Subscribe Subscribe   Find us on Twitter Follow POL on Twitter  


December 2009 Archives

The chairman of the American Association for Justice's Brain Injury Litigation Group, Chicago attorney Gordon Johnson, has already deduced that now-fired Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach was at fault in the handling of a player who had suffered a concussion. From Johnson's blog: [UPDATE: Fixed link]:

Today after hearing more details and the misdirection and spin of his defenders, I think the man should be fired. Concussions are to be taken seriously and anyone who wants to abuse a concussion survivor by attacking such person's character needs to pay the consequences. Leach needs to be made an example of.

Maybe. Or maybe not. A serious issue, to be sure.

Traumatic brain injuries are a frequent topic for the AAJ, and at the association's winter convention in Maui a CLE program is featured, "Medical Negligence and Closed Head Injuries" (page 2 of the brochure). Topics include "Demonstrative Evidence Techniques in Failure to Diagnose Cases," and "Maximizing Damages: Getting Your TBI Clients an Adequate Recovery." Like soft-tissue injuries, some brain injuries like concussions and infant injuries can be hard to diagnose or quantify, so you can see why the trial lawyers would want to sharpen their game -- or elevate an incident in college sports into a cause celebre.

UPDATE (Jan. 2): Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) of the House Judiciary Committee quickly jumps in, scheduling a committee field hearing Monday, Jan. 4, in Detroit, "Legal Issues Relating to Football Head Injuries, Part II."

Also, Coach Leach did interviews on ESPN and the New York Times, denying he mistreated the player in question.

The American Association for Justice is holding its winter convention in Maui at the end of January. The AAJ semi-annual gathering was in San Francisco last summer and attracted many national political figure amid the congressional debate on health care legislation, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. It's hard to imagine a similar roster of high-level political speakers for the winter confab: What elected official dares the elitist political imagery of hanging out in Maui?

We assume the Senate and House Democrats will be still working out a "compromise" version of the health care bill even as the trial lawyers meet in Hawaii. Expanding medical liability is definitely on the AAJ's agenda for the convention. (See the convention brochure and CLE listings.) The track we found interesting -- the pharmaceutical industry remains a target despite the congressional protection it negotiated? -- and amusing for its seminar-ese was the February 2nd session, "Pharmaceutical Litigation":

Allegories and Analogies of Corporate Greed (ethics credit)

* Ethically pointing out the corporation's lack of ethics

Homemade Technology: Doing It on the Cheap (ethics credit)

* The three Cs of visuals ethics (Copyright, ClipArt, and Cartoons)

Panel: Litigation Update

* Avandia * Byetta * Gardasil * Hydroxycut * Reglan and Fen-Phen * Yaz/Yasmin * Zicam

Interpol privileges and immunities

Orin Kerr doesn't see much basis for the blogospheric fuss; readers contribute (first, second posts). Update: David Kopel finds fears misplaced.

Spitzer's AIG emails

"Mr. Spitzer's new support for email transparency can be particularly helpful, because it turns out that his old office has been denying requests for his AIG emails." [WSJ editorial]

At FrumForum, David Gratzer of the Manhattan Institute notes the Illinois Supreme Court's surprising delay in issuing a decision on whether to strike down the state's legislatively enacted caps on damages.

The winners, as selected by visitors, were:

5. Neighbor sues woman for smoking in her own home;

4. Double-murderer sues to claim his victims' classic Chevy pickup;

3. Holocaust denier sues Auschwitz survivor, alleging memoir contains "fantastical tales;"

2. Tourist sues hotel, claiming swimming pool got daughter pregnant;

1. Illegal immigrants sue rancher who stopped them on his property at gunpoint and turned them over to the Border Patrol.

The media report on the Senate sending back nominations to the White House on Christmas Eve, including two controversial nominees to the U.S. District Court bench, Louis Butler of Wisconsin and Edward Chen of California. (Highlighted first, blogwise, at Point of Law here.)

The absence of a White House defense of the nominees in these stories is interesting. One would have expected at least a perfunctory restatement of their candidates' qualifications, but either inexperience or holiday vacation meant no one was available to say, "These are great nominees and the Senate should confirm them." The silence invited such posts as from lefty blogs like FireDogLake, "Will Obama Fold (yet again) on Judicial Appointments due to GOP Opposition?"

UPDATE: And The Indianpolis Star on the returned nomination of Dawn Johnsen to head Justice's Department of Legal Counsel, "IU law professor's federal nomination is on hold."

POLITICO's Josh Gerstein (via Laura Rozen at the same location) alerts us to the fact that U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler has publicly criticized the Obama administration for refusing to take a position in a lawsuit brought against the Palestinian Authority in connection with a terrorist attack in 2000 that claimed the life of a 25-year-old American, Esh Gilmore. Gilmore's family claims the PLO's Tanzim branch was responsible for his death in the shooting outside an Israeli government office in Jerusalem. Judge Kessler called the administration "particularly unhelpful" and the State Department "mealy-mouthed" in refusing to provide official guidance on the foreign policy issues involved.

Kessler was attempting to decide whether the Palestinian Authority should be granted a new trial or forced to pay a default judgment that rendered against it following its decision not to defend itself against the Gilmore lawsuit.

"The Executive Branch of the United States has been particularly unhelpful in resolving this difficult Motion," Kessler wrote. "The Court requested that the State Department file a Statement of Interest in order to understand the international ramifications of any order it might enter, and to be apprised of our Government's position about such ramifications. In this case, as in Knox v. The Palestinian Liberation Organization. ... the State Department declined to do so. Instead it filed the identical mealy-mouthed Notice there as it did in this case. That Notice, for all practical purposes, said nothing and certainly provided no substantive guidance whatsoever to the Court regarding the Government's position or concerns about any impact a decision might have on the delicate situation in the Middle East."

Is the administration prepared to say that the Palestinian Authority, but not other governments, is immune from liability for killing Americans abroad? That's one interpretation of the State Department's warning to Judge Kessler not to adversely affect the PA's finances. Since when do finances have anything to do with tort liability?

