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Philadelphia

Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane dropped a longstanding corruption “sting” probe that had snagged several Philly officials. The Philadelphia Inquirer raised questions about her decision in its reporting, which contributed to a public outcry over the episode. Then Attorney General Kane brought a prominent libel litigator with her to a meeting with the Inquirer editors, and that lawyer announced that Kane was exploring her options of suing the paper and others that had reported on the matter, and that he was going to do the talking for her.

On Sunday the paper continued to cover the sting story here and here. Ed Krayewski comments at Reason. Longtime Overlawyered readers may recognize the name of Kane’s attorney Richard Sprague.

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Product liability roundup

by Walter Olson on January 21, 2014

  • “Furniture company founder files federal chair-collapse suit against rival manufacturer” [ABA Journal]
  • Wrangling over Pennsylvania tobacco settlement aftermath “a never-ending buffet for attorneys” [Allentown Morning Call] Florida $27 million smoking award upheld [Daily Business Review]
  • Autonomous cars and tort liability [Kyle Colonna, Case Western RJLTI/SSRN]
  • Asbestos: Death of single fiber theory [Sean Wajert, Pa.] Radiologist Herron says he did nothing wrong [W.V. Record]
    Peculiar tale of Russian asbestos-mining town [Foreign Policy] More: Lester Brickman on smokers’ asbestos cases [Chamber-backed LNL]
  • From the defense side, Beck chooses favorite and least-favorite drug and medical-device decisions of 2013;
  • One can always hope: Will 3-D printing end product liability litigation as we know it? [Nora Freeman Engstrom, SSRN] “Philadelphia Becomes First City To Ban 3D-Printed Gun Manufacturing” [Zenon Evans] Once again on the vacuous but oft-repeated “NRA is a front for gunmakers” line [Tuccille]

And has now been awarded $18 million on the theory that although there was some warning signage, there should have been more. The 23-year-old driver was traveling “admittedly 15-20 miles per hour over the speed limit” when he encountered a rough patch of roadway at a resurfacing project. The claimant’s attorney, Gerald A. McHugh Jr., “a current nominee for U.S. district judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, declined to comment on the case.” [Philadelphia, Legal Intelligencer]

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“…can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes.” Sarah Stillman’s new article in the New Yorker is making a stir, and I write up some of its highlights at Cato at Liberty, including the traffic-stop scandal in Tenaha, Texas, a curious raid on a Detroit art museum, and the plight of a Philadelphia couple whose son sold $20 of pot from their front porch (& Don Boudreaux, Cafe Hayek).

Bonus: “The Civil Forfeiture Implications of the DEA-NSA Spy Program” [Eapen Thampy, Americans for Forfeiture Reform]

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Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on May 1, 2013

