TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hearing on FDA's Role In Evaluating Drug Safety

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).


May 22, 2007 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 21, 2007

MySpace, AGs Agree to Data Sharing

The Post has more.


May 21, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Million Little Postcards Offering Small Amounts of Money

The WSJ Law Blog reports on the class settlement in the Million Little Pieces litigation.


May 21, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

That's Rather Hot.

I'm in New York for most of this week.  In the cab this morning from Penn Station I saw this (I think verbatim) on a food cart:

180º boiling coffee!  Always fresh!

Just another data point in the coffee tort storyline...


May 21, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Welcome to Sheila Scheuerman!

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.


May 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Foreign Business Execs on U.S. Liability

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...)

May 20, 2007 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Damages and the Supremes

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))

May 17, 2007 in Damages | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"Tort Reform" & Google's New Timeline View

Google's GoogleLabs is often interesting.  A recent addition is the timeline view; check out "tort reform" in that view


Significance?  Probably none.  Fun to play around with, though, and it successfully distracted me from grading for upwards of two minutes.

May 16, 2007 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CPSC Chairmanship

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.

May 16, 2007 in Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

WNEC Commencement

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.

May 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

AGs Continue to Go After MySpace

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.)

May 15, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

$55M Punitives Verdict Remanded

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.

May 15, 2007 in Damages, Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Near Misses & Tort Law

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.

May 14, 2007 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"End the Censorship of Science"

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?

May 14, 2007 in Experts & Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

No Criminal Charges in Radio Wii Stunt

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.

May 13, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 11, 2007

"Dispatches from the Tort Wars"

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.

May 11, 2007 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Aggregate Litigation

The Drug & Device Blog has a thorough look at the newest draft of the ALI's principles of aggregate litigation.  Certainly defense-oriented, but very useful reading for anyone interested in the issue.

May 11, 2007 in MDLs and Class Actions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The FDA Changes

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...

May 10, 2007 in Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

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.

May 9, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

RWJ Foundation on Med Mal Modifications

The Pioneer Blog, part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation site, is hosting a series of posts relating to various proposed modifications in the medical malpractice arena.

May 9, 2007 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)