At least one contributor to the NYT’s “Room for Debate” roundtable seems confident lawmakers can finesse the First Amendment dangers of proposals broad enough to criminalize some instances of saying “hello” to a stranger on the street. Scott Greenfield offers one criminal defense lawyer’s perspective.
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]
- Florida judge strikes down state’s workers comp system [Insurance Journal, WorkersCompensation.com, David DePaolo, Bradenton Herald]
- State of Washington will pay $10 million to family on theory it should have closed highways earlier in ice storm [Seattle Times]
- “Allegations that biglaw aided concealment of asbestos torts survives at the pleading stage” [John Steele, Legal Ethics Forum]
- “Pennies for Plaintiffs, Millions for Lawyers” — but some judges revolt [Megan McArdle, Bloomberg]
- Trial lawyers gain sympathetic press ear for suits over lack of bollards in front of stores as precaution against runaway drivers [Fair Warning]
- …similarly for suits seeking to abolish “Baseball Rule,” obtain damages when foul balls strike spectators [Bloomberg, earlier]
- More on California car dealer’s suit against asbestos law firm [Legal NewsLine, earlier]
- Among convict’s assortment of doomed pro se arguments: blaming Nike for not warning that its shoes might be injurious when used in stomping a victim [Oregon, Lowering the Bar]
- Reinstated University of Colorado “deviance” prof: colleges sacrifice academic freedom to risk/liability fears [Chronicle of Higher Education]
- Wisconsin court ruling “deals major setback to John Doe probe into recall elections” [Daniel Bice and Dave Umhoefer, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, earlier] About that Wisconsin Blue Fist: “what it was noisy about was a desire to be the clunking fist of state power” [Ann Althouse]
- Obama Administration’s “pursuit of group justice actually leads to injustice to individual students” [Mona Charen, syndicated, on the new racial guidelines on school discipline, and thanks for quote]
- Andrew Trask’s picks of 2013’s most significant class action cases and articles;
- Slate legal columns, like horoscopes, should be labeled “for entertainment only” [Ramesh Ponnuru]
- Remembering the days when Americans filed legal challenges against parking meters [Brian Doherty]
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]