Posts tagged as:

toxic torts

Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on December 30, 2013

  • Bad lawsuit on bad theory: “Cantor Fitzgerald, American Airlines Settle 9/11 Lawsuit” [Financial Advisor mag]
  • New Jersey court: only golfer, not his companions, responsible for yelling “Fore” to warn of errant ball [TortsProf]
  • “The New Lawsuit Ecosystem: Trends, Targets and Players,” 158-page report for Chamber of Commerce, topics include emerging areas of litigation (food class actions, data privacy); also lists leading plaintiff’s lawyers in various areas [Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform]
  • “Eleventh Circuit Stacks Deck Against Defendants in Never-Ending Engle Product Liability Litigation” [Cory Andrews, WLF]
  • Beck vs. Prof. Chemerinsky on prescription drugs and pre-emption [Drug and Device Law]
  • “Outrageous Court Decisions: O’Brien v. Muskin Corp.” [Schearer; above-ground pool dive defect claim, New Jersey 1983]
  • New York rejects medical monitoring cause of action [Behrens]

{ 1 comment }

Love Canal again

by Walter Olson on November 9, 2013

The Niagara Falls, N.Y., site of a famous toxic-homes evacuation during the Carter Administration is once again the scene of a claimed disease cluster involving an assortment of maladies. Lawyers say, perhaps not unhopefully, that as many as 1,100 claims may follow the six already filed.

A spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency, while declining to address the lawsuits, called the area “the most sampled piece of property on the planet.”

“The canal has not leaked,” spokesman Mike Basile said. “The monitoring and containment system is as effective today” as when first installed.

[Buffalo News, AP] For some revisionist history on the causes of the 1970s fiasco, see Eric Zuesse’s classic 1981 Reason article (local officials instigated residential development of land they had been warned was unsuitable for such use) and Ronald Bailey’s 2010 update on the disease issue (“Love Canal residents are not especially prone to early mortality, cancer, or birth defects.”)

Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on November 27, 2012

  • Adventures in causation: Per $19 million Mississippi verdict, fumes from leftover gasoline caused birth defects, asthma [Insurance Journal]
  • Legal academia watch: lawprof proposes massive expansion of liability for parents [TortsProf]
  • University of Virginia’s torts giant: “A Tribute To Jeffrey O’Connell” [U.Va. Dean Paul Mahoney, Virginia Law Review (PDF) via TortsProf]
  • “Proposed civil justice reform in Canada” [Ted Frank]
  • “Town Owes $10M To Pupil Paralyzed In School Beating” [New Jersey Law Journal; Irvington, N.J.]
  • Businesses steer clear of Philadelphia litigation climate [Jim Copland, Inquirer; Trial Lawyers Inc. update]
  • Longtime West Virginia attorney general Darrell McGraw, disliked by business, toppled in re-election bid [Charleston Gazette-Mail]

Environment roundup

by Walter Olson on September 27, 2012

  • Behind a YouTube anti-fracking video labeled “Hydraulic Fracturing turns gardenhose to flamethrower,” there’s quite a story [Star-Telegram]
  • BPA-endocrine alarms: “Why Nick Kristof’s Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Us All” [Trevor Butterworth, Forbes]
  • Incy wincy spider shuts down $15 million construction project [Fox]
  • Regulatory Balkanization of gasoline market worsens price volatility [Morriss/Boudreaux via David Henderson; more, WSJ] Will CAFE sink GM? [Holman Jenkins via same]
  • “After a fire at a massive oil plant in California, residents want compensation. But it’s not that easy” [Above the Law]
  • “Dispatches from the Duke Conference on ‘Conservative Visions of Our Environmental Future’” [Jonathan Adler]
  • Broadway, dark? “The high cost of closing Indian Point” [Lesser & Bryce, NYP]

{ 5 comments }

The lung disorder bronchiolitis obliterans has been diagnosed in food processing workers who regularly breathed in the flavoring chemical diacetyl, but this was a claim of consumer, not occupational, exposure; Wayne Watson’s physician testified that he suffered lung damage after years of regularly consuming microwave popcorn. The jury found the Kroger supermarket chain as well as the popcorn manufacturer liable for not warning of the potential problem. “An attorney for the defendants had told jurors that Watson’s health problems were from his years of using dangerous chemicals as a carpet cleaner.” [Reuters]

{ 1 comment }

Reader Dave Westheimer writes, regarding a news item that we briefly noted earlier:

Guess who’s coming to the suburb where I live? Erin Brockovich. She’s here and in the news.

Of course she’s not hearing “Fridley’s concerns” — she’s hearing the concerns of novices who’ve never heard of the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy.

FWIW, “one of the worst Superfund sites in the country” refers to the old FMC plant in the southwest corner of the city by the Mississippi, well away from the closest residential neighborhood and more likely to affect Minneapolis than Fridley, if it affected anything at all. Fridley’s biggest industry is Medtronic’s headquarters. It’s a typical postwar residential suburb, mostly built in the 50s and 60s.

The neighborhood newspaper ran what I thought was a fawning article about her appearance here, written by an intern, along with a separate article about how the intern who wrote the article was so excited to meet her. So much for objectivity.

