Posts tagged as:

trees

September 15 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 15, 2013

  • Falling tree limb injures woman, jury orders city of Savannah to pay $12 million [Insurance Journal]
  • Dept. of Interior mulls lowering threshold for federal recognition of Indian tribes [AP]
  • Section 230: “The Law that Gave Us the Modern Internet, and the Campaign to Kill It” [Derek Khanna, The Atlantic]
  • Interview with false-memory expert Elizabeth Loftus [Slate]
  • “No meaningful costs or downsides” to the Microsoft antitrust case? Really? [Tom Bowden]
  • NSA covertly intervened in standards making process to weaken encryption standards [Mike Masnick, TechDirt] After being rebuffed by public opinion in quest for dragnet surveillance programs, NSA quietly put programs in place through other channels [Jack Shafer; related, Ken at Popehat]
  • Given the limitations of litigation, better not to lament the shortcomings of the NFL concussion settlement [Howard Wasserman]

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First the city of San Francisco decided that homeowners were responsible for pruning and otherwise maintaining the municipally planted trees on the sidewalks in from of their homes. Now it’s hitting them with big fines for doing it improperly. [San Francisco Chronicle via Amy Alkon]

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Environment roundup

by Walter Olson on April 18, 2013

  • Better hope a Portland municipal arborist never takes an interest in you [Tod Kelly, League of Ordinary Gentlemen]
  • California’s Prop 65 and Gresham’s Law of Warnings (bad warnings drive out good) [David Henderson]
  • Bombshells just keep on coming in the Ecuador Lago Agrio story: “Litigation finance firm in Chevron case says it was duped by Patton Boggs” [Roger Parloff, Fortune; last Saturday's bombshell] Grounds for embarrassment at CBS “60 Minutes” [CJR]
  • Brad Plumer interview with Jonathan Adler, “What conservative environmentalism might look like” [WaPo]
  • “The light-bulb law was a matter of public policy profiteering” [Tim Carney via @amyalkon] To get ahead in D.C., a well-known conservative group adopts some concrete priorities [same]
  • “No one’s tried that. It’s not worth taking the risk.” Social-conservative, environmentalist themes have much in common [A. Barton Hinkle]
  • “BP Loses Bid to Block ‘Fictitious’ Oil Spill Claims” [Amanda Bronstad, NLJ; more]

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Great moments in blame-shifting: In Dade City, Fla., an ex-con with cocaine and other drugs in his system tried to outrun the cops in a high speed chase, then veered into a farm neighborhood where he smashed his car into two trees on a one-lane dead-end private road, instantly killing himself and a passenger. Now the estate of his passenger (who was also on drugs) is suing 21 local residents who jointly maintain the private road, saying they should have kept it clear of trees and did not provide adequate signage. “There were no apparent visual roadway obstructions or environmental factors that would have contributed to this crash,” a report from the Florida Highway Patrol stated at the time. [Tampa Bay Times](& Alkon)

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In Clyde Hill, Wash., a retired Seattle Mariners baseball player has won a ruling from the town that his neighbors must remove two trees that block what would otherwise be an “amazing view of Seattle’s skyline” from his property. “An appraiser hired by John and Kelly Olerud said their $4 million home would be worth $255,000 more if the rare Chinese pine and the Colorado spruce across the street were cut down and replaced with smaller plants. The Chinese pine’s value is estimated at more than $18,000.” [Seattle Times, Ilya Somin] In other tree removal news, an Ontario mother “is fighting to have oak trees removed near her child’s school, fearing that acorns could pose a deadly threat to students with severe allergies.” Local officials say it is unlikely the acorns would prove allergenic to a child unless eaten, which rarely happens given their extreme bitterness. The mother also says acorns “can also be used to bully and torment children.” [Toronto Star via Lenore Skenazy]

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To get your power turned back on in the Rockaways, according to a spokesman for the Long Island Power Authority, you’re going to need a pre-inspection for your house not just from a licensed electrician, but from one licensed in NYC — nearby Nassau County, or upstate, won’t do. If occupational licensure makes any sense at all — and Milton Friedman had a thing or two to say about that — it certainly needs to be reconsidered under conditions of public emergency and disaster recovery, or so I argue in my new post at Cato at Liberty.

