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roundups

August 14 roundup

by Jason Barney on August 15, 2008

  • 47% of those polled believe traditional media should offer equal time to opposing viewpoints.  Although 57% polled say blog sites should not have to allow other viewpoints, 31% believe the government should “force” them to.  Can you believe that?  In a related story, help me in welcoming John Edwards as next week’s guest blogger.  (“47% Favor Government Mandated Political Balance on Radio, TV”, Rasmussen Reports, Aug. 14).
  • Speaking of John Edwards–is he the new Bill Clinton?  Some may think he’s the right person to carry on his legacy.  (“John Edwards is the new Clinton, Spitzer, Craig”, MiamiHerald.com, Aug. 13).
  • I thought the law was well-settled that you could say ignorant, mean and hurtful things (and, shame on those who do).  But, anyway the Oregon Supreme Court unanimously agreed.  (“Oregon court says racist, insulting speech is protected”, OregonLive.com, Aug. 14).
  • Also from Oregon–a young man’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the police shooting death of their son.  “We were forced to go ahead and file this to shed light on the events of that night” his mother said.  Shed light?  So, what’s with the $14M demand?  And, what’s this about him threatening police with a knife? (“Tigard teen’s family sues for millions in fatal police shooting”, OregonLive.com, Aug. 13 & Sep. 17 ’06).
  • Let the plaintiff’s bar go to bat for you on this one–after a Utah school learned of a bat infestation it partnered with the county health department to exterminate them.  Meanwhile, the district made intercom announcements asking students who may have had contact with bats to seek assistance, and made voluntary payments to seven students for rabies vaccinations.  A student’s mother sues despite no evidence her son contracted rabies or suffered any other injury.  (“Lehi Mom sues Alpine School District over bats”, Deseret News, Jul. 17).

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May 19 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 19, 2008

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May 16 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 16, 2008

  • Polar bears on parade: “Lawsuits are not the best way to force the public into solving planet-size problems such as climate change.” [Christian Science Monitor editorial]
  • Jury convicts private investigator Anthony Pellicano, trial of entertainment lawyer Terry Christiansen set for July [Variety; earlier]
  • Knockoff sneakers differed from Adidas original in having two or four stripes instead of three, didn’t save Payless Shoes from getting hit with $304 million verdict [American Lawyer]
  • Following up on our discussion of municipal tree liability: Michigan high court OKs homeowner class action over sewer line damage from city trees [AP/MLive]
  • Attorney Franklin Azar, of Colorado TV-ad fame, says jury’s verdict ordering him to pay a former client $145,000 was really a “big victory” for him [ABA Journal]
  • Annals of tolling-for-infancy: “Dog bite 10 years ago subject of civil suit” [MC Record]
  • Feds indict Missouri woman for cruel MySpace hoax that drove victim to suicide: Orin Kerr finds legal grounds weak [@ Volokh]
  • “I blame R. Kelly for Sept. 11″: some ways potential jurors managed to get off singer’s high-profile Chicago trial [Tribune; h/t reader A.K.]
  • Update: “click fraud” class actions filed in Texarkana against online ad providers have all now settled [SE Texas Record; earlier]
  • Judge orders dad to stay on top of his daughter’s education, then jails him for 180 days when she fails to get her general equivalency diploma [WCPO, Cincinnati; update, father released]
  • Lawyers still soliciting for AOL volunteer class actions [Colossus of Rhodey; earlier]

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May 12 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 12, 2008

