June 14, 2008
Nevada: More Disclosure of Malpractice Information
Yesterday the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners decided to expand the information about physicians available on its website. Currently the website lists the names of physicians who have been disciplined and the nature of the infraction. In the wake of a hepatitis C outbreak in southern Nevada, the website will now list, according to KTNV, "all doctors named in malpractice cases that ended in a settlement, award or judgment." Given the number of physicians who may be named in a suit, one hopes being listed on the website is at least tied to personally having settled or received an adverse award or judgment.
Another Settlement in Rhode Island Club Fire
This time it's $25 million from Sealed Air Corp., whose polyethylene foam may have been used in the building. Sealed Air says that their packaging material was misused as soundproofing -- and contends that the plaintiffs didn't even have evidence that their product was in the building -- but settled for the usual reasons. With that, the total settlement amount is up to $150 million and counting. 100 people died in the blaze, started by pyrotechnics at a Great White concert.
June 13, 2008
What Happened to the Prosser Notebook?
You may remember that back in November and December I wrote a series of posts about a notebook one of my students loaned me. It was his grandfather's Torts notebook from the 1938-39 academic year at the University of Minnesota. The course was taught by William Prosser. The first post is here; pictures are here.
I am writing an article based on the notebook this summer. If any of you interacted with Prosser in any way (student, colleague, etc.) and would be willing to share your impressions, I would love to hear them. Thanks in advance.
June 12, 2008
Chandler's Computer Models of Negligence
Back in January at AALS, I ran into Professor Seth Chandler (Houston) presenting a poster on computer models of negligence. Chandler's models (or "demonstrations") are available at the Wolfram Demonstrations Project. To run them, you must download Mathematica Player, but it is available on the site. The two models that are of primary interest in torts are: Unilateral Accident Model and Bilateral Accident Model. As Chandler notes, the models are interactive and "playful" in the sense that some of the results are unexpected.
June 11, 2008
Another Intamin Ride Cable Snaps
Details are a little sketchy, but RideAccidents.com has photos of the Intamin drop ride in Spain with a cable snapped. It appears that the ride operator hit the emergency stop button in time to prevent any injuries. The ride design is similar to that at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom where a snapped cable severed the feet of a girl last summer.
Two New Class Actions Based on Restaurant Menus
The National Law Journal (via law.com) reports on two new class actions filed against several nationwide restaurant chains alleging that their menus misrepresent the nutritional content of various items:
The lawsuits also allege that much of the menus' nutrition information is inaccurate and that independent laboratory analysis shows that the fat content for some food items is double or triple the amount listed, for example.
Given the inherent difficulty of tying any one menu selection to weight gain, plaintiffs have chosen to bring consumer-fraud claims. The suit filed against Applebee's in the Central District of California brings three state statutory claims: the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, the Unfair Competition Law, and the False Advertising Statute. The suit filed against Chili's Grill & Bar, On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina, and Romano's Macaroni Grill in the Northern District of Texas also asserts three consumer fraud claims: common law breach of contract, unjust enrichment, deceptive trade practices.
Does Fido Have to Prove Reliance?
According to the Daily Business Review (via law.com), a new type of class action has been filed against various pet food manufacturers: false advertising claims. The suit filed in federal court in Miami alleges that pet manufacturers falsely advertise when they use words such as "complete and balanced," "veterinarian recommended" and "natural" in advertising.
(Via Chamblee Burch at MassTorts).
June 10, 2008
9th Circuit Appoints Special Prosecutor To Determine Attorney Discipline in Nicaraguan Pesticide Case
The Recorder (via Law.com) reports that the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has appointed a special prosecutor to determine sanctions for two Los Angelese attorneys' conduct in the Nicaraguan pesticide cases. Thomas Girardi and Walter Lack were involved in the class action lawsuit against several American businesses for using pesticides in Nicaragua which allegedly caused sterility and cancer.
A Nicaraguan judge awarded the plaintiffs a roughly $489.4 million judgment against five defendants, which were supposed to include Dole Food Co. and Shell Chemical Co. But the complaint instead named the Dole Food Corp. and Shell Oil Co., seemingly superficial errors that have become one enormous problem for Girardi, Lack and some of their subordinates.
In March, acting as a special master, Senior 9th Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashima recommended sanctioning the two a combined $375,000 for making false statements about their case and filing a frivolous appeal. Tashima also made disciplinary recommendations in a separate, sealed filing.
In his 65-page report, Tashima said Lack had a personal role in asserting repeatedly that a writ of execution made by the Nicaraguan judge to enforce the judgment in America was corrected to name Dole Food Co. and Shell Chemical Co. Girardi, meanwhile, allegedly allowed the misstatements to continue on his behalf without becoming directly involved.
The name of the special prosecutor has not been announced.
UPDATE: A copy of Tashima's report and the Ninth Circuit's opinion are available at California Punitive Damages.
Kia Liable for $6M for Brake Defects
PennLive (via AP) reports that a New Jersey jury has found Kia liable for a defective brake system in its 1995 to 2001 Kia Sephia, and has awarded $6 million to a class of New Jersey purchasers. (Details from this press release by the plaintiffs' law firm). Under the verdict, each car owner gets $750. Kia has stated that it will appeal.
June 9, 2008
Cert Granted in Williams v. Philip Morris
SCOTUSBlog is liveblogging today's orders and opinions and reports that the Court granted cert. in the Williams v. Philip Morris case. You can browse our damages category for many posts about Williams and other punitive damages cases.
A later post states: "Note to readers: the grant in Phillip Morris was limited to the first question presented, regarding the Oregon state law procedural bar."