Wednesday, April 30, 2014
1. Torts and Compensation Section Newsletter
As most of you know, our section publishes a newsletter each fall listing (1) symposia related to tort law, (2) recent law review articles on tort law, (3) selected articles from Commonwealth countries on tort law, and (4) books relating to tort law. If you know of any works that should be included, please forward relevant citations and other information to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for inclusion is September 1, 2014.
2. 2015 William L. Prosser Award
This is the first call for nominations for the 2015 William L. Prosser Award. The award recognizes “outstanding contributions of law teachers in scholarship, teaching and service” in torts and compensation systems. Recent recipients include James Henderson, Jane Stapleton, Guido Calabresi, Robert Rabin, Richard Posner, Oscar Gray, and Dan Dobbs. Past recipients include scholars such as Leon Green, Wex Malone, and John Wade.
Any law professor is eligible to nominate another law professor for the award. Nominators can renew past nominations by resubmitting materials. Selection of the recipient will be made by members of the Executive Committee of the Torts & Compensation Systems section, based on the recommendation of a special selection committee. The award will be presented at the annual AALS meeting in January 2015.
Nominations must be accompanied by a brief supporting statement and should be submitted no later than July 8, 2014. Email submissions to email@example.com are preferred. If you would rather mail hard copies of nomination materials, please use the address in the signature line below.
Our committee will send additional reminders about both the newsletter and the Prosser Award as the deadlines approach. In the meantime, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Monday, April 28, 2014
The Stanford Journal of Complex Litigation is hosting a symposium, "A Complicated Cleanup: The BP Oil Spill Litigation," on Thursday, May 8, 2014 and Friday, May 9, 2014, at Stanford Law School. The keynote address speaker is Kenneth Feinberg, the Gulf Coast Claims Administrator. Other symposium speakers will include Elizabeth Cabraser of Lieff Cabraser, Francis McGovern (Duke), Linda Mullenix (Texas), Maya Steinitz (Iowa), and Byron Stier (Southwestern). Panel moderators will include Stanford Law Professors Nora Engstrom, Deborah Hensler, and Janet Alexander.
(Via Mass Tort Lit Blog)
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Friday, April 18, 2014
The Alaska legislature has passed an apology immunity bill. As is typical with many of these bills, it distinguishes between admissions, which remain admissible, and expressions of sympathy, which would become inadmissible. The bill cleared the House last week and was passed unanimously in the Senate on Wednesday. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner has a brief story.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
In 2002, then-Governor Jeb Bush appointed 5 members to a panel to advise about an alleged med mal crisis. The panel recommended med mal caps on non-economic damages. In 2003, the legislature passed a cap; the Florida Supreme Court invalidated that cap earlier this year. In the wake of that decision, the 5 members of the panel are urging a constitutional amendment to put the cap on firm legal ground. It is unlikely the legislature will take up such an amendment in this session. The Miami Herald has details.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Two weeks ago, I reported that a bill to remove the $50K minimum to request a jury trial had passed a key committee vote in the House. Today the full House voted the bill down 51-49, with 5 members not voting. Some members of the business committee blame high insurance rates on the high threshold, arguing that plaintiffs would claim, and businesses would pay, lower amounts if not aiming at a $50K minimum. Opponents reply that no evidence regarding lower insurance rates has been produced and lowering the threshold would potentially strain judicial resources.
Suja Thomas (Illinois) has posted to SSRN Blackstone's Curse: The Fall of the Criminal, Civil, and Grand Juries and the Rise of the Executive, the Legislature, the Judiciary, and the States. The abstract provides:
When we watch television and movies, criminal, civil, and grand juries are portrayed as performing significant roles in our government. It may come as a surprise to most Americans to learn that despite the presence of the jury in three different amendments in the Constitution, juries play almost no role in government today. When America was founded, juries functioned differently — as an integral part of government in both England and the colonies. This Symposium Article, a chapter in my forthcoming book, tells a story about this change in the power of the jury. Between the founding in the late eighteenth century and today, power shifted from juries to other parts of government — to institutions that juries were to check. So as power in the criminal, civil, and grand juries has decreased over time, the powers of the executive, the legislature, the judiciary, and the states have increased. Similar stories have been told about shifts in power, for example, from the legislative branch to the judicial branch, but never has a story been told about an institution like the jury that has absolutely no power to protect and take back its own authority. Of course, the jury has arguably not fallen or has risen through other changes. This topic will be introduced later in this chapter and developed in a future chapter. As will be argued subsequently, however, the substance of the jury's power under the Constitution has fallen.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Friday, April 11, 2014
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Late last month, I reported that the Kansas legislature was going to conference committee to raise the med mal cap. Both the House and Senate adopted a gradual increase of the med mal cap on non-economic damages from $250K to $350K. The difference between the two was over the collateral source rule. The Senate version would have allowed jurors to hear testimony about whether a plaintiff's damages were covered by insurance; the House version did not alter the collateral source rule. The final version sent to Governor Brownback for his signature does not include collateral source reform. The history of SB 311 is here.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
On Monday, a jury in Louisiana ordered Eli Lilly and Takeda, a Japanese pharmaceutical company, to pay $1.475M in compensatory damages and $9B in punies for concealing cancer risks in the diabetes drug Actos. Takeda has announced it will fight the $6B punies verdict against it. Because of the presumptive single-digit Due Process ratio, there is a strong possibility the punies will at least be reduced. Cathy Sharkey (NYU) provides commentary in this Reuters piece.
Do not pee in a co-worker's coffee urn. Compensatory damages were $1 and punies were $5,000. This case reminds me of the 1872 Illiniois case of Alcorn v. Mitchell, in which a jury awarded $1,000 to a plaintiff who was spat upon. Virginia Lawyers Weekly has details.
Friday, April 4, 2014
A med mal filing in California accuses a hospital of negligently placing a live patient in a morgue freezer and freezing her to death. Originally, the family sued for mishandling of a corpse, an exception to limitations on negligent infliction of emotional distress. New evidence, however, caused the family to sue for wrongful dealth. The case was originally dismissed, but was reinstated by an appellate court. The hospital expressed remorse, but does not comment on pending cases. CNN has the story (video).
Thursday, April 3, 2014
The topic of the 20th Annual Clifford Symposium on Tort Law and Social Policy at DePaul Law is "Judge Jack Weinstein's Impact on Civil Justice in America." The symposium is Friday, April 24th. As usual, there is a great lineup of speakers, including a videotape presentation by Justice Stephen Breyer. You can register online at http://law.depaul.edu/clifford or call (312) 362-5292.
Judge Jack Weinstein has led a remarkable life. He is the American dream personified; born in the heartland in Wichita, Kansas, raised in Brooklyn, a child who had to make his way in the Depression, a student who secured his first college degree in night school, a veteran of World War II. He has been a dock worker, a naval officer, a county attorney, a law professor and a federal judge. At the 20th annual Clifford Symposium, we gather to honor him. He has opened new vistas in the law of procedure, torts and evidence to name but three. More than that, he has set a towering example of judicial independence and social conscience. His work on Agent Orange and numerous mass torts that followed set American courts on a path that has expanded protection for defenseless victims and yielded a better society. To borrow from one of his lines, “every day [he has laid] down his professional life for justice.” It does us great honor to have this opportunity to celebrate his life and achievements.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer endorses a proposed ballot initiative to raise the MICRA cap. (Reuters)
Meanwhile, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad endorses "tort reform" broadly. (The Des Moines Register)