Circumnetting Supreme Court Cases, Contingencies and Caps

Glenn Lammi of the Washington Legal Foundation does a roundup post at WLF’s Legal Pulse blog on the business cases the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear yesterday, “Supreme Court Cert Grants: FOIA, False Claims, Civil Procedure and the Return of Anna Nicole Smith“:

Emerging from its summer recess and Monday’s “Long Conference,” the U.S. Supreme Court granted review to 14 cases this morning.  Eight of them involve business litigants or implicate issues that affect our free enterprise system.  The Court accepted cases featuring one law on which it has ruled very frequently of late — the False Claims Act – and another law — the Freedom of Information Act — on which it rarely comments.  One case explores a first-year law school civil procedure issue, while another gets deeply into the weeds of bankruptcy jurisprudence, thanks to a three-decade estate battle involving the late Anna Nicole Smith.

David Freddoso of The Washington Examiner tracks the activities of the litigation lobby and finds them still grasping, “Trial lawyers will still have their best friend after November.” Freddoso is referring to President Obama, whom he warns might allow the federal government to again farm out its lawsuits to private law firms.

President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13433, which bars federal agencies from hiring trial lawyers to pursue lucrative contingency cases on behalf of the government.

Such hired-gun lawyers have become overnight millionaires working for various state attorneys general — most notably in the 1998 tobacco settlement. As of Nov. 3, there will be nothing to stop Obama from rescinding the executive order and effectively handing new legal patronage to his donors.

The Cato Institute’s Daniel Griswold and Sallie James write on H.R. 4678, the Foreign Manufacturers Liability Act, warning “‘Consumer Safety’ Bill Could Boomerang against U.S. Manufacturers“:

Barriers to trade can be straightforward and transparent, even if wrongheaded, such as a 27.5 percent tariff that certain members of Congress threatened to impose on imports from China. Or barriers can take the form of rules and regulations proposed in the name of protecting public health and safety but that have a secondary effect of restricting trade. An example of such a non-tariff barrier is legislation now before Congress called the Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act (FMLAA).

And good news for Maryland business owners, reported by BestWire Services, “Maryland High Court Upholds Liability Cap“:

The Maryland Court of Appeals upheld the state’s long-standing cap on pain-and-suffering tort awards, citing a legitimate government purpose in keeping liability insurance costs in check.

The Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, ruled the Court of Special Appeals, the state’s intermediate court, was right to deny a motion questioning the constitutionality of the cap. First established at $350,000 in 1986, the cap has increased to $725,000, or approximately $1.1 million in a wrongful death case with two or more beneficiaries.

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