Products Liability
The topic of product liability law arises so often in the media today that some brief explanation of its scope, origins, and impact might prove useful. This short essay is intended to be a primer for those who appreciate the importance of the topic, but would like some guidance on how to think about it more rigorously. . . .  Continue reading...

February 06, 2008

Suicide risk of anticonvulsants?

The scare was in the papers this week and might scare some epileptics and other patients off drugs like Depakote, Lyrica and Neurontin. Where did it originate? The Last Psychiatrist says a personal injury lawyer from New York has been campaigning for years to forward adverse event reports to the FDA with the aim of establishing such a link; it's still early to draw any conclusions, though, the numbers at the moment being thin and hard to interpret.

Posted by Walter Olson at 10:39 AM | TrackBack (0)

January 31, 2008

Altria departs New York...

...and its profitable international division departs the U.S. entirely, to reincorporate in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the legal environment is more disapproving of expropriation. Hans Bader has some thoughts on capital flight.

Posted by Walter Olson at 04:19 PM | TrackBack (0)

January 19, 2008

Paul Offit podcast

The physician/author, an expert on vaccines and the law, is interviewed by the Manhattan Institute's Paul Howard.

Posted by Walter Olson at 07:34 AM | TrackBack (0)

January 14, 2008

Lead paint lawsuit news

The briefing in the Rhode Island appeal is scheduled: briefing for appeals and cross-appeals of the main judgment is due January 31, and oral argument will be May 15. Richard Faulk and John Gray have a good overview of the problems with the Rhode Island litigation for WLF.

In Ohio, a referendum effort to repeal the anti-market-share-liability bill appears to have failed to gather the signatures needed.

The industry appears to have its own website which, while not as comprehensive as it could be, includes a good deal of data on the status of various litigations.

And, of course, there is lots of Point of Law coverage and coverage at Legal Newsline. The Institute for Legal Reform also has a number of papers on the public-nuisance phenomenon, including an excellent Washburn Law Review article by Victor Schwartz and Phil Goldberg.

Posted by Ted Frank at 10:16 AM | TrackBack (0)

January 08, 2008

Another thimerosal study...

...and another stinging rebuff to the "mercury militia", RFK Jr., and mass tort organizers galore: California data show no declines in new autism diagnoses after the preservative was taken out of vaccines, per a new study in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Orac at Respectful Insolence has more.

Posted by Walter Olson at 12:19 PM | TrackBack (0)

January 02, 2008

UK government: "Warning: too much information can harm"

Wouldn't it be nice if the US product liability laws for "failure to warn" consistently recognized the same common-sense principle that the British government does? Compare: John Edwards or the controversy over the Bush FDA recognition of the dangers of overwarning.

Posted by Ted Frank at 09:30 AM | TrackBack (0)

December 11, 2007

Minnesota as the new Madison County

I appreciated this ABA Journal article on the rise of Minnesota as a products liability (and general torts) magnet.

Minnesota has one of the nation's longest statutes of limitations (6 years for negligence suits and 4 years for "strict liability" products suits). In addition, only Minnesota allows an out-of-state resident to pursue an out-of-state defendant (who need only be authorized to do business in the state) even if the plaintiff's suit would b time-barred in the plaintiff's own state. The combination of these two rules has made it possible for plaintiffs to revive "dead" suits by suing in federal court in Minnesota -- about 93% of drug and medical device cases filed in the state since 2004 have been filed by out-of-state plaintiffs, the overwhelming majority of which would have been time-barred not only in the plaintiff's home state but in every other state.

Minnesota's unique configuration of rules (arrived at somewhat by mistake, as the article demonstrates) makes a mockery of federalism.

Posted by Michael Krauss at 02:25 PM | TrackBack (0)

December 06, 2007

Lottery Litigation Dept.: Jeff Tamraz welding verdict

Welding equipment manufacturers had won 16 out of 17 cases alleging damages from welding fumes, cases that were based on questionable scientific evidence and sometimes even out-and-out fraud. But when damages are unbounded, the trial bar can make a profit on bogus product-liability claims just on the random mistakes juries make, and a $20.5 million verdict in federal litigation in Ohio is evidence of that. Over 3000 more cases remain pending in federal court in Ohio. (Scruggs Law Firm press releaseDamian G. Guevara, "Lincoln Electric ordered to pay welder sickened by fumes $17.5 million", Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Dec. 5; Erichson blog). (The $17.5 million in the newspaper headlines does not reflect the separate $3 million loss of consortium claim. (h/t S.R.)) The defendants' press release note that plaintiffs have been forced to voluntarily dismiss with prejudice thousands of cases already, and failed to recover any damages for any of their nine "showcase" plaintiffs. In April 2006, the Illinois Supreme Court denied an appeal of the only other plaintiffs' verdict. If this verdict stands (and there's a good chance of reversal in the Sixth Circuit on Daubert grounds), defendants will have won 16 out of 18 cases, but plaintiffs will be averaging over $1 million of recovery a case. See also Apr. 4.

Posted by Ted Frank at 10:53 AM | TrackBack (0)

November 24, 2007

A Vioxx settlement question

Can an Illinois family qualify as beneficiaries even though it lost a jury verdict in its suit against Merck? Does it make a difference that the family has moved for a retrial?

Posted by Walter Olson at 12:22 AM | TrackBack (0)

November 23, 2007

Chrysler: this time, we need a jury

Q. In what sounds like an otherwise garden-variety crashworthiness case against Chrysler, when is one somehow not surprised to learn that the automaker defendant -- and not just the plaintiff, as would be the usual order of events -- is insisting on its right to a jury rather than bench trial?

A. When the case is filed in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas and has landed in the court of federal judge John T. Ward, of recent automotive-suit fame.

Posted by Walter Olson at 12:09 AM | TrackBack (0)