A South Carolina jury awarded the default judgment against a now-defunct property management firm that had called with an eviction threat over two-months’-behind rent; the tenant in a deposition “said she had asked the manager to refrain from speaking with her mother because of her fragile health.” [Charleston Post and Courier]
I much enjoyed my trip there last week, sponsored by the Federalist Society chapter and with Prof. Jacqueline Fox providing a spirited counterpoint to my remarks on Schools for Misrule. The school has posted a Facebook photo album of the event.
I’ll be speaking at these five law schools in October, sponsored by the Federalist Society and at lunchtime unless otherwise specified:
Oct. 2, Lewis and Clark, Portland, Ore., debating Prof. Henry Drummonds, on federal quotas on disabled hiring (more).
Oct. 3, University of Oregon, Eugene, Ore., on tort law and the “invisible fist” theory (U of O calendar).
Oct. 9, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C., on Schools for Misrule, debating Prof. Jacqueline Fox (Facebook event page, FedSoc).
Oct. 29, Boston University, Boston, Mass., topic to be announced.
Oct. 30, New England School of Law, on tobacco litigation, debating Ilana Knopf.
To inquire about having me speak to your group, email editor – at – overlawyered – dot – com.
I’m set to speak in October in Boston, South Carolina, and Oregon. If you want to add on a speaking stop for me in one of these places or someplace nearby, let me know quickly before I buy air tickets. And if you’d like to book me to speak to your group, drop me a line at editor – at – overlawyered – dot – com.
“A South Carolina woman is suing the bar that served her alcohol as a minor the night she had a car accident that left her paralyzed. Chelsea Hess, 22, is also suing the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the town of Bluffton and Beaufort County for negligence for allegedly not maintaining the road shoulder she drove her car over in her accident.” [ABC via @amyalkon]
Today I’m talking to state legislators courtesy of the American Legislative Exchange Council. Next week I head off for luncheon talks about my new book Schools for Misrule before Federalist Society lawyers’ chapters in Greenville, S.C. on Wed. Dec. 7, and Charlotte, N.C. on Thurs. Dec. 8. And then the following week I keynote the annual luncheon of the Colorado Civil Justice League Dec. 13 in Denver. If you’re in the audience, do introduce yourself!
I’m currently planning speaking trips that will take me to Chicago Nov. 7-8, Greenville, S.C. Dec. 7, Denver Dec. 13, and possibly Phoenix Dec. 1. If you’ve got a speaker’s series or organization that’s in one of these places or an easy travel jump away, consider saving on travel expenses by booking me for a talk around these dates. You can contact me directly at editor – [at] – overlawyered – dot – com or Diane Morris at the Cato Institute: dmorris – [at] – cato – dot – org.
Following murmurs about pay-to-play, South Carolina has turned down offers from local powerhouse Motley Rice and from Labaton Sucharow, whose attorneys had donated $12,000 to Attorney General Alan Wilson. [The State]
More developments in “the case of the dangerously defective bra.” [Kevin Couch, Abnormal Use]
“A golfer whose arm was torn off by an alligator during a round of golf in South Carolina has sued the course’s owner under the novel theory that the design of the course created an alligator hazard.” [OnPoint News]
ABA Journal: “A South Carolina lawyer known for his TV commercials and billboards has turned over $994,000 in cash kept in a closet of his Myrtle Beach law office after a court-appointed bankruptcy investigator stressed the importance of disclosing his assets.” In initial filings, attorney Pavilack said he owed an estimated $72,500,000 to creditors and had $50,000 in assets; two months later he revised the asset disclosure upward to $8.9 million. A bankruptcy examiner says Pavilack’s financial affairs are in disarray and that it may be impossible to disentangle what he owns or where money went given a pattern of unexplained money transfers among a maze of business accounts. [Myrtle Beach Sun-News via Lowering the Bar]
In 2006, I wrote:
In May 2001, Cheryl Jane Hale was driving four children to a sleepover in her 1987 Ford Bronco. She didn’t bother to have the children wear their seat belts, so, when she took her eyes off the road to argue with the backseat passengers, and thus drove off the road and flipped the car, 12-year-old Jesse Branham was thrown from the car and suffered brain damage. A jury in Hampton County, South Carolina (the second jury to be impaneled—the first one was dismissed in a mistrial when it was discovered after two weeks of trial that five of the jurors were former clients of Branham’s lawyers) decided that this was only 45% Hale’s fault, held Ford 55% responsible, which puts Ford entirely on the hook for $31 million in damages.
On Monday, the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed because of prejudicial closing arguments that relied heavily on inadmissible evidence. More importantly for lawyers practicing in South Carolina, the Court adopted “the risk-utility test with its requirement of showing a feasible alternative design.”
How bad of a judicial hellhole is Hampton County? Though Hale was a co-defendant, she cooperated with the plaintiffs throughout the trial in their case against Ford, even sitting at the plaintiffs’ table; but because the judge classified Hale as a co-defendant, it meant that Hale got half of the peremptory challenges of the “defense.” More from Comer; no press coverage that I’ve seen yet. (cross-posted from Point of Law)
As we have seen in earlier coverage, automakers will get sued over some kinds of accident if they decide to use laminated glass, and sued over others if they decide to use nonlaminated glass. Now Ted at Point of Law has details of another case, this one against Ford, in which the South Carolina Supreme Court held that NHTSA regulations resolved the issue at hand and should not be second-guessed by tort litigation. Unfortunately, as Ted notes, the trial bar and its allies in the Obama administration are doing their best to weaken the preemption defense, which would open up maximum scope for sued-if-you-do, sued-if-you-don’t litigation of this sort.
Fixing the restrooms and other design problems is going to cost Oconee County $2 million, of which it will have recovered about half by suing a now-defunct architect. One big problem, per Spartanburg’s WSPA, is that “ADA requires toilets to measure 18 inches from the center of the bowl to the wall” and some of the courthouse toilets were mistakenly built at 19 inches instead.
“If they were mounted in the floor like the one at your house, you could just put in an offset flange and slide it over one inch to be in compliance,” says [county facilities director] Julian. “But since it’s mounted into the wall, all of the plumbing runs up through the wall.”
Which means the entire wall will have to be torn out and all of the plumbing shifted over — one inch.
More on courthouses and accessibility here.