Results matching “welding”

Around the web, December 29 - PointOfLaw Forum

  • No class certification in light cigarette class action in Maine. [Jackson; In re Light Cigarettes Mktg. Sales Pract. Lit. (D. Me. 2010)]

  • The silly Happy Meal lawsuit; meanwhile, South LA's "temporary" fast-food ban has turned permanent. [Olson @ NYDN; Reason]
  • Mississippi court reverses one of the few welding plaintiffs' verdicts on statute-of-limitations grounds. The mass tort—which apparently featured more than its share of mass tort fraud—has petered away as the defendants put up a firm defense instead of settling. [Wajert]
  • "The dangerous allure of behavioral economics." [Richard Epstein @ TOTM]
  • Unintended consequences and the incandescent bulb ban. [Carney @ Washington Examiner]
  • Vioxx MDL awards plaintiffs' committee $315 million, which isn't unreasonable for a $4.85 billion settlement. [American Lawyer; opinion]
  • In a Wisconsin case, the Brady Center does a very good job in finding a distasteful defendant to promote a legal theory of nuisance and liability for selling guns illegally. [WSJ]
  • Federalist Society debate on the constitutionality of healthcare reform, featuring Barnett, Cordray, Fried, and Rivkin. [Fed Soc]

Here's a little exercise using Google News Search, seeking the terms: "automated, external, defibrillator, saved, life." We learn that indeed the devices do -- save lives, that is. For example...

It just occurred to us to conduct the search after looking through the litigation groups meeting at the American Association for Justice's upcoming summer convention in San Francisco. And there it is, 10 a.m., Tuesday, July 28, "Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Litigation Group Meeting."

Wonder how many lives that meeting will save?

Which is our way of offering the list of the 75 litigation group meetings cited in the AAJ's convention schedule:

NuvaRing Litigation Group Meeting
Welding Rods Litigation Group Meeting
Vaccines Litigation Group Meeting
Pain Pump-Chondrolysis Litigation Group Meeting
Child Sex Abuse Litigation Group Meeting
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (RSD) Litigation Group Meeting
Nursing Home Litigation Group Meeting
Benzene/Leukemia Litigation Group Meeting

Around the web, February 19 - PointOfLaw Forum

  • Did auditors of funds that lost money with Madoff have a duty to check whether/warn that he was using bottom-of-barrel accountants? [WSJ law blog]
  • Retroactivity, the people's friend? "Judge: Exxon May Be Sued for Natural Resource Damage Done Prior to Passage of N.J. Spill Act" [NJLJ, earlier]
  • Florida regulators stage tantrum against insurers seeking to leave its underpriced, overrisky homeowners market [CEI Open Market, earlier]
  • What the new TARP rules on executive compensation mean in practice [Hodak Value]
  • "Another Welding Rod Defense Verdict" [Cal Biz Lit]
  • Whistleblower bar wins big in stimulus bill with massive new provisions covering local governments, federal contractors [Whistleblower Law Blog]

We've discussed Lester Brickman's important work on rampant fraud and misdiagnosis in asbestos, silicosis and fen-phen mass screenings, and now the Cardozo lawprof is out with an SSRN paper entitled "The Use of Litigation Screenings in Mass Torts: A Formula for Fraud?" with some sobering estimates of the scope of the problem. Abstract:

Lawyers obtain the "mass" for some mass tort litigations by conducting screenings to sign-up potential litigants en masse. These "litigation screenings" have no intended medical benefit. Screenings are mostly held in motels, shopping center parking lots, local union offices and lawyers' offices. There, an occupational history is taken by persons with no medical training, a doctor may do a cursory physical exam, and medical technicians administer tests, including X-rays, pulmonary function tests, echocardiograms and blood tests. The sole purpose of screenings is to generate "medical" evidence of the existence of an injury to be attributed to exposure to or ingestion of defendants' products. Usually a handful of doctors ("litigation doctors") provide the vast majority of the thousands and tens of thousands of medical reports prepared for that litigation.