For more background on the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) as a political football, by the way, check out Nicole Gelinas in the New York Post. Also on disaster recovery, why this might be a good time to rethink municipal ordinances barring property owners from removing old trees [Chris Fountain]. And: “Can customers sue power companies for outages? Yes, but it’s hard to win” [Alison Frankel, Reuters]

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New Jersey: “The state Department of Environmental Protection requires permits and engineering work totaling $12,000 before the township can pull a tree out of a creek near Pittstown, Committeeman Scott Bauman told the Township Committee on Feb. 9.” The tree fell on private property and is causing a drainage problem by obstructing the creek. [Hunterdon County Democrat]

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Environmental law roundup

by Walter Olson on December 16, 2011

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I’ve got some observations at Cato at Liberty about the arguments one Montgomery County, Md. councilman has made for a public takeover of local electric utility Pepco — as well as some background about the trade-off often found between leafy splendor and storm-outage resilience in residential settings.

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September 9 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 9, 2011

  • Not a parody: economics professor sets off debate on “ugly rights” with suggestion of making unattractiveness of appearance a protected discrimination-law category [Daniel Hamermesh/NYT, PoL, Eric Crampton, Jon Hyman] Apparently Niall Ferguson needn’t worry [Telegraph]
  • Feds sue banks and more than 130 executives, demanding billions over their role in the mortgage crisis; new “tobacco/asbestos” predicted [Biz Insider, more, yet more] Takes some cheek to cast Fannie and Freddie as victims [John Berlau, CEI]
  • Also on mortgages: Rahm Emanuel’s unsound new “lender must cut the grass” ordinance [Funnell] California AG sues lawyers, telemarketers over class action loan modification scheme; lawyer fires back with civil rights suit [AP, ABA Journal] New York chief judge wants state to fund more lawyers to resist enforcement of mortgages [PoL]
  • Related to last, on Civil Gideon’s “‘impossible dream’ of giving every civil litigant a lawyer” [Benjamin Barton & Stephanos Bibos, SSRN via Instapundit]
  • Fallen tree damage from all these storms? Think twice before taking your neighbor to court [Ilya Somin]
  • Stories you read here first: wider coverage for EEOC suit against trucking company for not letting alcoholic drive [Fox, earlier]
  • Illinois advocates plan push for punitive civil suits against johns, strip club owners, sex-ad websites [NYT]

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The injured man “took the [legal] action after health and safety inspectors concluded the hotel failed to carry out a risk assessment on the dangers of pruning. They also said that his employer should have given him training on where to place the ladder.” [Telegraph, Daily Mail]

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August 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 20, 2009

May 16 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 16, 2008

  • Polar bears on parade: “Lawsuits are not the best way to force the public into solving planet-size problems such as climate change.” [Christian Science Monitor editorial]
  • Jury convicts private investigator Anthony Pellicano, trial of entertainment lawyer Terry Christiansen set for July [Variety; earlier]
  • Knockoff sneakers differed from Adidas original in having two or four stripes instead of three, didn’t save Payless Shoes from getting hit with $304 million verdict [American Lawyer]
  • Following up on our discussion of municipal tree liability: Michigan high court OKs homeowner class action over sewer line damage from city trees [AP/MLive]
  • Attorney Franklin Azar, of Colorado TV-ad fame, says jury’s verdict ordering him to pay a former client $145,000 was really a “big victory” for him [ABA Journal]
  • Annals of tolling-for-infancy: “Dog bite 10 years ago subject of civil suit” [MC Record]
  • Feds indict Missouri woman for cruel MySpace hoax that drove victim to suicide: Orin Kerr finds legal grounds weak [@ Volokh]
  • “I blame R. Kelly for Sept. 11″: some ways potential jurors managed to get off singer’s high-profile Chicago trial [Tribune; h/t reader A.K.]
  • Update: “click fraud” class actions filed in Texarkana against online ad providers have all now settled [SE Texas Record; earlier]
  • Judge orders dad to stay on top of his daughter’s education, then jails him for 180 days when she fails to get her general equivalency diploma [WCPO, Cincinnati; update, father released]
  • Lawyers still soliciting for AOL volunteer class actions [Colossus of Rhodey; earlier]

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To borrow the summary from the highly recommended Arts & Letters Daily: “The British love their trees, but across the land beautiful old trees are being chopped down in their thousands. The reason? Safety rules and hungry lawyers… ” (Michael McCarthy, “Green giants: Our love affair with trees”, Independent (U.K.), Apr. 25). Earlier: Dec. 3, 2006, etc. More: Scott Greenfield says don’t blame the lawyers, blame the towns and other authorities for overreacting.

