TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Southwestern Law School

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Other Coverage of Zyprexa/Egilman

  • The NYT has a story (with no individual byline) that includes a quote from their own editor about the coverage;
  • The Indianapolis Star has a piece;
  • The AP has a story too;
  • and another one (this one addressing a bit about the dispute over how to parse the agreement, this time about whether "regretting" actions is the same as an apology);
  • And Reuters has a story.


September 9, 2007 in Current Affairs, Goofy Cases, Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Scientific Discourse via the Legal System

I won't try to capture all of the posts about the recent lawsuit against PZ Myers, author of the terrific Pharyngula blog on the ScienceBlogs network.  The short version is that an author, displeased by Myers's writings about his book, has sued Myers for libel.  (Unless there's something more than I've seen, it's a silly case.) 

The best coverage I've seen has been at the essential SciAm blog, which also notes that all WordPress blogs have been blocked in Turkey.  The Myers story is well worth following, both as a libel case and as a blogging story.


August 22, 2007 in Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 20, 2007

In Case You Missed It - The Pants Suit Saga Continues

In news you may have missed, the Legal Times (via reported that Roy Pearson filed an appeal last week with the D.C. Court of Appeals.   Following a two day bench trial, the trial court rejected Pearson's $54 million suit against his former dry cleaner over a pair of allegedly lost pants.   

(Thanks to Overlawyered.  Ted Frank notes that the "D.C. Court of Appeals' average time for appeal is 575 days, implying a wait until 2009 for a decision."). 


August 20, 2007 in Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Is Barry Bonds Libel-Proof?

Probably not as to some of the subjects about which he's considering suing others (presumably including Curt Schilling):

Now that Barry Bonds has passed Henry Aaron to become baseball's all-time home run king, he's threatening to sue anyone who makes false or misleading statements about him, two Bay Area attorneys said Monday.

Attorneys John Burris of Oakland and Todd Schneider of San Francisco said Bonds has retained them "in connection with legal issues arising from the myriad of false statements attributed to him by players, the media and others."

Deadspin comments, as does Steroid NationUpdate: Sports Law Blog comments, including noting the challenges for Bonds by the fact that he's a public figure.


August 14, 2007 in Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Floral Duty of Confidentiality?

As reported yesterday on The Today Show (and others), Leroy Greer has sued 1-800-Flowers for damages and "mental anguish" because the florist inadvertently disclosed Greer's extramarital affair to his wife.   According to The Today Show, the florist sent a thank-you for the order to Greer's home address.  When his wife received the thank-you - the couple was divorcing and Greer was not living at the house at the time - she called the florist to find out more.   The company then sent her  "a receipt and a copy of the note he sent with the flowers." 

According to the ABC story,

The receipt revealed that Greer had sent another woman a dozen long-stemmed red roses, along with a note that read, "Just wanted to say that I love you and you mean the world to me!" according to court documents.

The couple was already going through what Greer's attorney described as an amicable divorce.

After learning of the affair, Greer's wife asked for a $300,000 divorce settlement in addition to child support, said Kennitra Foote, Greer's attorney.

Greer is suing for $1.5 million in federal court in Texas.

- SBS   


August 14, 2007 in Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Drug Party Leads to Tort Suit

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the parents of a man who died at a drug party are suing the party's hostess.   

Craig and Kelly Dodson are suing Kacie Kissell and two other defendants, Liana Kim and Jesse Ashley, in the death of Joshua Dodson, 20. The case was filed recently in circuit court in St. Charles County, a little more than a year after a criminal case against Kissell ended.

Kissell, 25, was sentenced in July of last year to eight years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and drug possession. Prosecutors said she repeatedly injected herself, Dodson and other guests with cocaine and heroin at a party in 2005 at her parents' home.

The suit brings negligence and battery claims against the defendants. 


August 13, 2007 in Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 6, 2007

DC Pants-Suit Plaintiff May Lose Administrative Law Judgeship

Roy Pearson, the administrative law judge who sued his dry cleaners for $54 million over a pair of lost pants (prior posts here, here and here) may next lose his job.   Pearson's initial ten-year term expired in April, in the midst of the pants law suit.  (Since that time, Pearson has not been sitting as a judge, but rather working as an "attorney adviser" at the Office of Administrative Hearings).  The Washington Post reports that the DC Commission on Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges has "doubts" about granting Pearson another 10-year term on the bench, and plans to issue a letter to Pearson explaining their concerns next week.  According to the Post,

The panel's discussion about Pearson's future has focused on what role a judge's behavior outside the courtroom should play in assessing his qualifications. Was Pearson's extraordinary zeal in pursuing the case against the Chungs so embarrassing that it amounts to evidence of poor judicial temperament?