  • Canada free speech: Islamic group files complaint against Halifax newspaper over cartoon of burka-wearing terror fan; two more libel suits aimed at online conservative voices; growing furor over complaint against Steyn/Macleans [National Post]
  • More than 5,000 students committed crimes last year in Philadelphia schools, but none were expelled — consent decrees tying system’s hands are one reason [Inquirer]
  • U.K.: Man threatened with legal action for flying pirate flag as part of daughter’s birthday party [Guardian]
  • Bankruptcy judge doesn’t plan to accept at face value Countrywide’s claim that it generated false escrow documents by mistake in foreclosure [WSJ, WSJ law blog]
  • Amid bipartisan calls to step down, Ohio AG Marc Dann [Apr. 19, May 6] hires an opposition researcher [Adler @ Volokh] on top of Washington lobbyist [Legal NewsLine], after being rebuked by judge for political suit [Dispatch]. And where’s that ethics form on the Chesley flight? [Dayton Daily News]
  • Missouri med-mal claims fall sharply after legislated damages curb [Springfield News-Leader]
  • More on Dartmouth prof Priya Venkatesan, the one who wants to sue her students — as suspected, she’s a devotee of deconstructionist Science Studies [Allen/MtC; earlier]
  • Covert plan to sabotage Chinese economy? [Wilson Center event]
  • What, never? Well, hardly ever: Docs continue to assail notion that various complications such as patient delirium, clostridium difficile infection, iatrogenic pneumothorax, etc. — not to mention falls — are “never events” [KevinMD various posts; earlier]
  • Mich. high court agrees anti-gay-marriage amendment bars municipal health benefits for domestic partners, just what key proponents had claimed it wouldn’t do [Rauch @ IGF, Carpenter @ Volokh, earlier]
  • Private service rates the safety of charter air providers — but can it afford the cost of being sued after giving a bad rating? [Three years ago on Overlawyered]

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May 6 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 6, 2008

  • Raelyn Campbell briefly captured national spotlight (“Today” show, MSNBC) with $54 million suit against Best Buy for losing laptop, but it’s now been dismissed [Shop Floor; earlier]
  • Charmed life of Florida litigators Stanley and Susan Rosenblatt continues as Miami judge awards them $218 million for class action lawsuit they lost [Daily Business Report, Krauss @ PoL; earlier here, here, and here]
  • Lerach said kickbacks were “industry practice” and “everybody was paying plaintiffs”. True? Top House GOPer Boehner wants hearings to find out [NAM "Shop Floor", WSJ law blog]
  • It’s Dannimal House! An “office rife with booze, profanity, inappropriate sexual activity, misuse of state vehicles and on-the-job threats involving the Mafia” — must be Ohio AG Marc Dann, of NYT “next Eliot Spitzer” fame [AP/NOLA, Adler @ Volokh, Above the Law, Wood @ PoL; earlier]
  • Sorry, Caplin & Drysdale, but you can’t charge full hourly rates for time spent traveling but not working on that asbestos bankruptcy [NLJ] More: Elefant.
  • Fire employee after rudely asking if she’s had a face-lift? Not unless you’ve got $1.7 million to spare [Chicago Tribune]
  • Daniel Schwartz has more analysis of that Stamford, Ct. disabled-firefighter case (May 1); if you want a fire captain to be able to read quickly at emergency scene, better spell that out explicitly in the job description [Ct Emp Law Blog]
  • As expected, star Milberg expert John Torkelsen pleads guilty to perjury arising from lies he told to conceal his contingent compensation arrangements [NLJ; earlier]
  • Case of deconstructionist prof who plans to sue her Dartmouth students makes the WSJ [Joseph Rago, op-ed page, Mindles H. Dreck @ TigerHawk; earlier]
  • How’d I do, mom? No violation of fair trial for judge’s mother to be one of the jurors [ABA Journal]
  • First sell the company’s stock short, then sue it and watch its share price drop. You mean there’s some ethical problem with that? [three years ago on Overlawyered]

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Don’t X

by Ted Frank on May 3, 2008

Another bunch of things not to do if you’re a member of the legal profession.

  • Send insulting letters to opposing counsel. (G.F. Pignato, ordered to write an article about civility.) [Legal Profession Blog via ABA Journal]
  • Leave your innocent client in jail by failing to act on new evidence. (William S. Gebbie, surrenders his California license; also accused of stealing client funds.) [ABA Journal]
  • Use the NY Yankees trademark without permission in advertising for asbestos clients. [ATL]
  • Make “jerk-off” motions in court. (Adam Reposa, Texas, sentenced to ninety days for contempt of court; many in blogosphere are appalled at what they call an overreaction.) [ATL; Simple Justice; Mark Bennett and again; and Patterico notes an interesting coincidence]
  • Mock the plaintiffs’ attorney at a jury trial with “Overruled” signs and soccer-style red cards. (Judge James M. Brooks, admonished.) [ATL]
  • As a prosecutor, conceal exculpatory evidence. (Former Sonoma County Deputy District Attorney Brooke Halsey Jr., suspended.) [ABA Journal]
  • And even if you’re a pro se, don’t send a death threat to opposing counsel by fax. [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]

Earlier: Feb. 24.

