Monday, January 27, 2014
On January 21, 2014, the Pennsylvania Sureme Court finally* decided Lance v. Wyeth. The court held that drug manufacturers could be liable for negligent design of an FDA approved drug. I believe this is the first jurisdiction to accept this theory. Drug & Device Blog has a thorough analysis of the opinion.
*finally because the case was argued in 2011 and has been pending before the state supreme court for nearly three years.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
This is slightly off-topic, but I know a significant number of torts professors also teach insurance courses. My hometown newspaper, The Patriot-News, does an excellent job of independent reporting. Today's paper has a great series on flood insurance (highly relevant to a river town like Harrisburg) and the effects of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act of 2012. The online version at PennLive is here.
Monday, January 20, 2014
Ruthann Robson at Con Law Profs reports on a Washington state case, where the court held that a statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims violated the state constitution's equal protection clause. Robson has a full dicussion of the decision at Con Law Profs.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Saturday, January 11, 2014
My Widener colleague, John Culhane, often writes for Slate. He is thinking through a piece about potential torts in the George Washington Bridge closure and asked me to post the following:
Does anyone want to weigh in on whether the BridgeGate scandal currently engulfing the Christie Administration is likely to result in successful tort litigation against state officials by those who suffered economic loss because of the traffic nightmares? The first hurdle would be the extent of sovereign immunity for intentional bad acts in New Jersey (which I'm hoping someone just knows!), but the more interesting questions have to do with whether the economic loss rule, which applies to accidental harm cases, would prevent suits for this kind of intentional misconduct. I'm thinking that New Jersey would be one state where the claim might have some traction, because of the People Express case, 495 A.2d 107 (N.J. 1985) (not much followed, but not overruled as far as I can tell), which expresses a broadly progressive view of tort liability. I'm also thinking that there's some traction in the interference with economic relations cases, even though these usually require specific intent to interfere with an economic relationship rather than an intent to do some other kind of harm (such as a battery, or, in this case, to make life miserable for the Ft. Lee mayor (as if he didn't have enough problems already!).
Any thoughts, torts colleagues?
You can respond in the comments or e-mail John directly at email@example.com .
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Monday, January 6, 2014
Really interesting case from Indiana at the intersection of torts and professional responsibility -
A lawyer was a partner in a firm. Firm client wanted to buy land that the partner owned. Partner refused but entered into a land use agreement with the firm client. There were disagreements over the land use contract. Firm client met with firm partners and threatened to take its business elsewhere unless the dispute was resolved with the partner. The firm removed the partner from the firm....
The partner subsequently filed a tortious interference agasint the firm client, and the Indiana Court of Appeals has just held that the partner can proceed. BNA has a full report on the case.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
A North Carolina man has filed a suit alleging alienation of affections not only against the man who had an affair with his wife, but also against Ashley Madison, an online dating site that markets to people interested in affairs. The North Carolina legislature restricted heart balm actions to natural persons in 2009, but the plaintiff's lawyer argues that the actions leading to the breakup of the marriage occurred in 2007 and the old law applies. The Charlotte Observer has the details.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Ken Bensinger at the LA Times reports that Toyota is engaged in settlement talks over the sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) cases that resulted in death or injury. (Toyota previously settled the economic loss cases, and the court approved that settlement last July). Our friend Byron Stier, over at Mass Torts Profs, is quoted in the article.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
A New Jersey Superior Court reaffirmed that only the golfer taking the shot is legally responsibile for yelling "fore" for an errant shot. In Corino v. Duffy, the court held that two bystanders - friends of the golfer hitting the ball and part of the threesome - were not liable for the golfer's shot striking the plaintiff in the right eye. A copy of the decision is available here. The Legal Blitz has more on the decision.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Here's a good story for the holidays. John Hochfelder shares news of his former client, recovering from injuries suffered from electrocution. Chef Eduardo Garcia is in this week's People Magazine and will be on Good Morning America soon.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013
As I mentioned, last week, the U.S. House was taking up the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act. The ABA Journal reports that the bill passed the House on Thursday. The bill reinstates mandatory sanctions and eliminates the 21-day safe harbor for frivolous claims under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Thanks to Lisa Smith-Butler for the alert.