As the city’s water report (PDF) says, Fridley has never been in violation of the cancer causing agents standards in the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pour myself another tall glass of city water.

A local woman says wi-fi emanations from new “smart” parking meters in Santa Monica, Calif., have caused her various health injuries including tightness in her neck and an ear infection that took antibiotics to heal. She wants $1.7 billion: “I know it seems a little big,” [Denise] Barton said, “but they can’t do things that affect people’s health without their consent. I think that’s wrong.” [Santa Monica Daily Press, LAist]

{ 5 comments }

Environment roundup

by Walter Olson on May 30, 2012

  • “A loose coalition of eco-anarchist groups is increasingly launching violent attacks on scientists.” [Nature]
  • “Jury Blames ‘Erin Brockovich’ Doc For His Patient’s Illness, Not Defendants” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]
  • “Judge declines to toss Chevron RICO case against lawyer over $18bln award” [Reuters, Folkman/Letters Blogatory] Videos tell Chevron side of story in hotly disputed Ecuador Lago Agrio dispute ["Amazon Post"]
  • NGOs’ bag of tricks: Greenpeace helped pack International Whaling Commission thirty years ago by paying dues for small states to join [Skodvin/Andresen via Spiro/OJ]
  • Distinguishing the areas of clear vision from the blind spots in Chicago Tribune’s flameproofing series [Coyote, earlier]
  • Wilderness regs prevent town of Tombstone, Ariz. from rebuilding water pipes destroyed in fire [Daily Caller]
  • Look! Over that factory! It’s a plume of (shudder) … water vapor! [Coyote]
  • National Science Foundation grantee: “Tort actions may impel industry to … redesign chemical molecules … to be less toxic.” [David Oliver, Ted Frank]

{ 4 comments }

Susan Dominus explores an outbreak of tics and other neurological symptoms among teenage girls in a town near Rochester, as hyped on outlets like “Today” and CNN. Roving Tort-Finder Erin Brockovich, who parachuted into the town to blame possible chemical spills, does not come off well either: “Things only go wrong,’ [King's College London epidemiologist Simon] Wessely wrote in 1995, ‘when the nature of an outbreak is not recognized, and a fruitless and expensive search for toxins, fumes and gases begins.’” [NY Times Magazine]

{ 6 comments }

“In non-Western countries, demons and witchcraft are still sometimes blamed for outbreaks of fainting and fits [PDF]. Pollution, poisoning, chemical weapons, and other environmental concerns are dominant in the West (a fact that makes Brockovich something of a mass hysteria machine). Some bloggers are now claiming that the upstate New York girls fell ill because of the HPV vaccine or fracking.” [Ruth Graham, Slate]

{ 3 comments }

January 31 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 31, 2012

  • Latest of periodic Towers Watson (formerly Towers Perrin/Tillinghast) surveys: tort costs fell in 2010 excluding oil spill liability [Towers Watson]
  • “Will Newt Neuter the Courts?” [James Huffman, Defining Ideas] Obama’s high court appointees are fortunately friendlier toward civil liberties than he is [Steve Chapman]
  • Unanimous Cal Supremes: companies not legally responsible for other companies’ asbestos products used as replacement for theirs [Cal Biz Lit, Jackson, Beck, Mass Tort Prof]
  • Claim: jurors considered policy implications of verdict and you can’t have that [On Point; defense verdict in Baltimore, Maryland school-bullying case]
  • Airfare display mandate: “‘Protecting’ Consumers from the Truth About the Cost of Government” [Thom Lambert, TotM]
  • Critical assessment of AP-backed new copyright aggregator “NewsRight” [Mike Masnick] Promises not to be “Righthaven 2.0″ [Cit Media Law]
  • Restatement (Third) of Torts drafters vs. Enlightenment scientific views of causation [David Oliver in June]

{ 2 comments }

June 23 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 23, 2011

{ 3 comments }

But that hasn’t stood in the way of a push to sign up clients for law firms in the vicinity of the Frederick, Md. armed forces base. [WJZ, Army Times]

{ 4 comments }

Only stony-hearted Scrooges could oppose it, right? Earlier here, here, etc. More: PoL; Senate passes modified bill.

{ 5 comments }

After alarmist coverage about how the water supply of rural Hinkley, Calif. is laced with carcinogenic chromium 6, it may have surprised some L.A. Times readers to learn that the town’s cancer rate is actually a bit below average. One interviewed local family blames the pollution for a variety of ills ranging from stroke to cognitive deficits to miscarriage to tumors in a pet dog. When the movie “Erin Brockovich” came out, it was pointed out that workers at the utility plant where the contamination originated had a life expectancy exceeding the California average.

P.S. I see that Tim Cavanaugh of Reason is on the case too.

{ 1 comment }

The National Review on a dubious federal compensation bill for Ground Zero emergency responders. More: PoL.

{ 1 comment }

Michael Fumento has a noteworthy statistical update on the case that made Erin Brockovich famous.

{ 1 comment }

Concern is raised over bisphenol-A (BPA) in printed cash register receipts [Gordon Gibb, Lawsuits and Settlements] Adds reader Rogers Turner: “Brilliant…what does almost every single person in the U.S. touch multiple times a day?”

{ 2 comments }