Monday, July 22, 2013
The Litchfield County Times (CT) has an article about Ralph Nader's plans for a tort museum in the small town of Winfield, Connecticut (Nader's hometown). Nader has been discussing building the "American Museum of Tort Law" in his home town since the 1990s. He recently purchased the former Winsted Savings Bank building for the musuem, and renovations are scheduled to begin in August. Nader states that he plans to have the museum open within the next two years.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The National Law Journal reports that a former Cincinatti Bengals cheerleader has won over $300,000 in damages in her libel suit against a website operator based on a third-party's posts on the site.
The full story is behind a free registration wall.
Thanks to Lisa Smith-Butler for the alert.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Professor Kathleen F. Brickey, the James Carr Professor of Criminal Jurisprudence at Washington University in St. Louis, passed away on June 19, 2013. Professor Brickey was a giant in the field of white collar crime, authoring one of the first case books in the area, and studying the field long before Enron, Arthur Anderson, etc., made it popular. She similarly broke ground with her environmental law case book, the first law school text book dedicated to the study of environmental law.
I worked as Professor Brickey's reasearch assistant from my 1L summer through graduation. She inspired me to join the academy, and was a constant mentor. She will be deeply missed.
Monday, July 15, 2013
The AP reports that Penn State's Board of Trustees has approved settlement agreements with the child abuse victims of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Penn State will release the total amount of the individual settlements at a later date. Over 30 claims have been presented. The full story is here.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Over at New York Personal Injury Law Blog, Eric Turkewitz has a series on perjury in PI cases: post 1, post 2, post 3. There have been stories in the past about fraud by plaintiffs; this series is about fraud on behalf of defendants.
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
One of the medical malpractice reforms recently adopted in Florida allows lawyers for health care providers in med mal claims to collect information on private conversations between patients and other health care providers without the patient's consent. Five lawsuits filed yesterday challenge the reform on the grounds that it violates both the state constitution and federal law (HIPAA). The Miami Herald blog has details.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
AboutLawsuits.com is reporting a study questioning the amount of defensive medicine in the health care system:
In a study published earlier this month by the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers working with Veterans Affairs hospitals indicate that doctors at the government-run medical centers, who are generally shielded from the effects of most malpractice lawsuits, request just as many unnecessary medical tests as their peers in the private sector, who are far more vulnerable to lawsuits.
The study was based on the number of times a doctor requested a myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) test without sufficient justification. The article is here, but I don't have access to the study itself.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Today the Florida Supreme Court invalidates a contract between a doctor and patient, signed prior to treatment, which required arbitration and set a damages limit (of $250,000) lower than the damages cap set by the Florida legislature. The opinion (pdf) is here: Download Florida SC medical malpractice arbitration
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Monday, June 17, 2013
Walter Olson has a post on today's USSC case Maracich v Spears: "The Privacy Case in Which Every Justice Switched Sides." (Compared with Maryland v. King).
Monday, June 10, 2013
The Oklahoman reports that the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the state's Comprehensive Lawsuit Reform Act of 2009 was unconstitutional under the state constitution. The court found that the statute violated the single-subject rule of the OK state constitution, which requires that each bill only deal with a single subject. Forbes also has a report.
The Times Union reports that the Oklahoma legislature is trying to figure out how to re-enact the provisions of the 2009 act in a manner that comports with the court's ruling.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Back in November, a horrible tragedy occurred at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium when a two-year-old boy fell into a wild dog exhibit and was mauled to death. In late May, the parents filed a wrongful death action against the zoo. The last zoo mauling case I recall was in San Francisco on Christmas Day 2007, when a tiger named Tatiana escaped and killed one person while wounding two others.
It appears (though there is a bit of contrary authority) that Pennsylvania does not follow the traditional rule of strict liability for wild animals; thus the parents must prove negligence. Governmental immunity is often an issue in these cases, but this zoo is private (despite the name). If the zoo were owned by a municipality, there would be no recovery; the code explicitly states: "Damages shall not be recoverable...on account of any injury caused by wild animals...." 42 Pa.C.S.A. 8542(b)(8). There are cases on point for injuries by a dolphin and a wolf.
Obviously the facts will have to be developed, but there is an allegation of a warning by a zoo employee that a child might fall into the enclosure before the death occurred. There are further allegations that rescue efforts were hindered by unloaded or blank tranquilizer guns. The zoo will certainly pursue a comparative negligence defense. This is a case that should settle. From the parents' perspective, reliving this tragedy in depositions and a trial would be traumatic. The zoo runs the risk of a large judgment (I think it would be extremely difficult to convince jurors that the mother was more responsible than the zoo for the tragedy, as would be required by PA's 50% comparative negligence statute) and bad publicity.
Adam Smeltz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has published a series of stories on the case:
Pittsburgh zoo mauling case hinges on liability (quoting me)
Saturday, June 1, 2013
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
A divided Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed yesterday that attorneys are absolutely immune from claims for fraud and IIED for conduct that occurred during litigation. The case involved a series of attorneys who allegedly concealed a client's large inheritance from her spouse and described her as financially strapped during divorce proceedings, costing the spouse approximately $400,000 in extra legal expenses. Although attorneys must be free to litigate their cases, this amount of protection seems excessive. Alex Long (Tennessee) has some guidance on how to handle this situation in this piece from last year.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
The ABA Law Journal reports on an novel theory being tested in the New Jersey appellate courts: Does sending a text to someone you know is driving create tort liability? The plaintiffs were injured by a driver who was distracted by a text message. In a twist, the plaintiffs sued both the driver and the sender of the text message. The plaintiffs argued that "the court should impose a duty of care on those who know the recipient is both behind the wheel and likely to be reading texts while driving." In response, the defendant-texter has argued that she could not control when the message is read. Let's see what the New Jersey appellate court decides.
Monday, May 6, 2013
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino have appointed Ken Feinberg to run the One Fund Boston for victims of the Boston marathon bombing. The Enterprise has an interview with Feinberg as does MSNBC. Similar to his work in prior compensation funds, Feinberg will be holding town hall meetings with the public (today and tomorrow), and meeting privately with victims. According to The Enterprise:
The final protocol and claim forms will be available on the fund’s website by May 15, and people will have a month to register. Feinberg, who has sole authority over the fund, said the money will be distributed to Boston victims by the end of June.
Friday, May 3, 2013
Diederich Healthcare has released the 2013 statistics for med mal payouts. It's a treasure trove of data. Some quick takes:
- $3.6 billion in med mal payouts in 2012
- 12,142 total payouts in 2012
- Payouts were 3.4% lower than 2011 (continuing a downward trend since 2003)
- 5% of payouts were judgments versus 93% settlements
- The largest alleged injury (31%) was death
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
A Philadelphia judge has held that a rule allowing venue over out-of-state doctors in any county in Pennsylvania is constitutional. Amaris Elliott-Engel has the full story for The Legal Intelligencer (behind a pay wall).