July 18, 2007
Drug and Device Law Blog has an interesting post on Why The Changing Face Of The MDL Panel Won't Change The Outcome Of Your Transfer Motion, by guest blogger Pearson N. Bownas.
Point of Law has a post criticizing the Virginia Tech compensation fund: Government Compensation Folllies, by Michael Krauss.
Products Liability Prof Blog has a post on Consumer Class Actions Usurping Personal Injury Claims, by J. David Prince.
July 17, 2007
Increasing Third Circuit Scrutiny of Mass Tort Settlements
Article in the ABA Journal -- Philadelphia Fee-dom: The 3rd Circuit tackles settlements that leave clients wanting, insurers burning, by Margaret Graham Tebo. Here's an excerpt:
Much like the housing bubble, the days of huge class action settlements providing millions in attorney fees may be ready to burst, at least in one federal circuit.
The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is starting to take a hard look at settlements that provide for huge attorney fees while leaving insurance companies stuck with the bill—and sometimes leaving plaintiffs claiming they got less than their fair share.
For years, critics say, it worked like this: Plaintiffs lawyers would file mass tort class actions—such as those for asbestos, tobacco and other products found to cause grave harm. Then, when the company allegedly responsible for damages filed for bankruptcy protection in the face of the claims, plaintiffs lawyers would settle for an amount that provided millions of dollars in attorney fees, while leaving individual claimants with a relatively small recovery. The company was then absolved of further liability and could reorganize and emerge relatively unscathed.
But recently that structure has begun to show cracks. In some instances, insurance companies—which usually pay the bulk of these settlements—have cried foul. The companies are seeking to intervene in cases where they face huge liabilities, sometimes joining forces with unhappy claimants who feel their lawyers didn’t have their best interests at heart when they agreed to the settlements.
In one case, the 3rd Circuit revived a suit last October that had been filed by a group of asbestos workers alleging their former lead attorneys had breached their fiduciary duty in negotiating a settlement. Huber v. Taylor, 469 F.3d 67.
Congressional Investigators Criticize FDA
Article in the Wall Street Journal -- FDA Food Inspections Are Seen as Inadequate, by Jane Zhang. Here's an excerpt:
Congressional investigators are expected to tell a House subcommittee today that the Food and Drug Administration's ability to ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply is "minimal" and agency plans to overhaul its inspection regime could make a bad situation worse.
FDA officials, under fire for the recent string of high-profile food scares involving both domestic and imported foods, have been asked to appear before a House Energy and Commerce investigations subcommittee hearing to discuss the agency's food inspections.
Committee staff reviewed the system extensively and found that a shrinking inspection staff examines less than 1% of all imported food. A typical inspector in the FDA's San Francisco office examines nearly 1,000 food entries a day -- roughly one every 30 seconds, the committee report found. The agency, it says, allows importers to take possession of their high-risk goods and arrange for testing by a private laboratory. Before melamine-contaminated pet food killed and sickened thousands of pets, the FDA had never inspected those ingredients from China.
July 16, 2007
Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Settlement
Article in the New York Times -- After Abuse Settlement, an Apology to Victims, by Laurie Goodstein. Here's an excerpt:
A day after agreeing to a record $660 million settlement with 508 victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony apologized to the victims for “this terrible sin and crime” and said he hoped the settlement would bring a “final resolution.”
Four years of legal combat ended in a settlement agreement late Saturday, just two days before the scheduled start of a trial in which Cardinal Mahony would have been required to testify.
The settlement is the largest in any Roman Catholic diocese, amounting to about $1.3 million per victim. The Catholic Church in the United States has so far paid more than $2 billion in settlements and legal judgments to victims of sexual abuse and their families.
Lawyers for the archdiocese and the plaintiffs said they were still negotiating details but expected to present an agreement for approval to the judge in the trial this morning.