Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Judge Sam Pointer passed away on March 15. In his thirty years as a federal judge in Alabama, he made his mark in both civil rights and complex litigation. Readers of this blog may know him best for his work as the MDL judge in the silicone gel breast implant litigation. In that litigation, he took the path-breaking step of appointing a national science panel of court-appointed experts to weigh in on the question of medical causation. Judge Pointer served as chair of the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules, and was a major author of the Manual for Complex Litigation. Here's the Washington Post obituary and an announcement from Lightfoot, Franklin & White, where Judge Pointer practiced after he left the bench in 2000.
ALI-ABA is running a conference on mass litigation in Charleston, South Carolina, from May 29-31, 2008 with a strong faculty of judges, practitioners, and academics. Some agenda items of interest to mass tort lawyers include sessions on Negotiating Mass Litigation with Sheila Birnbaum and Joe Rice, bellwether tort trials with James Stengel, the ALI Aggregate Litigation project with Drew Berry, CAFA with Birnbaum and Elizabeth Cabraser, the mass litigation attorney-client relationship with Richard Nagareda, various sessions with Judges Rosenthal, Rothstein, and Scheindlin, and brief litigation updates on contact lens solution, MTBE, tobacco, auto, lead paint, headsets, and wireless telephones.
A federal appeals court dismissed New York City’s blanket lawsuit against the gun industry on Wednesday, ruling that a relatively new federal law protects gunmakers against third-party litigation.
The appellate ruling killed off — once and for all, perhaps — legal efforts by the city to charge gunmakers and distributors with knowingly flooding illicit, underground markets with their weapons. ....
In December 2005, Judge Jack B. Weinstein, of United States District Court in Brooklyn, allowed the suit to move forward despite protests by gunmakers like Beretta U.S.A., Browning Arms, Colt Manufacturing, Glock and Smith & Wesson, which pointed to a federal law passed two months earlier in October. That law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, banned all third-party suits against the gun industry except for those in which a plaintiff could prove that gunmakers had violated other state or federal statutes in their sales and marketing practices.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s administration argued that the gun manufacturers, by failing to monitor retail dealers closely enough, allowed guns to end up in the hands of criminals. As a result, the manufacturers created a “condition that negatively affects the public health or safety,” the city said and, thus, violated New York State’s public nuisance law.
The Second Circuit held that the New York's nuisance statute did not constitute a permissible exception under the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. The court therefore reversed Judge Weinstein's denial of the defendants' motion to dismiss. Judge Katzmann, dissenting, would have certified to the New York Court of Appeals the question of whether New York's nuisance statute is applicable to the sale and marketing of firearms.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
John Sullivan, writing for the New York Times, reports that the NY Court of Appeals has upheld the verdict. He writes:
“The evidence placed before the jury entitled it to conclude that the defendant’s negligence was, if not gross, dramatically out of the ordinary,” the court found. “The documentary proof persuasively demonstrated that the defendant, years in advance of the bombing, had been repeatedly placed on notice of a gaping vulnerability in its subgrade parking facilities rendering its premises susceptible to a potentially catastrophic car bombing; indeed, defendant was repeatedly advised, not simply to the vulnerability, but as to the precise manner in which it could with little practical difficulty be exploited to devastating effect.”....
....The Port Authority said it originally faced 575 lawsuits stemming from the 1993 attack and over the years all but about 50 have been resolved. Mr. Coleman said he did not know how much the authority has paid to settle the cases so far.