- Med mal something of a regional problem: nearly half of payouts are in Northeast, with New York alone paying out more than the entire Midwest [New Jersey Civil Justice Institute on Diederich Healthcare analysis] “Neurosurgeons were 50% more likely to practice defensive medicine in high-risk states compared with low-risk states” [Smith et al., Neurosurgery via NJCJI]
- New Paul Nolette book on state attorneys general Federalism On Trial includes history of suits led by New York’s Eliot Spitzer to redefine as “fraud” widely known drug-pricing practices that Congress had declined to ban or otherwise address. The resulting lucrative settlements also earmarked money to fund private critics of the pharmaceutical industry;
- City of Chicago signs on to one of the trial bar’s big current recruitment campaigns, suits seeking recoupment of costs of dealing with prescription opioid abuse [Drug & Device Law; earlier here, here, here]
- We here in Washington, D.C. take very seriously any violations of HIPAA, the health privacy law. Just kidding! If a union supporter pulls information from an employee medical database to help in an organizing drive, that might be overlooked [Jon Hyman on National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge decision in Rocky Mountain Eye Center]
- “Preferred Care defendants respond to New Mexico Attorney General’s lawsuit, argue it was filed at urging of Cohen Milstein law firm” [Legal NewsLine]
- Philadelphia police run warrant checks of hospital visitor lists, and as a result many persons with outstanding warrants avoid going to hospitals. So asserts sociologist Alice Goffman in her book On the Run, but the evidence is disputed [Sara Mayeux last August, Steven Lubet in review challenging the book more broadly on ethical and factual grounds, Goffman’s response]
- Making contraceptive pill available over the counter without prescription should please supporters of birth control access, right? Funny you should ask [Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason, earlier]
Significant news: New Mexico “Gov. Susana Martinez (R) has signed [into law] HB 560 … effectively abolish[ing] civil asset forfeiture by requiring a criminal conviction before the government can seize property.” [Adam Bates/Cato; Scott Shackford, Reason and more]
Late this afternoon (Monday) I’ll be speaking to an invitation-only group in Annapolis on what state lawmakers should know about the gathering momentum for civil forfeiture reform. If you’re in or near Maryland’s capital city and interested in learning more, contact me.
We posted earlier about a court’s dismissal after five years of the suit by Santa Fe, N.M. resident Arthur Firstenberg against neighbor Raphaela Monribot, over his claims that her electronic devices were exacerbating his condition of “electromagnetic hypersensitivity.” Don’t miss George Johnson’s excellent New York Times write-up, which fills in many more details:
…I assumed the case would be quickly dismissed. Instead, in 2010, it entered the maze of hamster tubes that make up the judicial system.
…About a week ago, after the Court of Appeals upheld the decision, I stopped by the office of Ms. Monribot’s lawyer, Christopher Graeser, with a tape measure. The files for the case sat in boxes on a table. Piled together, the pages would reach more than six feet high.
Court costs, not counting lawyers’ fees, had come to almost $85,000, or more than $1,000 an inch. Because of what the court described as Mr. Firstenberg’s “inability to pay,” the bill went instead to Ms. Monribot’s landlord’s insurance company — as if someone had slipped on an icy sidewalk, or pretended to.
Mr. Graeser and another lawyer, Joseph Romero, represented her pro bono, writing off an estimated $200,000 in legal fees.
We ran a post recently on how Mora County, New Mexico, had somehow passed an ordinance purporting to enact various fringy environmental theories (legal rights for natural landscape features like wetlands, a ban on oil and gas extraction by incorporated businesses, declaring all water a public trust) while stripping away a variety of currently recognized constitutional rights, both for businesses and others. A judge proceeded to strike the ordinance down, but several of our readers wondered how such a law could ever have made it past the review of lawyers in the first place, assuming the county was advised by such. Now Joseph Bottum, at the Weekly Standard, digs much deeper into the back story of the ordinance with exactly such questions in mind. He also explores the secessionist/insurrectionist tendencies implicit in the ordinance’s rejection of the supremacy or even authority of higher levels of government. It’s quite a story.