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May 2 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 2, 2008

  • Contriving to give Sheldon Silver the moral high ground: NY judges steamed at lack of raises are retaliating against Albany lawmakers’ law firms [NY Post and editorial. More: Turkewitz.]
  • When strong laws prove weak: Britain’s many layers of land use control seem futile against determined builders of gypsy encampments [Telegraph]
  • “U.S. patent chief: applications up, quality down” [EETimes]
  • Plenty of willing takers for those 4,703 new cars that survived the listing-ship near-disaster, but Mazda destroyed them instead [WSJ]
  • “Prof. Dohrn [for] Attorney General and Rev. Wright [for] Secretary of State”? So hard to tell when left-leaning lawprof Brian Leiter is kidding and when he’s not [Leiter Reports]
  • Yet another hard-disk-capacity class action settlement, $900K to Strange & Carpenter [Creative HDD MP3 Player; earlier. More: Sullum, Reason "Hit and Run".]
  • Filipino ship whistleblowers’ case: judge slashes Texas attorney’s fee, “calling the lawyer’s attempt to bill his clients nearly $300,000 ‘unethically excessive.’” [Boston Globe, earlier]
  • RFK Jr. Watch: America’s Most Irresponsible Public Figure® endorses Oklahoma poultry litigation [Legal NewsLine]
  • Just what the budget-strapped state needs: NY lawmakers earmark funds for three (3) new law schools [NY Post editorial; PoL first, second posts, Greenfield]
  • In Indiana, IUPUI administrators back off: it wasn’t racial harassment after all for student-employee to read a historical book on fight against Klan [FIRE; earlier]
  • Fiesta Cornyation in San Antonio just isn’t the same without the flying tortillas [two years ago on Overlawyered]

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April 29 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 29, 2008

  • “Dog owners in Switzerland will have to pass a test to prove they can control and care for their animal, or risk losing it, the Swiss government said yesterday.” [Daily Telegraph]
  • 72-year-old mom visits daughter’s Southport, Ct. home, falls down stairs searching for bathroom at night, sues daughter for lack of night light, law firm boasts of her $2.475 million win on its website [Casper & deToledo, scroll to "Jeremy C. Virgil"]
  • Can’t possibly be right: “Every American enjoys a constitutional right to sue any other American in a West Virginia court” [W.V. Record]
  • Video contest for best spoof personal injury attorney ads [Sick of Lawsuits; YouTube]
  • Good profile of Kathleen Seidel, courageous blogger nemesis of autism/vaccine litigation [Concord Monitor*, Orac]. Plus: all three White House hopefuls now pander to anti-vaxers, Dems having matched McCain [Orac]
  • One dollar for every defamed Chinese person amounts to a mighty big lawsuit demand against CNN anchor Jack Cafferty [NYDN link now dead; Independent (U.K.)]
  • Hapless Ben Stein whipped up one side of the street [Salmon on financial regulation] and down the other [Derbyshire on creationism]
  • If only Weimar Germany had Canada-style hate-speech laws to prevent the rise of — wait, you mean they did? [Steyn/Maclean's] Plus: unlawful in Alberta to expose a person to contempt based on his “source of income” [Levant quoting sec. 3 (1)(b) of Human Rights Law]
  • Hey, these coupon settlements are giving all of us class action lawyers a bad name [Leviant/The Complex Litigator]
  • Because patent law is bad enough all by itself? D.C. Circuit tosses out FTC’s antitrust ruling against Rambus [GrokLaw; earlier]
  • “The fell attorney prowls for prey” — who wrote that line, and about which city? [four years ago on Overlawyered]

*Okay, one flaw in the profile: If Prof. Irving Gottesman compares Seidel to Erin Brockovich he probably doesn’t know much about Brockovich.