  • More on Mayor Michael Nutter’s investigation of Philadelphia magazine for sin of committing unwelcome journalism [Mark Hemingway, Weekly Standard, earlier]
  • Standing on principle: liberal speech scholars defend right to use “gruesome images” in abortion protests [Volokh]
  • GreenTech Automotive files libel suit against Franklin Center’s Watchdog.org [Jim Geraghty]
  • “Dear Mr. Sahota… Your pompous yet feckless bluster distinguishes you.” [Ken at Popehat, Lesley Kemp case]
  • “Plaintiff Who Keeps Suing Search Engines Still Not Clear on Streisand Effect” [Lowering the Bar, earlier here, etc.]
  • “Government Can’t Condition Federal Contracts on Giving Up Constitutional Rights” [Ilya Shapiro on Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International; SCOTUSBlog] Speaking of compulsory sex positions, the problems with an Ohio legislative proposal on sex-ed are many, among them that government isn’t constitutionally free to bar hiring teachers of whose views it disapproves [Chris Geidner, BuzzFeed]
  • Partial fee award to attorneys Paul Alan Levy and Cathy Gellis in case where attorney Charles Carreon menaced blogger [Michael Masnick/TechDirt, Paul Alan Levy, Popehat, earlier here and here]
  • For most private-sector employers it’s illegal to let workers take comp time off in lieu of overtime; H.R. 1406, the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013, would fix that [Hyman]
  • Christine Quinn take note: laws requiring paid sick leave do not constitute social progress [Richard Epstein]
  • Occupational hazards of bagpipe playing (other than being chased out of your neighborhood) [Donald McNeil Jr., New York Times]
  • “Phoenix ‘Not Looking for Strong Swimmers’ for Lifeguard Jobs” [David Bernstein; earlier on discrimination against deaf lifeguards]
  • Decline of full-time work in retail sector in response to ObamaCare: year’s biggest employment story? [Warren Meyer, FoxNews (largest movie theater chain cuts hours for thousands of employees)]
  • City of Philadelphia not doing well on workers’ comp program, to say the least [Workers' Compensation Institute]
  • “New labor rule will violate attorney-client privilege” [Diana Furchtgott-Roth, D.C. Examiner]
  • “Calling a Co-Worker ‘Stupid’ Not Enough to Prove ‘Disability’, Court Says” [Daniel Schwartz]
  • After bank trespass, Occupy Philadelphia benefits from jury nullification and a cordial judge [Kevin Funnell]
  • Cato commentaries on Cyprus crisis [Steve Hanke and more, Dan Mitchell, Richard Rahn podcast]
  • “NY Court Reinstates Foreclosure, Chides Judge For `Robosigning’ Sanctions” [Daniel Fisher] “Impeding Foreclosure Hurts Homeowners As Well As Lenders” [Funnell]
  • SEC charging Illinois with pension misrepresentation? Call it a stunt [Prof. Bainbridge]
  • “Plaintiff Lawyers Seek Their Cut On Virtually All Big Mergers, Study Shows” [Fisher] As mergers draw suits, D&O underwriting scrutiny escalates [Funnell] “Courts beginning to reject M&A strike suits” [Ted Frank]
  • Will Dodd-Frank conflict minerals rules actually help folks in places like Congo? [Marcia Narine, Regent U. L. Rev. via Bainbridge, earlier here]
  • “Securities Lawyers Gave To Detroit Mayor’s Slush Fund”; city served as plaintiff for Bernstein Litowitz [Fisher]

Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on March 27, 2013

  • Alarms re: proposed new UK code to regulate press, both print and electronic [John O'Sullivan, Andrew Stuttaford] “Why we won’t sign the press-regulation Charter” [The Spectator: Nick Cohen]
  • Also from the UK: “Police investigate Conservative MP Tim Loughton for calling man ‘unkempt’” [Telegraph]
  • “Teenager arrested for tweeting rap lyric containing the word ‘homicide.’” [Ann Althouse]
  • “CNN Argues that Requiring Captioning of Web Videos Would Violate Free Speech” [Disability Law, Courthouse News; more on new web accessibility push]
  • Administrator at Yeshiva U. hires lawyer to get posts removed from prominent law blogs, Streisand Effect ensues [Scott Greenfield]
  • Philly Mayor Michael Nutter sends letter to city human relations commission demanding investigation of Philadelphia Magazine for publishing article he dislikes [Ken at Popehat, Hans Bader]

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March 22 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 22, 2013

  • $10 million judgment “won’t hit Albuquerque property owners on their tax bills because it’ll come out of [city's] self-insurance fund” Say what? [Albuquerque Journal via Ed Krayewski, Reason]
  • Latest Bloomberg scheme: ban display of tobacco products [Jacob Sullum, Patrick at Popehat, Patrick Basham/Daily Caller, Ira Stoll, Elie Mystal/Above the Law]
  • Female? Hispanic? Planted a backyard garden between 1981-2000, while wishing you could have gone bigger with the hobby? Feds’ ag-bias settlement may have bucks for you [James Bovard/WSJ, earlier on Pigford black-farmer settlement here, here, here, etc.]
  • Newly published, includes blurb by me: Mark White, The Manipulation of Choice: Ethics and Libertarian Paternalism [Amazon]
  • “NYC adopts nation’s toughest law against refusing to hire unemployed” [AP, earlier here, etc.]
  • Estate of judge is suing prominent Philadelphia class action lawyer over fall at party in home [Legal Intelligencer]
  • For Wisconsin’s left, Roggensack/Fallone judicial contest might be the last hope for derailing Gov. Walker’s labor reform [Rick Esenberg]

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Labor and employment roundup

by Walter Olson on February 28, 2013

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February 7 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 7, 2013

