Prison inmate orders attack on guard at guard’s home in Bishopville, South Carolina. Surviving guard Robert Johnson and wife “did not, however, sue the typical defendants – i.e., the shooter or any prison inmate or employee. Rather, the Johnsons sued several cellular phone service providers and owners of cell phone towers. According to the Johnsons, these defendants are liable for Mr. Johnson’s injuries because they were aware that their services facilitated the illegal use of cellphones by prison inmates and yet failed to take steps to curb that use.” [Fourth Circuit opinion in Johnson v. American Towers LLC, et al., affirming district court’s dismissal of claim on the merits]
- War on painkillers finds new casualty in ailing veterans [Washington Post, Brian Doherty]
- “Woman says ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ lube doesn’t deliver, should be registered with FDA” [Legal NewsLine]
- “Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Twisted Anti-Vaxx History” [Russell Saunders, Daily Beast back in July]
- Using antitrust law, New York seeks to force maker to go on producing older formulation of drug [Ilya Shapiro on Cato brief in Second Circuit] Courts have mostly rejected claims of a duty to supply grounded in obligation to patients [James Beck, Drug & Device Law]
- “Patients see [biotech] startups and hope for a cure. Too many lawyers see them and hope for a payday.” [Standish M. Fleming, WSJ]
- Argument that policymakers undervalue pharmaceutical aids to heroin rehabilitation [Jason Cherkis]
- After suing the obvious defendants in New England Compounding Pharmacy contamination case, lawyers started in on the less obvious [Drug and Device Law, background on regulation-spurred rise of compounding pharmacies]
Sue ‘em all: “Eighty-six current and former members of a Yale University fraternity are being sued over a deadly tailgating crash at the 2011 Yale-Harvard football game. … [Lawyers] say insurance for the national Sigma Phi Epsilon organization doesn’t cover the local chapter, so they have to sue the local fraternity and its members.” That’s “have to” in the sense of “can obtain more money if they.” [Associated Press]
- Despite sparseness of evidence, lawyers hope to pin liability on hotel for double murder of guests [Tennessean]
- Celebrated repeat litigant Patricia Alice McColm sentenced after felony conviction for filing false documents in Trinity County, Calif. [Trinity Journal, more, Justia, earlier] Idaho woman challenges vexatious-litigant statute [KBOI]
- “2 Florida Moms Sentenced for Staged Accident Insurance Fraud” [Insurance Journal, earlier]
- With Arkansas high court intent on striking down liability changes, advocates consider going the constitutional amendment route [TortsProf] Fifth Circuit upholds Mississippi damages caps [PoL]
- What states have been doing lately on litigation reform [Andrew Cook, Fed Soc] Illinois lawmakers’ proposals [Madison-St. Clair Record] Head of Florida Chamber argues for state legal changes [Tampa Tribune]
- Crowd of defendants: “Ky. couple names 124 defendants in asbestos suit” [WV Record]
- A bad habit of Louisiana courts: “permitting huge recoveries without proof of injury” [Eric Alexander, Drug and Device Law]
A judge in Morris County, N.J. is expected to rule soon whether to dismiss Shannon Colonna as a defendant in a lawsuit over a car crash. Colonna was far from the scene at the time, but plaintiffs said she had sent a text message to the driver whose inattention caused the accident, and thus aided and abetted his negligence. [The Record; AP; NJLRA] Update: judge dismisses claims against Colonna.
Longtime Twin Cities attorney John Murrin lost money in a dodgy business deal, and started out by pressing what critics agree were some meritorious complaints arising from it. But courts began to look askance as he added more and more actions, pleadings and (nearly four dozen) defendants. Now a sanctions order has resulted in a bankruptcy proceeding. [“Lawyer’s tactics leave him bankrupt,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune].
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.
By reader acclaim: the family of a Pennsylvania woman who attended — but did not participate in — a New Jersey “Polar Bear Plunge” charity event has sued the event sponsors and many others. Tracy Hottenstein was last seen alive around 2:15 a.m. on the night of drinking after the festivities, and was later discovered in the bay having, per Cape May County authorities, “died accidentally from hypothermia and acute intoxication.” In addition to the event sponsors, the suit names “the owners of two bars she was at on the night she died and the couple who invited her to dinner at their home that evening. Also named is the hospital where she died and the doctor who pronounced her dead, as well as the Sea Isle City Police Department and individual officers who — the suit claims — did not allow rescue workers to perform lifesaving treatment for hypothermia after they discovered Hottenstein had no pulse.” [AP/NJ.com]
- “Father demands $7.5 million because school officials read daughter’s text message” [KDAF via CALA Houston]
- How many different defendants can injured spectator sue in Shea Stadium broken-bat case? [Melprophet]
- Prominent trial lawyer Russell Budd of Baron & Budd hosts Obama at Texas fundraiser [PoL]
- DNA be damned: when actual nonpaternity doesn’t suffice to get out from under a child support order [Alkon, more]
- “Sean Coffey, a plaintiffs’ lawyer-turned-candidate for New York Attorney General, made more than $150,000 in state-level campaign contributions nationwide over 10 years.” [WSJ Law Blog] “Days before announcing a shareholder lawsuit against Bank of America, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli accepted $14,000 in campaign donations from a law firm hired to help litigate the case.” [WSJ]
- Big new RAND Corp. study on asbestos bankruptcy trusts may spur reform [Lloyd Dixon, Geoffrey McGovern & Amy Coombe, PDF, via Hartley, more, Daniel Fisher/Forbes, background here and here] Update: Stier.
- Public contingency suits? Of course the elected officials are in control (wink, wink) [The Recorder via Cal Civil Justice]
- Copyright enforcement mill appears to have copied its competitor’s website [TechDirt via Eric Goldman]
- “Trial Lawyers vs. Toyota” [Holman Jenkins, Jr./WSJ] Rep. Towns’s hearing didn’t even pretend to be other than showcase for trial bar [Wood, PoL; Henry Payne coverage in National Review here, here, here, and here] And make way for the inevitable investor suits [Daily Breeze]
- “Obama open to curbing medical malpractice suits” [AP/WaPo] Related: The Hill; advice from Newsweek’s Evan Thomas [Jim Pinkerton]
- Why doesn’t the Securities and Exchange Commission hire finance people? “They’re overlawyered. They’re poisoned by lawyers.” [Harry Markopolos interviewed by Deborah Solomon, N.Y. Times]
- “Plaintiffs Lawyer’s ‘Reptile’ Strategy Bites Back” [Fulton County Daily Report] Plus: Max Kennerly wonders why it was admitted into evidence;
- “Facebook plus divorce equals flammable situation” [Tampa Bay Online]
- Officials get wined, dined and more: “Paying public pensions to sue” [Forbes]
- Parents sue many defendants in Colorado ice cream shop crash [Denver Post]
- Called for jury duty yesterday, and Tweeting the results: arts critic/biographer Terry Teachout and conservative writer Michelle Malkin.