April 13, 2007
A lawsuit arising from Paramount Pictures' promotion of Mission: Impossible 3: Electric Boogaloo has been settled for $75,000. Paramount attached electronic devices to newspaper boxes to play the movie's theme music when opened. But people mistook the devices for bombs, and Bad Things ensued.
April 12, 2007
Tort Litigation, Bankruptcy, and the Catholic Church
Today's NYT has a longish piece about the bankruptcy litigation about a Catholic diocese in California, the fifth in the country to file a bankruptcy petition due at least in part to sexual abuse litigation.
A Middle Ground on Punitives
That's the suggestion of Keith Hylton (BU) in this SSRN entry. The abstract:
This essay is a series of reflections on the implications of Philip Morris for the tort reform movement. I make an effort below to find a middle ground between the positions of the plaintiff and defendant in Philip Morris. That middle ground involves largely returning to the Supreme Court's pre-Gore treatment of punitive damages and introducing new procedural devices for defendants to challenge awards. I close with a few observations on the implications of this case law for pain and suffering awards.
Incidentally, I am traveling, yet again, for the rest of this week, so posting may be sporadic. Wish the WNEC team luck in the Rendigs Products Liability moot court competition.
April 11, 2007
AALS Prosser Award
The Torts and Compensation Systems section of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) is reviving the William L. Prosser Award. The award "recognize[s] outstanding contributions of law teachers in scholarship, teaching and service in ... torts and compensation systems ...." The award has lain dormant for perhaps two decades, but past recipients include luminaries such as Leon Green, Wex Malone, and John Wade.
Any law professor is eligible to nominate another law professor for the award. Selection of the recipient will be made by members of the Executive Committee of the Torts and Compensation Systems Section, based on the recommendation of a special selection committee. The announcement of the award will be made at the annual AALS meeting in January, 2008.
Nominations, accompanied by a brief supporting statement, should be submitted to Prof. John Goldberg, Secretary of the Executive Committee, either by regular mail or e-mail (addresses below). Nominations must be received no later than 5 pm eastern time (U.S.) on July 2, 2007.
John C. P. Goldberg
Associate Dean for Research
Professor of Law
131 21st Ave. South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
April 10, 2007
Tort Geeks Circle May 1 on Calendars
Why? Because that's when the Ohio Supreme Court will consider two "tort reform" measures. The first case will review the noneconomic damage cap provisions, and the second the statute that precluded, among other things, pursuit of lead paint manufacturers a la Rhode Island.
9/11 Compensation Part 2
Part 2 of Tony Sebok's Writ column about the potential expansion of the 9/11 fund is up now.
April 9, 2007
Dancing Gone Awry
Reason Number 1,476 I haven't danced since our wedding thirteen years ago: litigation exposure.
A woman is suing her dance partner, claiming he dropped her on her head after flipping her into the air at an office party.
Lacey Hindman, 22, was a victim of "negligent dancing," says her lawyer, David M. Baum.
"Judicial Tort Reform in Texas"
The article “Judicial Tort Reform In Texas” insists on a distinction between reforming tort law and merely restricting liability. The Texas Supreme Court, one of the most active and important arbiters of tort law in the nation, is restricting tort liability, not so much by reforming tort law as by simply making it difficult for plaintiffs to win. In 2004-2005, defendants won 87 per cent of the cases decided with opinion in that court. Often the decisions turn on determinations that have little precedential value or jurisprudential significance, such as conclusions that the plaintiff's evidence was legally insufficient.
Courts can legitimately promote tort reform; the law that needs reforming is largely judicially made, so it's appropriate for courts to make the needed changes. Indeed, judges generally are better positioned than legislators to see what the real problems are and to understand how particular solutions will work in practice. Legislatures, of course, can also legitimately reform tort law; the common law exists at their sufferance and often benefits from their intervention.
But when the objective is merely to restrict tort liability, the judicial and legislative branches have different roles. It may be perfectly legitimate for the legislature to conclude that the public good will be better served by reducing malpractice premiums and protecting businesses from liability than by compensating tort victims for their injuries. But judges, at least those who repudiate activism, are not free to make such political choices - and certainly not by decisions that evince little more than a determination to prevent plaintiffs from winning.
SKAPP on User Fees in the FDA
“User fees may appear to save the taxpayers money, but at an unacceptable cost to public health,” the letter warns, citing findings of a panel of experts recently convened by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to address drug safety at the FDA. Four of the letter’s signers served on that IOM panel, and six signers are former top staff of FDA or the Department of Health and Human Services.
Glancing through the signatories, I recognize at least four or five as having served as plaintiffs' experts in litigation involving the FDA.
(And as a reminder, I do a small amount of work for pharmaceutical companies.)