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Sweden

February 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 20, 2014

  • “Woman Arrested Nine Years After Failing to Return Rented Video” [S.C.: Lowering the Bar, more]
  • “Why India’s Ban Against Child Labor Increased Child Labor” [James Schneider, EconLib]
  • “I’ve never seen an attorney general sanctioned.” Court hits Nevada AG Catherine Cortez Masto with sanctions after collapse of robosigning suit against mortgage servicer that state hired D.C.’s Cohen Milstein to bring [Daniel Fisher, update (case settles)]
  • Another review of the new collection The American Illness: Essays on the Rule of Law (Frank Buckley, ed.) [Bainbridge, earlier]
  • They would be major: “The Gains from Getting Rid of ‘Run Amok’ Occupational Licensing” [David Henderson]
  • E-cigarettes could save lives [Sally Satel, Washington Post]
  • How incentives to avoid tax can lead to social tragedy, in this case via ABBA stage outfits [Guardian]

Following the rules wherever they lead? The newly installed alarms did promptly catch a guest smoking in a cleaning closet. [Independent]

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Nanny state roundup

by Walter Olson on July 12, 2013

  • “Sneaky public-health messaging appears to be on the upswing across the country” [Baylen Linnekin, NY Post; earlier here, here, etc.]
  • Scotland: “Parents warned they could face court for lighting up at home in front of kids” [The Sun] And Sweden: “Law professor calls for ban on parents drinking” (in presence of kids) [The Local via @FreeRangeKids]
  • Speaking of tobacco: “Former German Chancellor Stays One Step Ahead of European Nannies, Hoards Cigarettes” [Matthew Feeney on Helmut Schmidt]
  • Speaking of alcohol: ObamaCare slush fund bankrolling anti-booze advocacy in Pennsylvania [Mark Hemingway, earlier]
  • To fix the nation’s weight problem, socially discourage processed foods. Right? Wrong [David Freedman, Atlantic]
  • Mark Steyn on federal regulation requiring emergency bunny plan for magicians [NRO, more, earlier]
  • Run for your life! It’s a falling toilet seat! [Free-Range Kids]

February 7 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 7, 2013

  • You mean Philadelphia traffic court wasn’t on the up-and-up? [ABA Journal] DUI prosecution in Lafayette Parish, La. had become quite the tidy business [Scott Greenfield]
  • Match.com sued after date assault [FindLaw]
  • Sweden is at cutting edge of free-market policy innovation [Adrian Wooldridge, The Economist]
  • Big victory for Institute for Justice as federal court strikes down new IRS tax preparer rules [Katherine Mangu-Ward] 97% of Chicago tax preparers out of compliance with local licensing regs? [TaxProf]
  • A sentiment open to doubt: Heritage claims “there is no ban on same-sex marriage” in any state [Ryan Anderson] Support from PM Cameron, other senior Conservatives instrumental in British passage of same-sex marriage [Peter Jukes, Daily Beast] New beyond-the-culture-wars initiative on marriage from David Blankenhorn and colleagues at Institute for American Values [Mark Oppenheimer, NYT]
  • “Why not a waiting period for laws?” [Glenn Reynolds, NY Post]
  • As he steps aside, recalling some of the accomplishments of longtime Cato Institute chairman Ed Crane [Cato Policy Report, PDF]
  • R.I.P. Maureen Martin, legal affairs fellow at Heartland Institute whose work touched many [Jim Lakely]

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ABC takes very seriously a complaint filed by a photographic model that Swedish automaker Volvo improperly degraded her image by allowing play-on-words copy into a promotion. She had signed broadly worded releases. [Good Morning America]

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April 25 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 25, 2012

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European roundup

by Walter Olson on February 2, 2012

  • Overseas press excoriates new FATCA tax-Americans’-foreign-earnings law; some foreign banks now turn away American customers [Dan Mitchell, Cato, Reason] “The Fatca story is really kind of insane.” [Caplin & Drysdale's H. David Rosenbloom, NYT via TaxProf] Will Congress back down? [Peter Spiro/OJ, more]
  • Important new book from James Maxeiner (University of Baltimore) and co-authors Gyooho Lee and Armin Weber on what the U.S. can learn from legal procedure overseas: “Failures of American Civil Justice in International Perspective” [TortsProf]
  • Don’t do it: British administration mulls further move away from loser-pays rule in search of — what exactly, a yet more Americanized litigation culture? [Guardian, Law Society]
  • Apparently in Norway it’s possible to lose one’s kids by feeding them by hand [Shikha Dalmia, Reason]
  • Financial transaction tax? Ask the Swedes how that worked out [Mike "Mish" Shedlock, Business Insider]
  • Notes from conference on globalization of class actions [Karlsgodt] Related: Adam Zimmerman;
  • “Another conviction in Europe for insulting religion” [Volokh; Polish pop star] Campus secularists’ speech under fire in the U.K. as “Jesus and Mo” controversy spreads to LSE [Popehat] British speech prosecution of soccer star [Suneal Bedi and William Marra, NRO]

July 15 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 15, 2011

Since 1979 nineteen countries led by Sweden have banned corporal punishment by parents of kids in the home. A bill scheduled for debate today before the Massachusetts legislature would make that state the first to join the trend. (Laurel Sweet, “Bay State’s going slap-happy”, Boston Herald, Nov. 27; “Anti-spanking bill is folly” (editorial), Nov. 28; Stephen Bainbridge, Nov. 22 (New Zealand)). Earlier: Apr. 19, 2004 (U.K.); Feb. 14 and Feb. 24, 2007 (proposal in California).