By my count, approximately 1,500,000 potential litigants have been screened in the asbestos, silica, fen-phen (diet drugs), silicone breast implant, and welding fume litigations. Litigation doctors found that approximately 1,000,000 of those screened had the requisite condition that could qualify for compensation, such as asbestosis, silicosis, moderate mitral or mild aortic value regurgitation or a neurological disorder. I further estimate that lawyers have spent at least $500 million and as much as $1 billion to conduct these litigation screenings, paying litigation doctors and screening companies well in excess of $250 million, and obtaining contingency fees well in excess of $13 billion.

On the basis of the evidence I review in this article, I conclude that approximately 900,000 of the 1,000,000 claims generated were based on "diagnoses" of the type that U.S. District Court Judge Janis Jack, in the silica MDL, found were "manufactured for money."

Around the web, August 22 - PointOfLaw Forum

All-toxic-tort edition:

New areas for litigation - PointOfLaw Forum

As the American Association for Justice concludes its annual convention in Philadelphia, we bid farewell by taking a look at the list of the 66 litigation groups , highlighting the proposed groups that met.

  • Bisphenol - A/Phthalates Proposed Litigation Group
  • Motorcycles Proposed Litigation Group
  • Digitek Proposed Litigation Group Meeting
  • Chiropractic Malpractice Proposed Litigation Group
  • Walmart-Proposed Litigation Group
  • Nuva Ring Proposed Litigation Group
  • Chantix Proposed Litigation Group

So I rode my motorcycle over to Walmart to buy some nice, soft plastic toys and refill my stop-smoking prescription. Man, threw out my back....Is there a lawyer for me?

Around the web, May 6 - PointOfLaw Forum

  • NY judges' deplorable "Black Robe Flu" slowdown aimed at Albany lawmakers' firms [Giacalone; also see Overlawyered and my comment at NYPIAB]; Judith Kaye issues denial [NYLJ]; Kaye in judge-pay suit wants Sheldon Silver to disclose what he gets from Weitz & Luxenberg [NY Post edit]; and will a Buffalo judge kick W&L off its representation of Erie County in drug-pricing suit, with its potentially huge contingency fee? [NY Post, Buffalo News] And isn't it kinda weird that the NYT still hasn't covered this?
  • Employee's having obtained and sold confidential business information no bar to winning FMLA verdict against Chase that could reach $7.6 million [Fulton County Daily Report]
  • Welding rod defendants holding off the courtroom onslaught? [Fisk, Bloomberg via ABA Journal; earlier]
  • Alabama's drug-pricing, oil-royalty suits stoke memories of the state's old reputation for insider justice [Tucker/AVALA, Huntsville Times]
  • "Very bad idea": bill co-sponsored by Obama to force firms to identify and disclose their major beneficial owners [Bainbridge]
  • "Lawsuit Reform Huge Boost to Texas Economy" per report by economist Ray Perryman for Texans for Lawsuit Reform Foundation [release; McAllen Monitor]
  • Mustn't condone tobacco companies funding research that might prevent lung cancer deaths, they've got a conflict of interest after all [Shaywitz/T. Stossel, TWS]

Lottery Litigation Dept.: Jeff Tamraz welding verdict - PointOfLaw Forum

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.

Federalist Society Class Action Watch - PointOfLaw Forum

The latest Class Action Watch from the Federalist Society is out:

In this issue, Ted Frank looks at the issues surrounding �the Vioxx class actions� against the drug company Merck, which have continued to mestastasize since the recall this fall. Margaret Little considers the wider ramifi cations of the indictment of Milberg Weiss, the nation�s largest class action firm. David Owsiany reviews the Ohio controversy, in which a class action firm was recently and for the first time barred from a court over deceitful representation in an asbestos litigation case. John Shu provides an overview of the late Verizon settlement, one of the largest in American history. Tara Fumerton weighs a possible trend in Illinois supreme court rulings, and two of our members ask whether the welding fume litigation has come to an end.

"It's Over"? - PointOfLaw Forum

I just came from a talk by an ATLA officer boasting of the "record number" of trial lawyers elected to the House and Senate, and return to read Alison Frankel in The American Lawyer announce "The power of the plaintiffs bar is on the wane in this country, and will be for a long time to come."