The commission is expected to address the Chung case in its letter to Pearson, pointing out that his no-holds-barred pursuit of mega-millions in a case stemming from a $10.50 alteration on a pair of suit pants raised public doubts about the court system. After receipt of the letter, Pearson would have the right to a hearing before the commission. Only after that hearing would the commission formally move to end Pearson's tenure as a judge.


August 6, 2007 in Current Affairs, Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Update: Family of Drunk Driver Dismisses Lawsuit Against Restaurant

As posted earlier, the father of Josh Hancock, a St. Louis Cardinals pitcher killed in a drunk driving accident, filed suit last May against Mike Shannon's Steaks and Seafood, the driver of a stalled car and a towing company for their alleged roles in his son's death.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the family dismissed the suit yesterday just before a hearing on the defendants' motion to dismiss.  The dismissal, however, was without prejudice.  (Howard Wasserman at Sports Law Blog has a thorough post examining the dismissal.)

The Post-Dispatch reports that the family released the following statement: 

    "The subject of my son's death has been widely reported and discussed, as has my motivation to file the wrongful death lawsuit. Often, legal action has more to do with performing responsibilities and gaining control. This lawsuit was not filed for personal gain. Few know that Josh died without a Will, leaving multiple heirs in two separate families in different states. When I became the court appointed Administrator of his estate, I agreed to perform fiduciary responsibilities to protect the interests of his estate and all beneficiaries.

    "Information from the intense news coverage of Josh's tragic death, facts about the accident and varying public statements from witnesses indicated that certain individuals and entities shared some degree of comparative negligence in the cause of Josh's death.

    "The final investigation report recently issued by the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control ("ATC") provided some insight into the events leading to Josh's death. Considering all factual issues, combined with the prolonged legal battles which we would have to fight if this lawsuit were to continue, I have instructed that the defendants be dismissed from the lawsuit.

    "Josh was often quoted saying, 'everything happens for the good.' The ATC report confirms that since his death, bars and restaurants are now becoming even more focused on their responsibilities. I am certain that his death has caused many individuals to become more aware of personal responsibility. Additionally, a number of employers and groups are also examining and changing their alcohol policies.

    "It is my hope that public opinion will eventually have an even greater effect on public policy to emphasize the responsibilities of both those who consume alcohol and those who serve it."

As I queried in my earlier post, was this a classic example of a frivolous lawsuit?  Certainly sounds like the family had a good faith belief that another party was negligent when they filed the suit.  But assuming no discovery has taken place in the past two months (which given the posture of the case seems correct), no new information has been discovered that could not have been learned with greater pre-filing investigation on the part of the plaintiff's attorneys, or in the case of the ATC's final report, some patience in rushing to the courthouse.   Overall, this one seems to exemplify "sue first, ask questions later."


July 31, 2007 in Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Vick's Got A Civil Suit, Too

AboveTheLaw has the pro se complaint and commentary.  Short version is that Vick's got a lot more criminal exposure than civil, at least from this complaint.


July 27, 2007 in Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mike Piazza Would Rather You Keep the Water Bottle in the Stands, Thank You Very Much

Oakland A's designated hitter Mike Piazza is promising legal action against one Roland Flores, who threw a water bottle at Piazza and hit him on the (helmeted? not sure) head.

The story's headline states that Piazza plans to sue Flores, while the story itself suggests that the likely action will be criminal charges.

(Via Deadspin.)


July 27, 2007 in Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Depo Questions Give Rise To Emotional Distress Suit

The New Jersey Law Journal (via reports that a plaintiff's attorney has sued defense counsel for "inflicting grievous emotional distress" on the plaintiffs during a deposition.  The underlying case involved a medical malpractice suit based on the death of the plaintiffs' daughter.   At the depo, counsel for the defendant-doctor asked the father what "he thought might have happened to the baby, whether he felt the couple's baby nurse or nanny had committed negligent homicide and whether his wife had been involved in the death."  The suit claims that as a result of those questions, the wife left the depo "so wracked with guilt and so depressed that she does not want to leave her house, socialize or enjoy family activities; that she spends whole days crying in bed and that she has started seeing a psychiatrist. The plaintiffs say they both feel humiliated, embarrassed and insulted."