The logic of a Florida decision might pose a challenge to the whole burgeoning business of litigation funding and lawsuit finance. And certainly there'd seem to be good reason to arrange matters so that that those who stimulate and enable litigation in search of an upside payoff share in the downside risk as well. [Longstreth/AmLaw]

The George Mason lawprof and longtime Point of Law favorite has a new paper on SSRN: "While there is a voluminous scholarly literature on various aspects of toxic tort litigation, this Article's unique contribution is to articulate the new consensus on causation standards, document and criticize the various ways plaintiffs attempt to evade these standards, and defend the courts' adherence to traditional notions of causation against their critics."

Koch Associate Program opportunities

An opportunity that might interest some Point of Law readers:

The Koch Associate Program is a challenging job opportunity for professionals who are passionate about free-market ideas and want to become more effective at advancing liberty throughout their careers. During the year-long program, each Associate works in a full-time, paid position with a market-oriented think tank, policy institute, or grassroots organization; while also receiving valuable management training in a seminar setting one day out of each week at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. For more information, visit www.cgkfoundation.org/associate-program.

Jim Beck (Drug & Device Law) and Bruce Nye (Cal Biz Lit) exchange views on an unpublished federal case in which California's liberal methods of "John Doe pleading" turned out to make the difference.

Around the web, December 29

At his personal blog on subrogation issues, Boston attorney Adam V. Russo has posted a message from the American Association of Justice hailing the passage of the Senate health care bill, "SENATE PASSES HISTORIC HEALTHCARE REFORM LEGISLATION!" [UPDATE: From AAJ President Anthony Tarricone]

Key excerpt:

I am pleased to report that this bill is clear of any provisions that would limit an injured patient's rights concerning medical negligence claims. This is a stunning victory for your clients considering great pressure from the insurance industry and other interests to include medical malpractice tort "reform" in this bill. While there is a provision for demonstration projects, it provides an absolute opt-out clause for plaintiffs at any time. While some states may embark on demonstration programs we find objectionable, the opt-out provision for plaintiffs minimizes this concern.

The message also touts the work, including its advertising campaign, done by the AAJ to fight off tort reform. The New York Times today offers a very positive report of that PR effort, highlighting the group's ad buy in the Union Station Metro on the Senate side of Capitol Hill. See "An Underground Campaign."

The rest of the message warns against a House-Senate conference that "could allow medical malpractice tort reform to once again enter the dialogue at a critical time," thanks members for their activism, and urges members of state groups to join the national association. Thus, it's a typical trade association e-mail, but it certainly reaffirms the analysis that Walter offered at Overlawyered.com, that the Senate bill rewards trial lawyers while providing political cover against serious tort reform.

Liability for credit rating agencies

A WSJ editorial takes note of changes in the language of a Barney Frank bill:

Also removed from the bill was a bizarre "joint liability" scheme in which all the credit raters would be responsible for each other's work, so that a bad report by Fitch could be grounds for a lawsuit against Moody's. Unable to restrain themselves entirely from bestowing gifts upon trial lawyers, House Democrats have instead increased liability for the raters on their own work.

Mayor Bloomberg on health care reform

On "Meet the Press":

...And I will say, I've given the president a lot of credit for taking on the issue; but it's Congress that's writing this legislation, and they are not willing to go near the things that will contain costs, which is immigration reform, tort reform, asking the question of whether or not we can afford certain tests and whether they really are cost-beneficial.

Around the web, December 28

  • Everyone unanimous around here: NYT editorially urges Congress to overturn Iqbal, then runs letters to the editor from lawyers agreeing with its stand;
  • Yet more "Top Ten of 2009" lists, including employment law and cyberlaw [Ambrogi, Legal Blog Watch] "The Year in Great Big California Verdicts" [Cal Biz Lit] Best (for defense) pharmaceutical cases [Beck]
  • Legal Ethics Forum is generating a list of "Top Legal Ethics Stories of the Decade" and you can help;
  • Video of MI's Jim Copland debating ATLA/AAJ's Ken Suggs on liability reform [Bing; requires Microsoft plugin]
  • "Tort reform is the key to a healthier New Jersey" [Marcus Rayner, NLJRA, Trenton Times]
  • "California Vioxx class action slides into the sea" [economic damages; Beck]

In a flurry of mostly overlooked action, the Senate on December 24 confirmed a slew of President Obama's nominees on a single "en bloc" vote. Included in the list (starting here in The Congressional Record's Daily Digest) was David Strickland, the former trial lawyer lobbyist named administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (See this Dec. 9 post on the nomination of Strickland, who has a Senate Commerce staffer bears great responsibility for the excesses of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.)

Notable was the Senate's decision to return six nominees to the White House, a sign of major political opposition to their confirmation. The Washington Post's Federal Eye blog reported the high-profile nominees to the Justice Department the Senate decided against approving: "Dawn E. Johnsen, nominated to oversee the Office of Legal Counsel; Mary L. Smith, tapped to head the Tax Division; and Christopher H. Schroeder, nominated as assistant attorney general for legal policy."

The most controversial rejected nominee -- at least in civil justice reform circles -- was Louis Butler, put forward by President Obama to be U.S. District Court Judge for the Western District of Wisconsin. As a justice on the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, Butler offered ill-reasoned, liability-expanding decisions in cases involving medical damage caps and "collective liability" for lead paint manufacturers. Appointed by Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle to the court, Butler lost a 2008 election seeking to win a full term on the court. Conservative activist groups organized against his confirmation, and The Wall Street Journal prominently editorialized against him.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-7 to confirm Butler in early December over strenous objection by Republican committee members, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and John Cornyn of Texas. (See Point of Law post.)

Also returned to the White House was the nomination of Edward Chen, a federal magistrate in San Francisco, to serve as U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of California. A formal opposition did not get organized, but some conservatives have criticized him for reactive hostility to U.S. society. (See Washington Times, "Another judicial radical; Sean Hannity, "Another Radical Surfaces in White House.") The Senate Judiciary Committee reported out his nomination 12-7 in October.

President Obama could withdraw the nominations or return them to the Senate. Butler was certainly vigorously supported by his two home-state Senators who serve on the Judiciary Committee, Sens. Feingold and Kohl. The President could also make recess appointments, but that rarely makes sense for judicial nominees with otherwise lifetime appointments; they could only serve until the end of the current Congress. (See CRS report, "Recess Appointments: Frequently Asked Questions.")