The story nicely catalogs a variety of reform victories in a relatively plaintiff-friendly way (e.g., "Business interests learned that if state judges didn't vote their way, they could replace those judges with others who would", ignoring that it was the plaintiffs' bar who put those judges on the bench in the first place, and financed an attack on reformer judges in Alabama), but ignores underplays setbacks in Wisconsin and Louisiana courts, and the regrouping of the asbestos bar in Delaware. [Correction: Frankel correctly points out in an email that her piece did have a sentence reading "The relatively sleepy Wisconsin Coalition for Civil Justice Reform was just energized by a series of pro-plaintiff state supreme court rulings, and plans to campaign in nonpartisan judicial elections in April"; the piece mentions Delaware in passing, also. I regret the overstatement. Frankel's full e-mail is after the jump.]

Has the plaintiffs' bar peaked? Well, if in the sense that there will never be another fen-phen-like settlement that allows attorneys to steal billions of dollars, and that the defense bar is now warier of the most egregious abuses of the plaintiffs' bar. But fraud continues apace in the plaintiffs' bar in the Vioxx, welding, and asbestos litigations; the plaintiffs' bar is extraordinarily well-funded and seeking new entrepreneurial opportunities to create profitable new causes of action; ATLA is planning an aggressive counterattack with voters and all three branches of government, not to mention the law schools; and Congress, with Sarbanes-Oxley alone, has done about as much to abet the plaintiffs' bar in the last six years as it has to stymie it. Reformers have achieved a lot of success in the last ten years and eliminated a fraction of the worst abuses in the system. But contrary to the title of the piece, it's not "Over."

Today's WSJ [subscription required] has a nice piece on the mini-tort-war currently being raged in the welding industry.

Two issues are involved here:

1) Scientific research has been at odds over whether exposure to manganese in welding rods can lead to neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease, which diminishes movement and speech. And

2) whether or not manganese can lead to Parkinsons or a similar disease, is welding rods' manufacturers' warning that their rods are potentially hazardous to health sufficient to protect against such claims?

3800 federal "welding cases" have been consolidated before a District judge in Cleveland, and the first decision, involving Ernesto Solis, a 57-year-old former welder who has tremors in his right hand, just came down in the defense's favor. The jury found that the warning on the welding rods was adequate -- this was the best possible outcome for the defense. State suits are also pending, however, and not all warnings were identical, so it is not clear yet that the outcome in the Solis case is a harbinger for the subsequent cases.

As I've pointed out on many occasions, this and many other products issues are really an end run around the prohibition to sue employers in workers' comp. cases. Were it not for workers' compensation, our "crisis" might be about employers instead of manufacturers.

Welding rod shenanigans - PointOfLaw Forum

Golly gee whiz, some lawyers are saying, we never thought our own clients would be fibbing in their claims. The Washington Examiner isn't buying that excuse, though. More: Jan. 9 and links from there.

Forbes on welding rod litigation - PointOfLaw Forum

"Once touted as the next asbestos, a mass tort involving welding rods is starting to look like a textbook case in the manufacturing of an epidemic." Mary Ellen Egan at Forbes has more on the litigation in which plaintiff's attorneys Dickie Scruggs and John (Don) Barrett, backed by Milwaukee physician Paul Nausieda, charge that manganese in welding fumes causes Parkinson's or other neurological impairments (see here, here and here).

Welding: Boren loses; Dewey Morgan caught lying - PointOfLaw Forum

Surveillance video caught Dewey Morgan, the plaintiff in the next-scheduled welding MDL trial, getting on and driving a tractor, carrying groceries and doing vigorous yard work. Which was surprising, because Morgan had claimed that fumes from welding had completely disabled him with neurological injuries such that he couldn't do those things, and because Dr. Paul Nausieda had supposedly diagnosed him (as well as approximately 75% of the other plaintiffs in the multi-district litigation) with these disabling injuries. Defendants' suspicions had been raised by a May 2005 police report describing Morgan wrestling his 25-year-old son to the ground. A fire medic who had visited the Morgan residents on several occasions in response to domestic disturbances testified that Morgan had never used a cane or walker. (Morgan had asked for 16-hour-per-day attendant care and structural modifications for his home.) In a deposition, Morgan admitted lying. Nevertheless, he will take his case to a jury.

