Saturday, May 9, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
Happy Mother's Day to all moms! Here's what happened this week in torts:
Reform, Legislation, Policy
- Dr. Margaret Hamburg sailed through her confirmation hearing as FDA head on Thursday. (NY Times, WaPo)
- President Obama seeks 19% increase in FDA budget. (Reuters)
- "Sin" taxes on cigarettes, soda and alcohol being considered in Illinois. (IL Register-Mail)
- Illinois Senate and House Judiciary Committee held hearings on a tort reform to tighten expert witness rules. (Madison County Record)
- Queens residents sue city for improper sewer maintenance. (NY Daily News)
- Numerous women sue over device to stop urinary incontinence. (NY Times)
- Kentucky parents sue hit-and-run driver who killed their toddlers. (Courier Journal)
Trials, Settlements & Other Ends
- 3M water pollution trial started this week. (TortsProf)
- Here's Johnny - Ed McMahon settles med-mal suit. (TortsProf)
- New Jersey settles suit against Synthes, a medical products company, over its alleged financial ties with doctors involved in clinical trials of its products. (Star Ledger)
- Illinois Appellate Court finds lack of causation in "dead body at the foot of the stairs case." (TortsProf)
- New Jersey Supreme Court rules that bars can't be liable for drunk patrons unless they actually served them alcohol. (Star Ledger, Court's Opinion (pdf))
- Device preemption win in Connecticut Court of Appeals. (Drug & Device)
- Richard Bourne (Maryland) proposes new tort against doctors for failing to disclose their own negligence. (Maryland Injury Lawyer)
- Senior Judge Jack Weinstein on "Preliminary Reflections on Administration of Complex Litigations" (pdf).
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Mark Geistfeld (NYU) has posted Products Liability to SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This chapter for the Encyclopedia of Law and Economics (2d ed. forthcoming) provides a survey of the economic analysis of the law governing liability for defective products, commonly known as products liability. Sections 11.2 through 11.10 develop the economic framework for evaluating different liability rules. Sections 11.11 through 11.13 describe the impact that the products liability system has had on product safety, innovation, and the market for liability insurance. The remaining sections discuss the efficiency properties of the main doctrines in products liability.
A causation example many of us use in class is finding a dead person at the foot of a set of stairs. How are we to know whether a defect in the stairs caused the fall? The First Appellate District of Illinois recently decided a variation on this case in which the injured man wasn't yet dead, but soon would be. The [PDF] opinion in Strutz v. Vicere is here.
In the case, a man fell down the common stairs at the home he rented from the defendants. There were no eyewitnesses to the fall. When his wife found him, he stated, "I fell down over the railing." The administrator proffered expert evidence that the staircase was in violation of the City of Chicago Building Code in multiple ways (the treads were too small and the risers' height and tread widths were inadequate and uneven). In addition, the expert opined that lighting was inadequate, the handrail in the center was too low and uneven, and there was no handrail on the wall side of the stairs. There was some evidence that the decedent was waking backwards at the time of the fall, and that he had a problem with the circulation in his legs.
The circuit court of Cook County granted summary judgment to the defendants, and the appellate court affirmed, finding inadequate evidence of causation to create a genuine issue of material fact. The court noted that violations of an ordinance or code by themselves are not sufficient to establish proximate causation. The court does not discuss res ipsa, and it seems to me that the elements are lacking here.
Thanks to Mark Weber (DePaul) for the tip.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
In his Sports Illustrated column this week, Michael McCann (Vermont) analyzes who could be held responsible for the collapse of the Dallas Cowboys' training facility last week. McCann considers negligence suits against the Cowboys as well as against the practice facility's manufacturers: Summit Structures and Cover-All Building Systems.
Monday, May 4, 2009
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has some more about that state's Supreme Court striking down part of its liability reform (mentioned in last week's roundup), including the governor's criticism of the opinion, perhaps undercut a bit by his acknowledgment that he hasn't actually read the opinion.