Posts tagged as:

Washington state

Schools roundup

by Walter Olson on October 7, 2014

  • New report: “Schools Cut Back as Litigation Costs Eat into Budgets” [California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, PDF] “Swings too dangerous for Washington schools” [AP; Richland, Wash.]
  • “Appeals Court Ruling Paves Way for Gender Quotas in High School Sports” [Saving Sports, Ninth Circuit on Title IX] More: Alison Somin [Ollier v. Sweetwater Union School District]
  • “College and university administrators demolishing freedom of religion and association” [Bainbridge]
  • “Grenade Launchers: The Newest Must-Have School Supply” [Jason Bedrick/Cato, earlier]
  • “It was against the school policy for elementary kids to have Chapstick” [Amy Alkon; Augusta County, Va.] “Mom Tells Therapist About Briefly Leaving Kids Alone, Shrink Calls Cops” [Lenore Skenazy]
  • Disability and school discipline: “Wondering why a preschooler would ever need to be suspended? Here’s an explanation.” [Amy Rothschild, Greater Greater Washington]
  • Civic education needed: some Greendale, Wisc. parents and educators wonder why non-parents are allowed to vote on school matters [Lenore Skenazy]

{ 5 comments }

Liability roundup

by Walter Olson on September 17, 2014

{ 1 comment }

Schools roundup

by Walter Olson on March 11, 2014

{ 4 comments }

His parents say they would have aborted little Oliver Wuth, now 5, had they been given proper genetic counseling. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

{ 16 comments }

Washington: “A Lake Stevens police officer who was at the center of a civil rights lawsuit that cost the city $100,000 filed a claim Monday alleging city officials mishandled the lawsuit and tarnished his reputation. … ‘The cumulative result of the City’s errors is that Warbis has been continually portrayed as a rogue and hot-headed cop, something that is completely contrary to the truth and case facts,’ according to the claim. … The claim does not spell out how much money the police officer is seeking, however, it says ‘a seven-figure-damages judgement is not unreasonable.'” [Everett Herald]

{ 5 comments }

Following the example of California voters, Evergreen State voters were turning down the measure by a 45-55 margin at latest count [KING]. Less happily, the town of SeaTac south of Seattle will now experiment with a $15 minimum wage [same], and those in New Jersey are inscribing an indexed minimum wage into their state constitution. [Star-Ledger] Voters in Westchester County, N.Y. chose to retain County Executive Rob Astorino, whose battles with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have been chronicled in this space. [White Plains Patch]

More: Quirky soapmaker Dr. Bronner used its own product labels to crusade for the unsuccessful GMO bill. Thank you, Citizens United, for protecting its freedom to do so! [Caleb Brown]

Environmental roundup

by Walter Olson on November 5, 2013

{ 1 comment }

October 7 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 7, 2013

  • More regulation of online speech: what could go wrong? “‘Eraser’ law gives California teens the right to delete online posts” [ABA Journal, Eric Goldman, Scott Greenfield]
  • Gov. Brown signs bill to grant law licenses in California to illegal immigrants [Reuters]
  • “Court: website alleging police corruption shouldn’t have been shut down” [Ars Technica; Lafayette, Louisiana]
  • License to speak: Eugene Volokh and Cato Institute challenge licensing of DC tour guides;
  • Thanks to Keith Lee at Associates Mind for including us in list of recommended law sites;
  • St. Paul disparate-impact housing controversy: “How Mischievous Obama Administration Officials Scuttled An Important Supreme Court Case” [Trevor Burrus, see also]
  • Great circle of tax-funded life: public sector lobbying expenditures [Washington state via Tyler Cowen]

September 23 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 23, 2013

  • Drunk driver leaves road, hits power pole, Washington high court allows suit against property owner to proceed [Lowman v. Wilbur, PDF]
  • State attorneys general pressure clothing maker to drop t-shirts with drug names [ABA Journal, related earlier]
  • More transparency needed in Child Protective Services [Reason TV] One lawyer’s critique of CPS [Laurel Dietz, Straight (Vancouver)]
  • While aspiring to nudge us into more farsighted financial practices, government has trouble staying out of dumb bond deals itself [Coyote, and more (Detroit)]
  • You can care about safety but still think some speed limits are set too low [Canadian video on Jalopnik]
  • Trial lawyers aim to extend to Indiana their Idaho victory over “Baseball Rule” on spectator liability [NWIT, earlier here, here, here, etc.]
  • New “fair-housing” assessment and planning process propels federal government into social engineering [IBD editorial via AEI Ideas, HUD]