UPDATE The Senate action occurred under Rule XXXI, paragraph 6, of the Standing Rules of the Senate. We've put the language in the extended entry:

Holiday posting lull

I expect Point of Law postings, from me at least, to resume next week at least briefly and then return to normal volume with the new year. Merry Christmas!

Around the web, December 23

Quoted in Investors Business Daily

Sean Higgins' article quotes me today on the lameness of the Reid health bill's allocation of $50 million to liability demonstration projects carefully screened to avoid anything that might bother the trial bar. (Earlier at Overlawyered and at Point of Law.) I also joined Mike Rosen on his radio show today to talk about the provision's political role as a fig leaf for Democratic members who feel they need to say back home that they made some gesture on this topic. (cross-posted from Overlawyered)

Testimonial from Washington, D.C.

Jeremy Stine, who recently departed Capitol Hill after three and a half years to join the
Window and Door Manufacturers Association as Manager of Government and Public Affairs, writes:

I thoroughly enjoy your postings on pointoflaw.com. ... Your blog keeps many legislative aides in the know, so keep up the good work. I still follow and forward postings to my friends on the Hill. Thanks again for all you do.

Who are some of the other audiences we're reaching with Point of Law? What do you find most useful, and what should we be doing more of? Write and let us know.

"Top Ten Expert Witness Rulings of 2009"

More Top-Tennery, this time from Robert Ambrogi for IMS Expert Services.

CUNY Law's new $155 million home

A faculty dissident finds it overpriced.

"It's going to be tough on the city," Jacques said. "Even a settlement is going to be a large number."

Yes, it's tough when you racially discriminate against folks -- they tend to want damages.

New Haven taxpayers will apparently be paying 7 figures for the fear-inspired racism of their city leaders, reports the Associated Press.

UPDATE I now see Walter already reported at Overlawyered an observer's analysis of the language, finding it a "grant program run by trial lawyers for the benefit of trial lawyers." A much more detailed dissection of the language than what's below.

The manager's amendment to the Senate health care bill, available here as a .pdf file, proposes actual statutory language for federal grants to states to establish demonstration projects on medical liability. The provisions run from page 344 to 359: "SEC. 399V-4. STATE DEMONSTRATION PROGRAMS TO EVALUATE ALTERNATIVES TO CURRENT MEDICAL TORT LITIGATION."

The previous versions of the bill had simple "Sense of the Senate" language that only suggested federal support for demonstration projects. The new amendment is much more detailed and authorizes $50 million over five years, beginning in Fiscal Year 2011 (Page 358).

There certainly are many provisions that would favor participation in the demonstrations by the plaintiffs' bar, including the targeting of medical errors, which is the gist of AAJ's latest arguments against medical liability reform. However, while setting many requirements and preferences, the amendment does not rule out participation by states that have capped non-economic damages.

We've put the requirements for state participation in the extended entry.

Around the web, December 21

Russell Jackson doesn't think New York's interests, or those of justice itself, are well served by using a state court in Staten Island to resolve the claims of more than 1,000 out-of-state plaintiffs against a Connecticut drug manufacturer.

Our newest featured column, by perennial Point of Law favorite Richard Epstein (University of Chicago, visiting scholar at the Manhattan Institute and NYU, etc.), is on the constitutional issues raised by current proposals to regulate health insurance in a public-utility-like manner. Read it here.

P.S. Welcome readers from Glenn Reynolds/Instapundit, Damon Root/Reason "Hit and Run", Jonathan Adler/Volokh Conspiracy, Andy McCarthy/NRO "Corner", and Roger Kimball/Pajamas Media. And Larry Ribstein and Stephen Bainbridge react to the copy of the same paper posted at our sister Manhattan Institute site, Medical Progress Today.

Sponsoring conferences is one way, but according to this first-person account by Edward Siedle in Forbes, there's a more sure-fire way, throwing referral fees at lawyers who represent the pension funds in other matters:

By agents, they meant local lawyers who represent pensions in other matters and are supposedly motivated solely by the best interests of their clients.

Many, however, are also eager to supplement their legal practices with hefty class action referral fees and other compensation. In my opinion, if local fund counsel is promised contingent fees for reeling in class action business, its advice risks becoming conflicted. That financial conflict should, at minimum, be disclosed.

I asked the Milberg Weiss partners whether public pensions were told of payments made to local fund counsels. A laugh went through the room "We won't answer that question until you join the firm," I was told.

He turned down the chance at a lucrative job with Milberg, which now says the partners named in the account have departed the firm and that it "know[s] nothing about the specific actions described by Mr. Siedle."

Top Ten legal ethics stories of 2009

John Steele at Legal Ethics Forum nominates, among others, Caperton, Civil Gideon, prosecutorial misconduct, and lawyers' misadventures in social media.

Denver Business Journal: "The Colorado Democrat's amendment, which is supported by the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver, would establish federal grants for pilot programs administered by nonprofit organizations to streamline the legal process in medical malpractice cases."

Update: A Hill source that I quote at Overlawyered criticizes the Reid bill's liability reform plan as exceedingly trial-lawyer-friendly and indeed worse than nothing.

It's opened to sunlight a process that often draws charges of pay-to-play. [AmLaw Litigation Daily]

P.S. The sequel [St. Petersburg Times]:

Five law firms, including several political donors, were tapped Thursday to represent Florida's pension fund in mega lawsuits that could produce millions in legal fees.

The selection of a sixth firm was put on hold after Attorney General Bill McCollum got an anonymous letter alleging misconduct by the firm's partners. ...

Also Thursday, the SBA released documents showing one of the preferred law firms, Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, paid $5,000 a month to Akerman Senterfitt, a politically influential Florida law firm, to help secure state business. ...

All six law firms have come under scrutiny for pension fund pay-to-play in other states.

"Kings of Tort" reviewed

Sid Salter of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reviews the new book by Alan Lange and Tom Dawson on the Scruggs and Minor scandals in Mississippi: "a cautionary tale about greed, hubris and how money greases the wheels of state politics."