- SBS    

July 25, 2007 in Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Judge Denies Motion to Reconsider in Pants Case

The AP/WUSA reports that on Monday, Judge Bartnoff denied the plaintiff's motion to reconsider in the DC Pants Case.   (Via Overlawyered).  Prior posts on the DC Pants Suit are here and here


July 17, 2007 in Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Philly Food Critic's Anonymity Threatened By Litigation

The food critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer was unimpressed by a steak he got at a restaurant called "Chops," and said so in a review.  The restaurant, displeased, sued for libel, contending that he received (and knew he received) a steak sandwich without bread, not an actual steak.  And now, the Philadelphia Weekly reports, his videotaped deposition may be shown publicly, causing significant harm to his ability to remain anonymous.

(I observe that the Chops comment section has some negative comments about the lawsuit too.) (Update: As commenter LCC (also known as my sister) notes, the negative comments have disappeared.)


July 3, 2007 in Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Rock Concert Injuries

An entertaining Above The Law post about this ad at Q101 in Chicago, where Goldberg Weisman Cairo, a personal injury firm, seeks clients injured at rock concerts.

As a general matter, I find the header ("The pit is dangerous!") to be a pretty compelling argument for assumption of risk.  I've been in quite a number of pits and I was quite aware of the risks.  Indeed, the risks are generally the purpose, no?

Additionally, this caught my eye:

June 29, 1998 A 17-year-old girl attended a rock concert where promotional compact discs were being thrown into the audience as prizes. She suffered an extensive corneoscleral laceration with vitreous hemorrhage and retinal detachment when a compact disc struck her in the eye. An alternative, safer method must be used for distributing compact discs as prizes.

And why did it catch my eye?  Because of how closely it tracked part of my exam [PDF] in Torts last fall, which featured all sorts of bands from the '80s you don't want to hear again:

The Fixx performs at Second Street, at a show attended by (among others) Gregory Pajeski, who paid $10 for his ticket.  At the end of the performance, all of the members of the band (including Pyrnin, Prown, and guitarist drummer Adam Poods) throw several dozen free CDs into the crowd as promotions.  Pajeski just misses catching one of them.  At the end of the encore, all three members of the band again throw several dozen free CDs into the crowd.  This time, one hits Pajeski in the ear and slices it open, requiring many stitches and several thousand dollars worth of medical care.

Good times.


June 27, 2007 in Goofy Cases, Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (1)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The $54 Million Pants Trial

By now, we've all heard about the DC Administrative law judge who is suing his dry cleaner for $54 million (originally $65 million) for losing a pair of pants.  The trial started yesterday.  Emil Steiner of the Washington Post is live-blogging the trial.  The trial resumes today with cross-examination of the plaintiff.  (Thanks to Overlawyered for the tip). 


June 13, 2007 in Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 8, 2007

Robert Bork Sues Yale Club For Negligence

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports that Robert Bork, the former nominee to the Supreme Court and current professor at Ave Maria, has filed a negligence suit against the Yale Club based on a slip-and-fall at an event in June 2006.  WSJ Law Blog has a copy of the complaint.  Bork seeks $1 million in compensatory damages and an unspecified award of punitive damages. 


June 8, 2007 in Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ethics In Negligence Case - Sharp Maybe, But Sanctionable?

The Florida Supreme Court recently sanctioned a lawyer for his conduct in a personal injury case (Florida Bar v. Cocalis).  The lawyer represented the defendant in a dog bite case.  Plaintiffs alleged that the defendant's dog bit their two-year-old daughter, and that the bite caused alopecia (hair loss on the scalp).   During the case, plaintiff's counsel refused to stipulate to the records of a treating physician.   So, defendant's counsel subpoenaed the records custodian to appear at trial.  The custodian, however, mistakenly mailed the records to defendant's counsel.   Defendant's counsel returned the records to the custodian and explained that they should be brought to trial.   

Here's where the case gets interesting:  the mailed copy of the records contained a notation that was not on the original set of document's attached to the doctor's deposition.   The new entry documented a call between the doctor and plaintiff's counsel, stating that the doctor advised plaintiff's counsel that he did not believe the alopecia was caused by the dog bite.   Unaware of the new entry, plaintiff's counsel finally stipulated to the admission of the documents at trial.   Defendant's counsel did not advise plaintiff's counsel that (1) he had received the records from the custodian, (2) that the records contained a new entry, or (3) that the records he sought to admit were not the same as those attached to the depo. 