{ 2 comments }

Medical roundup

by Walter Olson on July 25, 2013

  • Crisis of sterile injectables rages on, among victims are premature infants who need parenteral nutrition [Washingtonian ("Even if the FDA’s doing something terrible, we can’t criticize them. They regulate us.") via Tabarrok, earlier here, here, here, etc.]
  • “Tweets not medical advice” [@Caduceusblogger via @jackshafer]
  • “Why Your Dog Can Get Vaccinated Against Lyme Disease And You Can’t” [Curt Nickisch, WBUR]
  • Cites distinctive Connecticut law: “Hospital Successfully Sues its Patient’s Attorneys for Filing a Vexatious Malpractice Suit” [Alex Stein, Bill of Health]
  • Should adversarial medical examinations be videotaped? [Turkewitz]
  • “Lawyers Have Learned To Distort Pharmacovigilance Signals” [Oliver on FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS), earlier]
  • Causation from nasal decongestant at issue: “Judge orders UW to pay $15M to Snoqualmie family” [KING5]
  • “The ban on compensated transplant organ donation has led to hundreds of thousands of excess deaths. A ban on compensated sperm and egg donation would lead to a dearth of lives.” [Alex Tabarrok, related on Canada]

Did you know that the Affordable Care Act creates an enormous, multi-billion-dollar slush fund — in the out years, it will raise $2 billion a year in perpetuity — for the federal government to spend on more or less anything that might “improve health and help restrain the rate of growth” of health-care costs? That the spending can bypass the Congressional appropriations process, and is rife with expenditures for the purposes of lobbying government itself, which is supposed to be an unlawful use of federal funds?

Somehow it didn’t sink in until I read this excellent investigation in Forbes by Stuart Taylor, Jr., the distinguished commentator and journalist now associated with the Brookings Institution. Because almost any cause arguably advances health, the administrators end up with close to unlimited discretion as to how to spend the money, which results in the usual array of goofy-sounding grant activities ranging “from ‘pickleball’ (a racquet sport) in Carteret County, N.C. to Zumba (a dance fitness program), kayaking and kickboxing in Waco, TX.”

It’s tailor-made for log-rolling and rewarding local friends, but the dangers go beyond that. In particular, as outraged Republicans from Fred Upton (R-Mich.) in the House to Susan Collins (R-Me.) in the Senate have been documenting, large sums from the program have been devoted to the purpose of lobbying for the passage of legislation at the local and state level — notwithstanding specific statutory language making that an unlawful way of spending money raised from federal taxpayers.

To quote Taylor:

* In Washington state, the Prevention Alliance, a coalition of health-focused groups, reported in notes of a June 22, 2012 meeting that the funding for its initial work came from a $3.3 million Obamacare grant to the state Department of Health. It listed a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), “tobacco taxes,” and increasing “types of outdoor venues where tobacco use is prohibited” as among “the areas of greatest interest and potential for progress.”

* The Sierra Health Foundation, in Sacramento, which received a $500,000 grant. in March 2013, described its plans to “seek local zoning changes to disallow fast food establishments within 1,000 feet of a school and to limit the number of fast food outlets,” along with restrictions on fast food advertising. A $3 million grant to New York City was used to “educate leaders and decision makers about, and promote the effective implementation of. . . a tax to substantially increase the price of beverages containing caloric sweetener.”

* A Cook County, Ill. report says that part of a $16 million grant “educated policymakers on link between SSBs [sugar-sweetened beverages] and obesity, economic impact of an SSB tax, and importance of investing revenue into prevention.” More than $12 million in similar grants went to groups in King County, Wash. to push for changes in “zoning policies to locate fast-food retailers farther from . . . schools.” And Jefferson County, Ala., spent part of a $7 million federal grant promoting the passage of a tobacco excise tax by the state legislature.

These aren’t isolated flukes: they look very much like the normal and planned operation of the program. A $7 million grant to activists in the St. Louis area went in part toward lobbying for the repeal of a state law barring municipal tobacco taxes. The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported on how it used a $1.5 million federal grant: “210 policy makers were contacted . . . 31 ordinances were passed . . . there were 26 community presentations made to local governments .. . and 16 additional ordinances were passed this quarter, for a cumulative total of 47.”

This is outrageous. Congress has enacted and reiterated the ban on lobbying with federal funds because of the obvious unfairness of requiring taxpaying citizens to support political efforts of which they disapprove. Now a combination of the most politicized sector of public health activism (which likes to dictate how people live) and a cross-section of the local political class (which likes to find new ways of raising taxes) is getting massive federal subsidies to pursue such lobbying, often on a scale that can bulldoze disorganized local opposition. If you were wondering why some bad new ideas for local legislation (e.g., zoning to keep fast-food restaurants out of big-city neighborhoods) seem to be everywhere despite a tepid level of voter enthusiasm, now you know. You’re paying for them to be everywhere.

