Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Jury convicts Sheldon Silver on all charges in corruption trial

New York Post:

Former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted on all seven criminal counts Monday in a corruption scheme that traded taxpayer cash and political favors for nearly $4 million in payoffs….The conviction of Silver — for decades one of the three most powerful politicians in the state — was a huge victory for anti-corruption crusading Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara.

Appeal is expected. The scheme was one in which Silver helped direct state research funds to a Columbia University physician specializing in asbestos-related disease in exchange for the doctor’s referral of patients to the Silver law firm, which resulted in large legal fees to Silver for cases in which he did no work. Earlier on the charges against Silver here, here, here (and related).

I’ve been writing about Silver for more than twenty years, both here (tag or text search), at Point of Law, and elsewhere.

While machine politicians are common enough in New York, Silver (in Wayne Barrett’s words) “for two decades presented himself as the personally devout, politically principled leader of the most progressive slice of New York political life.” Whatever his relations with other Democratic interest groups, Silver always put trial lawyers first.

Dr. Robert Taub testifies in Sheldon Silver trial

Dr. Robert Taub, a mesothelioma specialist at Columbia University, got sucked into the Albany ethical abyss and in particular the moneymaking schemes of former New York Assembly Speaker and longtime Overlawyered favorite Sheldon Silver [Bill Hammond, Politico/Capital New York, quotes me] The defense proffered by Silver’s lawyers draws heavily on the idea that look, this is the way New York works [New York Post]:

“It’s impossible, absolutely impossible,” argued defense lawyer Steven Molo, “for a member of the Assembly to … do the job that a person in the Assembly does and not have some sort of conflict of interest.

“That may make you uncomfortable,” he added, “but that is the system New York has chosen, and it is not a crime.”

Labor and employment roundup

  • “The employees ran away and refused to talk to us…Even if we’re there to help them.” [NYT cheers New York nail salon raids, earlier on paper’s crusade against the salons]
  • And now, the Times’s campaign to damn the Amazon: “The Liberty To Work Under Tough Bosses” [John McGinnis]
  • Rule by White House decree begins to rile its employer targets: “Defense Contractors to Obama: Enough With the Executive Orders” [Defense One]
  • “Lawsuit Reform Alliance Estimates $200m in Additional Costs for LaGuardia Airport Project Due to the ‘Scaffold Law'” [its press release, earlier on law]
  • “Mandated Paid Maternity Leave: A Bad Idea for Women” [Abigail Hall, Independent Institute via Alkon, related Peter Suderman on family leave mandates]
  • Describing most public assistance programs to working families as subsidy for low-wage employers is “flatly wrong.” [Gary Burtless, Brookings, earlier on such claims, more from Tim Worstall (“McDonald’s Profits Are Not Subsidized By Welfare Payments To McDonald’s Employees”)]
  • Wisconsin-style “Moral Monday” protests against North Carolina’s GOP administration have some familiar backing [News and Observer, more on phenomenon from John Locke Foundation]

Liability roundup

  • Analyzing the Norton Rose survey numbers: US business faced the most litigation, followed by UK, Canada had least [Above the Law, earlier]
  • Daimler doomsday? “Under the proposed law, any claim against a foreign company that registers with the New York secretary of state could be filed in New York courts, regardless of where the alleged wrongdoing took place or who was harmed.” [W$J, Alison Frankel last year, defense of bill]
  • BP Gulf spill: “Seafood companies owned by man previously convicted of fraud accused of perpetrating $3 million Deepwater Horizon fraud” [Louisiana Record]
  • “Facing Sanctions, Law Firm Tries To Block Interviews With Thalidomide Clients” [Daniel Fisher]
  • Litigation finance: speculator’s handling of Beirut car bombing payout raises eyebrows [W$J via Biz Insider]
  • “American Energy Companies Latest Victims of TCPA Lawsuit Abuse” [Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform] “FCC Has A New Robocall Ruling, And It Doesn’t Look Pretty for Business” [Henry Pietrkowski]
  • Bad US idea reaches Canada well after peaking here: “Tobacco companies ordered to pay $15B in damages” [CBC]

“Legal profession admits undocumented immigrants”

At least in New York and California, if not every state. [John Steele, Legal Ethics Forum] Curiously uncontroversial, no? In 2012 we noted: “Among the trip-ups are that lawyers are sworn by oath to uphold the laws of the land; that federal law bars the granting of state professional licenses to illegals; that federal law makes it unlawful to offer employment to them; and that clients might find themselves in a pickle were their attorneys whisked away on zero notice to face deporation.” More: Scott Greenfield.

