The vote was 325 to 91, with Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Mel Watt (D-N.C.) leading the opposition. Timothy Lee discusses in the Washington Post. While I haven’t tried to get into the details, the general drift looks quite good to me. One major provision requires those filing suits to plead with some specificity what the infringement is; another provides for losing parties to compensate prevailing parties toward the cost of the litigation in more cases; yet another attempts to forestall expensive discovery in cases destined to fail on other grounds. Readers who recall my first book, The Litigation Explosion, will recall that I recommended procedural reform as the most promising way to address the incentives to overlitigiousness in our legal system and in particular identified lack of fee shifting, anything-goes pleadings, and wide-open discovery as among the system’s key deficits. So, yes, developments like this make me feel I was on the right track.
Lawyer disciplinary proceedings make good occasion for noticing that vague notice pleading can trample defendants’ due process interest, but will anyone apply the lesson beyond lawyers? [John Steele, Legal Ethics Forum]
Left-leaning lawprofs like Erwin Chemerinsky and Arthur Miller regularly flog the idea that decisions they disagree with — such as Twombly and Iqbal on pleading, AT&T v. Concepcion and AmEx v. Italian Colors on arbitration, and Vance v. Ball State and Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire on workplace liability — show the Supreme Court to be biased in favor of business defendants. Richard Epstein rebuts.
Some who pushed enhanced punishment for Dharun Ravi may now be doubting they really want it [Scott Greenfield, earlier here, etc.]
NYT editorial on FMLA state immunity is as bad as anyone had a right to expect [Whelan]
“Pleading, Discovery, and the Federal Rules: Exploring the Foundations of Modern Procedure” [Martin Redish, FedSoc "Engage"] Summary of important ’09 Redish book Wholesale Justice calling into question constitutionality of class actions [Trask]
Politicos mobilize against risk that Wal-Mart will bring fresh produce choices to Harlem [Greg Beato] India frets about whether to allow chain stores, recapitulating a debate U.S. once went through [Tabarrok, MR]
Colorado legislators honored at a luncheon where I spoke [CCJL]
Congratulations to the outstanding Abnormal Use for winning the ABA’s “Blawg 100” vote for best torts blog; we feel pretty good about placing third without mounting a campaign. While exploring that site, don’t miss its stellar coverage of the tendentious documentary “Hot Coffee”.
The Supreme Court’s admirable Twombly and Iqbal precedents give a federal district court the means to turn back a shotgun lawsuit against a horde of undifferentiated defendants [McFarland v. APP Pharmaceuticals LLC, slip op., 2011 WL 2413797 (W.D. Wash. June 13, 2011) via Beck, Drug and Device Law]. Quoting the court:
[A]lleging that 93 defendants all manufactured, distributed, and/or sold all of the products that caused all of plaintiff’s injuries is not plausible. In addition, plaintiff’s allegations are internally inconsistent. The complaint alleges that “each” of the defendants manufactured the heparin that caused her injuries, but also alleges that each of the 93 defendants “separately manufactured, marketed, distributed, wholesaled, and/or sold” heparin. The inconsistencies between those allegations, which are not pled in the alternative, further highlight the implausibility of plaintiff’s allegations.
James Beck writes, “Basically, the plaintiffs in McFarland didn’t want to do even the most basic spadework of identifying the correct defendants before bringing suit, so they threw in the kitchen sink in the hope that the defendants would end up having to spend the time and effort to figure things out.” After Twombly and Iqbal, that’s become a less effective legal tactic — one of many reasons to resist the Litigation Lobby drive to get Congress to overturn the two pleading decisions.
“The never-ending stream of futile petitions suggests that habeas corpus is a wasteful nuisance.” [Joseph Hoffmann and Nancy King, NYT, via Lat, Frank] A different view: Scott Greenfield, The Briefcase.
The video above is of the Society’s 10th annual Barbara Olson Memorial Lecture, in which Second Circuit Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs provocatively criticizes legal academia and other precincts of influential legal thinking for misunderstanding the role of the military and its relation to the law.
After Mohawk Industries settlement, many employers could be sitting ducks for suits claiming that hiring illegal workers is RICO violation [Helman, Forbes, earlier]
Teen tries to help child lost in store, winds up facing felony rap of false imprisonment [Greenfield]
Federal magistrate in debt collection case: letter on law firm letterhead implies threat to sue [Legal Intelligencer]
On “professional” class action objectors [Ted at PoL]
Coal company claims ventilation system ordered by government regulators might have been a cause of deadly April mine explosion [WSJ]
Senate committee approves judicial nomination of John (“Jack”) McConnell, impresario of Rhode Island lead-paint litigation; William Jacobson explains critics’ charges regarding couching of legal fee as purported hospital donation [Legal Insurrection]
Hey, stop siphoning that oil slick, we haven’t checked your life jackets and extinguishers [GatewayPundit] Gulf oil rig registered for purposes of regulation in remote Pacific island chain [Legal Blog Watch] Richard Epstein on oil spill liability [WSJ] BP will never pay full price of accident [Popehat] Check back in 2031 to see how the litigation went [Alex Beam, Boston Globe]
American Constitution Society holds panel discussion on Iqbal and Twombly [BLT] “Is It Too Much to Ask That a Lawsuit Be ‘Plausible’?” [Richard Samp, WLF Legal Pulse]
Claim: Obama, Kagan, Sotomayor typify “postradical” law school generation [David Fontana, Chronicle of Higher Ed via Wasserman/Prawfs (counter: "there are a lot of us liberal doctrinalists out here ...And students are learning that vision in law school"), Althouse ("Spare me! There are plenty of strongly liberal and lefty lawprofs and if you want theoretical ambition you can find it.")]
Moonlighting: New York state senate majority leader John Sampson joins large plaintiff’s firm in “of counsel” position, an arrangement long held by his counterpart at the New York capitol, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver;
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