I joined host Ray Dunaway on Hartford’s WTIC this morning to talk about the issue.

P.S. Thanks to commenter gitarcarver for pointing out this April report on the problem by the investigative group Cause of Action. (& David Catron, American Spectator)

{ 6 comments }

April 11 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 11, 2013

  • More on Maryland cyber-bullying law vs. First Amendment [Mike Masnick/TechDirt, and thanks for quote; earlier here, here]
  • Family of Trayvon Martin settles with homeowners’ association for an amount believed north of $1 million [Orlando Sentinel, earlier]
  • Best of the recent crop of commentaries on violent political terrorists of 1960s landing plum academic gigs [Michael Moynihan, Daily Beast, earlier]
  • First the New Mexico photographer case, now attorney general of Washington sues florist for not serving gay wedding [Seattle Times; earlier on Elane Photography v. Willock]
  • “‘Vexatious litigator’ is suspect in courthouse bomb threats in five states” [ABA Journal]
  • Cannon, meet moth: Ken instructs a guy at WorldNetDaily why hurt feelings don’t equal fascism [Popehat] “The Trick In Dealing With Government: Find The Grown-Up In The Room” [same]
  • A true gentleman and friend: R.I.P. veteran New York editor and publisher Truman Talley, “Mac,” who published many a standard author from Ian Fleming to Jack Kerouac to Rachel Carson to Isaac Asimov and late in his illustrious career took a flyer on a complete novice in the books that became The Litigation Explosion and The Rule of Lawyers [NYT/Legacy]

{ 1 comment }

“The family of a man shot and killed by his neighbor in Skagit County can proceed to trial on claims that the county’s emergency communications center mishandled its response to his panicked 911 call, Washington’s Supreme Court ruled.” According to his family, a 911 operator told William Munich that help was on the way but did not code the call as an emergency; a sheriff’s deputy showed up 18 minutes later, by which time Munich had been shot by the irate neighbor. “I am concerned the majority’s decision will put unwarranted pressure on every statement made by 911 operators, straining communications that depend on the free flow of information,” wrote dissenting Justice James Johnson. [KOMO; Munich (Gayle) v. Skagit Emergency Communications Center, holding, dissent (wrong link fixed now); background on Washington's unusual approach to sovereign immunity]

P.S. Another Washington sovereign liability case of interest: Robb v. City of Seattle, “Whether the city of Seattle may be liable in an action for wrongful death brought by the survivor of a murder victim based on the failure of police to confiscate ammunition while detaining the murderer for questioning just before the murder occurred.” [Temple of Justice]

{ 3 comments }

Election roundup

by Walter Olson on November 6, 2012

Voters in four states will decide same-sex marriage ballot questions on Nov. 6. As many readers know, I’ve been writing actively on the Maryland question, and those interested in catching up on that can follow the links here to find, among other things, my recent interview on the subject with the Arab news service Al-Jazeera, my thoughts on Judge Dennis Jacobs’s decision striking down Section 3 of DOMA (the federal Defense of Marriage Act), and my reaction to the other side’s “bad for children” contentions.

The Cato Institute has been doing cutting-edge work on the topic for years from a libertarian perspective; some highlights here.

Yet more: Hans Bader on religious liberty and anti-discrimination law [Examiner, CEI] And my letter to the editor in the suburban Maryland Gazette: “Civil society long ago decoupled marriage law from church doctrines.”

{ 1 comment }

Politics roundup

by Walter Olson on October 27, 2012

{ 2 comments }

Product liability roundup

by Walter Olson on October 1, 2012

  • “Oklahoma Court Tosses Jury Verdict Over ‘Defective’ Louisville Slugger” [Daniel Fisher/Forbes, Abnormal Use] “In contrast, a New Jersey case against the same defendant resulted in a multi-million-dollar settlement divorced from any showing of culpability.” [PoL]
  • An expert witness wore two hats [Chamber-backed Madison County Record]
  • 5-4 Washington Supreme Court decision in asbestos case bodes ill for makers of safety devices [Pacific Legal Foundation]
  • “Defective design and the Costa Concordia” [Rob Green, Abnormal Use; Rick Spilman, The Old Salt]
  • Calif. appeals court says man shot by 3 year old son can sue Glock [SFGate]
  • “Evidence of Drug Use May Be Relevant in Product Liability Litigation” [Farr, Abnormal Use]
  • “What used to be in chemistry sets that are not in there anymore are actual chemicals” [BBC, earlier here, here]

{ 2 comments }

The judge ruled that “even though the park could have acted more quickly to kill or relocate the goat, its actions are immune from lawsuits under the Federal Tort Claims Act because they involved an exercise of discretion related to public policy.” [Peninsula Daily News, Washington; AP; earlier here and here]

{ 9 comments }