More: such laws in both Sweden and New Zealand have been softened (i.e., made more lenient toward parents) by the interpolation of reasonableness standards, per Kiwi website Big News (via QuizLaw).

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Whereas some might think prison is a place to teach inmates valuable lessons (“don’t stab people,” etc.), it appears more Swedish prisoners are learning the value of a good lawyer:

Court Upholds Prisoners’ Right to Porn

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) — Convicted sex offenders in Sweden are free to read pornography in their cells following a court ruling that has angered the prison service.

The Supreme Administrative Court in Stockholm last week ruled that the Swedish Prison and Probation Service had no right to deny a rape convict access to his porn magazines.

Prison officials had argued that reading porn would interfere with the man’s rehabilitation program. They also said the magazines posed a security problem for staff and other inmates because they could increase the risk of the man relapsing into criminal behavior.

On the bright side, he’ll be blind when he’s finally released.

June 8 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 8, 2007

  • Litigation as foreign policy? Bill authorizing U.S. government to sue OPEC passes House, and is already contributing to friction with Russia [AP; Reuters; Steffy, Houston Chronicle; earlier here, here, and here]

  • Albany prosecutors charge boxing champion’s family with staging 23 car crashes, but a jury acquits [Obscure Store; Times-Union; North Country Gazette]

  • New at Point of Law: Bill Lerach may retire; Abe Lincoln’s legal practice; Philip Howard on getting weak cases thrown out; “Year of the Trial Lawyer” in Colorado; and much more;

  • Multiple partygoers bouncing on a trampoline not an “open and obvious” risk, says Ohio appeals court approving suit [Wilmington News-Journal]

  • Skadden and its allies were said to be representing Chinatown restaurant workers pro bono — then came the successful $1 million fee request, bigger than the damages themselves [NYLJ]

  • Who will cure the epidemic of public health meddling? [Sullum, Reason]

  • Turn those credit slips into gold, cont’d: lawsuits burgeon over retail receipts that print out too much data [NJLJ; earlier]

  • Lawprof Howard Wasserman has further discussion of the Josh Hancock case (Cardinals baseball player crashes while speeding, drunk and using cellphone) [Sports Law Blog; earlier]

  • “Women prisoners in a Swedish jail are demanding the ‘human right’ to wear bikinis so they can get a decent tan.” [Telegraph, U.K.]

  • Disbarred Miami lawyer Louis Robles, who prosecutors say stole at least $13 million from clients, detained as flight risk after mysterious “Ms. Wiki” informs [DBR; earlier at PoL]

  • Indiana courts reject motorist’s claim that Cingular should pay for crash because its customer was talking on cellphone while driving [three years ago on Overlawyered]

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March 14 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 14, 2007

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February 1 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 1, 2007

  • In “State of the Economy” speech, Bush says litigation and regulation harm U.S. financial competitiveness, praises enactment of Class Action Fairness Act [Reuters; his remarks]

  • How many California legislators does it take to ban the conventional lightbulb in favor of those odd-looking compact fluorescents? [Reuters, Postrel, McArdle first and second posts]

  • Levi’s, no longer a juggernaut in the jeans world, keeps lawyers busy suing competitors whose pocket design is allegedly too similar [NYTimes]

  • Clinics in some parts of Sweden won’t let women request a female gynecologist, saying it discriminates against male GYNs [UPI, Salon]

  • Is the new Congress open to litigation reform? Choose from among dueling headlines [Childs]

  • Anti-SLAPP motion filed against Santa Barbara newspaper owner McCaw [SB Ind't via Romenesko]

  • Uncritical look at Holocaust-reparations suits against French national railway [Phila. Inquirer]

  • Deep pockets dept.: court rules mfr. had duty to warn about asbestos in other companies’ products, though its own product contained none [Ted at Point of Law]

  • Lawyering up for expected business-bashing oversight hearings on Capitol Hill [Plumer, The New Republic]

  • “King of vexatious litigants” in Ontario restrained after 73 filings in 10 years, though he says he did quite well at winning the actions [Globe and Mail, Giacalone's self-help law blog]

  • Sen. Schumer can’t seem to catch a break from WSJ editorialists [me at PoL]

  • South Carolina gynecological nurse misses case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever — that’ll be $2.45 million, please [Greenville News via KevinMD]

  • Five years ago on Overlawyered: we passed the milestone of one million pages served. By now, though our primitive stats make it hard to know for sure, the cumulative figure probably exceeds ten million. Thanks for your support!

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Why?

[David H. Baker, the Lighter Association's general counsel] said association members want mandatory standards to help reduce their legal liability. He explained that members often get sued for fires resulting from malfunctioning lighters. In many cases, he said, the lighter was destroyed in the fire, so there’s no proof of who made the lighter. But the easiest targets are the well-known brands such as Bic, Scripto and Swedish Match — companies that are members of the association, Baker explained.

