March 15, 2008
Comparative Tort Law: India
Indlaw.com has an interesting essay about tort law in India. The author concludes:
[I]t is quite obvious that there is no need to centralize the law of tort. Nuisance, negligence, defamation etc. are independent of each other and there are different remedies available for them, as we have seen. These remedies are more effective and wide in nature, but for the cost of litigation that needs to be brought down.
March 14, 2008
Ritter Jury: Defense Verdict
A California jury has just returned a defense verdict in favor of a cardiologist and a radiologist in the 2003 death of actor John Ritter. Ritter's family had filed a medical malpractice action for $67 million. CNN has the story.
PA Judge: No Preemption in Paxil Labeling Suit
Judge Allan L. Tereshko, the coordinating judge of Philadelphia Common Pleas Court's Complex Litigation Program, denied GlaxoSmithKline's preemption-based motion for summary judgment on Tuesday. The court held that federal law does not preempt state law claims that the pharmaceutical company breached its duty to warn users of Paxil about the alleged association between the drug and suicidality. This was the first of 60 cases pending in the Philadelphia Paxil program. Nationwide, courts are split over the preemption defense in Paxil cases. Law.com has the details.
Tort Reform Update: Colorado
The bill to raise the noneconomic damages cap (from $300,000 to approximately $460,000) in medical malpractice cases has been stalled, at least temporarily. A House committee delayed the bill on Wednesday after doctors issued dire warnings about physician shortages and increased health care costs. The story is here.
March 13, 2008
"Day on Torts" Returns
Regular readers of "Day on Torts" know that John Day has been on a weeks-long hiatus to try a med mal case. Today he is back, with a post on the outcome.
March 12, 2008
Downer Cows in the Meat Supply
The president of the meat company that the Humane Society caught abusing cattle had a rough day in Congress, as the WSJ law blog reports. Remarkably, he claimed not to have seen the video that got rather a lot of attention. To paraphrase Marge in Fargo, not so sure I agree with your witness prep work there.
Oregon Supreme Court Sets 4 to1 Ratio on Punitive Damages in Economic Injury Cases
In a decision released last week, the Oregon Supreme Court has set a presumptive 4 to 1 ratio for punitive damages in economic injury cases: "[A]s a very general rule of thumb, the federal constitution prohibits any punitive damages award that significantly exceeds four times the amount of the injured party's compensatory damages, as long as the injuries caused by the defendant were economic, not physical."
In sharp contrast to the Philip Morris remand decision upholding an nearly 100 to 1 ratio (prior posts here, here, and here), the court noted " we think that, if a nine-to-one ratio between punitive and compensatory damages is at the limit of what the Due Process Clause normally will allow a court to impose on any tortious conduct [including physical injury], then the limit must be significantly lower for conduct that causes or risks only economic injury." This language certainly seems to support Tony Sebok's position that the Philip Morris remand was a results-oriented outcome designed to avoid giving a "win" to an unpopular defendant.
PRI 2008 Tort Liability Index Released
The Pacific Research Institute has released its 2008 Tort Liability Index [pdf]. The report "measures the best and worst tort systems in America." The top 5 "best" states were, in order: North Dakota, Alaska, North Carolina, Iowa and Virginia. The 5 "worst" states were Montana, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Florida at # 50.
March 11, 2008
Georgia Supreme Court Upholds Expert Witness Part of 2005 Tort Reform Law
In Mason v. Home Depot [pdf], the Georgia Supreme Court on Monday upheld the expert witness section (Section 7) of Georgia's 2005 tort reform law. Under this provision, expert witnesses in civil cases are subject to more stringent requirements than experts in criminal cases. The Masons had argued that the civil expert witness provision violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses. The Georgia Supreme Court, however, rejected both arguments and upheld the constitutionality of the statute.
Another Celebrity Libel Suit
London's High Court is busy with libel suits by American celebrities. The latest is a suit by Lisa Marie Presley against the British paper Daily Mail. As the AP reports, the suit is based on a newspaper article that alleged Presley was gaining weight. She has since revealed that she is pregnant. Her suit seeks damages and an apology.
March 10, 2008
Who Doesn't Like Accordions? Hmm?
I know nothing about Hanson Bridgett in San Francisco except that they did a pretty hilarious video:
They do have a Products Liability practice, so is that close enough to make it fit on the TortsProf blog? I declare yes.
Drugs in Water
The AP found dozens of prescription drugs in the drinking water supplies of various cities. As the story notes, patients' bodies don't absorb all of the relevant compounds (the package insert even specifies absorption, if memory serves), and so some amount of it escapes through urine, and then ends up back in the water system.
Merck's director of environmental technology commented: "There's no doubt about it, pharmaceuticals are being detected in the environment and there is genuine concern that these compounds, in the small concentrations that they're at, could be causing impacts to human health or to aquatic organisms."
No litigation is mentioned in the story, but presumably some folks are poking around thinking about it. Interesting issues of duty and foreseeability.
March 9, 2008
Happy Birthday, PI Roundup!
Started by Eric Turkewitz, and now run by Brooks Schuelke, the weekly personal injury law roundup turned one last week. If it's not already weekly reading for you, it should be. It's a good overview of personal injury law developments from the perspective of a thoughtful plaintiffs' lawyer in Austin, Texas.