From John Day comes "Tort Reform the Song". As Day explains,
"Tort Reform - The Song" was authored as part of the American College of Trial Lawyers Sixth Circuit Conference held in April 2013 in Nashville. The Conference brought together Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee Fellows and their spouses.
It was appropriate to draw upon Nashville's incredible music history and talent as part of this program, and thus three professional songwriters, led by Ryder Lee, a law student at the Belmont University School of Law and founder and former member of The Lost Trailers helped us write a song. Ryder came into the program with the music and a strong start on the lyrics. The attendees, now co-authors of this work, contributed during the program. Ryder and I finished the work in a writer's room at Universal in Nashville and - no kidding - while sitting on the tailgate of Ryder's truck in the parking lot below Taylor Swift's condominium.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
The Dayton Daily News has a story on malpractice at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Payment for VA med mal claims (paid from a federal treasury fund set aside for federal claims, not the VA budget) totaled $845M over 10 years (on a total of 4,426 claims). The peak year was 2012 with $93.3M in payouts. The article notes that VA health care providers are immune from lawsuits and details instances of bonuses given to providers who had made medical errors or administrators despite poor records at their facilities. The article also quotes attorneys arguing the early disclosure program and limits on attorneys' fees (20% on settlements and 25% on awards) reduce the amount of claims brought against the VA. On the other hand, when asked whether VA doctors were worse than other doctors, Dr. Anupam Jena, assistant professor at Harvard, said simply, "no." The article includes poignant stories by individual victims of malpractice.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Two tort reform bills have been placed on the House calendar for this week: the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act and the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act. According to Govtrack.us, both bills are scheduled to be heard by the House Committee on Rules on November 12th.
Workers' Compensation Blog has more.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Yahoo Sports reports that Penn State has reached a settlement with twenty-six victims of the Sandusky sex abuse scandal:
Penn State announced Monday that it had settled a civil suit involving 26 victims from the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal and will pay out nearly $60 million.....
"The aggregate dollar amount paid by the University for the 26 settled claims is $59.7 million and will be reflected in the University’s audited financial statements for the year ended June 30, 2013."
According to the university, it believes that its various liability insurance policies cover its settlements and defense of claims and those expenses not covered by insurance will be funded from interest revenues from the university to its own self-supporting units.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Dan Monk at WCPO in Cincinnati has a story about Tide Pods. Several companies, most notably Proctor & Gamble (maker of "Tide"), have made a single-load laundry package, designed to enhance the convenience of washing clothes. Many of them are designed with colorful swirls. Unfortunately, children seem to be attracted to the product and put it in their mouths. There have been approximately 13,000 reports of such occurrences documented by poison control centers in the last 2 years. The American Association of Poison Control Centers states there have been over 6,700 such poisoning cases involving children under 5 in the first 8 months of 2013. P&G has been responsive by making the containers opaque and more difficult to open; additionally, they launched a public safety campaign.
A Chicago grandmother, however, argues those precautions do not help prevent many accidents based on the use of this particular product. Because of the product's convenience, many people take the package with them in their laundry baskets, allowing children access. She started a Change.org petition asking P&G to individually wrap Tide Pods and change the warning label about what to do if a child does ingest a Pod. She says she is not interested in suing, but only wants to enhance the safety of the product. If someone were to sue, there is an obvious contributory/comparative negligence issue, and she acknowledges it. She says she used to say it is the care giver's responsibility to keep the product away from children, but she was in the room when her grandson put the Pod in his mouth. She states, "If you blink for a second, the baby can get it in their mouth."
Monday, October 7, 2013
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
This is a great one for your class on causation:
The ABA Journal reports that a man has sued Wal-Mart for negligence in training its employees on how to bag groceries, as well as the plastic bag manufacturer, for the death of his wife. Yes, his wife allegedly died from a negligently packed plastic grocery bag. According to the Journal, the plaintiff alleges that the Wal-Mart bagger "overstuffed" the bag, which broke on the way to the car, which caused the groceries to fall on his wife's toe, which caused a cut, which caused an infection, which led to his wife's death.
Thanks to Lisa Smith-Butler for the alert.