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New Hampshire

October 23 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 23, 2014

  • I’m quoted by Nicky Woolf of Great Britain’s Guardian on the police militarization angle in Keene, N.H. civil disturbances (also: Van Smith, Baltimore City Paper). Also quoted regarding the ominous move to heavy armaments of Wisconsin prosecutors investigating their political opponents in the dawn-raids “John Doe” proceeding [Watchdog, and second post, earlier] Humor in The New Yorker from Bruce McCall ["Pentagon Cop Aid Hits Snags"] And here’s a previously unlinked Cato panel last month on cop militarization with David Kopel, Mark Lomax, and Cheye Calvo, moderated by Tim Lynch;
  • Australia prime minister declares “repeal day” with “bonfire” of regulations [Jeff Bennett and Susan Dudley, Cato Regulation mag; earlier on Minnesota legislative "unsession" to dump outmoded or pointless laws]
  • “After dawdling for a year, panel tosses bogus complaint against Judge [Edith] Jones” [@andrewmgrossman on Houston Chronicle via Howard Bashman, Richard Kopf, Tamara Tabo, earlier here, here, and here]
  • Making waves: Michelle Boardman review of Margaret Radin book on boilerplate, adhesion contracts, fine print [Harvard Law Review, SSRN]
  • Why litigation lobby could cost Democrats Senate majority this year [Tim Carney]
  • Online-services companies, better not do business in Maryland since the state has a very special law that one law professor believes sharply restricts your customer research [Masnick/TechDirt]
  • Picking Thomas Perez as Attorney General would (or should!) ignite firestorm of opposition. Is that why President’s waiting till after Nov. 4? [Washington Examiner]

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Mass tort roundup

by Walter Olson on July 16, 2014

  • New Hampshire lottery: after Granite State’s MTBE contamination suits pays off big, Vermont files its own [WLF Legal Pulse]
  • Supreme Court declines to review various cases arising from Florida’s Engle tobacco litigation [Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSBlog, earlier] “U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Fen-Phen Lawyers’ Appeal of $42M Kentucky Verdict” [Insurance Journal, earlier]
  • In action against five drug firms over opioid marketing, California’s Santa Clara County partners with law firms Robinson Calcagnie, Cohen Milstein, and Hagens Berman, marking at least the tenth time the county has teamed up with outside law firms to file suits [Legal NewsLine; earlier on Chicago's involvement in painkiller suit]
  • Lester Brickman on fraud in mesothelioma litigation [SSRN] “Plaintiff Lawyer Offers Inside Look At `Institutionalized Fraud’ At Asbestos Trusts” [Daniel Fisher]
  • “‘Light’ cigarette case vs Huck’s continues after 9 years; Two current judges had been plaintiff’s counsel” [Madison Record, ABA Journal]
  • “If honesty in the judicial system means anything, it means proceeding with candor before the tribunal, which plaintiffs’ counsel did not do during the removal proceedings.” [dissent in Peter Angelos Cashmere Bouquet asbestos case, Legal NewsLine]
  • Report on products liability and the driverless car [John Villasenor, Brookings, earlier]
  • Arkansas: “‘Corruption of Blood’ Amendment Withdrawn After House Supporter Is Reminded What Century It Is” [Above the Law]
  • George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case heads for trial [TalkLeft, Doug Mataconis, and Richard Hornsby via Megan McArdle on evidentiary standards, earlier]
  • Is New Hampshire citizens’ group harassing town parking meter enforcers, or monitoring their work? [Union Leader, ABA Journal, Reason]
  • New York politicos quarrel over Hank Greenberg suit, overbroad Martin Act is to blame [Bainbridge]
  • Enforcement grabs higher-ups in Ralph Lauren Argentine customs bribery case [FCPA Professor, earlier]
  • Who stole the tarts? “Mom has son arrested for stealing Pop-Tarts” [Lowering the Bar; Charlotte, N.C.] Tip from Georgia cops: avoid situations where you might have to cling to hood of moving car [same]
  • “Omaha officers told: Don’t interfere with citizens’ right to record police activity” [Omaha World-Herald via @radleybalko ("Good work, Omaha.")]