Randy Maniloff is back with his annual survey (PDF) of the top ten insurance coverage decisions. At Drug and Device Law, James Beck offers the "Top Ten Worst Prescription Drug/Medical Device Decisions Of 2009". And speaking of Drug and Device Law, co-blogger Mark Herrmann is departing both the blog and the field of drug litigation to take over as vice president and chief counsel-litigation of Aon, the giant insurance brokerage firm. You can read his farewell post here, and Beck's intrepid vow to carry on without him (but with some additional Dechert blogging talent) here. Plus: reactions.

And Talking Points Memo is still misleadingly promoting it as a "rape amendment". [Jottings of an Employer's Lawyer]

Credit card interchange fees

A symposium at Truth on the Market includes as one of its participants Point of Law favorite Richard Epstein.

EPA's "environmental blackmail"

The agency's carbon dioxide endangerment ruling "is an attempt to force Congress's hand," writes Max Schulz at City Journal.

Did the plaintiffs ask for too much? What they got was a defense verdict: "The jury found that William James Goebel, who died at age 78, was exposed to asbestos from Kaiser Gypsum and Ford, but that there was no defect in the design of those defendants' products. The jurors concluded Goebel was not exposed to asbestos from Daimler Trucks." Five other defendants had settled out earlier. [Cynthia Lambert, California Civil Justice]

Andrew Trask at Class Action Countermeasures (McGuire Woods) has details on Hamm v. TBC Corp.

On public nuisance litigation

The Searle Center at Northwestern Law has put together a resource page on the topic.

OSHA: the return of ergonomics regulation?

Pinning down the agency's #2 on the subject might itself be enough to induce repetitive strain [Carter at ShopFloor]

Kristof's crusade against phthalates

At the WSJ, Allysia Finley writes that the Times columnist's alarms about phthalates aren't borne out by a consensus among scientists, and points out that -- as in the case of CPSIA -- overregulation has already proved costly.

Subhead on the AP story: "Judge indicates lender cannot be responsible for 'deterioration of inner city'." Earlier here, here, etc.

Around the web, December 16

  • Someone leaked SEIU's Employee Free Choice Act "cheat sheet" [Big Government via @Eric_B_Meyer]
  • "Shameful" prosecutorial misconduct, lack of evidence: judge tosses charges against last two defendants in Broadcom backdating case [AP, Ribstein]
  • "Date set for 'apartheid' class action" [Daily Dispatch, South Africa]
  • Chicago class action firm KamberEdelson has filed secondhand smoke suits against Wynn, Caesar's Palace casinos in Nevada [Las Vegas Sun]
  • "Qui Tam Suit Against University Nets $78.5 Million Settlement" [University of Phoenix; The Recorder]
  • A trend? Federal Circuit issues a third mandamus order removing patent case from E.D. Tex. [Alison Frankel, AmLaw] Update: et plus encore.
  • "UMass Trustees Approve Plan for Public Law School" [Above the Law, earlier]
  • Don't hesitate to donate food generously at this time of year, Congress and most states have enacted Good Samaritan liability immunities that should stand up [Matti Neustadt Storie, Food Liability Law]

Along with New Mexico, New York City is a newcomer to the annual report on problem jurisdictions for defendants. South Florida topped the list as worst. Coverage: WSJ Law Blog, NAM ShopFloor, Tex Parte (Texas off list for only second time since 2002, although two regions make "watch list"); Legal NewsLine ("John P. Avlon, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said that the total money spent settling lawsuits agaisnt the City is more than the next five largest American cities combined.")

Manhattan Institute senior fellow Nicole Gelinas, author of the newly published After the Fall: Saving Capitalism from Wall Street -- and Washington, and Ira Stoll, founder and editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com, have a discussion going this week about her book and its ideas on financial regulation.

Wrongful death bill in Trenton

New Jersey defense interests are rallying against it [NJLRA]

"Off-Label Promotion and False Claims"

Beck & Herrmann note an Eleventh Circuit case at the intersection of FDA pharmaceutical regulation and qui tam litigation.

Ohio AG vs. rating agencies

On behalf of state pension funds, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray piles aboard a theory already put forward by California's CALPERS. Kevin LaCroix offers some cautions.

Most expensive seats in the house?

Class action lawyers sue retailers over failure to provide chairs for cashiers [California Civil Justice]

The House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy has a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 16, on H.R. 4115, the Open Access to the Courts Act. Sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) the bill would restore the notice pleadings standard in federal courts.

Also in Congress this week, the Senate Commerce Committee has already scheduled a confirmation hearing Tuesday for David Strickland to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). As we wrote last week, Strickland is a former lobbyist for the American Association for Justice who has been general counsel of Commerce's consumer protection subcommittee, whence he brought the world the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Committees tend to treat their own quite well in the nomination process.

Strickland is also President Obama's second nominee for the post. The first, Charles Hurley, CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, withdrew his nomination after environmentalists howled about his questioning the wisdom of higher CAFE standards.

UPDATE (Wednesday): Strickland's opening statement at his hearing is here. It's short and sweet and makes sure to pay allegiance to CAFE standards. A committee vote is scheduled for Thursday.

Around the web, November 14

  • Prempro/Premarin plaintiffs' lawyers score big P.R. hit as NYT banners their case;
  • "Central Park Rotten Tree Branch Lawsuit Worth $120 Million" [Gothamist]
  • Consumer advocates, home builders united to push bad finance tool that's cost FHA dearly [Bank Lawyer's Blog]
  • Watch out, Akaka bill (native Hawaiian tribalization) is coming back in Congress and this time with a friendlier White House [Coffin, NRO; earlier] Update: WSJ editorial.
  • "North Dakota Democrats Want To Punish Insurance Company For Speaking Out Against Obamacare" [Say Anything, earlier here and here]
  • "A rare victory for small business: Sarbox Routed in House" [WSJ editorial]

My other site (Overlawyered) down

If you keep up with my other site, Overlawyered, you should know that it's been down for the past day with a still undiagnosed technical problem. The hosting service is working diligently to get it back up. In the mean time, you can follow bulletins on its Twitter feed (and if you're on Twitter, you've already followed Point of Law there -- right?)

Hiring the top lobbyist for trial lawyers

The international executive recruitment firm, Korn-Ferry, on Dec. 11 again posted the job opening for chief executive of the American Association for Justice. The position was originally posted on Oct. 29.