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April 24 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 24, 2008

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April 17 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 17, 2008

  • “I did not know what kind of monster we were dealing with”: dramatic testimony from Judge Lackey on Scruggs corruption [Folo; and repercussions too]
  • New at Point of Law: Pork-barreling Albany lawmakers shell out for just what NY needs, three more law schools; Sarbanes-Oxley unconstitutional? Ted goes after JAMA on Vioxx; sadly, appeals court overturns Santa Clara opinion that nailed ethical problems with govt.-paid contingency fee; legal aid lawyers, to subprime borrowers’ rescue? and much more;
  • Cadbury claim: we own the color purple as it relates to chocolate [Coleman]
  • A world gone mad: Innocence Project directors include… Janet Reno? [Bernstein @ Volokh]
  • Not unrelatedly: Can a California prosecutor be held liable for wrongful murder conviction of man freed after 24 years? [Van de Kamp versus Goldstein, L.A. Times via Greenfield]
  • With all his lawyer chums from Milberg-witness days, you’d think Ben Stein could have saved the makers of his creationist movie from stumbling into textbook IP infringements [Myers, again, WSJ law blog]
  • Groggy from dental anesthesia, plus a half a glass to drink: then came the three felony DUI counts [Phoenix New Times, Balko via Reynolds]
  • Shell says boaters had years of notice that mandated ethanol in fuel was incompatible with fiberglass marine gas tanks, which hasn’t stopped the filing of a class action [L.A. Times via ABA Journal]
  • Terrorism asymmetry: “They say ‘Allahu Akbar!’ we say ‘Imagine the liability!’” [McCarthy/Lopez, NRO]
  • Deborah Jeane Palfrey convicted [WaPo; earlier]
  • David Neiwert truly born yesterday if he thinks Kevin Phillips is noteworthy for his record of being right [Firedoglake; some correctives]

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April 16 roundup

by Ted Frank on April 16, 2008

  • Schadenfreude overload: Eliot Spitzer fighting with Bill Lerach’s old law firm. You see, Spitzer returned Lerach firm’s money after the indictment (unlike many other Democrats); when Lerach left the firm, Spitzer hit them up for cash again; now, they’re the ones seeking money. [WSJ Law Blog; NY Sun]
  • Breakthrough on Keisler nomination. [Levey]
  • Sued for accurately saying government employee was a Mexican. [Volokh]
  • Global warming lawsuit finds conspiracy in free speech. [Pero]
  • Yet another free speech lawsuit: 50-Cent sued for “promoting gangsta lifestyle.” [Torts Prof]
  • 3-2 decision in NY Appellate Division: Not a design defect for tobacco companies to sell cigarettes that aren’t light cigarettes. [Rose v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co.; NYLJ/law.com via Prince]
  • Meanwhile, tobacco companies are also being sued over light cigarettes. Second Circuit tosses Judge Weinstein’s novel class certification (Point of Law); Supreme Court grants cert in Altria Group v. Good.
  • Defensive medicine one of many reasons that health-care costs so much in US [New York Times]
  • Eyewitness testimony: you can’t always believe your eyes. [Chapman]
  • First-hand report on Obama’s views on guns. [Lott]
  • Ethical problem for law firm to be representing judges in litigation seeking pay raise? [Turkewitz]

April 11 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 11, 2008

  • Plenty of reaction to our Tuesday post questioning the NYT school-bullying story, including reader comments and discussion at other blogs; one lawprof passes along a response by the Wolfe family to the Northwest Arkansas Times’s reporting [updated post]
  • Geoffrey Fieger, of jury-swaying fame, says holding his forthcoming criminal trial in Detroit would be unfair because juries there hate his guts [Detroit News]
  • Another Borat suit down as Judge Preska says movie may be vulgar but has social value, and thus falls into “newsworthiness” exception to NY law barring commercial use of persons’ images [ABA Journal]
  • Employer found mostly responsible for accident that occurred after its functionaries overrode a safety device, but a heavy-equipment dealer also named as defendant will have to pay more than 90 percent of resulting $14.6 million award [Bloomington, Ill. Pantagraph]
  • New Mexico Human Rights Commission fines photographer $6600 for refusing a job photographing same-sex commitment ceremony [Volokh, Bader]
  • “Virginia reaches settlement with families of VA Tech shooting victims” [Jurist]
  • Roger Parloff on downfall of Dickie Scruggs [Fortune]
  • Judge in Spain fined heavily and disbarred for letting innocent man spend more than a year in jail [AP/IHT, Guardian]
  • Hard to know whether all those emergency airplane groundings actually improved safety, they might even have impaired it [Murray/NRO "Corner", WSJ edit]
  • “Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value” — tracking down the context of that now-celebrated quote from a Canadian Human Rights Commission investigator [Volokh]
  • Who was it that said that lawyers “need to be held accountable for frivolous lawsuits that help drive up the cost of malpractice insurance”? Hint: initials are J.E. [three years ago on Overlawyered]

