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Around the Web: March 29, 2008

  • W.R. Grace, the Criminal Trial: Strange how little media attention this case has gotten. In Missoula, Mont., the federal criminal trial continues of W.R. Grace executives charged with covering up the asbestos-related health consequences of vermiculite mining in Libby. From the Missoulian, via the Seattle Times: "In an argumentative cross-examination, the lead defense counsel for W.R. Grace & Co. suggested Wednesday that a key government witness has a personal ax to grind in claiming corporate malfeasance by Grace." Imagine that, an argumentative cross-examination. The Missoulian has a special web section devoted to the Libby asbestos issue.
  • The Howling, ESA Edition: Also from The Missoulian, "Litigation over wolves far from over": A revised rule will be published this week delisting the gray wolf as an endangered species in Montana and Wyoming. Staff attorney Jenny Harbine of EarthJustice says the group will sue. Again. "We've already shown that such a state-by-state approach to delisting is unlawful. And we will argue the recovery numbers the Fish and Wildlife Service established are inadequate for long-term sustainability."

  • Unused Arbitration: From the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times, "NC malpractice arbitration going unused": "Before it became state law in 2007, a new method of resolving lawsuits against doctors was hailed as a historic detente between physicians and trial lawyers...The two biggest malpractice insurers of North Carolina doctors say none of their clients have gone through the special kind of arbitration, which requires both sides' consent and caps damages at $1 million." David Sousa, general counsel of Medical Mutual Insurance Co., says "There are just no plaintiffs' lawyers who are going to concede at the outset that their case (isn't) worth more than what the cap is."

  • More Doctors to Sue, Now the Military: The American Association for Justice hails a new bill that would allow active service members to use the civil courts to sue for medical malpractice. The news release's headline: "Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act Will Restore Rights of Servicemembers Injured By Medical Negligence." The bill is H.R. 1478, introduced by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) with no cosponsors. The Congressman issued a news release, "Hinchey Testifies Before House Judiciary Panel on His Bill to Reverse Military Medical Malpractice Injustice." We'd count this among the "trial lawyer" earmarks being considered by Congress.

  • Nigeria Reaching into U.S. Courts: Also from the trial lawyers' association is the featured article from this month's "Trial" magazine, "Second Circuit lets Nigerian children's drug case proceed in U.S." At issue is an Alien Tort Claims Act suit against Pfizer for the 1996 trial of its anti-meningitis drug, Trovan. Pfizer issued a statement upon the court's ruling: "The Appeals Court's divided decision is only a procedural ruling that may return the cases to the District Court for further consideration; it is not a determination on their merits. Indeed, the strong dissent by one of the judges may be grounds for further appellate proceedings." In addition, patients given the drug had a higher survival rate than those who underwent other treatment.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.