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December 2 roundup

by Ted Frank on December 2, 2007

  • Remember that ludicrous case where the Florida driver fell asleep, crashed his Ford Explorer, his passenger was killed, and a jury blamed Ford to the tune of $61 million? (See also Sep. 10.) A Florida court got around to reversing it, though only to grant a new trial under a variety of erroneous evidentiary rulings that prejudiced Ford, rather than because the suit was too silly to ever conceivably win in a just society. The remand goes back to the same judge that let the suit go forward and committed multiple reversible errors in favor of the plaintiff. [Ford Motor v. Hall-Edwards (Fla. App. Nov. 7, 2007); Krauss @ Point of Law; Daily Business Review; Bloomberg/Boston Globe]
  • Not really a man-bites-dog story, but Geoffrey Fieger (Aug. 25 and rather often otherwise) speaks. [ABA Journal]
  • Uh-oh: Former litigator hired to invest $100m in court cases for UK hedge fund. [Times Online]
  • The real NatWest Three deal. [Kirkendall; July 2006 in Overlawyered]
  • Homeowners fined $347,000 for trimming trees without a permit—after the Glendale Fire Department sent them a notice telling them to trim their trees for being a fire hazard. (h/t Slim) [Consumerist]
  • Disclaimers at children’s birthday parties (h/t BC) [Publishers Weekly]
  • British Christmas parades handcuffed by litigation fears. (h/t F.R.) [Telegraph]
  • Underlawyered in Saudi Arabia: A “19-year-old Saudi gang-rape victim was recently sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail for being in a car with an unrelated male when the attack occurred. Last week, her lawyer was disbarred for objecting too vociferously.” [Weekly Standard]
  • Don’t forget to vote for us at the ABA Journal Blawg 100.

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A beloved San Francisco tourist attraction, the birds roost in two ancient WildParrots.jpg cypress trees whose owner says he can no longer afford the liability risk should they topple or shed branches on spectators. The city is stepping in to spare the axe by taking responsibility for the chance of injury. (Charlie Goodyear, “Preserving perches for wild parrots”, San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 14; “Buzz saws threaten home of Telegraph Hill parrots”, CBC, Nov. 3, 2005). A 2004 film about the parrots is available here on DVD.

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Tree hazards, cont’d

by Walter Olson on December 3, 2006

This time from the U.K.: Simon Jenkins has some choice words in the Guardian about the tendency to turn a relatively rare phenomenon — injuries caused by tree falls — into the occasion for legal punishment, and the undesirable incentives this creates for those entrusted with the care of trees. (“Those who walk under trees are at risk from these terrorising inspectors”, Nov. 17). More on tree hazards: Jun. 11, Jul. 31 and Nov. 27, 2006; Apr. 30 and Jul. 19, 2005; Nov. 16, 2004; Mar. 12, 2002.

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Learning to accept coconuts

by Walter Olson on November 27, 2006

From a New York Times article on the city of Los Angeles’s decision to curtail the planting of palm trees along public streets and parks, one reason being that the majestic plants have been known to drop bulky fronds on persons below:

“Hawaii has a lot of coconut tree liability problems because they fall on people’s heads,” he said. “But the people there have said, ‘That is something that we have to accept.’”

(Jennifer Steinhauer, “City Says Its Urban Jungle Has Little Room for Palms”, Nov. 26). See also Jun. 11 (similar, from Torquay, England). More on coconut liability, in both cases relating to the decorated Mardi Gras variety: Mar. 4, 2005 (thrown at parade spectators); Mar. 13-14, 2002 (copyright claim).