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April 5 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 5, 2008

  • Ninth Circuit, Kozinski, J., rules 8-3 that Roommates.com can be found to have violated fair housing law by asking users to sort themselves according to their wish to room with males or other protected groups; the court distinguished the Craigslist cases [L.A. Times, Volokh, Drum]
  • Class-action claim: Apple says its 20-inch iMac displays millions of colors but the true number is a mere 262,144, the others being simulated [WaPo]
  • U.K.: compulsive gambler loses $2 million suit against his bookmakers, who are awarded hefty costs under loser-pays rule [BBC first, second, third, fourth stories]
  • Pittsburgh couple sue Google saying its Street Views invades their privacy by including pics of their house [The Smoking Gun via WSJ law blog]
  • U.S. labor unions keep going to International Labour Organization trying to get current federal ground rules on union organizing declared in violation of international law [PoL]
  • Illinois Supreme Court reverses $2 million jury award to woman who sued her fiance’s parents for not warning her he had AIDS [Chicago Tribune]
  • Italian family “preparing to sue the previous owners of their house for not telling them it was haunted”; perhaps most famous such case was in Nyack, N.Y. [Ananova, Cleverly]
  • Per their hired expert, Kentucky lawyers charged with fen-phen settlement fraud “relied heavily on the advice of famed trial lawyer Stan Chesley in the handling of” the $200 million deal [Lexington Herald-Leader]
  • Actor Hal Holbrook of Mark Twain fame doesn’t think much of those local anti-tobacco ordinances that ban smoking on stage even when needed for dramatic effect [Bruce Ramsey, Seattle Times]
  • Six U.S. cities so far have been caught “shortening the amber cycles below what is allowed by law on intersections equipped with cameras meant to catch red-light runners.” [Left Lane via Virtuous Republic and Asymmetrical Information]

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April 2 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 2, 2008

  • Judge expresses surprise at how many law firms want in on fees in Visa/MasterCard issuer settlement [NYSun]
  • Mississippi bill would require a lawyer’s presence at real estate escrow closings; so rude to cite the profession’s self-interest as a factor [Clarion-Ledger]
  • Following Coughlin Stoia’s lead, Mark Lanier announces he’s expanding into intellectual property litigation [The Recorder]
  • Maryland legislation would require state-aided colleges and universities to report on what they’re doing to advance “cultural diversity” [Examiner via Bader/Open Market]
  • New era at UK pubs? Under new directive, “employers will risk being sued if a bar worker or waitress complains of being called ‘love’ or ‘darling’, or if staff overhear customers telling sexist jokes.” [Daily Mail]
  • ACLU just sued city of San Diego and snagged $900K in legal fees, but that’s no impediment to the city’s council’s enacting a special day of tribute to the group [House of Eratosthenes]
  • George Wallace, who’s guestblogged here, hosts twin editions of Blawg Review #153 at his blogs Declarations & Exclusions and A Fool in the Forest, on piratical and Punchinello themes;
  • Obama won’t support lowering drinking age [Newsweek]
  • Such a shame for entrepreneurial plaintiffs, post-Proposition 64 if you want to sue a California business you might actually need to have been injured [CalBizLit]
  • Time mag appeals $100 million Suharto libel ruling [IHT]
  • Hey, no fair enforcing that fine print disclaiming liability for sweepstakes misprints [three years ago on Overlawyered]