Jon Haber stepped down as CEO in early April. From his statement:

"We are a far stronger organization today than when I joined AAJ four years ago, working in a positive environment with a pro-civil justice President and Congress.

Because we are in such a strong position, I have decided this is the best time for me to step down to take on new challenges. The new pro-civil justice environment has put the organization in the strongest position it has been in a generation.

On Sept. 28, The Washington Times reported, "Trial lawyers lobby sinks $6.2M in debt." The eye-opening story included an account of how the association of trial lawyers botched a real estate deal

Well, you can see why the AAJ has since removed Haber's statement from its website. (We have it at Shopfloor.org.)

Former CEO Tom Henderson returned from retirement to head the organization after Haber left, in what was clearly an interim CEO position. You do not find his name in the news.

The Korn-Ferry posting does not list compensation for the next CEO. Haber's compensation package was about $600,000 in 2007, according to IRS filings.

Around the web, December 13

  • Fifth Circuit overturns "federal program bribery" convictions of Paul Minor, Wes Teel and John Whitfield in Mississippi, leaves intact other convictions [Overlawyered and links there]
  • "The Harvard Law School Guide to Conservative/Libertarian Public Interest Law" [Somin/Volokh]
  • "Lawrence W. Schonbrun: Class-action lawyers picking their clients' pockets" [Buffalo News]
  • "Michigan man's 24th lawsuit threatens family business" and other new stories posted to Chamber site Faces of Lawsuit Abuse;
  • Consol Energy slates major coal-mining layoffs in West Virginia, cites lawsuits among reasons [Carter at ShopFloor]
  • Why not just abolish Institutional Review Boards' (IRBs') oversight of behavioral, legal and sociological (as distinct from medical) research? [Adam Benforado, Concurring Opinions; earlier coverage of IRBs here, here, and, on medical review, here and here]
  • Bonus: the essay question from Prof. Eugene Volokh's latest torts exam.

Defunding ACORN

It might be traceable to lawyers' arrogance, thinks Kevin Funnell at Bank Lawyer's Blog.

"Out-of-state plaintiffs' firms that file high-dollar asbestos claims are opening offices in California. The state's plaintiff-friendly asbestos litigation rules, combined with recent legal reforms in other states, are drawing big-name asbestos firms to the Los Angeles and San Francisco courts, where big-dollar success beckons." [California Civil Justice]

Consumer class actions in Hawaii, cont'd

Russell Jackson returns to a troublesome Ninth Circuit case discussed a while back: "Yokoyama Is Flawed Because It Reads the Causation Requirement Out of Hawaii's Deceptive Practices Act".

Around the web, December 11

  • No Federalist Society members need apply? [Randy Cohen/The Ethicist, New York Times; Kerr and Somin at Volokh (go ahead and leave it on your resume if applying for BigLaw jobs, but take it off if applying to academia), Above the Law, Steele/LEF]
  • Cell phones still don't cause brain cancer [Health Day]
  • Revealing its assumptions, New York Times says "despite" power grab by Chavez over economy, corruption grows in Venezuela [Stoll, Future of Capitalism]
  • "Lawyers with retrospectoscopes": med mal and defensive medicine roundup from blogger White Coat; Texas attorney general defends state medical malpractice reforms [Legal NewsLine]; trial lawyer attacks on med-mal insurers often fail to mention dominant role in market of doctor-owned mutuals [Ownby, CJAC]
  • "Minnesotans anticipate legislative battle over statute of limitations" [PNW]
  • And of course get sued if you don't document things, too: "Papering a personnel file as evidence of retaliation?" [Hyman]

One of the pending cases in five states challenging medical damage caps is Klotz v. Shapiro before the Supreme Court of Missouri. William H. Freivogel, director of the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, ably describes the case and its Illinois counterpart in the non-profit St. Louis Beacon, "Missouri and Illinois may reconsider medical malpractice caps."

Both the AFL-CIO and the NAACP filed amicus briefs challenging Missouri's caps, making economic arguments -- class-warfare arguments -- that rightly belong in the sphere of politics and policy-making. From the AFL-CIO's brief:

Section 538.210 R.S.Mo., disparately affects the citizens of the State of Missouri that make up the organizations represented by the Missouri AFL-CIO. The noneconomic damages cap has the potential to greatly reduce a verdict given to an individual worker temporarily laid off due to an economic slump in a particular industry. Workers that earn hourly wages are more affected by the non-economic damages cap than workers that earn a salaried wage. The non-economic damages cap protects members of the health care industry from large verdicts based on non-economic damages, while providing no such protection to workers in any other industry.

And, from the NAACP's brief:

Section 538.210 fails both strict scrutiny and rational basis review. It forces minorities, a suspect class, to bear the brunt of the burden of caps. The statute also impedes minorities' fundamental right of access to the courts because their lower economic damages block their legitimate claims. More importantly, Section 538.210's objectives could be accomplished less restrictively and more effectively. As it stands, caps on non-economic damages will not accomplish lower malpractice premiums or increased access to healthcare. Thus, this Court should invalidate Section 538.210 and restore the legal touchstone of fully compensating injured plaintiffs.

Cited in the NAACP's brief is a 2007 paper co-written by a familiar subject here at Point of Law, Joanne Doroshow of the self-styled Center for Justice and Democracy. It's not just specific damage caps, it's the entire tort reform movement that embraces a "racially discriminatory agenda," she and her colleague Amy Widman argue in "The Racial Implications of Tort Reform." Tort reform is also the enemy of civil rights and environmental justice, they contend. Gracious, that's a lot of guilt to bear.

Bloggers on PCAOB

Jonathan Adler rounds up some links on the Supreme Court case raising a challenge to Sarbanes-Oxley and independent agency power (earlier).

Jim Copland on honest services fraud

His new op-ed in the Washington Examiner, "Vague law is bad law", takes a look at the alarmingly amorphous statute now before the Supreme Court:

Justice Antonin Scalia has suggested that the law "would seemingly cover a salaried employee's phoning in sick to go to a ballgame." ...As Scalia notes, the statute "invites abuses by headline-grabbing prosecutors" who hope to advance their careers by collecting high-profile scalps.

