Saturday, July 28, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
Congress passed new homeland security legislation today, adopting many of the suggestions of the 9/11 commission, and it is on its way to President Bush, who has said he will sign it. (The bill as adopted is available here.) It's got two potentially interesting components for torts folks:
- First, it provides immunity for people who make "good faith reports" of suspected terrorist activity. This targets situations like the US Air flight out of Minneapolis last year where six imams were removed from the flight when other passengers said they acted suspiciously; the imams later filed suit.
- Second, the AAJ (formerly ATLA) reports in an e-mail newsletter that the bill includes language that eliminates the argument that tort law is preempted by the Federal Rail Security Act. On a fairly quick glance, I can't find that language (and it's not referenced in any of the coverage of the bill that I can find), but it's a pretty long bill, too.
...but, despite his insistence on remaining irrelevant to this blog, rumor has it that he is turning 50 today.
Happy birthday, blog emperor Caron!
You've been a great help to me and to all on the LawProfessorBlogs network, and I know I speak for the thousands of readers of the network blogs when I say thank you, and happy birthday!
[Ditto for me! Happy Birthday, Paul! - SBS]
U.S. Dist. Judge Nancy Gertner (D. Mass) awarded two men and the families of two other men $101 million in damages arising from their wrongful imprisonment for a 1965 murder. The family alleged that the FBI was aware that a key witness was lying to protect another person who was cooperating with the FBI. Judge Gertner rejected as "absurd" the FBI's argument that it had no duty to the state government.
23-year-old Marine Jeffrey Lucey returned from service in Iraq and was, according to allegations in a lawsuit filed Thursday, denied mental health coverage by the VA. Not long afterward, he committed suicide, and his family has filed suit against the government and Jim Nicholson, the outgoing VA chief, alleging negligence.
According to the complaint, Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Lucey began to experience difficulties several months after returning home from Iraq.
He had nightmares, daily bouts of vomiting and began drinking heavily. Depression soon set in.
He told his sister he had "a rope and tree picked out" behind the family home and needed to keep a flashlight by his bed to check for "camel spiders" he heard at night.
His parents took him to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northampton and he was involuntarily committed for help. He was released a few days later after VA personnel said they couldn't make an assessment of his post-traumatic stress disorder until he was alcohol free, said the complaint.
A few days later, his family took Lucey back to the center, but the lawsuit says the staff turned him away. Kevin Lucey found his son dead, hanging from a beam in the cellar two weeks later.
Oakland A's designated hitter Mike Piazza is promising legal action against one Roland Flores, who threw a water bottle at Piazza and hit him on the (helmeted? not sure) head.
The story's headline states that Piazza plans to sue Flores, while the story itself suggests that the likely action will be criminal charges.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
(As usual: I do a small amount of work for pharmaceutical clients. I have not represented Glaxo, though I've had clients be co-defendants with them.)
The WSJ Law Blog has the details of Fred Goldman's ongoing effort to obtain the rights to OJ Simpson's
proof that he's pretty much evil "hypothetical" book If I Did It. Goldman hopes to use any proceeds to go towards the $38 million Simpson owes him from the wrongful death suit.
Following up on the earlier story about FEMA's attorneys delaying testing of the Katrina trailers due to fears about liability, David Michaels of SKAPP blogs today about the Washington Post editorial "FEMA's Toxic Environment."
MySpace -- which has faced (and presumably continues to face) civil litigation over the torts of its users -- announced this week that it has removed 29,000 registered sex offenders from its membership.
MySpace has not commented on the attorneys generals' proposals for requiring parental consent and monitoring or on the Clayton case. Representatives declined to provide interviews Wednesday. The company claims the use of Sentinel Tech's database is one in a series of steps to make the site safer.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
The New Jersey Law Journal (via law.com) reports that a plaintiff's attorney has sued defense counsel for "inflicting grievous emotional distress" on the plaintiffs during a deposition. The underlying case involved a medical malpractice suit based on the death of the plaintiffs' daughter. At the depo, counsel for the defendant-doctor asked the father what "he thought might have happened to the baby, whether he felt the couple's baby nurse or nanny had committed negligent homicide and whether his wife had been involved in the death." The suit claims that as a result of those questions, the wife left the depo "so wracked with guilt and so depressed that she does not want to leave her house, socialize or enjoy family activities; that she spends whole days crying in bed and that she has started seeing a psychiatrist. The plaintiffs say they both feel humiliated, embarrassed and insulted."
