December 6, 2008
First Payments in Valdez Litigation
Only nearly twenty years after the oil spill, plaintiffs are starting to get damages.
December 5, 2008
Hyman on Damage Caps
Personal Injury Roundup No. 17 (12/5/08)
On this day in history, prohibition ended as Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, repealing the 18th Amendment. On to the week's news in the world of torts:
Reform, Legislation, Policy
- Manhattan Institute issues report: "Greater Justice, Lower Cost: How a 'Loser Pays' Rule Would Improve the American Legal System." (Manhattan Institute Executive Summary, PDF of full report, Legal Newsline, Brooklyn Daily Eagle)
- Peter Schuck (Yale) proposes Congress follow a "legislative checklist" to deal with things like preemption in advance. (WSJ Law Blog)
- Cleveland Clinic discloses doctors' relationships with the drug and medical device industries. (NY Times)
- FDA partners with WedMD to provide consumers information. (UPI, FDA)
- Beck & Herrmann on the new draft of the ALI’s Principles of Aggregate Litigation. (Drug & Device).
- Wrongful death suit filed against Medtronic based on off-label use promoted by company. (MarketWatch, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Lieff Cabraser)
- Indiana National Guardsmen sue military contractor alleging the defendant knowingly exposed the soldiers to toxic chemicals, but concealed the risk. (Evansville Courier Press, Indiana Star, Complaint (pdf))
- Shoppers injured at Wal-Mart Black Friday incident file claim notice with Nassau County. (UPI, Overlawyered)
- Family of trampled worker also sues Wal-Mart. (Fox News, TortsProf, Overlawyered #2, NY Personal Injury)
- Family of nun killed by falling closet files suit. (CBS3/AP)
Trials, Settlements & Other Ends
- Chevron wins Alien Tort Claims Act case. (TortsProf, Point of Law, Sebok Writ Column)
- W.R. Graces settles asbestos class action. (Law.com/AP)
- The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rules that the Vatican is not immune from suit and could be sued for negligence in sexual-abuse cases filed in the U.S. (WSJ Law Blog, Court Opinion (pdf)).
- Cal Punitive Damages has a good round-up of the coverage of Philip Morris Round Three at the Supreme Court. Curt Cutting also gives his "guesses" on how the Justices will vote.
- Lawsuit challenges Texas damages caps as unconstitutional. (Southeast Texas Record)
- "Big Salt"? Consumer Reports finds unhealthy sodium levels in breakfast cereals and bagels. (Reuters)
- Moscow authorities find negligence caused death of rising NFL player. (NY Med Mal)
- The ABA Journal announced its 2008 Blawg 100. While sadly TortsProf did not get the nod this year, Beck & Herrmann at Drug & Device are named in the Niche category, as is Overlawyered and Eric Turkewitz's New York Personal Injury Blog is mentioned in the Regional category. Voting ends January 2d.
Thanks to Bill and Eric Turkewitz for material this week.
December 4, 2008
Welcome to the Blogosphere...
Alberto Bernabe (The John Marshall Law School) has started a blog aimed specifically at his students, but also applicable to general readers interested in torts. The link is here.
Updated (x2): Miller on the Wal-Mart Suit
Ron Miller comments on the five-minutes-after concept in high-profile cases, where suits are filed immediately.
It seems to me that having the suit filed has (at least) one benefit: it potentially gives the decedent's family's lawyer discovery powers that much more quickly, to be able to get access to information before memories fade, etc. Perhaps the negatives Ron notes outweigh any benefit from filing so quickly.
Update: Walter Olson comments further, questioning (quite reasonably) whether the ability to get discovery is actually used, or if it's just a way to get a press hit.
Another update: Eric Dinnocenzo provides a lengthier commentary.
December 3, 2008
Wal-Mart Sued by Family of Trampled Temp Worker
Reuters has the story.
Damour's death was caused by "the carelessness, reckless negligence, wanton disregard for public safety and gross negligence" in the "staging, conducting and advertising for sales events," said the lawsuit, filed in Bronx Supreme Court.
The lawsuit also named the shopping mall where the incident occurred and the security company employed by Wal-Mart.
December 2, 2008
Williams Punitives, Round Three
SCOTUSBlog has a preview of Wednesday's argument -- the third! -- relating to the Oregon state court tort litigation against Philip Morris and the punitive damages awarded in that litigation.
Neighbors Sue Stinky Pig Farm
Looking for a hypo for your final exam? Look no further.
Residents of Richland Township, Missouri, have sued the local pig farm alleging that the smell and "toxic gases" from the farm have caused physical illness such as nausea, vomiting and headaches, as well as caused residents to refrain from outdoor activities such as gardening or line-drying their clothes. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages. The Chicago Tribune (via AP) has more.
DRI Web Seminar on Defending Medical Monitoring Claims
DRI is hosting a web seminar on "Defending Medical Monitoring Claims - Recent Developments and Best Practices" on Tuesday, December 16th. Sean Wajert (editor of Mass Tort Defense and a partner at Dechert) will be one of the speakers.
(Via Mass Tort Defense).
Chevron Wins Nigerian ATCA Case
The LA Times reports that a federal jury found in favor of Chevron in the Alien Tort Claims Act case brought by Nigerian villagers. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog and Am Law Daily both have more on the verdict. As previously reported, the suit had alleged that Chevron aided and abetted the deaths of two Nigerians who were protesting Chevron's oil production in Nigeria.
December 1, 2008
New Trial for UT Frat
A little ways back, a frat at UT-Austin lost by default a wrongful death suit, with judgment entered for over $16 million. The trial judge has now granted a new trial, finding that the failure to respond was an oversight.
On Melamine and the FDA
Some thoughts at EnviroBlog.
"Son of Engle" Starts Soon
The first of 8,000 individual tobacco cases that resulted from the decertification of the Engle class will start soon. They were to start today, but flooding in the Broward County Courthouse delayed the trial.
The plaintiffs in these cases will have the benefit of a number of factual findings in the initial class action:
The Florida high court ruled that former class members could file individual claims against the tobacco companies without having to prove what was already established in the class action: that cigarette smoking is dangerous, that tobacco companies knew that smoking was dangerous, and that tobacco companies knowingly misled the public about the dangers of smoking.
Point of Law previewed the case last week.
Civil Liability for Wal-Mart Worker Death?
Eric Turkewitz has brief thoughts.
(Forgive the delayed posting; let's just say that I spent a lot more time in the Philly airport yesterday than is desirable.)