The newest Civil Justice Report from the Manhattan Institute, by senior fellow Marie Gryphon, is entitled "It's a Crime: Flaws in Federal Statutes That Punish Standard Business Practice". Executive summary:

Since the dawn of Anglo-Saxon common law, conviction for committing a crime required evidence of malicious intent--that is, a conscious willingness to violate society's norms by inflicting harm on people directly or by misappropriating or abusing their property. This stricture, which is often referred to as the blameworthiness principle, has tended to ensure that people who inadvertently and in good faith infringe laws and regulations will not suffer the stigmatization of a criminal conviction, not to mention the penalty of a steep fine or incarceration.

For their own compelling reasons, the economic and social policies of the New Deal came to undermine the blameworthiness principle. Standards of conduct promulgated to protect and advance the public's health, safety, and welfare carried with them deterrents imported from the criminal law. Today, the regulatory state, the New Deal's descendant, so thoroughly encompasses the range of commercial activity that businesses and businesspeople trying to reduce their costs, better their products, best their rivals--do all of the things, in short, on which survival in a market economy depends--run an ever-present risk of becoming ensnared in the criminal law. In many instances, the laws in question are so voluminous and loosely drafted that even a student of the legislation would not have fair notice of what conduct was prohibited and what was not.

Ordinary Americans have been convicted of crimes under overbroad federal laws because their employer unsuspectingly forwarded drugs that had been mislabeled by another company; because their adult children failed to properly record the itinerary of a camping trip in a public park while doing volunteer work for the family touring business; and because their computer servers stored copies of clients' e-mails as an emergency precaution. Others have been judged criminals for such common failings as violating the terms of an employee handbook that prohibited otherwise legal behavior; lying about the details of a legal business transaction in response to media inquiries; and falsely claiming to be a talent scout in order to attract women.

Perhaps the most egregiously catch-all statutes are those governing mail and wire fraud. They assign criminal penalties to any "scheme or artifice to defraud" as long as the defendant could foresee that someone would use either the U.S. Postal Service or any form of electronic communication in (perhaps inadvertent) furtherance of the scheme as it unfolded. Yet these statutes lack any explicit language requiring a showing of harm, and the courts have not inferred or supplied such a requirement. Today criminal liability attaches to "any scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services" in the above areas. Such vague and capacious language gives overzealous prosecutors a virtual carte blanche to indict.

President Obama has nominated David Strickland to be administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As the Blog of the Legal Times reports, Strickland has been a Democratic staffer on the Senate Commerce Committee since 2001, senior counsel for the consumer protection subcommittee. (The subcommittee where the awful Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was written.) More from BLT:

Strickland was two years behind Obama at Harvard Law School. He was an associate at what was then Wiley, Rein & Fielding from 1993 to 1996. He served as associate director of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America from 1996 to 2001, and registered as a lobbyist for the group for at least some of that time.

The NHTSA is one of the agencies most targeted by the American Association for Justice -- the former Association of Trial Lawyers of America -- for regulatory submissions, news releases, and general inveighing against. AAJ's lobbyists will be pleased to have one of their former colleagues in charge, no doubt.

Meanwhile, at the Federal Trade Commission, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz has announced the appointment of Cecelia Prewett as Director of the Office of Public Affairs: "Prewett has 15 years of experience in communications. She joins the agency from the American Association for Justice, where she was Vice President for Strategic Communications."

And here's AAJ's news release when the group hired Prewett in 2008: "Washington, DC--The American Association for Justice (AAJ) has appointed Cecelia Prewett to the newly created position of Vice President, Strategic Communications. Prewett will manage the day-to-day operations of the War Room and will be AAJ's chief communications strategist."

The AAJ's political influence amid its organizational turmoil is really one of the most undercovered stories in Washington. In September, The Washington Times had a blockbuster story, "Trial lawyers lobby sinks $6.2M in debt," reporting, "The trial lawyers lobby has been awash in debt and bleeding members - just as it embarks on a national campaign to block any clampdown on medical malpractice lawsuits as part of President Obama's health care overhaul."

But there's been no follow up. Any business trade association in similar straits -- straits which include a botched real estate deal -- would draw more scrutiny from the Fourth Estate, we think.

An earlier proposal from Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland would have grabbed cy pres class action leftovers for the benefit of legal aid. [Dayton Daily News] Relatedly on leftover lawsuit slush funds: "Northwestern Law Study Takes Aim At 'Faux Class Actions'" [WSJ Law Blog]; Paul Karlsgodt and more; "Cy Pres? No Way!" (Drug and Device Law); chewing tobacco settlement results in cy pres bonanza for nonprofit legal aid groups [The Recorder].

"United States Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) introduced legislation [last month] that would require the loser to pay the winner in some medical malpractice suits. The Fair Resolution of Medical Liability Disputes Act of 2009 would require initial nonbinding arbitration for med mal claims prior to going to court. Either party could reject the arbiter's decision and proceed to trial. However, by so doing, the loser-pays mandate is activated." It would apply where a party did less well than the offer it had spurned, unless a judge finds the shift "unjust", and would cover only costs incurred after the arbiter's decision. [Robinette, TortsProf; Atlanta Journal-Constitution; David Dunlap/Charleston Post and Courier]

Around the web, December 8

  • Searle Center at Northwestern releases new interim report on how creditor claims fare in arbitration and in court;
  • Previewing the Supreme Court arguments on "honest services fraud" law [WSJ Law Blog]
  • Trial lawyers ask Missouri Supreme Court to strike down legislated damage limits [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
  • Three Kane County, Ill. judicial candidates won't accept money from attorneys, are scoffed at by those who do [Daily Herald]
  • "Pigs get fat, Mississippi got slaughtered" in AG Hood's Zyprexa-pricing suit [Beck & Herrmann]
  • Jack McConnell of Motley Rice, picked by Rhode Island senators for federal judgeship, was generous political donor who recycled tobacco money into lead-paint crusade [Public Nuisance Wire and more, Providence Journal]

An Arizona vote on liability reform?

"Arizona is one of a handful of states with constitutional provisions that bar lawmakers from setting limits on jury verdicts." Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, is thinking of asking voters to change that.

Sen. Arlen Specter vs. Sen. Jeff Sessions, in the WSJ letters column.

Sen. Ensign's med-mal amendment went down 32-66 [AP] Commentary: White Coat.

