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tobacco

March 22 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 22, 2013

  • $10 million judgment “won’t hit Albuquerque property owners on their tax bills because it’ll come out of [city's] self-insurance fund” Say what? [Albuquerque Journal via Ed Krayewski, Reason]
  • Latest Bloomberg scheme: ban display of tobacco products [Jacob Sullum, Patrick at Popehat, Patrick Basham/Daily Caller, Ira Stoll, Elie Mystal/Above the Law]
  • Female? Hispanic? Planted a backyard garden between 1981-2000, while wishing you could have gone bigger with the hobby? Feds’ ag-bias settlement may have bucks for you [James Bovard/WSJ, earlier on Pigford black-farmer settlement here, here, here, etc.]
  • Newly published, includes blurb by me: Mark White, The Manipulation of Choice: Ethics and Libertarian Paternalism [Amazon]
  • “NYC adopts nation’s toughest law against refusing to hire unemployed” [AP, earlier here, etc.]
  • Estate of judge is suing prominent Philadelphia class action lawyer over fall at party in home [Legal Intelligencer]
  • For Wisconsin’s left, Roggensack/Fallone judicial contest might be the last hope for derailing Gov. Walker’s labor reform [Rick Esenberg]

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Is this what Congress intended, or what the public was told, when the FDA was given authority over tobacco in 2009? Jacob Grier at the Atlantic:

As first reported by Michael Felberbaum of the Associated Press, since 2009 the agency has received about 3,500 substantial equivalence reports [i.e., submissions seeking approval for new products on the grounds that they are substantially equivalent to products already on the market]. Approximately 115 employees work on reviewing them. And to date they have issued exactly zero rulings.

Can it really be the case that none of the 3,500 reflect new products that are substantially equivalent to (or for that matter safer than) the cigarettes already on the market? And while we’re asking questions, who benefits when new competition for existing products is cut off? More: Michael Siegel.

Or maybe “disavowed” is a better word. Questioned by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins said he was “troubled” by the revelation that NIH funds paid for a laughably conspiracy-minded report by Stanton Glantz attacking political conservatives, calling it an “unfortunate outcome” and saying, “We thought we were funding a different kind of research when those grants were awarded.” This is not the first (or the fifth, or the tenth) round of axe-grinding advocacy “research” from Glantz — the National Cancer Institute dished out more than a million dollars this time — and one must wonder at what point he will stop asking the general public to pay for it. [Science Mag; Jacob Sullum; earlier]

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Product liability roundup

by Walter Olson on January 25, 2013

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Food roundup

by Walter Olson on January 8, 2013

  • New thinner-isn’t-healthier study should give pause [Paul Campos, NYT]
  • Inspectors order Minnesota soda shop to yank candy cigarettes, bubble gum cigars [Daily Caller]
  • Cleveland might have its own version of Pike Place or Reading Terminal Market, if not for… [Nick Gillespie]
  • Regulators took it down: “San Francisco’s Libertarian Food Market Is Closing” [Baylen Linnekin]
  • How brutal is vegetarianism to animals? [Mike Archer via Tyler Cowen]
  • Crazy: S.F. mulls zoning ban on new restaurants to protect existing ones [Linnekin] How Chicago suppresses food trucks [Katherine Mangu-Ward]
  • Federal calorie labeling rules will burden restaurants [Wash. Times]

Safety roundup

by Walter Olson on December 5, 2012

  • Patrick Basham on proposal to license smokers [Philadelphia Inquirer/Cato, earlier] New study confirms that rather than externalizing costs to the public treasury, smokers tend to cost social insurance programs less than nonsmokers do [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]
  • Public health busybodies call on UK government to set minimum price for alcoholic drinks [Telegraph] Carrie Nation never thought of this: anti-booze campaigners target its calorie count [Baylen Linnekin] New York state plans anti-alcohol campaign [NY Post]
  • “Will Litigation over Playground Injuries Create a Generation of Neurotics?” [WSJ via ABA Journal]
  • Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick reassigns his exceedingly accident-prone state highway director [Boston Globe, Ilya Somin]
  • “Magnet spheres may soon be harder to acquire than ammunition in the U.S.” as Buckyballs gives up [Anthony Fisher/Reason, earlier] And from Twitter: “Those 0.0 deaths per year were not in vain.” [@TPCarney modifying @bigtimcavanaugh]
  • “Mary Cain wants $3000 damages from the street car company for a ‘sudden jerk.’ MO1917″ [@tweetsofold]
  • “No Liquid Soap Allowed in Pre-School Bathroom: Children Might Drink It” [Free-Range Kids]

