Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Thanks to Bill for the welcome! I am delighted to join him.
Now for an interesting tidbit about the FDA: An article in yesterday's New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) concerning the diabetes drug Avandia is prompting a closer look at the FDA's role in ensuring drug safety.
- On Monday, Representative Henry A. Waxman announced that the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing on June 6, 2007, on the FDA's role in evaluating the safety of Avandia.
- Consumers Union also is pointing to the NEJM research on Avandia as support for legislation limiting the FDA's post-market review system.
- The FDA has issued a safety alert on Avandia, urging patients to talk to their doctor about continued use of the drug.
- Today's New York Times has an article on this issue, which includes a response by the drug's manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline (Bill adds: GSK has statements on its media page, including a fairly detailed discussion of its long-term clinical trials).
Monday, May 21, 2007
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Hey, look over there to the left - TortsProf has a new co-editor, Sheila Scheuerman of the Charleston School of Law!
We're still finalizing the posting schedule, but we'll be splitting duties more or less in half starting soon. And I guess that means I should start signing my posts.
The Hill has a piece about foreign executives seeking changes to the U.S. liability system:
Threats of class-action lawsuits constitute a serious disincentive to conducting business in the U.S., according to several top executives of foreign companies invested in the U.S. who are lobbying members of Congress this week.
“Litigation is a major business expense in comparison to Europe,” said Gary Elliot, chairman and chief executive of ThyssenKrupp USA, a German steelmaker that last week announced it was spending $3.7 billion to build a plant in Alabama.
(Guess it's not so much of an expense that they won't open a plant in Alabama, a point the article notes later too...)
Thursday, May 17, 2007
LegalNewsLine has an article addressing the recent punitives remand and suggesting that it may be part of a trend of remands based on vague instructions rather than concerns about the constitutionality of the size of the damages awarded.
(The article is written with a definite point of view, incidentally. Note the conclusion explicit in this sentence: "For the second time in three months on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court (USSC) sent a lawsuit with an excessive punitive damages awards [sic] back to a lower court to review the amount." (emphasis added))
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Significance? Probably none. Fun to play around with, though, and it successfully distracted me from grading for upwards of two minutes.
In yet another adventure in the tension between bias and experience, President Bush has nominated Michael Baroody (of the National Association of Manufacturers) to head up the CPSC. Public Citizen's Consumer Law & Policy Blog has today's news (involving a $150,000 severance payment from NAM to Baroody if he is confirmed), plus links to their older posts.
This Saturday is the Western New England College School of Law graduation. It's a fun year for me for two reasons. First, my first 1Ls are graduating. And second, my judge is the commencement speaker.
So, first: Congratulations to all of my former students who are graduating!
Second, any local readers may want to attend. Judge Rosenbaum is quite an entertaining fellow and will likely have some interesting things to say.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Eight state attorneys general wrote MySpace Monday (press release from Connecticut AG, letter [PDF]) requesting information about registered sex offenders using the service. MySpace built a database late last year and earlier this year with information about offenders from around the country, and the AGs state that they believe that "thousands of known sex offenders have been confirmed as MySpace members."
The AGs requested a response by May 29.
(Earlier posts about litigation relating to MySpace are here.)
A few years back, a California plaintiff got a judgment for a total of $82.6 million ($55 million of it in punitive damages) in a Ford Explorer rollover case. (The jury had awarded a total of just shy of $370 million; both the compensatory and punitive verdicts were reversed at the trial and appellate levels.) Yesterday, the Supreme Court remanded it [PDF] for further consideration under the Williams case.
