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New York

A Cato Forum held January 9 and featuring Craig Whitney, author, Living with Guns, and a former New York Times reporter and editor; Alan Gura and Alan Morrison, who argued opposite sides of the Heller case; and as moderator, Cato senior fellow Ilya Shapiro.

Meanwhile, getting the jump on President Obama’s proposals, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature of New York have rushed to passage a hasty new gun control package [Roger Pilon, Jacob Sullum, Bob McManus/NY Post, more from Sullum on "false urgency"]

Check-cashing businesses are perfectly legal, but the Long Island town of Hempstead doesn’t like them, so it’s used zoning to try to force them out of areas convenient to their clientele. New York’s highest court is considering the companies’ appeal. [Newsday]

Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on December 14, 2012

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New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, has a particular niche among state courts: it’s liberal on many matters, as suits the state’s politics, but over the years has tended to take care that its commercial law is relatively predictable and efficient from a business perspective, since it would rather not risk tempting the state’s huge business sector to flee to other jurisdictions. With two vacancies on the court, Gov. Andrew Cuomo now has a chance to confirm the court’s historic path, or set it on a different one. [Lawrence Cunningham]

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To get your power turned back on in the Rockaways, according to a spokesman for the Long Island Power Authority, you’re going to need a pre-inspection for your house not just from a licensed electrician, but from one licensed in NYC — nearby Nassau County, or upstate, won’t do. If occupational licensure makes any sense at all — and Milton Friedman had a thing or two to say about that — it certainly needs to be reconsidered under conditions of public emergency and disaster recovery, or so I argue in my new post at Cato at Liberty.

For more background on the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) as a political football, by the way, check out Nicole Gelinas in the New York Post. Also on disaster recovery, why this might be a good time to rethink municipal ordinances barring property owners from removing old trees [Chris Fountain]. And: “Can customers sue power companies for outages? Yes, but it’s hard to win” [Alison Frankel, Reuters]

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Some politicians just want there to be random shortages [WSJ editorial]:

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has subpoenaed the Craigslist website for the identities of people who advertised gas for sale at high prices. Mr. Schneiderman is doing this in the name of a New York law that forbids charging an “unconscionably excessive price” during an “abnormal disruption in the market.”

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Paul Caron, TaxProf, on one of the more closely watched tax rulings. Earlier here.

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“A group of Westchester County Jail inmates will have to fight their own legal battle for access to dental floss, a federal judge has ruled. …the 11 Westchester inmates… sued the county Sept. 10 for $500 million because they were denied access to dental floss.” [Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, White Plains Journal-News]

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October 8 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 8, 2012

  • Karma in Carmichael: serial Sacramento-area filer of ADA suits Scott Johnson, often chronicled in this space, hit by sex-harass suit by four former female employees, with avert-your-eyes details [Sac Bee; News10, autoplays] One of Johnson’s suits, over a counter that was too high, recently helped close Ford’s Real Hamburgers, a 50-year-old establishment. [KTXL/The Blaze]
  • Fifth Circuit reverses decision holding Feds liable for Katrina flood damages [Reuters]
  • “Your right to resell your own stuff is in peril”: SCOTUS takes up first-sale doctrine in copyright law [Jennifer Waters, MarketWatch on Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons]
  • Rubber room redux: “New York Teacher Live-Streams $75,000 Do-Nothing Job” [Lachlan Markay, Heritage] Teacher charged with hiring hitman to kill colleague should have been fired decade ago [Mike Riggs]
  • “George Zimmerman sues NBC for editing 911 audio to make him sound racist” [Jim Treacher, Daily Caller]
  • Prof. Mark J. Perry has moved his indispensable Carpe Diem economics/policy blog in-house to AEI;
  • New York will require newly licensed lawyers to do pro bono [WSJ, Scott Greenfield, Legal Ethics Forum]

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Labor roundup

by Walter Olson on August 7, 2012

  • I dreamed someone sabotaged the memory care unit by switching Rosa DeLauro’s name tag with Rosa Luxemburg’s [Fox; Raising Hale, Labor Union Report with more on alleged nursing home sabotage and the Connecticut pols that enable it]
  • New York’s Scaffold Law will inflate cost of Tappan Zee Bridge rebuild by hundreds of millions, according to Bill Hammond [NYDN]
  • “In Michigan, a ballot measure to enshrine union rights” [Reuters, WDIV]
  • Massachusetts voters rejected unionizing child care providers, but legislature decided to do it anyway [Boston Herald]
  • SEIU flexes muscle: “Surprise strike closes SF courtrooms” [SFGate, NBC Bay Area]
  • If it goes to arbitration, forget about disciplining a Portland police officer [Oregonian via PoliceMisconduct.net] Boston police overtime scandal [Reason] Related, San Bernardino [San Diego Union-Tribune]
  • Louisiana teacher union furor: “Now There’s A Legal Defense Fund For Schools The LAE Is Threatening To Sue” [Hayride, earlier]
  • As unions terrorize a Philadelphia construction project, much of the city looks the other way [Inga Saffron, Philadelphia Inquirer, PhillyBully.com; via Barro]

