TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Torts at 11:00...

Larry Mendte and Alycia Lane co-anchored the evening news for four years on KYW-TV, a CBS affiliate in my former hometown of Philadelphia.  The station was gaining on the dominant ABC affiliate when the wheels flew off.  Lane was arrested for an alleged scuffle with New York police.  Now her co-anchor has admitted to invading Lane's privacy by hacking into her e-mail system.  It is alleged Mendte provided details about Lane's criminal case and other information to the Philadelphia Daily News.  Both anchors were fired and have had to deal with criminal charges.  The story is here.


August 23, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Personal Injury Roundup No. 4 (8/22/2008)

We had our orientation at WNEC Law this week, and classes start in just a couple of days.  And me?  I've got my fantasy football draft on Saturday.  (And by the way, the commissioner is Christopher Harris of ESPN fantasy sports fame, and another player is Andy Behrens of Yahoo! fantasy sports.  It's kind of an intimidating crowd.)

Reform, Legislation, Policy

New Lawsuits

  • That Bigfoot story and carcass was a hoax?  We're shocked!  And we're suing.  [TortsProf]
  • Congress would like some information about Vytorin's potential cancer link.  [ABC News]

Experts & Science

  • Not just experts, but related: doctors & pharma ties. [CNN]
  • "Science or politics" -- a landfill fight, right here in Paradise City [Valley Advocate]

Trials, Settlements & Other Ends

  • The Station fire: last two major defendants (state & town) settle [TortsProf; Overlawyered]
  • More preemption decisions & discussions [PharmExec, TortDeform (though they're discussing, as they note, a manufacturing case as to which preemption doesn't apply), Drug & Device Law (device scorecard)



Goofy Stuff

  • Kinda have to go with the Bigfoot story, don't I?  [TortsProf]

Shameless Self-Promotion (favorite posts of this week)

  • Bill: Um, did I mention the Bigfoot story?  I can't tell you how much time I spent reading stuff about it.  No good reason, no history of interest, and yet there it is.  I assure you, if the case continues, it'll be wall-to-wall coverage.  [TortsProf] 

Thanks to:  Brooks Schuelke, Sam Charron

Not as much as usual, content-wise, but I've gotta get my cheat sheets put together for the draft.


August 22, 2008 in Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Epstein on Preemption

Over at the Northwestern Colloquy, Richard Epstein has published The Case for Field Preemption of State Laws in Drug Cases.


August 21, 2008 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Bigfoot Hoax to Trigger Lawsuit

A friend, in discussing the fact that the alleged Bigfoot turned out to be a frozen rubber suit, noted that "the bigfoot business seems like a good one to get into, so long as you never claim to discover anything substantive."

Alas, Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer claimed to have an actual Bigfoot, sold rights to the story (and I think the alleged carcass) for $50,000, and are going to get sued for it.

Good times.


August 21, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ties Between Physicians and Pharmaceutical Companies

CNN has a piece on the relationship between physicians and pharmaceutical companies here.


August 21, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Robbennolt on Apologies

I continue to be fascinated by the apology movement.  I'm about to take a serious look at the literature on apologies/explanations and medical malpractice.  Jennifer Robbennolt (Illinois) has recently posted Apologies and Settlement Levers on SSRN.  The piece presents empirical evidence to support the natural intuition that apologies can alter one's perception of a situation and/or offender to make settlement more likely.  The empirical results go further and suggest that both the nature of the apology and the circumstances surrounding the incident may play important roles in how an apology is understood.


August 21, 2008 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

City, State Settle Station Lawsuit

The last two major defendants have settled in the lawsuits arising from the fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, that killed 100 people.  Rhode Island and West Warwick have each agreed to pay $10 million, bringing the total to $175 million.  The most recent settlements include claims relating to allegedly botched inspections and negligent security (performed by an off-duty police officer).


August 20, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mercury-In-Tuna Class Action Gets Green Light

The Legal Intelligencer (via reports that the Third Circuit has reversed the dismissal of a class action against the manufacturer of Chicken-of-the-Sea brand tuna.  The suit alleges that the company failed to warn consumers that excessive tuna consumption could lead to mercury poisoning. 

The unanimous three-judge panel found that a lower court improperly dismissed the suit on the grounds that it was pre-empted by U.S. Food & Drug Administration regulations.

"The FDA has promulgated no regulation concerning the risk posed by mercury in fish or warnings for that risk, has adopted no rule precluding states from imposing a duty to warn, and has taken no action establishing mercury warnings as misbranding under federal law or as contrary to federal law in any other respect," Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Walter K. Stapleton wrote in Fellner v. Tri-Union Seafoods. 

A copy of the opinion is available here



August 20, 2008 in MDLs and Class Actions, Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Loser Pays: Good or Bad?

That's the question addressed in detail at, with comments from people all over the spectrum.


August 20, 2008 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Welcome back, law students everywhere!

Today is the start of orientation at my law school and I assume many others are starting now too.  Congratulations!  You're (probably) going to (mostly) have fun.

If you're a 1L, don't be scared off by the name of this or any of the other law professor blogs in the network.  You can keep up on what people teaching and practicing in these areas think is interesting, and think about how it might fit into your legal education.

So stick around and read some of our neighbor blogs, or at least our roundups (posted on Fridays).  It's good for you.


August 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sebok on Public Use of Private Lawyers

In last week's Findlaw column, Tony Sebok discussed County of Santa Clara v. Superior Court, which is on appeal to the California Supreme Court regarding whether a public entity may retain private counsel to prosecute a public nuisance abatement action under a contingency fee agreement .  (Prior post here). 

Sebok believes that the California Supreme Court can take two approaches.  On the one hand, Sebok argues the court could "simply agree with the trial court that public nuisance litigation is identical to criminal prosecution, and that municipalities cannot “farm out” the state’s prosecutorial power."  Sebok, however, argues that this approach would "be a mistake" because the analogy to criminal prosecutions is misplaced.    Alternatively, Sebok argues that the court could go behind the prosecution analogy, and ask "whether the lack of neutrality which is present in every litigation—whether brought by the state or a private actor—is exacerbated in unacceptable ways by the retention of plaintiffs’ firms." 


August 19, 2008 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Illinois Med-Mal Reforms Headed to IL Supreme Court

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that "[a] lawsuit testing the constitutionality of Illinois' medical malpractice reforms is expected to come before the state's Supreme Court this fall — and with it the very real possibility that the law will be nixed."   The suit involves a challenge to a 2005 law that limited non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases to $500,000 for doctors and $1 million for hospitals. 

(Via Point of Law).


August 19, 2008 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 18, 2008

A day off

I'm traveling with less access than expected. We will return to posting tomorrow, however.


August 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)