Plaintiffs had previously said Morgan's claims of welding injury are "representative of hundreds, even thousands, of similarly situated plaintiffs." The defendants have asked for sanctions and judicial scrutiny into the other diagnoses by Nausieda.

In other welding litigation news, an Illinois jury rejected Missourian Steve Boren's claims (Nov. 21) that welding caused his Parkinson's Disease. Defendants have won two out of three cases in Madison County, but, that's little deterrence in the world of lottery litigation when the third verdict is for seven figures. (Steve Horrell, "Jury rejects claims made by welder", Edwardsville Intelligencer, Dec. 5; Ann Knef, "Madison County jury rules for defense in weld rod trial", Madison County Record, Dec. 1).

Missouri resident Steve Boren's suit against several welding-rod manufacturers accusing them of causing his Parkinson's disease is now proceeding in Madison County, Illinois. Press coverage hasn't yet mentioned whether Boren has a legitimate reason to be bringing his suit across in a state different than the one he lives. Boren's testified that he knew that he was supposed to use protective equipment, but thought the warnings were just for respiratory diseases, and is claiming that had he been warned about the risk for Parkinson's from welding (a risk that lacks evidence even now), he would've avoided his injury. (Brian Brueggemann, "Welder seeks money after getting disease", Belleville News-Democrat, Nov. 21; Ann Knef, "Medical expert testifies in weld rod trial", Madison County Record, Nov. 8).

Madison County is home to the only jury that has awarded damages in a welding case in the ten cases tried so far. The plaintiffs' bar is already engaging in mass screening in hopes of turning welding litigation into the next asbestos. Seventy percent of the 4500 welding cases before a Cleveland federal judge became involved through mass screenings; only 14% incurred medical expenses before suing; some 40% have previously sued for asbestos or silica exposure and are repeat litigants. In August, MDL Judge Kathleen McDonald O'Malley ruled that she will not preclude plaintiffs' experts on a Daubert motion, however. (Timothy Aeppel, "Plaintiffs in Welding-Fumes Case Win a Skirmish in Federal Court", Wall Street Journal, Jul. 26; Lorraine Woellert, "A Break For The Defense", Business Week, Nov. 7). See also Aug. 22.

In May, the largest epidemiological cohort study done on the issue to date, of nearly 10,000 Danish welders, found welders at no increased risk of developing Parkinson�s disease. (Jon P. Fryzek et al., "A Cohort Study of Parkinson�s Disease and Other Neurodegenerative Disorders in Danish Welders", Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, May 2005). The Welding Rod Information Network has a full list of studies on the subject.

"Rodzilla" and trade association liability - PointOfLaw Forum

Legal Affairs takes a look at Dickie Scruggs's effort to pin legal blame on industrial suppliers over Parkinson's-like symptoms in welders; the connection if any of the symptoms to the inhalation of welding fumes is much disputed. A 6,000-suit consolidated action, led by a Mississippi plaintiff, is expected to reach trial this summer. Although the relevant source of the fumes is the manganese contained in welding rods, Scruggs is also attempting to tag with liability a variety of other deep-pocket entities related to the welding business at one distance or another, including members of its trade association, who he claims are guilty of conspiracy. Key passage:

During a pretrial motion in [Judge Kathleen] O'Malley's courtroom, George Ruttinger of Crowell & Moring in Washington, D.C., struggled to extricate the $30 billion company Caterpillar from the fight. He argued that the plaintiffs hadn't specified what role, if any, his client had played in the alleged conspiracy. "Caterpillar doesn't make these," he said, holding up a welding rod. "Caterpillar makes these." The lawyer unwrapped a toy version of an earthmover. Caterpillar and its fellow defendants, Ruttinger continued, were being penalized for joining the trade association -� which was "probably inconsistent" with the First Amendment right to association.

But O'Malley wouldn't let Caterpillar off so easily. While noting that the plaintiffs would have to prove that collusion took place, she said the defendants might have had plausible motives for conspiring to hide the ill effects of manganese �- the desire to keep products cheap. "This is bad public policy," Ruttinger grumbled. "The idea that someone can undertake a duty just by joining a trade association is untenable."

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