September 23, 2006
New Drug Safety Study
The NYT summarizes the Institute of Medicine study:
The nation’s system for ensuring the safety of medicines needs major changes, advertising of new drugs should be restricted, and consumers should be wary of drugs that have only recently been approved, according to a long-anticipated study of drug safety.
The actual report can be found here. More specific proposals (again from the NYT):
The report made these recommendations, most of which would require Congressional authorization:
¶Newly approved drugs should display a black triangle on their labels for two years to warn consumers that their safety is more uncertain than that of older drugs.
¶Drug advertisements should be restricted during this initial period.
¶The F.D.A. should be given the authority to issue fines, injunctions and withdrawals when drug makers fail — as they often do — to complete required safety studies.
¶The F.D.A. should thoroughly review the safety of drugs at least once every five years.
¶The F.D.A. commissioner should be appointed to a six-year term.
¶Drug makers should be required to post publicly the results of nearly all human drug trials.
(My usual disclosure: I did pharmaceutical tort defense in practice and remain a consultant to pharmaceutical companies in mass tort litigation.)
September 22, 2006
My Sensitive Ears!
A good friend of ours in Minnesota traditionally says, derisively, "Bark," when he's confronted by something silly and/or pointless. And to the plaintiffs suing Wal-Mart (complaint [PDF]) because they bought a Tool CD and were shocked -- shocked! -- to find naughty language, I say: Bark.
Chicken Litter & Leukemia
The Fayetteville (AR) paper provides a good summary of a suit being brought against Alpharma alleging that the spreading of arsenic-containing chicken litter near the plaintiff's Arkansas town (Prairie Grove) caused him to suffer from leukemia. The plaintiffs have now rested and the judge dismissed the claim for punitive damages; one assumes that compensatory damges in a leukemia case are still fairly substantial. Alpharma is now in the midst of its case.
The case has had a number of interesting evidentiary questions; if I can figure out where I put my printouts of some of them, I'll try to post them later.
September 21, 2006
OT: Torts Beat Patents
You will no doubt be relieved to learn that, in the second game of the Blawger Bowl season, the Raspberry Tort(e)s fantasy football team -- representing TortsProfs everywhere -- defeated KnowTime, the team of, well, KnowTime, an interesting new blog about global patent law.
The score was 130-96. Up next is the 2-0 "Your Daddy." The owner of YD appears to be a closely-guarded secret. My guess: the Chief Justice.
Public Nuisance & Emissions
As you've likely heard, California sued automakers for creating a public nuisance via emissions.
Point of Law is, unsurprisingly, skeptical: "Because, after all, the California attorney general is the one who should be deciding national policy on the global warming controversy."
Of course, California has been more restrictive than the federal government for a long time on emissions issues, most recently with the much-touted restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, but also before (as far back as 1990, the CARB was requiring an increasing percentage of cars to be zero-emissions, and in 1967, California adopted the first-in-the-nation emissions standards).
So it might be new for the AG to be bringing the action -- and I go into this skeptical of the claim as well -- but he could credibly say that he's got the policy goals of the state behind him.
September 20, 2006
Ron Miller of the Maryland law firm Miller & Zois sent me a note today, pointing out his firm's very helpful Personal Injury Attorney Help Center. It includes sample pleadings, transcripts (both dep and trial), discovery requests, jury instructions, and much more. Its audience is attorneys but the documents could be great for use in many classes as a way to make a bit more real some of the subjects you're discussing.
The firm also produces a Maryland-oriented PI law blog.
Drink Immunization Ingredients, Make $75K
Spontaneous Creation Publishing, which appears to be a natural health care publisher, is offering $75,000 to any U.S.-licsened physician or pharmaceutical chief who will drink a body-weight-adjusted beverage made up of immunization ingredients (other than the active ones):
The mixture will not contain viruses or bacteria dead or alive, but will contain standard vaccine additive ingredients in their usual forms and proportions. The mixture will include, but will not be limited to, the following ingredients: thimerosal (a mercury derivative), ethylene glycol (antifreeze), phenol (a disinfectant dye), benzethonium chloride (a disinfectant), formaldehyde (a preservative and disinfectant), and aluminum.
An interesting snippet about it is here, including assertions that the director of the publisher, Jock Doubleday, had rejected at least some willing participants.
Also, Doubleday is available for petsitting. At $50 a day, it'll take a while to make $75,000.
September 19, 2006
Mass. Democratic Governor Candidates on Health Care
Well, our primary was today, so it's a bit late, but it's still interesting reading.
National Geographic's October issue has an interesting piece about persistent chemicals from our surroundings staying in the bloodstream. The author was interviewed on Morning Edition this morning as well. National Geographic has a multimedia feature that allows kids of all ages to delight in learning about the sources of, say, PCBs and dioxins. Whee!
(There was another good piece on Morning Edition about the development of a drug for pregnant women at risk for premature birth, but it's not listed, at least when I'm posting this.)
September 18, 2006
Sure, We'll Help Get That Medal...Just Sign Here.
. . . I agree that in consideration for the application for a Defense of Freedom Medal on my behalf that. . . I hereby release, aquit and discharge KBR, all KBR employees, the military, and any of their representatives. . . with respect to and from any and all claims and any and all causes of action, of any kind or character, whether now known or unknown, I may have against any of them which exist as of the date of this authorization. . . . This release also applies to any claims brought by any person or agency or class action under which I may have a right or benefit.
According to the story, the recipient of the form didn't sign it, still received his medal, and sued the company subsequently.
Caps & Premiums
As a follow-up to my post yesterday about asserted consequences of caps on damages in medical malpractice cases, South Carolina has yet to see a reduction in premiums, a year after the imposition of the caps.
Insurers in that story say that such a reduction would be expected in about five years due to the lag between filing and payouts. Then again, Haley Barbour in Mississippi is attributing premium reductions there to caps just two years after their adoption, and the Texas Medical Association attributes cuts in premiums as early as January 2004 to the passing of caps and their approval by voters just a few months earlier.
[via Greedy Trial Lawyer.]
As many profs approach the start of teaching negligence, thoughts turn to the delights of the element of duty. One example that often works well for me in discussing duty -- and in particular in discussing the creation of new no-duty rules -- arises from lawsuits alleging fault for obesity and obesity-related illnesses.
Ted Frank has a new article on the various cases that might be considered related to such cases, and points out that a substantial chunk have nothing to do with obesity, but merely with food ingredients, misrepresentations, etc. There appear to be very few "pure" obesity suits.
I'm also fond of using two congressional bills -- the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act of 2005 and the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act -- to discuss the concept of creating new no-duty rules, in particular who the proper entity is to create such rules.