Medical roundup

  • 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]

Liability roundup

  • Home lab butane cannabis fatality: “The Hash Oil contributory negligence lawsuit you’ve all been waiting for” [Elie Mystal, Above the Law]
  • With Sheldon Silver out of the speaker’s chair, New York has better chance at reducing sky-high litigation costs [Manhattan Institute, earlier on scaffold law]
  • Per Norton Rose Fulbright annual business survey, responding companies more than twice as likely to be facing five or more lawsuits if based in U.S. than if based elsewhere [Norton Rose Fulbright, Bob Dorigo Jones]
  • “Hearing: H.R. 1927, the “Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2015” [April House Judiciary Committee with John Beisner, Mark Behrens, Alexandra Lahav, Andrew Trask]
  • Legal outlook for Illinois defendants deteriorates as Madison County sees resurgence in suits and Cook County remains itself [ICJL]
  • Brown v. Nucor Corp.: did Fourth Circuit just try to gut Wal-Mart v. Dukes rules against combining bias plaintiffs in dissimilar situations into class action? [Hans Bader/Examiner, Derek Stikeleather/Maryland Appellate Blog]
  • No wonder New York City consolidation trials are so popular with asbestos lawyers if they yield average of $24 million per plaintiff [Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine] Information in eye-opening Garlock asbestos bankruptcy (allegations of perjury, witness-coaching, etc.) now unsealed and online [same, earlier]

Wheelchair icons head off in different directions

Last year a new law went into effect in New York requiring businesses to signal ADA accessibility with a new and more progressive-flavored wheelchair icon that suggests forward motion as opposed to plain old static sitting. (It also bans any use of the word “handicapped” on accessible signage, because controlling language is something we want government to do.) New York businesses still have to comply with federal icon display requirements, however, and if they do not want to display two icons at once — which would likely mislead many users into assuming that some distinction in meaning between the two must be intended — they will have to hope to be covered by a catch-all in federal law that allows “alternative” compliant designs provided they offer “substantially equivalent or greater accessibility and usability,” an undefined phrase in this context. [John Egan, Seyfarth Shaw ADA Title III blog]

New York investigates retailers over unpredictable schedules

“New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, has sent a letter to 13 retailers asking for information about how they schedule employees for work, the Wall Street Journal reports. Not on the list of targets for the attorney general: CVS, Starbucks, or Costco.” New York is one of eight states with a “reporting-time” statute that, Schneiderman argues, requires an employer to pay for at least four hours of work when it has obtained employees’ agreement to be available for work, whether or not it actually calls on them to come in. [Ira Stoll, Future of Capitalism; NPR]

April 28 roundup

  • “The makers of smokeless tobacco products like to claim that their products are safer than cigarettes.” Hey, New York Times, that’s ’cause it’s true! [Jacob Sullum]
  • New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman pursues high-profile case against Standard & Poor’s, accepts $50K contribution from CEO of another credit rating firm [Richard Pollock/Daily Caller, some background]
  • Megan McArdle on child support and the difficulty of replacing social norms with law [Bloomberg View, my recent Cato post and podcast]
  • “Wisconsin Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson should drop her lawsuit” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial, earlier; AP (federal judge declines to block law’s implementation while suit is pending)]
  • CVS opposes certification of securities class action, saying government pension managers filing it were influenced by political donations from plaintiff’s law firm [Law360, reg]
  • “Has Conley v. Gibson really been overruled? (And did the Fourth Circuit just tee up the next big SCOTUS case on pleading?)” [Adam Steinman, Civil Procedure Blog, arguing from premises different from mine, on Fourth Circuit’s decision in McCleary-Evans v. Maryland Department of Transportation]
  • The Maryland knife law angle in the Freddie Gray story [Patrik Jonsson, Christian Science Monitor; my post at Free State Notes]