...that's the reported conclusion of the investigation.
Multiple witnesses saw Garin — who was supposed to be staffing a secondary safety booth installed after the 2004 death — kneeling backward in her seat and swaying her arms to the Mind Scrambler's music before her fatal ride, according to yesterday's report. Playland rules prohibit employees from riding the amusements while on duty.
Belfiore said the ride operator and an off-duty park worker who was on the Mind Scrambler both yelled at Garin to sit down.
Belfiore said accounts from 11 eyewitness riders were remarkably consistent and were contradicted only by the operator. The teen, who had worked at Playland for about 18 months, gave inconsistent accounts during three interviews, Belfiore said.
"It would be difficult to believe that the ride operator did not know that Miss Garin was in the ride and not secured," Belfiore said.
Over at AEI, Ted Frank has posted an essay on the Roberts Court and its impact on liability reform. Frank discusses cases from the October 2006 Term including Philip Morris on punitive damages, and Twombly on civil pleading standards.
Last week, the Senate Finance Committee announced a bipartisan plan that would renew and expand the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health insurance coverage to low-income, uninsured children whose parents do not qualify for Medicaid, but who cannot afford private health insurance. House Democrats introduced their version of the bill last night.
As the New York Times reports, however, Republicans in both the House and Senate have vowed to fight these bills. Forbes reports that the House bill would be funded by (1) increasing the federal excise tax on cigarettes by 45-cents and (2) lowering payments to insurance plans participating in the Medicare Advantage program. The Senate bill would be funded by a 61-cents increase in the excise tax on cigarettes. Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Trent Lott (R-MI) have voiced opposition to the bill, and the White House has indicated President Bush will veto. (The White House has offered a $5 billion increase in CHIP, compared with the $35 billion increase proposed by the Senate bill and the $50 billion increase contemplated by the House bill).
Authorization for CHIP expires on September 30th.
Reuters reports that a Japanese family plans to sue Japan's Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Agency based on their teenage son's death after taking Tamiflu. The family alleges that the son's abnormal behavior - dashing out of his home barefoot and being run over by a truck - was caused by the drug. The agency, however, previously determined that the boy's death was not caused by Tamiflu, but has stated it will investigate "whether there was a causal link between the drug and psychiatric problems."
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis lost his malpractice suit arising out of his gastric bypass surgery. This was a retrial; the first trial ended when the defendants helped an ill juror and a mistrial was declared. The Wizard of Odds blog does not as of now have a post about it, but they've had extensive coverage.
Remarkably, nobody seems to be completely certain who made the cable on the Superman: Tower of Power ride at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom where teenager Katie Lasitter's feet were severed. (One of her feet was reattached, in case I haven't mentioned that.) Various lawyers and others inspected the ride in the last couple of days.
Obviously, if a company thinks it's the manufacturer but isn't certain, it's not going to be jumping up and down taking responsibility, but one would think Six Flags would know that right away. Nor has either Six Flags or the Department of Agriculture said publicly the last time the cables had been replaced. The latest they were replaced was 2003, but they may have been replaced more recently. The story states that Intamin (the manufacturer) does not specify a replacement schedule.
As noted by our friends at Mass Tort Litigation Blog, CNN reports that the government of Nigeria plans to refile its suit against the drug company Pfizer and add a claim for fraud. The suit alleges that during a 1996 meningitis epidemic, Pfizer tested the experimental antibiotic Trovan without the consent of the families involved, and that this drug testing contributed to the deaths of several children. Pfizer denies the allegations, and asserts that it had the full consent of the families. More on the original complaint at BBC News.
The London Times reports that children of Holocaust survivors have filed a class action suit against Germany seeking payment for psychiatric treatment for psychological problems related to their childhood. Although Germany has paid billions of dollars to Holocaust survivors, it has refused payment to the children of survivors. The suit was filed in Tel Aviv.