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July 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 20, 2012

  • Congress, HUD face off on “disparate impact” in housing and housing finance [WSJ edit, Clegg/NRO] Wells Fargo says it didn’t base loans on race but will pay $175 million to end federal probe [Reuters]
  • Maryland vs. Virginia: if only there were a government that was consistent about favoring liberty [John Walters, Maryland Public Policy Institute]
  • British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal levies $3000 against husband-and-wife owners of bed-and-breakfast who canceled reservation of gay couple based on religious objections [Religion Clause, The Province] UK: “‘Gay flatmate wanted’ ads break equality laws” [Telegraph] See our earlier coverage of the Ninth Circuit Roommate.com case here and here.
  • “Lifeguard fired for saving drowning person — outside his designated zone.” [NBC Miami via @commongood]
  • “Do you want to be informed about the constant, infuriating corporate welfare for professional sports owners? Follow FieldOfSchemes.com” [Matt Welch]
  • Negligent entrustment lawsuit against parents who let 33 year old daughter drive car yields $1.2 million in Tennessee [Knoxville News]
  • Pretrial and discovery: “New York state bar recommends federal litigation reforms” [Reuters]

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Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on July 19, 2012

  • Dixon v. Ford Motor Company: “The Best Causation Opinion of 2012″ [David Oliver] “Any exposure” causation: “Pennsylvania Supreme Court delivers significant asbestos ruling” [Point of Law]
  • Maryland high court may consider pro-plaintiff shift from contributory negligence to comparative fault [Sean Wajert]
  • In last-minute ploy, Albany lawmakers extend time limits for suing local governments [Torch via PoL, Times-Union]
  • Mental diagnoses: what to do when courtroom experts armed with DSM-5 shoot from the hip [Jim Dedman, Abnormal Use]
  • California appeals court, legislature decline to go along with trial lawyers’ crusade against Concepcion and class arbitration waivers [WLF, CL&P]
  • Critics challenge legality of Louisiana AG’s use of contingency lawyers [Melissa Landry, Hayride]
  • To curb client solicitation, NJ mulls withholding crash reports from noninterested parties for 90 days [NJLRA]

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And some pols want to make it worse, broadening the already dangerously broad Martin Act [Jim Copland, NY Post] My take on the Martin Act here.

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She’s asking $30 million over a client’s dog bite. Have her subjects informed her about New York’s abolition of ad damnum clauses? [Eric Turkewitz, earlier]

March 15 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 15, 2012

  • Part III of Radley Balko series on painkiller access [HuffPo]
  • “Note: Add ‘Judge’s Nameplate’ to List of Things Not to Steal” [Lowering the Bar]
  • California’s business-hostile climate: if the ADA mills don’t get you, other suits might [CACALA]
  • Bottom story of the month: ABA president backs higher legal services budget [ABA Journal]
  • After string of courtroom defeats, Teva pays to settle Nevada propofol cases [Oliver, earlier]
  • Voting Rights Act has outstayed its constitutional welcome [Ilya Shapiro/Cato] More: Stuart Taylor, Jr./The Atlantic.
  • Huge bust of what NY authorities say was $279 million crash-fraud ring NY Post, NYLJ, Business Insider, Turkewitz (go after dishonest docs on both sides)]

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Susan Dominus explores an outbreak of tics and other neurological symptoms among teenage girls in a town near Rochester, as hyped on outlets like “Today” and CNN. Roving Tort-Finder Erin Brockovich, who parachuted into the town to blame possible chemical spills, does not come off well either: “Things only go wrong,’ [King's College London epidemiologist Simon] Wessely wrote in 1995, ‘when the nature of an outbreak is not recognized, and a fruitless and expensive search for toxins, fumes and gases begins.’” [NY Times Magazine]

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Cybex International, a manufacturer of exercise equipment, has agreed to pay $19.5 million to a Buffalo-area woman “who was injured by a piece of Cybex equipment when she improperly used a leg machine to stretch her shoulder.” A jury had awarded $66 million and a New York appellate court upheld the verdict, while reducing the sum to $44 million. [Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York; Lintoid/Seeking Alpha and more; Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association]

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