It’s behind a paywall, but the WSJ columnist looks into a question touched on repeatedly in this space and connects it to the unpredictability with which juries may credit expert testimony, as an Oklahoma jury recently did in Toyota litigation:
Toyota had been vigorously fighting hundreds of complaints that its cars are prone to unintended acceleration. Now it’s moving toward a global settlement as a consequence of a single Oklahoma lawsuit that appears to establish that Toyota can’t prevail if it can’t prove a negative—that its software didn’t go haywire in some untraceable and unreplicable manner. …
The Bookout jury was apparently impressed by the testimony of software expert Michael Barr. He said a single “bit flip” (the smallest instance of data corruption) could cause uncontrolled acceleration when the driver had been using cruise control, stopped using cruise control, then resumed using cruise control to let the car accelerate back to its selected speed. …
The connection to Ms. Bookout’s crash, which didn’t involve cruise control and took place on an exit ramp? None, except Mr. Barr claimed that “software failure is consistent with the description of the [Bookout] accident” and “more likely than not” a factor.
Jenkins notes, as have others, that if some mysterious and unreplicable bug is causing Toyotas to accelerate suddenly while disabling the brakes, it seems to differentially appear in cars being driven by elderly drivers, which are greatly overrepresented in the crash statistics.
More: Kyle Graham on whether vaccine liability limits make a plausible precedent for limits on liability for driverless cars.
Mike Rappaport withholds his applause about that [Law and Liberty] More: Glenn Lammi, WLF.
“It’s good that the FDA lifted the ban on Bexsero but why should Americans have to wait for the FDA?” [Alex Tabarrok, Bloomberg]
Yes, America’s Most Irresponsible Public Figure® is at it again. [Orac, Respectful Insolence] For good measure, the celebrity environmentalist/wayward scion, speaking in Chicago at a conference called Autism One, is quoted as saying of Dr. Paul Offit and other vaccine scientists, “They should be in jail and the key should be thrown away.” [Age of Autism]
Update: As of Tues. June 3 in the afternoon, the AoA blog post has been taken down. [h/t Justin Miller]
The researcher of anti-vaccine fame, who was struck off the British medical rolls following scandal over his methods, had earlier sued journalist Brian Deer in the U.K.; this time he has filed an action in Texas [Respectful Insolence, Popehat]. As parents decline vaccination, whooping cough and measles make a deadly comeback [Amy Alkon, Orac]
James Beck explains and Orac has some strong views as well (“I’m afraid Justice Sotomayor borders on the delusional when she blithely proclaims that courts are so good at efficiently disposing of meritless product liability claims.”) More: Kathleen Seidel and footnotes.
P.S. But preemption does not carry the day in an automotive case, Williamson v. Mazda.
Six years late, the online publication is throwing in the towel on a notorious venture into antiscientific claptrap by America’s Most Irresponsible Public Figure®, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Meanwhile, Carter at Point of Law reports that the newly civility-aware celebrity environmentalist will be headlining a “Progressive Voices Cruise” of the Caribbean that by total coincidence will also feature attorney Michael Papantonio, with whose Levin Papantonio injury-law firm the hothead scion has long been associated, a connection curiously absent from his current Wikipedia page and most other coverage (& welcome Jonathan Adler readers).
A British Medical Journal editorial confirms that scientific misconduct by then-Dr. Andrew Wakefield was even worse than previously assumed. The resulting media-fueled panic led parents to refuse vaccination in large numbers, and childhood scourges such as measles soared as a result, with disability and even death resulting. Wakefield was being financed by lawyers hoping to sue the vaccine industry. [Respectful Insolence, CNN, AP, Adler]
Such at least is one reading of the federal government’s unusual decision to settle the Hannah Poling vaccine compensation claim [Michael Krauss at PoL]