Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania: “A jury in a Luzerne County civil case ruled that PennDOT was partially responsible for a deadly crash in 2011 that killed a 15-year-old girl, even though the driver of the SUV was driving at roughly twice the speed limit and did not have a driver’s license.” While the driver admitted he was going nearly 90 miles an hour when he lost control, the family’s lawyer “told jurors in closing arguments that PennDOT’s own manuals showed Suscon Road needed more so-called chevron signs that reflect light and warn of an upcoming sharp curve.” [WNEP]
The lawsuit, which contends that the politically motivated closure of two bridge lanes from Fort Lee by Christie advisors with resulting traffic jams was a deprivation of “liberty,” was filed by attorney Rosemarie Arnold, who’s run some attention-getting TV ads in the past. [UPI]
P.S. From Widener lawprof John Culhane, a more serious look. “IRB/Human Subjects form from the Chris Christie bridge scandal” (humor, Kieran Healy) And Steve Chapman: “Anytime someone wants to expand some power of government, here’s what you should assume: [Bridget Anne] Kelly and [David] Wildstein will be the ones exercising it.”
A group in Iceland has sued to block construction of highway arguing (among other things) that it would disturb the ancient elves or “hidden folk” of the Icelandic countryside. “The group also claims the area the new highway would run through is of particular importance because it contains an elf church. A 2007 survey by the University of Iceland found that while only 8 percent of the population believe in elves, 54 percent would not actually deny their existence.” [PBS]
“…but she can’t sell the mistletoe.” “No selling in the park” undoubtedly makes sense as a rule, but here, as in so many legal situations, an understood *de minimis* exception would help a lot. [Portland, Ore.; ABC News, Institute for Justice] But note (as reader James points out) that the setting was an established open-air bazaar with vendor waiting lists and fees, not a conventional open grassy park. That makes a pretty big difference, no?
“There’s plenty of money. The problem is interminable environmental review.” That’s Philip K. Howard in the Wall Street Journal [summarized here; related Common Good forum with Regional Plan Association] Excerpt:
Canada requires full environmental review, with state and local input, but it has recently put a maximum of two years on major projects. Germany allocates decision-making authority to a particular state or federal agency: Getting approval for a large electrical platform in the North Sea, built this year, took 20 months; approval for the City Tunnel in Leipzig, scheduled to open next year, took 18 months. Neither country waits for years for a final decision to emerge out of endless red tape.
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]
All it takes are a few warnings for the benefit of visitors who might not otherwise realize watery surfaces are wet [Chevy Chase, Maryland; courtesy Carter Wood]
“Two federal government agencies will withdraw their longstanding claims that bicycle helmets reduce the risk of a head injury by 85%. The decision comes in response to a petition the Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA) filed under the federal Data Quality Act.” [Jim Titus, Greater Greater Washington; earlier on mandatory helmet-use laws here and here]
Now guess who gets sued? [Ted Frank/PoL; Collins v. Navistar, California]
Following up on our earlier posts, a new NBER study finds (via Reason) that the main safety-related effect of helmet laws may be to discourage kids from riding bikes in the first place: “the observed reduction in bicycle-related head injuries may be due to reductions in bicycle riding induced by the laws.”
At Greater Greater Washington, Shane Farthing of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association has explained in more detail why his group does not favor a Maryland proposal to make helmets mandatory. Earlier here.
Great moments in blame-shifting: In Dade City, Fla., an ex-con with cocaine and other drugs in his system tried to outrun the cops in a high speed chase, then veered into a farm neighborhood where he smashed his car into two trees on a one-lane dead-end private road, instantly killing himself and a passenger. Now the estate of his passenger (who was also on drugs) is suing 21 local residents who jointly maintain the private road, saying they should have kept it clear of trees and did not provide adequate signage. “There were no apparent visual roadway obstructions or environmental factors that would have contributed to this crash,” a report from the Florida Highway Patrol stated at the time. [Tampa Bay Times](& Alkon)
Maryland bicycling advocates can tell the difference, and are opposing a proposal by Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore) to mandate helmet use. There’s a lesson somewhere in there, or so I surmise in my new Cato post. Update: more details from an opponent.
But how many actually deserve one? [CBS Los Angeles via Alkon]