Blawg Review #241

It's hosted by Colin Samuels at Infamy and Praise this week, with a Pearl Harbor theme.

"When can't New York take your land?"

Steve Malanga on the Columbia eminent domain decision, in the New York Post.

Sarbanes-Oxley before the Supreme Court

Today the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the constitutionality of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). Larry Ribstein: "I've been watching the SOX debacle play out for seven years. It will be interesting to see how this ends." More: Hans Bader, Examiner and earlier; WSJ Law Blog; our earlier coverage.

In the mail: the new book by Nicole Gelinas (Manhattan Institute) on the financial crisis and its lessons. An informative webpage is here which includes high praise for the book from historians John Steele Gordon and Amity Shlaes, scholar/judge Richard Posner, and business professor Luigi Zingales.

Global Class Actions Exchange

A Stanford Law School online resource (via Hartley):

The Global Class Actions Exchange is an outgrowth of an international conference on the worldwide spread of class actions, group proceedings and other forms of collective litigation. It includes country reports; statutes, rules and important cases related to class actions and group litigation; commentary on global developments; contact information for experts who research or practice in the class action or group litigation area; and news of conferences and other events of interest to scholars and practitioners.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted 12-7 to approve the nomination of former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler Jr. to be U.S. District Court Judge for the Western District of Wisconsin.

Appointed to the state Supreme Court by Gov. Jim Doyle, Butler wrote several opinions that dismayed business groups and doctors. As summarized by The Wall Street Journal in a Nov. 19 editorial:

In Ferdon v. Wisconsin Partners, he drew the rage of doctors and others when he dismantled the state's limit on noneconomic damages in medical malpractices cases--the kind of tort reform that had been serving the state well. Business groups were likewise floored by his decision in Thomas v. Mallet, which allowed "collective liability" in lead paint cases--making any company a potential target, regardless of whether they made the paint in question. His nickname as a public defender was "Loophole Louis," a name that stuck when, as a judge, he was considered to be soft on crime.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking Republican, cited both cases in objecting to Butler's record and argued that Butler displayed an "extreme activist judicial philosophy and a temperament as such that disqualifies him for a lifetime appointment." Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) also criticized Butler's disregard for precedent, citing the issue of malpractice caps and tying that ruling into the Senate's discussions of health care reform.

Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) hailed Butler's record, qualifications, and intellect and called him, as an African-America "a trailblazer in our state." Feingold also rejected the argument that, since Wisconsin voters had twice defeated Butler at the polls he should not rise to the federal bench.

(The discussion of Butler's nomination starts about 50 minutes into the committee's webcast.)

Gregory Garre, who as U.S. Solicitor General argued the Ashcroft v. Iqbal case before the U.S. Supreme Court (transcript), testified Wednesday at the Senate Judiciary Commitee's hearing, "Has the Supreme Court Limited Americans' Access to Courts?" His 41-page prepared statement is an excellent discussion of pleadings standards and the implications of the Iqbal and Twombly cases.

Also, as a former government official himself, Garre seems especially concerned about the effect of proposed legislation -- such as Sen. Arlen Specter's S. 1504 -- of the use of permissive pleadings to undermine or evade qualified immunity. His conclusion:

There is no reason for Congress to override the time-honored judicial rulemaking process when it comes to evaluating or addressing the Twombly and Iqbal decisions. Indeed, the threshold nature of pleading standards and the interaction between Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and other rules (e.g., Rule 12(b)(6) and Rule 15) make this an issue that is particularly well-suited for the expertise and deliberative attention of the Judicial Conference of the United States in carrying out its statutory duty to engage in "a continuous study of the operation and effect of the general rules of practice and procedure." 28 U.S.C. ยง 331.

Also testifying were two critics of the Iqbal decision, John Payton of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (statement), and Stephen Burbank of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Chairman Patrick Leahy and Sen. Russell Feingold also had prepared statements (here and here, respectively).

Earlier Point of Law posts here.

Ilya Somin at Volokh analyzes yesterday's ruling.

The Senate last evening confirmed David Michaels to become Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, that is, OSHA administrator.

His approval came on a voice vote as part of a package of nominees. Thus, this controversial nominee (see Point of Law posts) won confirmation without a public Senate committee hearing or a Senate floor debate to examine his views or record.

The lack of accountability is dismaying.

FCPA Professor has some thoughts about heightened pressure on companies to disclose not only actual violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, but "potential" violations that might on inspection prove to be no violations at all.

Reining in Florida AG contracting

State Sen. John Thrasher, a frequent trial lawyer target, is proposing a bill that would cap fees of state outside counsel at a mere $50 million. Who's going to lift a finger for a mere $50 million? [Jacksonville.com]

Bailout for union pension plans?

Watch out for the proposed Preserve Benefits and Jobs Act of 2009 (Pomeroy, D-N.D. and Tiberi, R-Ohio), which could serve as the vehicle for billions more in bailouts directed at mismanaged unions and pension funds, warns Diana Furchtgott-Roth at Real Clear Politics.

Intense status competition leads to some artificial and wasteful practice [WSJ Law Blog, NLJ]:

  • Administrators are spending significant amount of money on brochures and marketing materials that they send to other law schools and judges to gin up better results on the reputation survey.

  • Some schools categorize students as part-time or probationary so their LSAT scores would not count, although U.S. News recently started including part-time students in its analysis.

  • Other schools hired graduates on a temporary basis so they would be considered employed for the U.S. News survey.

Canada: "Class actions on a roll"

The Financial Post surveys the burgeoning state of group litigation up there.

