing their clients’ claims from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.” [Bloomberg] And that’s just the start of what may be much wider problems, according to a cover story by Paul Barrett at Bloomberg Business Week. “The craziest thing about the settlement,” one lawyer wrote in a client-solicitation letter, “is that you can be compensated for losses that are UNRELATED to the spill.” [Bloomberg Business Week] Barrett’s account tells, in his own words, “how the private-claims process following BP’s (BP) 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill devolved into a plaintiffs’-lawyer feeding frenzy.” [BBW]

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Following through on a deal announced a year ago, former Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore, representing the state under an arrangement with current Attorney General Jim Hood, has now sued BP over damages from the giant Transocean Gulf oil spill. [WaPo, YallPolitics, Sid Salter/Jackson Clarion Ledger] The two figures have long been entwined with each other — and both with now-disgraced Gulf Coast attorney Dickie Scruggs — in litigations that leverage the power of the state to the advantage of private lawyers, including the Great Tobacco Robbery of the late 1990s and Katrina claims.

Given the bossiness of the legislature in Annapolis these days, I had to check the calendar on this one. [Anita Park, Greater Greater Washington, April 1]

P.S. And from The Onion, where every day is April 1: “Mississippi Bans Soft Drinks Smaller Than 20 Ounces.

Yet more: Didn’t Ilya Shapiro predict this? “Supreme Court upholds same-sex marriage as a tax” [Tax Foundation]

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Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on November 27, 2012

  • Adventures in causation: Per $19 million Mississippi verdict, fumes from leftover gasoline caused birth defects, asthma [Insurance Journal]
  • Legal academia watch: lawprof proposes massive expansion of liability for parents [TortsProf]
  • University of Virginia’s torts giant: “A Tribute To Jeffrey O’Connell” [U.Va. Dean Paul Mahoney, Virginia Law Review (PDF) via TortsProf]
  • “Proposed civil justice reform in Canada” [Ted Frank]
  • “Town Owes $10M To Pupil Paralyzed In School Beating” [New Jersey Law Journal; Irvington, N.J.]
  • Businesses steer clear of Philadelphia litigation climate [Jim Copland, Inquirer; Trial Lawyers Inc. update]
  • Longtime West Virginia attorney general Darrell McGraw, disliked by business, toppled in re-election bid [Charleston Gazette-Mail]

“A lawsuit alleges a Mississippi casino served so much alcohol to a man taking powerful prescription painkillers that he died on the floor of his hotel bathroom.” Additional dimension of pathos: he was at the casino spending the proceeds of a lawsuit settlement. [AP/Jackson Clarion Ledger]

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The way Lafayette County, Miss. authorities saw it, Oxford animal rescuer Stephanie Mitchell was in violation of a state law making it a felony to take or carry away another person’s dog. Mitchell says the dog was a stray and that she had put the dog’s picture on Facebook trying to identify its owner. [WMC]

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Peeking under the Hood, cont’d: Mississippi has finally passed sunshine legislation exposing to public scrutiny dealings of its attorney general with outside law firms, which can make large sums in contingency arrangements representing the state [Maggie Haberman, Politico] Not exactly unrelatedly, a Mississippi court has ruled that a settlement of the state’s case against MCI can’t funnel $14 million separately to private lawyers representing Hood on the theory that it was just a side payment and never represented public funds [YallPolitics, earlier on now-disbarred lead private lawyer in case]

June 4 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 4, 2012

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“A Mississippi court has reversed a $322 million asbestos verdict against Union Carbide — believed to be the largest in U.S. history — after the judge failed to disclose his own father had pending asbestos litigation against the same company. … The jury ruled for Brown even though nine treating physicians, an independent medical examiner and an X-ray technician all testified that the plaintiff had no symptoms of asbestos-related disease.” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes; earlier here, here and here]

In a new Cato post, I explain why I wish such an organization existed.

September 14 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 14, 2011

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September 2 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 2, 2011

  • Jury acquits ex-firefighter who claimed disability while competing as a bodybuilder [Boston Herald]
  • Authorities snatch kids from homes after parents busted with small amounts of pot [NYT, Tim Lynch/Cato]
  • “Case Study on Impact of Tort Reform in Mississippi” [Mark Behrens via Scheuerman/TortsProf]
  • When opt-in works: “More than 27,000 S. Korean users join class-action suit against Apple” [Yonhap]
  • Casino liable after customers leave kids unattended in cars? [Max Kennerly]
  • All is forgiven, says frequent investment plaintiff: “State Street Rehired by Calpers After Being Likened to ‘Thugs’” [Business Week]
  • Vintage comic book covers on law themes are a regular Friday feature at Abnormal Use.

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July 19 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 19, 2011

  • More on CPSC’s crib ban train wreck [Commissioner Anne Northup, more, earlier]
  • One man’s nightmare of false accusation [LA Times via PoL]
  • How many plaintiff’s-side flicks is HBO going to air this summer, anyway? ["Mann v. Ford," Abnormal Use]
  • Apple granted “incredibly broad patent” over screen gesture technology [Tabarrok]
  • Will Congress reverse this term’s much-attacked SCOTUS decisions? [Alison Frankel] Podcast on Wal-Mart v. Dukes with Brian Fitzpatrick [Fed Soc] “Wal-Mart ruling no knock-out blow for class actions” [Reuters] Contrary to some assertions, current law does strongly incentivize individual job-bias claims [Bader] More on case: Dan Bushell, and welcome Craig Newmark readers.
  • Mississippi stops proceedings in $322 million asbestos case to consider judge’s possible conflict [JCL, earlier here, here]
  • Nice coat, where’dja get it? [annals of incompetent crime, UK Daily Mail]

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June 2 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 2, 2011

  • “Italian Seismologists Charged With Manslaughter for Not Predicting 2009 Quake” [Fox, earlier]
  • “With context in place, it appears the WHO isn’t saying cell phones are dangerous” [BoingBoing, Atlantic Wire, Orac]
  • Wrongful convictions and how they happen — new book “Convicting the Innocent” by Brandon Garrett [Jeff Rosen, NY Times]
  • SEC to Dodd-Frank whistleblowers: no need to go through company’s internal complaint route [D&O Diary, WSJ Law Blog]
  • “British Press Laws Facing Twitter Challenge” [AW]
  • Despite legislated damages cap, jackpot awards continue in Mississippi [Jackson Clarion-Ledger] More problems with that $322 million Mississippi asbestosis verdict [PoL, earlier]
  • Golf club erects large net to comply with legal demands to prevent escape of errant balls, is promptly sued by neighbors who consider net too ugly [five years ago on Overlawyered]

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“In a motion filed Tuesday, attorneys for Union Carbide said Circuit Judge Eddie H. Bowen neglected to notify defense lawyers that his parents had been involved in similar asbestos litigation and had settled a case against Union Carbide.” A rural Mississippi jury earlier this month returned the largest asbestos verdict in American history, $322 million, against Union Carbide and other defendants. [AP/Stamford Advocate; Jackson Clarion-Ledger] More problems with verdict: Point of Law.

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