The Florida Supreme Court found the defendant's lawyer guilty of misconduct under Florida's general "misconduct and dishonesty" rule.  (The Court of Appeals also reversed the case, finding the trial court had abused its discretion in admitting the mailed records.  Bradley v. Brotman, 836 So. 2d 1129 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003)).    The Florida Supreme Court ordered a public reprimand as well as attendance in a professionalism program and bar ethic's course.  Notably, the lawyer had no prior disciplinary charges.

Was a public reprimand (and exclusion of the evidence) warranted in this case?   What about the plaintiff's lawyer who failed to follow up with the most current version of the records?   This one just strikes me as odd. 


May 30, 2007 in Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wrong Casket? Dig Up Your Ancestor and Sue

That's the approach in Arkansas, anyway:

When [Clarence Budy] Simons died in July 2002, the Simons family shelled out $1,745 for an Addison 20 gauge casket that was supposed to be leak-proof for 75 years.

But in 2005, Simons' family learned that some "leak-proof" caskets made by Batesville Casket weren't so watertight, according to the family's lawsuit filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court by their attorney, Charles Phillip Boyd Jr. of Little Rock.

In May 2005, the family exhumed Simons to see if the casket had leaked.

Sure enough, the family said, the casket had leaked and didn't preserve Simons.

Why, yes, they have sued:

The family also learned the casket Simons was in was of "significantly less quality" and cheaper than the one they ordered.

The family said the situation has caused severe emotional distress and has listed several counts on which they are seeking damages, including breach of contract.

Query: Does voluntarily witnessing the exhumation of your father/spouse/family member fit in the category of consent and/or assumption of risk?

(h/t LCC)


May 30, 2007 in Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Father of Drunk Driver Sues Restaurant For Son's Death

Howard Wasserman has an interesting post over at Sports Law Blog about a case filed last week by the father of a St. Louis Cardinals pitcher against a restaurant (Mike Shannon's Steaks and Seafood), the driver of a stalled car and a towing company for their alleged roles in his son's death.  A copy of the complaint is available from KMOV in St. Louis.

Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock was killed last April when his car collided with a tow truck that was assisting a disabled car.  Prior to the accident, Josh Hancock had been drinking at Mike Shannon's.  In the lawsuit, Hancock's father, Noel Dean Hancock, alleges that the restaurant violated Missouri's dram shop law by continuing to serve Josh even though he was visibly intoxicated.  The complaint also brings negligence claims against the tow truck company and stalled car driver.  Notably, reports indicate that Josh was drunk, speeding, and talking on his cell phone with his girlfriend at the time of the crash.  (Check out Wasserman's post for links to several stories about the accident and lawsuit). 

Wasserman provides a thorough analysis of the unlikely success of the dram shop count and the likely comparative fault defenses on the negligence counts against the tow truck and stalled car driver.  Beyond that, Wasserman raises an interesting point about the tort system:  Is this case a frivolous lawsuit clogging our system or a dispute best resolved by a jury? 

(Note to TortsProfs:  The case also may provide some good facts for exam time -- save this idea away for next year). 


May 30, 2007 in Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

That Might Be Just a Tad Beyond the Limitations Period

...or at least it would be if she filed a lawsuit:

An 81-year-old Kerrville [Texas] woman was arrested Tuesday on charges she sent letters to Hall of Fame NFL quarterback Bart Starr in an effort to extort $2 million from him.

A typed, computer-generated letter that authorities contend Ruby Y. Young mailed alleges a vague encounter with Starr in 1960. But the former MVP of the first two Super Bowls denies even knowing the woman, according to a criminal complaint affidavit filed against Young in Birmingham, Ala.

* * *

"And now, the time has come for you to pay -- to pay for the many injuries you caused me. ... No I am not a push-over Mr. Starr -- and no, I do not need the money -- but I intend to see that you pay for your wrong doings (sic) to me ...," said the first letter, dated Oct. 30, 2006, which an agent quoted in part in the affidavit. "How much is it worth to preserve this 'image' presented to the public these many years of who and what you are?"

[via Deadspin]

December 6, 2006 in Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)