And finally, the catchy, unsettling safety promotion video that’s been everywhere the last week or two, from the Melbourne transit authority:

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Ban smoking entirely, or issue licenses to smokers? In some quarters of the public-health world, those appear to be the end points of the spectrum of debate as they pursue the “endgame” of a “tobacco-free society.” [Jacob Sullum]

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My Cato Institute colleague Nita Ghei, writing at the Washington Times, has more on the newly expanded authority of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) to “‘seize and administratively forfeit property involved in controlled-substance abuses.’ That means government can grab firearms and other property from someone who has never been convicted or even charged with any crime.” Earlier here and (podcast) here. More: Americans for Forfeiture Reform.

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Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on June 15, 2012

  • “Fla. jury awards $75M to family of dead smoker” [AP] Bad trends catch on 10+ years later up North: Quebec becomes fifth province to sue tobacco companies [Montreal Gazette] We passed a law to let us win, so there: “Manitoba sues tobacco companies” [provincial press release]
  • “Can There Be Liability When Sending Texts To A Driver?” A debate [Ray Mollica and Mark Bower, Turkewitz; earlier here and here]
  • Ted Frank vs. Ron Unz on Vioxx health effects [PoL, American Conservative]
  • Major Florida PI firm denies State Farm claims-inflation allegations [Orlando Sentinel]
  • East St. Louis, Ill.: jury awards nearly $179 million to 3 injured grain elevator workers [Post-Dispatch]
  • Siding with plaintiff’s bar, Minnesota Gov. Dayton vetoes legislation reducing state’s general statute of limitations from six years to four, reducing prejudgment interest from current 10%/year, reforming offer of settlement rules, and allowing interlocutory class certification appeal [NFIB] He does however sign one protecting state/local governments [Star-Trib]
  • Multiple asbestos claims raise eyebrows in Delaware [SE Texas Record] On trends in asbestos litigation [Ben Berkowitz, Reuters]

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Dangerous sleepers

by Walter Olson on March 26, 2012

“Philip Morris Not Liable for Fire Started By Cigarette” That title says it all, except for the part about it taking eight years for the defense to win a summary judgment. [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use]

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December 13 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 13, 2011

  • “The real cost of patent trolls” [Brad Feld, PoL on BU study] Survey finds patent litigation booming [Corporate Counsel, Reynolds Holding/Reuters] Company claiming patent on wi-fi-in-stores unlikely to sue retail customers “at this stage” [Patent Examiner] Retrospective on crustless-sandwich case [Peter Smith/Good, earlier]
  • Louisiana federal court holds severe obesity to be disability under ADA [Sam Bagenstos, related]
  • Florida: many cops remain on job despite evidence linking them to crimes [Balko on Sarasota Herald-Tribune investigation]
  • “FDA Regulation Could Doom Cigar Shops” [Jacob Sullum]
  • Ted Frank vs. Brian Fitzpatrick on class action fees [PoL, David Lat on Federalist Society panel]
  • Orange County keeps mum about partnerships it’s entered with plaintiff’s attorneys Robinson, Calcagnie and Thomas Girardi [Kim Stone, Fox & Hounds] Maybe like “private attorney generals”? Fannie/Freddie genre of government-sponsored enterprises called “monstrous moral hybrids” [Mark Calabria, Cato]

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December 6 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 6, 2011

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November 17 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 17, 2011