County in New Mexico purports to ban oil/gas extraction, assign legal rights to rivers, wetlands and other natural features, declare all water a public trust, create an enforceable legal right to a “sustainable energy future,” strip corporations of various current constitutional rights, and make the whole thing self-executing against private parties. Federal court: uh, no, guys [Eugene Volokh on decision in Swepi, LP v. Mora County, striking down ordinance on various grounds including Supremacy Clause, First and Fifth Amendments.]
- Fairfax County, Va. finally releases file on police shooting: contradicting fellow officer’s account, three cops say homeowner had hands up when shot [Washington Post, earlier here and here] “11,000 pages of court documents released on a Friday night, almost a year and a half after the shooting” [@markberman]
- New York Gov. Cuomo pocket-vetoes bill that would have further insulated unionized cops from discipline [E.J. McMahon, Empire Center]
- Police use of force is on the decline [Steve Malanga, City Journal]
- Utah bill would significantly reform no-knock police raids, bringing law back closer to common-law knock-and-announce standard, while Georgia bill would do less [Balko, Jacob Sullum, Scott Greenfield]
- “Even Small Towns Are Loading Up On Grenade Launchers” [Joseph Bottum, The Federalist] Charting the growth in MRAPs, militarization [Brent Skorup and Andrea Castillo, Mercatus via Balko] Investigative story on use of flashbang grenades [Julia Angwin and Abbie Nehring, ProPublica] Earlier on militarization here, here, here, here, here, here, etc., and generally here.
- The New Yorker looks into the shooting of a mentally ill man in his home by Albuquerque police [Rachel Aviv] Same town: “Albuquerque prosecutor indicts cops, immediately faces repercussions” [Balko, Greenfield]
- “Time for a Police Offenders Registry: A police job is a privilege, not a right” [Ed Krayewski]
- More from Jonathan Blanks at Rare: “police practice, and not the law, should be the focus of reform“; when police lie about use of force.
Both Oklahoma State University and New Mexico State University use a version of “Pistol Pete” as a mascot. OSU found that although NMSU had agreed to use a variant, some items sold in connection with its school continued to use the version infringing on OSU’s. Suit was filed, but rather than expensively shooting it out in court, the two have now agreed to let a token fee cover a small leeway for infringement, and leave it at that. [Trademarkologist]
Former Utah Attorneys General John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff were arrested Thursday on a combined 23 counts arising from a series of episodes in which the two men are said to have accepted cash and favors from persons with business dealings with their offices; Swallow is also accused of destroying and falsifying evidence to cover up dealings with a now-deceased entrepreneur from whom he had allegedly accepted $17,000 in gold coins. The two men, both Republicans, say they are innocent and expect to be vindicated. The Salt Lake Tribune’s coverage saves the Harry Reid angle for paragraph 19; the Las Vegas Review Journal gives it more attention, emphasizing Reid’s strong denial of any wrongdoing. Unrelated but also depressing: a former New Mexico AG and a penny stock.
Also: Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, officials have placed plaques beneath portraits of four lawmakers in the state capitol with details of their eventual criminal convictions. I have more details in a Cato post.
Deborah La Fetra at Pacific Legal on a case that arose against a shopping mall after a runaway car smashed through a floor-to-ceiling glass wall into a medical clinic:
[On May 8,] the New Mexico Supreme Court decided in Rodriguez v. Del Sol Shopping Center that when a court decides whether a property owner has a duty to protect people from harm on the premises, the court must never consider whether the harm was foreseeable. PLF has long argued in premises liability cases that foreseeability cannot be dispositive, because the court must also consider the public policy considerations of imposing a duty to protect. The court’s holding that foreseeability must never be even a factor, however, sets it apart from every other court in the nation, to the detriment of New Mexican property owners and businesses….
This approach means that, as a practical matter, New Mexico courts can never dismiss a case on the grounds that the defendant owed no duty to the plaintiff. …This is a shocking departure from standard tort doctrine that squarely places upon courts the responsibility to determine the nature and extent of tort duties. All property owners and businesses in the state should be on notice that any accident, no matter how bizarre or unlikely, that occurs on their premises will almost certainly go to a jury – or settle.
Whole post here.