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sovereign immunity

I’ve now done a second post in Common Good’s symposium on education and fear of liability. Among the topics I discuss: assumption of risk, statutes of limitations, sovereign immunity, and the need for some more organized way of advocating the interests of public service entities against excessive or impractical liability demands. You can read it here.

“The family of a man shot and killed by his neighbor in Skagit County can proceed to trial on claims that the county’s emergency communications center mishandled its response to his panicked 911 call, Washington’s Supreme Court ruled.” According to his family, a 911 operator told William Munich that help was on the way but did not code the call as an emergency; a sheriff’s deputy showed up 18 minutes later, by which time Munich had been shot by the irate neighbor. “I am concerned the majority’s decision will put unwarranted pressure on every statement made by 911 operators, straining communications that depend on the free flow of information,” wrote dissenting Justice James Johnson. [KOMO; Munich (Gayle) v. Skagit Emergency Communications Center, holding, dissent (wrong link fixed now); background on Washington's unusual approach to sovereign immunity]

P.S. Another Washington sovereign liability case of interest: Robb v. City of Seattle, “Whether the city of Seattle may be liable in an action for wrongful death brought by the survivor of a murder victim based on the failure of police to confiscate ammunition while detaining the murderer for questioning just before the murder occurred.” [Temple of Justice]

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Election roundup

by Walter Olson on November 6, 2012

The judge ruled that “even though the park could have acted more quickly to kill or relocate the goat, its actions are immune from lawsuits under the Federal Tort Claims Act because they involved an exercise of discretion related to public policy.” [Peninsula Daily News, Washington; AP; earlier here and here]

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A Bridgeport attorney for Charla Nash says the attack could have been avoided had Connecticut been tougher in enforcing its regulations. [WCBS]

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Because accidents will happen, after all. And, no, you wouldn’t be excused for totaling the FBI’s Ferrari were the sides reversed [Scott Greenfield]

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February 21 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 21, 2011

  • Estate of Anna Nicole Smith may sue over opera based on her life [Daily Mail via Surber, other Daily Mail]
  • Maryland Department of Environment: yep, we put tracking devices on Eastern Shore watermen’s boats [Red Maryland]
  • Trial lawyers’ federal contributions went 97% to Dems last cycle [Freddoso, Examiner]
  • $6.5 million for family abuse: unusual sovereign-exposure law costs Washington taxpayers again [PoL]
  • Canadian court: no, we can’t and won’t waive loser-pays for needy litigants who lose cases [Erik Magraken]
  • CPSC considers mandating “SawStop” technology [Crede, background]
  • Gun groups alarmed over ATF pick [Chicago Tribune]
  • Jury blames hit-run death on wheelchair curb cut [four years ago on Overlawyered]

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January 4 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 4, 2011

  • Report: dead woman’s name robo-signed onto thousands of collection documents [Business Insider] Or was it? [comment, Fredrickson/Collections and Credit Risk (alleging that living daughter shares name of deceased mother)] “Are faked attorney signatures the ‘next huge issue’ in the foreclosure scandal?” [Renee Knake, Legal Ethics Forum]
  • “Major Verdict Threatens to Bankrupt Maker of Exercise Equipment” [Laura Simons, Abnormal Use]
  • Decline in competitiveness of U.S. capital markets owes much to legal and regulatory developments [Bainbridge, related]
  • Deadly Choices, The Panic Virus: Dr. Paul Offit and Seth Mnookin have new books out on vaccine controversy [Orac]
  • No one’s trying to get rich off this,” says lawyer planning suit on behalf of A train subway riders stranded during NYC blizzard [NY Daily News]
  • Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna continues to seek solutions to state’s uniquely exposed litigation position, including fix of joint and several liability [Seattle Times, background here and here]
  • ABA Blawg 100 picks — and a critique;
  • Alabama bar orders lawyer’s law license suspended, but in the mean time he’s been elected judge [four years ago on Overlawyered]

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And guess who’s getting hit on the rebound: community groups that want to hold events in public facilities [Ted at PoL]