TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tort Reform in South Carolina?

On Thursday, a tort reform bill was introduced in the South Carolina Senate.  Supporters argue that the bill will create a more business-friendly climate in the state.  The contents?

Among other things, the bill would limit the amount of bond that a business has to post when appealing an extremely large verdict; and it would allow for the introduction of the nonuse of seat belts in civil cases.

The Charleston Regional Business Journal has the story.


January 31, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Personal Injury Roundup No. 22 (1/30/09)

We had yet another snow day in Massachusetts, and I'm about ready for spring.  Alas, I still have to wait.

But we've got our roundup to keep us warm...

Reform, Legislation, Policy

New Lawsuits

  • Family of man killed in Wal-Mart stampede files suit (NY Injury Talk)
  • Peanut butter lawsuit filed (MSNBC)
  • Suit against Detroit police for alleged assault also contends that the police offered Target and Wal-Mart gift cards to keep quiet (

Trials, Settlements & Other Ends

  • $76 million -- probably almost completely noncollectable due to defendant's Chapter 7 bankruptcy -- for injuries after diving into a river on a dare (Overlawyered, New York Injury Cases Blog)
  • Molestation lawsuit settled for $750K (Hartford Courant)
  • Suit against homeowner for shooting home invaders settled (it might have been a dispute over a drug deal) (


  • "Palpably unreasonable" right standard for woman injured after being locked in cemetery (NJ Supreme Court [PDF])
  • Cheerleading is a contact sport (Sports Law Blog)
  • Outdated Whois entry leads to possible false light claim (Goldman)



January 30, 2009 in Roundup | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Vandall on Criminalizing Products Liability

Frank Vandall (Emory) has posted on SSRN The Criminalization of Products Liability:  An Invitation to Political Abuse, Preemption, and Non-Enforcement.  Here is the abstract:

Senator Arlen Specter called a hearing in March 2006, on a proposal that urges the criminalization of products liability for the manufacture of intentionally lethal goods. The hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee provided an opportunity to comment on the numerous issues raised in the far-reaching proposal. Responding to these issues requires revisiting the foundational question of whether the manufacture and sale of a defective product should be addressed by civil litigation or criminal prosecution. Understanding the issues will assist state legislatures and federal agencies in considering such a proposal. To plumb the issues raised by Senator Specter history, economics, and the system of product design and manufacture must be examined. Because Senator Specter argues for a federal act and federal enforcement, his proposal demands consideration of the concepts of preemption, political abuse, and nonenforcement. Fundamental concepts of cause-in-fact and proximate cause must also be considered. After examining these concepts, it should be clear that the criminalization of products liability is neither necessary, nor desirable.


January 29, 2009 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Oregon Tort Reform Debated

Last week, the Oregon Legislature began debating a bill to cap tort liability.  The bill would replace a tort cap struck down over a year ago by the Oregon Supreme Court.  We reported that decision here.  The proposed caps for the state and its agencies, $1.5 million per claim/$3 million per occurrence (growing by $100,000 and $200,000 respectively each year until 2014), are much higher than those ruled unconstitutional in 2007.  The full story is here.

Thanks to EvidenceProf's Colin Miller (John Marshall Law School) for the tip.  For those of you interested in evidence who aren't reading EvidenceProf, I recommend it.


January 29, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

FDA Dissidents Allege Criminal Investigation Targeting

The NY Times today reports that nine FDA scientists who allege that they were forced to approve medical devices that they did not believe were save now contend that they have become the targets of a criminal investigation.  The Times notes that "[i]t can be a crime for agency employees to reveal documents or information considered confidential by companies seeking agency approval for medical products."


January 28, 2009 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News, Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Peanut Factory Had a History of Problems

Coverage/Commentary: Marler, NYT, Kos.


January 28, 2009 in Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In Wisconsin, Cheerleading Is A Contact Sport

Back in December, we reported on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision allowing a freshmen cheerleader to bring a negligence claim against her fellow cheerleader because cheerleading was not a contact sport.   As the WSJ Law Blog reports, yesterday the Wisconsin Supreme Court reversed, finding that cheerleading is a contact sport.  A copy of the opinion is available here.   

More on the decision from Legal Profession Blog.    Tim Epstein also has a very thorough analysis over at Sports Law Blog


January 28, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


As noted by our colleagues over at Mass Torts, Pfizer is buying Wyeth for $68 billion creating, in the words of the New York Times, a "pharmaceutical behemoth."


January 27, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

GAO Issues Report Critical of FDA

Last week, the Government Accountability Office issued a report (large pdf) identifying the FDA as a "high-risk area[]needing broad-based transformation to address major economy, efficiency, or effectiveness challenges."  The summary notes:

The second new area is protecting public health through enhanced oversight of medical products. Concerns have been expressed about FDA's ongoing ability to fulfill its mission of ensuring the safety and efficacy of drugs, biologics, and medical devices. GAO's work examining a variety of issues at FDA echoes the conclusions reached by others that the agency is facing significant challenges that compromise its ability to protect Americans from unsafe and ineffective products. FDA needs to, among other things, improve the data it uses to manage the foreign drug inspection program, conduct more inspections of foreign establishments, systematically prioritize and track promotional materials for review, and adopt management tools to ensure that drug sponsors comply with regulations on the presentation of clinical trial results.      

(Via Mass Tort Defense)


January 27, 2009 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Choices Facing Cass Sunstein

The Pump Handle has a post summarizing the Center for Progressive Reform's White Paper discussing the regulatory choices facing President Obama's regulatory czar Cass Sunstein.


January 26, 2009 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lileks on Peanut Butter

James Lileks, whom I like when he's funny and get annoyed by other times, has one of the former type columns today, discussing the peanut butter salmonella situation.


January 26, 2009 in Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Emissions Order a Precursor to Preemption Policy?

The folks at Pharmalittle think so, arguing that President Obama's rejection of the Bush administration's bar on state emissions rules may also suggest a similar resistance to preemption arguments.


January 26, 2009 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News, Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)