TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Beyond the Traditional Textbook

Eric Johnson (North Dakota), who is guestblogging at Prawfs, posted here about supplementing traditional appellate opinions with a first-person narrative of real cases in his Torts course.  (Professor Johnson used chapters from Four Trials by John Edwards).  He was delighted with the results.  I, too, recommend supplementing a textbook with some "real world" material.  I use Jonathan Zittrain and Jennifer Harrison's The Torts Game:  Defending Mean Joe Greene.  My students learn a lot from following the litigation of an actual case, including seeing the documents filed, and even memos written, by both parties.  They also enjoy the change of pace from appellate opinions.  I spread the chapters throughout the relevant sections of my five-credit, two-semester course.  It strikes me it would be much more difficult to fit the material into a four-credit, one-semester course.  Have you used supplemental materials to teach Torts?  If so, what materials?  What results?


October 18, 2008 in Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Werewolf Mishap

It hasn't resulted in litigation (yet?), but I can't resist noting a story that has the headline "Guest suffers minor cut in Six Flags werewolf mishap."

A stilt-walking werewolf character at Six Flags Great America's Fright Fest tripped and fell through a restaurant window in Orleans Place on Sunday night, resulting in minor injuries to a nearby park guest.


October 18, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pfizer Getting out of Cox-2 Litigation

Pfizer announced this week that it has reached agreements to settle all of its Cox-2 litigation -- Bextra and Celebrex -- for just shy of $900 million.  The settlement will resolve personal injury claims as well as state AG and third party payor claims.

(who has done consulting for pharma, including in the Cox-2 arena, though not for Pfizer)

October 18, 2008 in Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Personal Injury Roundup No. 11 (10/17/08)

I have no pithy introduction to this week's Roundup.  Here it is:

Reform, Legislation, Policy

  • AAJ sent out a press release on October 15 entitled "FOIAs Reveal How Bush Administration Made Complete Immunity for Negligent Corporations a Top Priority."  The Report (pdf) is here: Download preemption_report_final1.pdf .
  • More preemption on the way?  (The Pop Tort)
  • Tort Deform links preemption and the financial crisis here.

New Lawsuits

  • Police in Sandpoint, ID accused of misconduct in the search of personal employee business records at a local bar.  (Bonner County Daily

Trials, Settlements & Other Ends

  • Large settlement reached in pet food contaminated food cases.  Ron Miller questions whether only the lawyers won.  (The Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer Blog)
  • Canadian breast implant litigation against the government for lax regulation was dismissed on sovereign immunity grounds by Ontario's highest court.  (Point of Law)


  • Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit appears skeptical about upholding landmark tobacco judgment (HealthLawProf Blog)


  • Should Racial Differences in Life Span Factor in Damages Calculations? (WSJ Law Blog)  This is an editorial about Judge Jack Weinstein's opinion in McMillan v. City of New York, 2008 WL 4555550, 10/14/08.  Weinstein cited extensively Martha Chamallas (Ohio State) and Jennifer Wriggins (Maine), and also cited John C.P. Goldberg (Harvard).
  • Plaintiff's Amicus Briefs in Williams III Now Available (Cal Punitive Damages)


--CJR (with assistance from BC)

October 17, 2008 in Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Burch on Procedural Justice in Nonclass Aggregation

Mass Tort Lit Blog's Elizabeth Chamblee Burch (Florida State) has posted on SSRN Procedural Justice in Nonclass Aggregation.  Over at Legal Theory Blog, Larry Solum discusses and recommends the piece.


October 16, 2008 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Struck By Stripper's Stiletto; Suing

One Charles Privette is suing the tastefully named "Booby Trap" strip club in south Florida after he was injured by a dancer's shoe, which allegedly "flew off during a pole dance, shattered the mirrored ceiling and caused glass and the shoe to hit him."  The plaintiff's attorney, Omar Demetriou, says in another story that "what exactly caused the dancer's shoe to fly off is unclear."

The club acknowledges that Privette was slightly injured, but also observes that one paramedic stated, "I can't believe you even called us for this."  Privette seeks $15,000 in damages.


October 16, 2008 in Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Settlement in Minnesota School Shooting

In March of 2005, a sixteen-year-old boy shot and killed seven students at Red Lake High School in Minnesota, injuring others, before killing himself.  (He'd also killed his grandfather and his grandfather's girlfriend earlier in the day.)  Yesterday, a $1.5 million settlement was reached with MacNeil Environmental, a company hired to create a crisis management plan -- a plan the plaintiffs contend was not created in compliance with Department of Education requirements.

That website for MacNeil is interesting, not having been updated since 2000, it seems.  Of note, from the front page:

According to Minnesota Statutes (121A.57) each school board must adopt a district crisis management policy by July 1, 2000. This policy needs to address the process of handling potential violent and/or crisis situations arising within the district.

