Friday, July 11, 2008
The New Mexico Supreme Court issued an opinion recently upholding a 13 state consumer class action against Allstate alleging breach of contract. The Court found that the state laws in the 13 states were sufficiently similar to New Mexico law that the case could be tried under New Mexico law. The Court carved out two other states that plaintiffs wanted to include in the suit because of different contract disclosures in those states.
The slip opinion in Ferrell v. Allstate is available here. Thanks so Tony Sebok for alerting me to this case!
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports that Judge William Bertelsman declared a mistrial in the Kentucky lawyers' fen-phen case after the jury reported that they were "hopelessly deadlocked." Here's an excerpt:
Cunningham, Gallion and a third defendant, Melbourne Mills, who was acquitted, were on trial in federal court for allegedly bilking their clients out of $65 million of a $200 million settlement over alleged injuries caused by the diet drug Fen Phen.
But things seem to be looking up for Gallion and Mills. The jury foreman from the first trial, Donald A. Rainone, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the majority of the jury — including himself — thought that others involved in the 2001 settlement, approved by Boone Circuit Court judge Joseph “Jay” Bamberger, should’ve been charged as well. (Rainone, who declined to name names could’ve been referring to Judge Bamberger, who at the first trial testified to being “embarrassed” by the way he handled the underlying Fen-Phen suit, or Stanley Chesley, the well-known Cincinnati lawyer who negotiated the settlement for a fee of $20 million.)
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Arkansas district judge Bill Wilson overturned an Arkansas jury's punitive damage award of $27 million to Donna Scroggin. The award included $2.75 million in compensatory damages. Judge Wilson based his decision on discarding plaintiff's expert evidence from Dr. Suzanne Parisian, a former FDA official. Scroggin sued Wyeth for inadequately warning her of the increased risk in breast cancer from Prempro. After taking the drug for 11 years, she developed breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. The Wall Street Journal story can be found here and the Associated Press story can be found here.
Monday, July 7, 2008
John Beisner, Allison Orr Larsen, and Karl Thompson, all of O'Melveny & Myers, have published an article, Canadian Class Action Law: A Flawed Model for European Class Actions, in the most recent Federalist Society Engage.
An article entitled "Decades Later, Toxic Sludge Torments Bhopal" in the New York Times today by Somini Sengupta, discusses the continuing aftermath of the Union Carbide Bhopal disaster. The failure to clean up the mess left by the disaster is attributed both to the failure of the company and that of Indian government bureaucracy. The article reports:
Beyond who will pay for the cleanup here, the question is why 425 tons of hazardous waste — some local advocates allege there is a great deal more, buried in the factory grounds — remain here 24 years after the leak?
There are many answers. The company was allowed to dump the land on the government before it was cleaned up. Lawsuits by advocacy groups are still winding their way through the courts. And a network of often lethargic, seemingly apathetic government agencies do not always coordinate with one another.
Local children play in a "pond" filled with chemical sludge. The ground water tastes of chemicals and corrodes utensils.
Sungupta reports that Dow Chemical, which bought Union Carbide in 2001, denies successor liability for cleaning up the mess. The Indian government is split as to what it wants Dow to do, with some arms of the government wanting the company to put money towards cleanup, and others fearing that too much pressure on the company will quell other investments by the company in India.