Like other high Florida awards in tobacco cases, this one, to 61-year-old Richard Boatright of Bartow, grows out of the unique framework of the Engle litigation, which did not succeed as a stand-alone case but laid the groundwork for later payouts. [AP/WFTV]
Details, always those pesky details: “A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of 750 tobacco suits, citing this major problem: The Florida law firm that brought the cases had mistakenly identified 588 dead smokers as still being alive.” [ABA Journal]
“If we don’t get a dime, that’s OK, if we can make a difference and save some lives,” said longtime Overlawyered favorite Willie Gary, one of the lawyers representing a woman awarded $23 billion-with-a-b in punitive damages by a Florida jury for the lung cancer death of her husband, a longtime smoker. [USA Today] I’ve covered earlier stages in the long-running Florida Engle tobacco litigation, which included a $145 billion punitive damage verdict later thrown out, in articles here, here, and here, as well as Overlawyered coverage; more on Willie Gary.
More: Jacob Sullum on the illogical basis of the jury’s decision.
- New Hampshire lottery: after Granite State’s MTBE contamination suits pays off big, Vermont files its own [WLF Legal Pulse]
- Supreme Court declines to review various cases arising from Florida’s Engle tobacco litigation [Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSBlog, earlier] “U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Fen-Phen Lawyers’ Appeal of $42M Kentucky Verdict” [Insurance Journal, earlier]
- In action against five drug firms over opioid marketing, California’s Santa Clara County partners with law firms Robinson Calcagnie, Cohen Milstein, and Hagens Berman, marking at least the tenth time the county has teamed up with outside law firms to file suits [Legal NewsLine; earlier on Chicago’s involvement in painkiller suit]
- Lester Brickman on fraud in mesothelioma litigation [SSRN] “Plaintiff Lawyer Offers Inside Look At `Institutionalized Fraud’ At Asbestos Trusts” [Daniel Fisher]
- “‘Light’ cigarette case vs Huck’s continues after 9 years; Two current judges had been plaintiff’s counsel” [Madison Record, ABA Journal]
- “If honesty in the judicial system means anything, it means proceeding with candor before the tribunal, which plaintiffs’ counsel did not do during the removal proceedings.” [dissent in Peter Angelos Cashmere Bouquet asbestos case, Legal NewsLine]
- Report on products liability and the driverless car [John Villasenor, Brookings, earlier]
- Congress responds to Veterans Administration health care scandal by throwing huge new sums at care [Nicole Kaeding, Chris Edwards, Cato] “Every Senior V.A. Executive Was Rated ‘Fully Successful’ or Better Over 4 Years.” [NYT via Instapundit] “VA Hospitals aren’t included on the federal government’s Hospital Compare web site” [White Coat]
- Canadian judge quashes as vexatious suit over non-admission to medical school [Winnipeg Free Press]
- Brain-damaged child cases: “14.5 Million Reasons Physicians Practice Defensive Medicine” [White Coat, Cleveland] “North Carolina Jury Deadlocks in John Edwards’ Malpractice Trial Against Doctor” [Insurance Journal, emergency medicine]
- “Medical Licensing in the States: Some Room for Agreement — and Reform” [Charles Hughes, Cato]
- “NY Launches Statewide Med Mal Settlement Program” [NYDN via TortsProf]
- “Unlucky Strike: Private Health and the Science, Law and Politics of Smoking” [John Steddon and David Boaz, Cato program] Here’s the long-awaited segue to complete prohibition: British Medical Association recommends banning tobacco permanently for persons born after 2000 [WaPo]
- Sneaky: California ballot language undoing MICRA liability limits “buried in an initiative titled The Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act of 2014.” [Yul Ejnes, KevinMD]
- “Go to Heaven, Bloomberg: The meddling ex-mayor thinks he is on a mission from God.” [Sullum] “De Blasio to resurrect attempt at NYC big soda ban” [Eric Boehm, Watchdog.org]
- The CDC connection: much of Bloomberg’s crew of public health officials has moved into the Obama administration, and has big plans [Jeff Stier]
- “The public health approach rejects the idea that there is such a thing as unfettered free will” — here’s Bloomberg paternalism boiled down nicely for you [Larry Gostin, Hastings Center Report via Scott Burris, Bill of Health (regretting “mass delusion of autonomy”)]
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC): if skeptical media call, tell ‘em you’re not around [Zenon Evans]
- For her own good: “89-Year-Old Kicked Out of HUD Housing for Smoking Cigarettes” [Elizabeth N. Brown]
- “Longer Pub Hours, Fewer Car Accidents in England and Wales” [James Schneider, Econlib]
- Sally Satel on the benefits of e-cigarettes [AEI Ideas video] “The FDA Says E-Cigarettes Are Less Harmful Than Smoking” [Jason Koebler, Vice Motherboard]
Jacob Grier has an analysis, and predicts a regulatory snarl for e-cigarettes based on a poorly written statute, cartel profits for major cigarette makers, bad news for cigar and pipe smokers, and wider black markets.
“Who Needs Legislation? Dems Want To Extend Tobacco Settlement To E-Cigarettes” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes] “E-cigarettes are bad because they look like cigarettes. E-hookahs are worse because they don’t.” [Jacob Sullum; more from Sullum on the unanimous vote by the Los Angeles city council to ban vaping in public places]
- Truly awful proposal: “2014 HB 366 proposes to prohibit landlords from refusing housing vouchers” [Maryland Legislative Watch, earlier from other states]
- SB 409/HB1197 (Raskin/Hixson) would require restaurants to have at least one staffer on premises at all times with state-accredited training available to discuss food allergies with customers [MdLegWatch]
- House of Delegates panel passes O’Malley’s steep minimum wage hike, though with some amendments [AP, WaPo]
- Sunlight on one of the most dangerous law enforcement practices: SB 468 (Shank) would require state and local agencies to report on asset seizures/forfeitures [Maryland Legislative Watch, Baltimore Sun]
- HB 1253 would empower existing hospice operators to block new competitors through tightened certificate-of-need (CON) regulation [Legiscan, Del. Michael Smigiel, Marc Kilmer/Maryland Public Policy Institute].
- Steep hike in cigarette tax: thank heavens no one’s figured out how to smuggle contraband along I-95, I-70 or we might have trouble [J.D. Tuccille, Reason]
- I spoke Thursday in College Park at a panel on marijuana legalization sponsored by Students for Sensible Drug Policy with panelists Neill Franklin of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Toni Holness of the ACLU of Maryland, and Eric Sterling of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, moderated by Rachelle Yeung of the Marijuana Policy Project. I discussed Cato’s 2010 study by Jeffrey Miron and Katherine Waldock, “The Budgetary Impact of Ending Drug Prohibition“.