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  • Coming up next Tuesday, Sept. 18, in Washington: Cato Constitution Day. Be there! [schedule]
  • In the unlikely event Congress enacts federal limits on state malpractice suits, Prof. Randy Barnett says he expects to help with a court challenge [Andrew Cochran, earlier]
  • Michael Uhlmann reviews Michael Greve’s The Upside-Down Constitution, and Greve responds [Claremont, Liberty and Law] A New Hampshire story: our “cooperative federalism” can’t replace a simple bridge [Mark Steyn]
  • Broad discretionary search of citizens’ private papers? FISA strains Fourth Amendment [Julian Sanchez]
  • Paging Akhil Amar: Romney on Meet the Press says “I am as conservative as the constitution” [Tucson Citizen] Randy Barnett vs. Amar on progressive constitutionalism [WSJ, Volokh]
  • “Constitutional Places: The Carolene Products Factory That Straddled The Border Between Missouri and Oklahoma, But Did Not Engage In Interstate Commerce” [Josh Blackman, with picture and diagram of filled-milk plant]
  • “More thoughts on Justice Sutherland” [Magliocca, ConcurOp]
  • Seize first, compensate later? Cato files amicus in raisin-farmer takings case [Ilya Shapiro]
  • “What Were They Thinking: The Supreme Court in Revue 2011″ [John Elwood & Eric White, Green Bag, PDF]

It’s a fairly mild enactment as these things go, but any hint that juries are free to acquit a defendant to avoid injustice is deeply controversial in establishment legal circles [Tim Lynch/Cato Institute, Radley Balko, Reason]

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I’ve got a piece in today’s New York Post on why doctors and medical providers should be interested in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation “early offers” experiment in malpractice reform. Earlier here, etc. Note also that Christopher Robinette at TortsProf has added to his illuminating series of posts on the idea with new contributions here and here (& Allen McDuffee, Washington Post “Think Tank”.)

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Overriding a veto from Gov. John Lynch, the New Hampshire legislature on June 27 enacted SB 406, establishing the nation’s first “early offer” system for medical malpractice claims. The law establishes incentives for defendants to make offers early in the litigation process that cover plaintiff’s economic losses such as medical bills and lost wages. The early-offer process is at claimants’ option only; claimants are free not to request such an offer. [Kevin Pho; supportive website; trial lawyers' opposition website]

Importantly, the new procedure also contains pioneering elements of loser-pays in both directions. If a claimant chooses to accept a defendant’s early offer of economic-loss expenses, the defendant will pay an additional sum to reflect a scheduled assessment of pain and suffering, plus the reasonable costs of attorney representation. However, if the claimant invokes the early-offer process but then turns down the offer as inadequate, there is a real risk of a fee shift in the opposite direction:

XII. A claimant who rejects an early offer and who does not prevail in an action for medical injury against the medical care provider by being awarded at least 125 percent of the early offer amount, shall be responsible for paying the medical care provider’s reasonable attorney’s fees and costs incurred in the proceedings under this chapter. The claimant shall certify to the court that bond or other suitable security for payment of the medical care provider’s reasonable attorney’s fees and costs has been posted before the court shall consider the case.

At TortsProf, Christopher Robinette explains in some detail (contrary to an error-filled screed in a Litigation Lobby outlet) why this adds up to a generally good deal for claimants (who, of course, are free not to trigger the process if they disagree) as well as making the system fairer. “Early-offer” proposals have been championed over the years by Jeffrey O’Connell, the distinguished University of Virginia torts scholar, and by Philip K. Howard of Common Good, among others. More on loser-pays here.

[Research assistance: Cato Institute intern Byron Crowe; cross-posted at Cato at Liberty]

More from John Steele Gordon at Commentary: “This looks like a big step in the right direction.”

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Medical roundup

by Walter Olson on April 24, 2012

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Under a bill introduced by a New Hampshire legislator, “state employees who interact with the public would not be allowed to wear perfume. Rep. Michele Peckham, R-North Hampton, is the prime sponsor of the perfume bill, which she said she put forward after a constituent asked her to do so. She said there are people allergic to fragrances. ‘It may seem silly, but it’s a health issue,’ Peckham said. ‘Many people have violent reactions to strong scents.'” [Union-Leader via Radley Balko, who calls it reductio creep] Similar proposals have surfaced in places like Portland, Ore., and “perfume sensitivity” lawsuits have been reported from Detroit and New Jersey (& welcome WSJ Law Blog readers; day’s “Five Must-Read Stories”).

