June 13, 2007
Charleston Law School Conference on Punitive Damages After Williams
On September 7, 2007, Charleston Law School will host a conference: Punitive Damages, Due Process, and Deterrence: The Debate After Philip Morris v. WIlliams.
Speakers and moderators at the conference include Theodore Boutrous (Gibson Dunn), Elizabeth Cabraser (Lieff, Cabraser), Robin Conrad (U.S. Chamber of Commerce), Theodore Eisenberg (Cornell), Anthony J. Franze (Arnold & Porter), Andrew Frey (Mayer Brown), Murray Garnick (Arnold & Porter), Lauren Rosenblum Goldman (Mayer Brown), John Gotanda (Villanova), Laura Hines (Kansas), Keith Hylton (Boston), John Mulderig (Altria), Robert Peck (Center for Constitutional Litigation), Terry E. Richardson (Richardson, Patrick), Steven Rissman (Altria), Christopher Robinette (Widener), Michael Rustad (Suffolk), Sheila Scheuerman (Charleston), Victor Schwartz (Shook, Hardy), Anthony Sebok (Brooklyn), Neil Vidmar (Duke), and Judge William Wilkins (Fourth Circuit). I will be moderating a panel on "The Relationship Between Punitive Damages and Class Actions."
June 12, 2007
U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against Philip Morris Removal of "Light" Class Action
Article in the Wall Street Journal -- High Court Rules Against Philip Morris, by Jess Bravin and Mark H. Anderson. Here's an excerpt:
The Supreme Court rejected a gambit by Philip Morris Cos. to move a consumer lawsuit out of state court and into the federal system, a defeat for the tobacco company, which will now have its case heard in front of a presumably less-friendly Arkansas state judge....
The tobacco case, a proposed class-action filed in Arkansas state court, alleged that Philip Morris misleadingly advertised "light" cigarettes as delivering less tar and nicotine than they actually did. Philip Morris, a unit of Altria Group Inc., sought to remove the case to federal court, which many corporations perceive as more friendly to business interests.
Since 1999, Altria has succeeded in having a large number of pending cases switched from state courts to federal courts, where some have been dismissed. Some of the biggest verdicts against Philip Morris and other tobacco companies have arisen out of losses in state courts.
In this case, Philip Morris invoked a federal law dating from 1812 that allows removal to federal court when a private party is acting under government direction. Philip Morris argued that it was following a test prescribed by the Federal Trade Commission determining the tar and nicotine content of the light cigarettes. Removal to federal court requires more than "simply complying with the law," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the court.
June 10, 2007
United Food Group Expands Beef Recall Because of E.Coli Fears
Article in the New York Times -- Supplier Expands Beef Recall Over Concerns of E. Coli Contamination, by the Associated Press. Here's an excerpt:
A meat supplier has expanded a ground beef recall to include about 5.7 million pounds of fresh and frozen meat because they may be contaminated with E. coli.
David Goldman, acting administrator of the federal Food Safety and Inspection Service, announced on Saturday that the recall would be expanded to include products with sell-by dates from April 6 to April 20. The beef was distributed by United Food Group LLC, based in California.
Mr. Goldman said that none of the latest batch of suspect beef was in stores now because the product would be well past its expiration date, but that consumers might still have some of the meat at home.
“It is important for consumers to look in their freezers,” he said.
The meat has been blamed for an E. coli outbreak in the Western states that resulted in 14 illnesses, spanning April 25 through May 18. All the patients have recovered.