The LA Times piece has more on the story.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Interesting sounding article on SSRN (forthcoming Illinois Law Review) about proximity and the law. The abstract:
Perceptions of proximity matter to people. When something that harms them was nearly avoided, or when they narrowly escape being harmed by something, or when they almost acquire something they want, but nevertheless fail to do so, they tend to react more strongly than when a harm that befalls them was unavoidable or when a potential harm never came close to occurring, or when they miss getting the thing they want by a lot. In this article, we explore these psychological phenomena and their implications for legal policy and process. We begin by reviewing the existing literature on the psychology of proximity and proceed to consider the implications of that psychology for the law of torts and crimes (i.e., harms), and for the law of auctions and gambling (i.e., goods). We then turn to examples of the phenomena produced by law itself - that is, to near misses of legality. Here we address how lawmakers could mitigate the frustrations of near misses by structuring law, and the manner in which legal judgments are issued, differently. In particular, we will focus on the implications of the psychology of proximity for the rules-standards debate and assess the virtues of substantial compliance doctrines in that context, a form of legal structure that has received insufficient attention in the course of that debate. Our ultimate conclusion is that lawmakers should take the psychology of proximity into consideration when they make policy choices, but in so doing lawmakers need to bear in mind the potential functionality of that psychology. Near miss experiences can be painful but simultaneously educational, stirring behavioral adjustments in those who endure them.
An interesting column from The Scientist on the confidentiality of peer review and other materials. The conclusion:
So what possible benefit can confidentiality serve? Who is being protected from what? One editor who responded to my e-mail replied that “review processes everywhere benefit from candor, and abundant experience tells us that without confidentiality evaluators are likely to be less candid.”
If this is true, it can be accommodated by instituting a period of confidentiality for manuscript files. Here’s my proposal: Science journals open their files to reasonable requests after a five-year interval. Just as government files are made public – in the United Kingdom after a 30-year lag, in the United States after 25, according to change late last year – this would be a powerful contribution to an open society. It will get to the heart of how research is done and how human relationships govern science. And it will be a goldmine for science history studies, which are not given nearly enough credence.
I’d love a couple of months’ sabbatical poking around in the dusty storerooms of the major journals, wouldn’t you?
Sunday, May 13, 2007
A wrongful death suit is still pending, but prosecutors announced last month (scroll down) that no criminal charges would be filed in the death of Jennifer Strange, who died after participating in a radio station's idiotic "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest. Earlier posts are here.
Friday, May 11, 2007
That's the title of a new book review (actually three reviews in one - what a bargain!) by Tony Sebok, forthcoming in the Texas Law Review. The abstract:
It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that, as a political matter, the modern tort reform movement has been very successful. This essay reviews three books that either rebut the tort reform movement's central theses or analyze the strategies that allowed the movement to prevail. I discuss Tom Baker's The Medical Malpractice Myth, Herbert Kritzer's Risks, Reputations, and Rewards: Contingency Fee Legal Practice in the United States, and William Haltom & Michael McCann's Distorting the Law: Politics, Media, and the Litigation Crisis. Although each book has a very different focus from the other two, I argue that a common theme which runs through all three books is that the tort reformers' success relies on promoting myths about how plaintiff's lawyers put their own interests above those of their clients and reject the political culture of individualism that forms the bedrock of American civil society. While I do not want to deny that there is a need for a rebuttal of this part of tort reformers' worldview, I argue that rebutting it has limited value to those who want to defend the current tort system. I argue that an exclusive focus on the myths that the tort reformers have told leaves unanswered other critiques of the current tort system which cannot be so easily dismissed. For example, the tort reformers, as well as others, have noted that the tort system dramatically expanded and changed in the 1960's and 1970's, and that this expansion was often based on academic and political arguments that celebrated the tort system's ability to perform certain functions beyond private redress for wrongs, such as cost-spreading or providing regulation in the face of legislative inaction. By failing to recognize these possible criticisms, the authors of the three books, I argue, leave the hardest battles for another day.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
In the Pipeline has a brief but interesting take on the Senate-passed bill that would change FDA oversight. I'll try to get back to take a more in-depth look at the legislation soon, but I've got a pile of Products exams that demand grading...
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Do radio stations even have familiarity with the concept of tort law? Because, really, just the lede here -- "The prize is a breast augmentation for women who can show how hard they can party for 30 hours, all while live on the Internet" -- seems like it should create just a couple of raised eyebrows, even if "party" was undefined. Add in the fact that the physician in question is on probation, and it's just super.
The event apparently happened a week or so back, and I haven't heard any reports of disasters (like the Wii contest that ended in death a ways back), so perhaps they got lucky.