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Another twist on the assertion that state laws against wiretapping and unauthorized recording make it unlawful to record the cops: police in the town of Weare, N.H. charged a man with wiretapping after he placed a cellphone call during a traffic stop “because the officer’s voice could be heard in the background of his phone call.” [Lowering the Bar]

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Is the parking lot of the Newington, N.H. “normal[ly] configured,” had there been earlier drivers who bumped into the pole, and should either point matter in the lawsuit he’s filed as a result? [Seacoast Online via Siouxsie Law]

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“A state lawmaker tells WMWV-FM that the Mount Washington Hotel and Resort has told other businesses with ‘Mount Washington’ in their name to stop using it or face a legal challenge.” The hotel says it has challenged only three lodging businesses and does not intend to go after other local businesses named after the mountain. [AP, WMUR, Boston Globe]

P.S. Commenter Mannie: “It gets better. The IOC routinely harasses businesses on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula for using the name ‘Olympic.'”

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The suit argues that the student wasn’t given adequate warning that attaching electrical clamps to his nipples could be dangerous. Earlier reportage on the case quoted students who accused the teacher of encouraging horseplay and making light of the dangers of mild shocks; the teacher later resigned but did not face criminal charges. [Joey Cresta, Foster's Daily Democrat/Boston Herald (Dover, New Hampshire)] More: Lowering the Bar (“Nor am I buying the Mountain-Dew-enticement allegations.”)

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April 22 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 22, 2010

  • Liquor commissioner of New Hampshire nabbed on DWI rap, refuses breathalyzer test [WMUR]
  • Slumber party liability waivers are something we’ve reported on before. But home trampoline disclaimers? [Free-Range Kids]
  • Website’s terms and conditions include giving up your immortal soul [Popehat]
  • Scottish jury says charges “not proven” against lawyers in case of monetary demand for return of stolen Leonardo da Vinci painting [Guardian, earlier]
  • If you’re going to shake down food makers with false claims of contaminants in their wares, it’s best to vary your story patterns [Tacoma News-Tribune, Seattle Times]
  • “My task is simple: spew foundationless tripe that turns itself into a pre-trial settlement demand.” [The Namby Pamby, a lawyer blog I really should have linked before now] More: Daniel Fisher, Forbes.
  • Why plaintiffs lawyers aren’t so thrilled about recent Toyota revelations: most are invested in blaming electronics, not stuck pedals or mats [WSJ Law Blog]
  • Duck hunters sue guide over disappointing trip [Fred Hartman, Fort Bend, Texas, Herald]

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December 18 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 18, 2009

  • Class action to follow? Longtime Overlawyered favorite Gloria Allred now representing one of the Tiger Tootsies [The Observer]
  • Alabama lawyer moves to postpone trial so he can see Crimson Tide take on Texas [Yahoo "Rivals"]
  • “Thomas the Tank Engine attacked for ‘conservative political ideology'” [Telegraph; Canadian academic calls for tighter controls on children's broadcasting]
  • Government manages to lose money at bookie racket: “NYC’s Off-Track-Betting Seeks Bankruptcy Protection” [Bloomberg]
  • “Rapist ex-lawmaker claims copyright on his name, threatens legal action” [Boing Boing, Volokh, Randazza/Citizen Media Law]
  • Graubard Miller $42 million contingency fee “now in referee’s hands” [NYLJ; earlier Oct. 5, etc.]
  • It’ll destroy our image of him: opponents say “alleged Ponzi schemer and disbarred attorney Scott Rothstein filed frivolous lawsuits” [DBR]
  • New Hampshire disciplinary panel finds prominent injury attorney broke ethics rules in handling client who talked of firing him from multi-million-dollar case [Keene Sentinel]

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Updating our March 2008 coverage: The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled last month that an attorney could properly be convicted of extortion for sending a demand letter threatening patently baseless litigation. The lawyer had sent the letter (which included a demand for monetary payment) to a hair salon threatening litigation over its purportedly discriminatory setting of different rates for men’s and women’s haircuts. A crucial element in the decision was that the lawyer did not in fact have a client in hand with a potential complaint as an actual customer of the salon. [Eugene Volokh, Above the Law; State v. Hynes, PDF] “Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Baker said Hynes sent letters to at least 19 salons in the state.” [Concord Monitor 2008 coverage]

September 11 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 11, 2009

  • 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]

Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press have submitted an amicus brief in the case, urging the New Hampshire Supreme Court to uphold the website’s position on First Amendment grounds. The popular site Mortgage Lender Implode-O-Meter had published a New Hampshire Banking Department document containing information about a private company; that company proceeded to sue the site demanding that the document be taken down, and also demanded discovery of how the document had come into the site’s possession. Earlier here.