  • Executive with “Autism Speaks” group quits to found group more aligned with scientific opinion on cause of condition [SciAm]
  • Here comes the ban-cigarettes-entirely crusade [Peter Singer on forthcoming Robert Proctor "Golden Holocaust"] “Parents try to blame Four Loko for son getting shot” [Elie Mystal, Above the Law] Still-relevant cartoon from ’30s on Federal War on Drugs (or Booze, take your pick) [Perry]
  • Controversy over definition of medical disorders in DSM-V has implications for workplace law including ADA, FMLA [Labor Related, petition]
  • “Not Safe to Display an American Flag in an American High School” [Volokh]
  • “Criminal Defense Lawyer Charged in Alleged $1.5M Fraud On Clients Obtained Under False Pretenses” [ABA Journal, Greenfield; Texas]
  • Father of Notre Dame student who died says family never considered suing [Chicago Tribune]
  • “The Ignominious End Of The Digitek Mass Tort” [Beck]

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October 14 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 14, 2011

  • Pre-terror-attack antibiotic availability? HHS doesn’t think you’re sophisticated enough to handle that freedom [Stewart Baker]
  • Uh-oh: some New York lawmakers want “a more refined First Amendment” [Slashdot, Lucy Steigerwald]
  • Wal-Mart v. Dukes decision could curb certification of some wage and hour class actions [Fox]
  • “Miss. Supreme Court Removes Judge from $322M Asbestos Case Because of Dad’s Lawsuits” [ABA Journal]
  • Mass. town wants to seize family motel under forfeiture law, IJ objects [Jacob Sullum, Mark Perry]
  • Will FDA use its new tobacco-regulatory power to stub out cigars? [DC]
  • “Dole settles pesticide litigation” [WSJ Law Blog, background]

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October 7 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 7, 2011

  • Prodded by UNICEF and the Hague Convention, countries cut back on international adoption, leaving kids to future of orphanage life [Reason.tv video, interviewing among others Harvard's Elizabeth Bartholet; more]
  • Critics: lawyers are main winners in NYC rent settlement [NYDN] NYC rent stabilization rules gave landlords incentive to do luxury conversions [FWIW]
  • Breast-aurant rivals in court: “Hooters Suing Twin Peaks, Which Previously Sued Grand Tetons” [Lowering the Bar, earlier]
  • Jonathan Chait: it’ll be “useful” for debate if CEOs “fear for their personal safety” [Matt Welch, related, similar (see "Patterns of Intimidation"), also related to "occupation" as tactic]
  • Ethics complaint charges that boilerplate affidavits led to fee approval for lawyer in Bronx Surrogate’s Court [ABA Journal]
  • “Widow allowed to sue tobacco companies [whose products] husband didn’t use” [Florida, DBR] Appeals court: manufacturer not under legal duty to warn of asbestos injury caused by another manufacturer’s products [Business Insurance]
  • Debit card fee: made in D.C. [Glenn Reynolds; related, Joe Weisenthal]

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The FDA has moved to require tobacco marketers to place grotesque photos of cadavers and body parts on cigarette packs, and Barton Hinkle of the Richmond Times-Dispatch thinks there’s no reason for it to end there. More: Ann Althouse.

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May 27 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 27, 2011

  • Prospects dicey at best for CPSIA reform as Waxman, Dems toe consumer-group line [Woldenberg, more, Nord, Northup] If AAP is going to posit 49,000 poisonings from lead in recalled jewelry, shouldn’t it try to document a couple of them? [Woldenberg] Credit at least to House Commerce Committee majority for trying to tackle mess with this law [Mangu-Ward, ShopFloor, AtC]
  • “Lawsuit claims Jay-Z’s ‘Big Pimpin’ violates Egyptian ‘moral rights’” [DBR]
  • My Cato Institute colleague Gene Healy reviews new Eric Posner/Adrian Vermeule book on executive power [AmCon]
  • Subpoena filed by class-action lawyer Stephen Tillery demands contributor list of Chicago-based think tank critical of litigation [Madison County Record] Judge quashes subpoena as chilling of First Amendment liberties [same]
  • Suits filed by its own officers, often those accused of misconduct, have cost LAPD $18 million since 2005 [L.A. Times via Dave Krueger, Agitator]
  • “Do Menthol Cigarettes Taste Too Good to Be Legal?” [Sullum, earlier]
  • “Motion Claims Buxom Woman with Opposing Counsel Is Intended as Jury Distraction” [ABA Journal] More: Ken at Popehat, Lowering The Bar, Above the Law.

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A jury rejects a strained health-outlay recoupment claim. [Mass Tort Lit]