  • You mean Philadelphia traffic court wasn’t on the up-and-up? [ABA Journal] DUI prosecution in Lafayette Parish, La. had become quite the tidy business [Scott Greenfield]
  • Match.com sued after date assault [FindLaw]
  • Sweden is at cutting edge of free-market policy innovation [Adrian Wooldridge, The Economist]
  • Big victory for Institute for Justice as federal court strikes down new IRS tax preparer rules [Katherine Mangu-Ward] 97% of Chicago tax preparers out of compliance with local licensing regs? [TaxProf]
  • A sentiment open to doubt: Heritage claims “there is no ban on same-sex marriage” in any state [Ryan Anderson] Support from PM Cameron, other senior Conservatives instrumental in British passage of same-sex marriage [Peter Jukes, Daily Beast] New beyond-the-culture-wars initiative on marriage from David Blankenhorn and colleagues at Institute for American Values [Mark Oppenheimer, NYT]
  • “Why not a waiting period for laws?” [Glenn Reynolds, NY Post]
  • As he steps aside, recalling some of the accomplishments of longtime Cato Institute chairman Ed Crane [Cato Policy Report, PDF]
  • R.I.P. Maureen Martin, legal affairs fellow at Heartland Institute whose work touched many [Jim Lakely]

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Philadelphia: “Union Workers *Probably* Torched a Quaker Meetinghouse Over Christmas” [John Ross; Steve Volk, Philadelphia Magazine] The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has compiled a report [PDF] on ways in which state laws exempt unions and their members from otherwise applicable criminal laws [Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner ("Union organizing exempted from stalking laws in four states"), Nathan Benefield/Commonwealth Foundation] Columnist Fred Wszolek says the sponsors of “Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week” might need to cast their net a bit wider. And see
August 1999 post in this space (unions have secured for themselves immunities from civil liability far more extensive than most businesses dream of); Grover Norquist/Patrick Gleason, Reuters (exemptions from anti-stalking laws).

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Civil liberties roundup

by Walter Olson on January 7, 2013

  • Drones in domestic policing a liberty danger, warns NYT [editorial, earlier]
  • When prosecutors freeze bank accounts, high-level targets can’t hire the best lawyers to defend themselves. Regrettable unintended etc. [Silverglate]
  • On criminalizing false statements to federal agents [Scott Greenfield vs. Bill Otis]
  • “Congress Has Enough Time to Keep Spying on You, Forever” [Matt Welch; Cato video with Julian Sanchez]
  • More on Philadelphia forfeiture [John K. Ross, Reason, earlier]
  • Homeland Security program: “Public Buses Across Country Quietly Adding Microphones to Record Passenger Conversations” [Kim Zetter/Wired via Fountain]
  • Does Brooklyn indictment signal U.S. claim of universal jurisdiction over acts hostile to its foreign policy, anywhere in world? [Eugene Kontorovich/Volokh]

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Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on December 14, 2012

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  • “The Cash Machine: How the Philly D.A. seizes millions in alleged crime money — whether there’s been a crime or not.” [Isaiah Thompson, Philadelphia City Paper via Alkon] Jacob Sullum on the Motel Caswell forfeiture case [syndicated, earlier]
  • Online symposium on Brandon Garrett’s Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong [Co-Op]
  • Victims of Detroit police raid on art gallery nightclub get some justice [Ferndale 115]
  • John Baker on mens rea and “strict liability” crimes [Fed Soc, PDF]
  • Radley Balko has moved his Agitator blog to Huffington Post. And (via @normative) Cato’s Police Misconduct project is tweeting at @NPMRP.
  • Want to cross-examine someone on that traffic-camera ticket? Be prepared to pay travel costs for the camera company person [Scott Greenfield] “The mission creep of rape shield law” [same]
  • “Does the Criminalization of Tort Inhibit Safety Investigation?” [Beth Haas, Faculty Lounge]

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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]

September 26 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 26, 2012

  • I suppose it will be said to “politicize” the Florida Supreme Court races to point out that Justices Quince and Pariente joined awful, politicized rulings on everything from liability suits to Bush v. Gore [Florida Current]
  • Courtesy of the taxpayers: “TV sitcoms to incorporate Obamacare pitches?” [Jazz Shaw, HotAir]
  • “Bringing out-of-state cases to Philadelphia simply for … filing fees is a wrong-headed policy.” [WSJ Law Blog]
  • GM and Chrysler bailout: Steve Chapman corrects Jumpin’ Jenny Granholm and other myth-spinners [Chicago Tribune/ABJ, earlier]
  • “Transit agencies may get reprieve from patent troll” [Greater Greater Washington, earlier here, etc.]
  • Another view of the beef producers vs. ABC (“pink slime”) case [Steven Brill, Reuters, earlier]
  • “A Fine for Doing Good: The Justice Department sues a bank for prudent lending” [WSJ editorial]

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