Byron Stier of Mass Tort Lit has also contributed (before the fact; SSRN) some thoughts relevant to the "jackpot justice" discussion between Tim Lytton and Ted Frank earlier. [Lahav, Mass Tort Lit]

Around the web, December 3

All-New York edition:

  • New York "ranks dead last in 18 of 28 legal categories" on litigation cost, per new Pacific Research Institute report [Lawrence McQuillan, "An Empire Disaster: Why New York's Tort System is Broken and How to Fix It", report in PDF, related McQuillan NY Daily News op-ed with Mark Kriss, NY Post, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle and editorial, NJLRA]
  • NY court: doctors can be sued over defense medical exams approving return to work [Turkewitz]
  • Albany's Empire State Plaza ranks among nation's worst architectural crimes [Ann Althouse] And is the New York capital's 9/11 memorial the very worst in the nation, or merely one of the worst? [same]
  • Interlocking organizations surrounding Working Families Party are subject of investigative series in the publication City Hall News [first of series; Henry Stern/NY Civic]
  • "New York State Legislature Passes New Anti-Subrogation Law" [Roy Mura/Coverage Counsel via Eric Turkewitz, who notes that this "is one bill that I've lobbied for in the past with the New York State Trial Lawyer's Association."]
  • Court rebuffs ex-Congressman (and Pace Law School dean) Richard Ottinger over SLAPP suit he filed against critical online commenter [Online Media Daily, Bayard/Citizen Media Law] Goldman Sachs fails in bid to shut down critical website GoldmanSachs666.com, but its owner suffered a heart attack and had to step down from running site during the legal battle [Kevin Funnell]

Hood rebuffed in Zyprexa case

"Calling Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood's lawsuit against Eli Lilly & Co. a 'slash-and-burn style of litigation,' the federal judge overseeing Zyprexa lawsuits has granted Lilly summary judgment." [LNL]

[Judge Jack] Weinstein wrote that a ruling in favor of Mississippi could have been dangerous.

"If allowed to proceed in their entirety, the State's claims could result in serious harm or bankruptcy for this defendant and the pharmaceutical industry generally," he wrote.

"For the legal system to be used for this slash-and-burn style of litigation would arguably constitute an abuse of the legal process. Constitutional, statutory and common law rights of those injured to seek relief from the courts must be recognized. But courts cannot be used as an engine of an industry's destruction."

Judge Weinstein did leave alive one of the state's claims. The drug maker has paid to settle the claims of numerous other states, many of them represented (as was Mississippi) by entrepreneurial Houston law firm Bailey Perrin Bailey. More: Beck & Herrmann, Longstreth/AmLaw Litigation Daily.

Healthcare and Tort Reform

I have an opinion piece in the December issue of Metropolitan Corporate Counsel that addresses the litigation reform proposal, section 2351, in the House health-care reform bill. In substance, this piece is a more detailed version of my earlier New York Post op-ed on the subject, already linked by Walter here.

In this newer column, I note that "president's call for demonstration projects that try new ideas is welcome"; even though damage caps and other "traditional" tort reforms have been proven effective at lowering costs, other yet-untried reforms might do even more on that front -- and could also do more to "reduc[e] the time it takes to receive compensation from injury, weed[] out bad suits, and reach[] determinations on questions of negligence and causation more based on science than jury sympathy." E.g.,

The Manhattan Institute has called for changing the way the legal system handles settlements and attorney fees - through early-offer systems and offer-of-judgment reforms - that would reduce the incidence of weak suits (and improve compensation for high-quality, low-value claims). Public health researchers at Harvard have echoed Covington & Burling's Philip Howard in arguing for specialized health courts that take medical malpractice out of the traditional civil courts altogether.

Unfortunately, as we have documented on this site, the Pelosi bill "is more geared toward protecting the trial bar's interests than in giving real alternatives a try":

The bill authorizes funding for "early offer" reforms, but its restrictions on damage- and fee-limitations would preclude any workable early-offer ideas, including the Manhattan Institute's suggested reforms and alternative ideas developed by University of Virginia torts professor Jeffrey O'Connell. The bill has no provision to encourage health courts at all.

Instead, what the bill offers to fund are merely "certificate of merit" proposals, Section 2351(a)(4)(A). Although such proposals can help to weed out bad lawsuits - particularly if legislation calls for panels with robust authority to screen claims - in practice, certificate-of-merit reforms often amount to little more than requiring that a plaintiffs' lawyer obtain an affidavit from a doctor before proceeding to discovery. Since any decent med-mal claim requires expert witness testimony anyway, such reforms do very little indeed, which is why even plaintiffs' lawyer John Edwards embraced them as a presidential candidate.

A generous court decision amounts to free money for some California injury plaintiffs. [Recorder, Cal Biz Lit and more]

Around the web, December 2

Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute is the author of the recent "Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed," and with his CEI colleagues has been reporting on the unauthorized release of documents from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of East Anglia University. In a Monday op-ed in The Examiner, he touched on the legal elements of the scandal, "Climate-gate e-mails released by whistleblower, not hacker," commenting that the involved scientists "have likely retained counsel with defensive purposes in mind."

Major litigation is under way in which plaintiffs claim damages caused from global warming, a topic addressed in today's USA Today story, "Lawsuits put global warming on more dockets." Yet the implications of Climategate on these suits has drawn little attention. (See Point of Law post, "Climategate: So who sues whom?")

So we asked Horner about the legal issues. He responded:

I suggest that the biggest impact of these affirmations -- remember, they are not revelations as for years I and others have specifically been naming these names and describing these actions now admitted to -- could well be how no court will simply take judicial notice now of any claims attributed to the IPCC, for which the work at issue in these documents serves as a basic foundation.

That implicates the idea that the science must now be debated before proceeding. That bodes very poorly for plaintiffs and the legal strategy of the alarmist industry in general. For nuisance, ESA, you name it.

For the same reasons EPA's regulatory threat is now even less menacing or sincere than it was a week before.

From there you proceed into issues of potential legal liability, for transparency and other laws broken, possible RICO exposure, and other legal fallout for the principals.

In related developments, CEI on Nov. 24 filed three Notices of Intent to File Suit against NASA and its Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), for refusing to provide documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act. The CEI news release states: "The information sought is directly relevant to the exploding "Climategate" scandal revealing document destruction, coordinated efforts in the U.S. and UK to avoid complying with both countries' freedom of information laws, and apparent and widespread intent to defraud at the highest levels of international climate science bodies."

"Illinois rejects Tarasoff"

Saying no to a liberal California precedent on the question of whether medical providers have a duty to warn others of patients' potential for violence. (Tedrick v. Community Resources Center, Inc., PDF via Robinette/TortsProf).

Five years after the state addressed medical malpractice litigation reform, the Natchez Democrat -- as well as one doctor in the Southern city -- draw some lessons for the national debate.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.