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March 25 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 25, 2008

  • Speaking of patients who act against medical advice and sue anyway: doctor who advised against home birth is cleared by Ohio jury in $13 million suit [Plain Dealer and earlier via KevinMD]
  • UK: “A feud over a 4ft-wide strip of land has seen neighbours rack up £300,000 in lawyers’ bills, and left one family effectively homeless.” [Telegraph]
  • Last of the Scruggs judicial bribery defendants without a plea deal, Dickie’s son Zack, takes one [Folo]
  • By reader acclaim: securities trader sues over injury from lap dancer’s attentions [AP/NY Sun]
  • Amid the talk of FISA and retroactive telecom immunity, it would be nice to hear more about the actual lawsuits [Obbie]
  • Australian worker loses suit over firing despite a doctor’s note vouching that stress of worrying about upcoming football game made it medically necessary for him to take day off to go see it [Stumblng Tumblr]
  • Megan McArdle and Tyler Cowen toss around the question of federal FDA pre-emption of drug liability suits, as raised by Medtronic;
  • Should Coughlin Stoia have bought those stolen Coke documents? For one lawprof, question’s a real head-scratcher [David McGowan (San Diego), Legal Ethics Forum] And WSJ news side is oddly unskeptical of trial lawyers’ line that the affair just proves their power to go on fishing expeditions should never have been curtailed [Jones/Slater]
  • Dashboard-cam caught Tennessee cops red-handed planting marijuana on suspect, or so Jonathan Turley suggests — but could it be a little more complicated than that? [WSMV, AP/WATE] (& Greenfield)
  • “Heck Baptists don’t even sue you for disagreeing with them,” though no doubt there are exceptions [Instapundit; NYT on Danish cartoons; Ezra Levant with more on those Canadian speech tribunals]
  • Bestselling authors who sue their critics [four years ago on Overlawyered]

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March 21 roundup

by Ted Frank on March 21, 2008

Updates galore:

New at Point of Law

by Walter Olson on March 20, 2008

If you’re not keeping up with our sister site, you’re missing out on stories about how expert evidence standards help plaintiffs too (and more); animal rights more voguish at many law schools than those dull old humans; Ohio Supreme Court commended; implications of recent plunge in carpal tunnel cases; 93% enrollment in Vioxx settlement; attorney faces criminal charges after his clients quit their nursing jobs; extensive coverage of Gov. Spitzer’s downfall; more trouble for Florida lawyer accused of bribing defendant’s adjuster to obtain settlement target numbers; ballot measure would abolish employment at will in Colorado; judicial seminars by the securities class action bar; and much more.

March 19 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 19, 2008

  • UK: Paramedic twists ankle on steps responding to emergency call, plans to sue elderly couple [Daily Mail]
  • Critics say litigiousness is part of the business plan for rental outfit Leasecomm, which has sued its customers more than 92,000 times [Boston Globe, Daily News Transcript]
  • Great big predators of the alternative press? Jury awards $15 million against SF Weekly to its main competitor, Bay Guardian [SF Chronicle]
  • Tacoma public schools sued after mentally ill student brings gun to school and kills classmate [KOMO]
  • How the parties traded positions with each other on trade [Gordon, Commentary]
  • Now Canada has its own “human rights” complaint against plastic surgeon who declines to undertake transgender-related surgery [Steyn, Macleans; earlier Catholic hospital case from California]
  • Florida Supreme Court hears appeal of Joe Anderson $18 million “false light” defamation verdict against Gannett’s Pensacola News-Journal [WSJ law blog; earlier]
  • Ottawa lawyer Richard Warman keeps suing bloggers and dragging websites before those Canadian hate-speech tribunals, so no criticizing him please [Levant, Five Feet of Fury (& more), Steyn]
  • Discontent continues over judges’ standardless discretion in granting alimony awards [NLJ]
  • Death of widow Alice Lawrence isn’t expected to end her litigation with law firm Graubard Miller over contingency fee [NYLJ; earlier]
  • Labor arbitrator tells Florida school to rehire employee who reported to work with cocaine in his system [six years ago on Overlawyered]