MacNeil Environmental has developed a comprehensive Crisis Managment [sic] Program to help you meet this requirement in a fast, affordable manner.

To avoid potential regulatory, civil and public relations liabilities associated with crisis situations, contact us...

The $1.5 million is in addition to a settlement of $1 million with the school system.


October 15, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

City of New Haven Looking for Counsel To Sue Big Pharma

Ed Silverman at Pharmalot reports that the City of New Haven is seeking outside counsel to sue Merck and Schering-Plough for "allegedly defective/ineffective pharmaceuticals Vytorin and Zetia," two cholesterol lowering drugs.  The city hopes to recover some $400,000 spent on Vytorin and Zetia for city employees.  The City is accepting proposals from interested counsel until October 21st.   The New Haven Independent also has more details. 


October 15, 2008 in Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Products Liability Poem

In Monday's Writer's Almanac, Garrison Keillor brings us the poem "Warnings" by David Allen Sullivan.  An excerpt:

A can of self-defense pepper spray says it may
irritate the eyes, while a bathroom heater says it's
not to be used in bathrooms. I collect warnings
the way I used to collect philosophy quotes.


What would I have done without: Remove infant
before folding for storage, Do not use hair dryer
while sleeping, Eating pet rocks may lead to broken
teeth, Do not use deodorant intimately?

Goodbye to all those sentences that sought
to puncture the illusory world-like the warning
on the polyester Halloween outfit for my son:
Batman costume will not enable you to fly.

You can hear Garrison Keillor read the poem as well.

(Thanks to Point of Law).


October 15, 2008 in Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fullbright's Annual Litigation Trends Survey

Fulbright & Jaworski have released their 5th Annual Litigation Trends Survey.    According to a press release,

  • Nearly one-third of businesses expect an increase in the number of disputes they will face in the coming year.
  • One in two (50%) financial services businesses said they expect to see an increase in the number of disputes.
  • U.K. businesses seeing more regulatory activity from overseas regulators (SEC, DOJ and EU Commission) than OFT or FSA.
  • Average annual litigation spend for U.K. companies now stands at $2.8 million.
  • Despite dominating media headlines, subprime matters barely on the radar with 3% engaging outside counsel to assist in these matters.

You can download a copy of the survey for free (after completing a form).  The ABA Journal also reports on the survey.


October 15, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pet Food Case Settlement Approved

The judge overseeing litigation related to contaminated pet food has approved a $24 million settlement.  Of particular note is the fact that the settlement, by its terms, does not provide compensation for the loss of companionship (and some pet owners have objected to the settlement on those grounds):

The settlement is to compensate owners for many expenses, including: the cost of the food, medical and burial expenses for their animals, the value of the animals or the cost of replacement pets, checkups for animals who ate the food but did not get sick, replacing carpets ruined by sick pets, and time the owners took off work to seek treatment for their animals.

10,000 claims have been brought so far with an average request of $1,500; that number is likely to drop on review.


October 15, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Two Conferences of Interest: ABA on Class Actions and Chamber's Annual Legal Reform Summit

Two conferences of possible interest to readers:

1.  The 9th Annual Legal Reform Summit presented by the Chamber of Commerce, Oct. 29th in DC.
Topics include:

  • The Congressional landscape for legal reform post-election;
  • The public's stake in preserving pre-dispute arbitration provisions in contracts;
  • Parameters of federal preemption;
  • The challenge of discovery abuse in federal and state court;
  • Foreign activities of the U.S. plaintiffs' bar; and,
  • The role of criminal law in promoting compliance and rational enforcement.

A copy of the agenda as well as registration details can be found on the conference website.

2.  The 12th Annual Institute on Class Actions presented by the ABA, Nov. 7th, in NYC.
Topic include:

  • New developments in class actions
  • Measuring the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005
  • Consumer Fraud Class Actions on Life Support
  • Unpacking the "Rigorous Analysis" Standard

A copy of the agenda as well as registration details can be found here.


October 14, 2008 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

J&J Paid $68 Million to Settle Birth Control Patch Suits

In a Bloomberg investigative report, reporter David Voreacos estimates that Johnson & Johnson paid nearly $68 million to settle personal injury suits based on the plaintiff's use of the J&J birth control patch Ortho Evra. 


October 14, 2008 in Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Campaign Funding in Mississippi Judicial Elections

The Clarion Ledger has an interesting piece today addressing judicial campaign finance, specifically the funding of advertising not formally affiliated with a particular candidate.  As usual in Mississippi, a good chunk of money is spent in connection with tort policy groups.


October 13, 2008 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Schuelke on Preemption

Former Roundup host and Austin plaintiffs' lawyer Brooke Schuelke has been posting a series of pieces on InjuryBoard about preemption.  Worth reading.


October 13, 2008 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)