Chinese off-brand import lighters are only 30% likely to meet voluntary industry safety standards, and manufacturers are not just facing the cheaper competition from the imports, but apparently also having to swallow liability from accidents caused by the more dangerous imports.

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Sexist beer ads

by Walter Olson on September 19, 2006

Now it’s a group of Italian female lawyers who are suing to suppress that particular variety of commercial speech. (Nick Pisa, “Parking is no joke as Italy’s women sue over beer ad”, Daily Telegraph (U.K.), Sept. 17). For earlier precedents in the U.S. (Stroh’s sued over “Swedish bikini team”) and Canada (Ontario vs. Molson’s and Labatt’s ads), see Carlin Meyer, “Sex, Sin, and Women’s Liberation: Against Porn-Suppression”, Texas Law Review, April 1994 (PDF), at footnote 314. Another example: RealBeer.com, July 16, 1999 (Venezuela).

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The Boston Phoenix (“World of Pain”, Feb. 9) tells readers that “frankly, the primary reason” it isn’t going to run the Danish Muhammed cartoons:

Out of fear of retaliation from the international brotherhood of radical and bloodthirsty Islamists who seek to impose their will on those who do not believe as they do. …Simply stated, we are being terrorized, and as deeply as we believe in the principles of free speech and a free press, we could not in good conscience place the men and women who work at the Phoenix and its related companies in physical jeopardy. As we feel forced, literally, to bend to maniacal pressure, this may be the darkest moment in our 40-year publishing history.

Somewhere there’s probably an issue of vicarious/employer liability lurking in here — if printing the cartoons did lead to violence, the Phoenix’s owners might well end up having to pay. But of course the venerable alt-weekly’s stance is practically a profile in courage compared with that of editors, publishers, governments and university officials in many other places, including South Africa (bans publication of images), Sweden (reported to have shut down website carrying them), Canada’s Prince Edward Island (university confiscates student newspaper, edict forbids weblog comments) and so on (Michelle Malkin roundup, Feb. 9). Commentaries worth reading: Krauthammer, Kinsley, and, from a different perspective, a commenter at Andrew Sullivan’s. (More on the cartoons here and here.)

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My op-ed on the litigation against Big Cola (see Feb. 2) draws an L.A. Times reader letter (Feb. 7). Also welcome Andrew Sullivan readers (Jan. 27). More by Sullivan: “Hey, these adverts are making me fat”, The Times (U.K.), Jan. 29; blog posts including Jan. 25 and Jan. 26. And see Philip Wallach, “There Are Deeper Pockets than ‘Big Soda’”, The American Enterprise, Dec. 15; John Luik, “Sponge Bob, Wide Pants?”, TCS Daily, Jan. 25; and Rogier van Bakel, Jan. 23.

On allegations of a link between food advertising and childhood obesity, see Todd Zywicki, Dec. 21 and links. According to John Hood (“Bill Won’t Stop War on Ads”, Carolina Journal, Nov. 11):

American children are now gaining weight even as they watch somewhat less commercial television than previous generations did. One study estimated that children saw about 15 percent fewer TV ads in 2003 than their counterparts did in 1994. Alas, that does not mean today’s kids are playing outside more. They simply have many more commercial-free alternatives such as premium cable, tapes and DVDs, and video and computer games.

Another unfortunate fact for advocates of regulating food advertising is that their pet idea has already been done to the max – that is, in the form of outright bans of ads targeting children – in places such as Sweden and Quebec. The obesity rate of Swedish children differs little from that of British children, however. The same is true in Quebec vs. other Canadian provinces.

Meanwhile, Jacob Sullum (“Dora the Exploiter”, syndicated/Reason, Jan. 25) comments on the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s suit against Viacom/Nickolodeon and Kellogg (see Jan. 20):

The plaintiffs say it’s not about the money. I believe them. This lawsuit, which CSPI and its allies plan to file under a Massachusetts consumer protection statute prohibiting “unfair or deceptive acts or practices,” is really about censorship. By threatening onerous damages, CSPI aims to achieve through the courts what it has unsuccessfully demanded from legislators and regulators for decades: a ban on food advertising aimed at children.

Earlier, Sullum reported on the CDC venturing into West Virginia to stalk obesity “vectors” (“Watching the Detectives”, syndicated/Reason, Aug. 26).

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In a widely awaited decision, the European Court of Justice has ruled that a Swedish woman can be fined about $500 for identifying and publishing personal details about fellow church volunteers on her personal web site in breach of “data protection” privacy laws. Bodil Lindqvist of Alseda parish had published online “some full names, telephone numbers and references to hobbies and jobs held by her colleagues. In relation to one lady, Lindqvist also revealed that the volunteer had injured her foot and was working part-time on medical grounds.” A Swedish court found that she had violated data-privacy law in posting the page and the European Court agreed. (“Identifying people on-line violates Data Protection laws, says European Court”, Out-Law (UK), Nov. 7). We originally reported on the case Sept. 20, 2000.