Litigation Monday

By June 23, 2008Briefly Legal

Lots of news on the civil litigation, tort reform front today:

Or When They First Think of Law School: Reasonable enough piece in the business section of The New York Times on Sunday, To the Trenches: The Tort War Is Raging On.” The Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform draws attention for its valuable efforts, as does the NAM ally, the American Justice Partnership. AJP’s Stephen Hantler has words of wisdom: “If you were to ask a corporate lawyer, when does the litigation process start, the corporate lawyer would say, when the lawsuit is filed…The trial lawyer would say, not at all. It starts when judges are appointed or judges are elected, and when laws are made.”

Win, Place or Show: Concluding arguments in the Kentucky fen-phen trial are set for today in a Covington federal courtroom, the issue being whether three attorneys who won a class-action case ripped off their clients when they took $51 million out of the $200 million settlement. The Cincinnati Enquirer has a wrap-up story today, Fen-phen case nears climax,” with all its strange elements: The lawyers buying a race horse, the machinations of Cincinnati class-action guru Stan Chesleygranted immunity – and the pain suffered by the clients. The Enquirer published a special section: “Prescription for Scandal” featuring all the coverage so far. Meanwhile, Florida A&M Law School defends a contribution from the wife of one of the charged attorneys.

What if the Ounce of Prevention Costs $10 Billion? Smart op-ed column in Canada’s Financial Post newspaper from Michael Krauss of the George Mason University School of Law, “Science danger ahead: Baby bottles, BPA and the precautionary principle.” In practice, the precautionary principle holds that no additional new risks are acceptable. Krauss writes: “The precautionary principle, then, is less a modern Luddism than a fear of the unknown risk, and an irrational preference for the known risk, even if the latter is very likely greater than the former. It is the denial of what has made us the most modern and, yes, safest and healthiest society on the face of the Earth. It is fear and it is unreason. It is downright dangerous.  When do we get to apply the precautionary principle to the precautionary principle?”

More from the Financial Post: From Terrance Corcoran, editor of The Financial Post, “Canned science and baby bottles.” “The Globe and Mail’s environmental coverage, now under the scaremongering stewardship of Martin Mittelstaedt, recently unleashed another of the master’s panic-inducers. “The Hidden Chemicals in Cans,” said the headline over a two-page spread that purported to report “for the first time” that canned goods in Canada — from beer to soup — contained “high levels” of Bisphenol A, the “estrogen-mimicking chemical.” Never mind that the measured levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) were actually phenomenally low — the only thing high was the size of the headline used by the Globe to record the numbers. The 8.61 parts per billion of BPA in a can of chicken soup were made to look proportionately equivalent of two giant chunks of chicken in each can.”

What’s All This About Baby Bottles? One of many, many stories of the ilk: “Columbus, Ohio Four Ohio parents have filed a federal lawsuit against makers of baby bottles, claiming the bottles were made with a harmful chemical that sparked congressional hearings and prompted Wal-Mart and other retailers to pledge to phase out the products.”

Judicial Activism Run Amock:  A column by Melanie Scarborough in The Examiner examines the lawsuit by a small activist group, the American Council of the Blind, that demanded U.S. paper money be made discernible to the blind. A judge agreed. “The larger and more representative National Federation of the Blind considers ACB’s lawsuit little more than a publicity stunt. ‘Because the management of paper currency is well within the capacity of the blind, changing the currency to gain a minor convenience is not justified,’ said Federation President Marc Maurer. Moreover, the changes to money that have been proposed are largely unworkable. Printing Braille on paper bills has been tested, Maurer said; it wears off very rapidly. Having currency of varying sizes would be helpful only if a blind person carried notes of every denomination to make comparisons among all of them.” Cost of the change? Not just the $225 million to print new money, but billions to retool all the country’s vending machines. One suit, one judge, billions of dollars.

There’s bound to be more ….

P.S. ScotusBlog covered the U.S. Supreme Court’s public session today. No Heller, no Exxon Valdez.

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