Tort Reform

Louisville slugger aluminum.JPGAt first blush, the judgment awarded to the parents of a fallen baseball player is enough to make a tort reformer vomit. The Helena Independent Record reports (gavel bang: Overlawyered):

After 12 hours of deliberation, a jury sided with the parents of former Miles City American Legion baseball pitcher Brandon Patch in a civil suit over the player’s death during a 2003 game in Helena.

Aluminum bat maker Hillerich & Bradsby Co. failed to provide adequate warning as to the dangers of the bat used by a Helena Senators player during the game, at least eight of the 12 Lewis and Clark County jurors agreed Wednesday.

Hillerich & Bradsby Co. was ordered to pay $792,000 to Patch’s estate, which is represented by his mother, Debbie Patch, who filed the suit.

The jury felt the bat makers should have had some kind of warning about the dangers of batted balls at high speeds.
Seriously? On first blush, this verdict makes me want to hunt down jury members, scream “warning, terrible judgments could result in you getting hit with a bat,” and play pepper using their eyeballs.
But in my homicidal fantasy, I’m hitting eyeball grounders with a wooden bat, not an aluminum one. Are aluminum bats different, in a way that might partially explain the verdict?
More details after the jump.

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Albert Freed penis pain.jpgLet’s get the boring stuff out of the way. Albert Freed (pictured) won a trip to Hawaii (not pictured). As part of the vacation celebration, Mrs. Freed bought her husband some new Hanes brand briefs. But Mr. Freed is a husky gentleman, and apparently the new trunks couldn’t contain all of his junk. He sued Hanes, claiming they made “defective” underwear.
Let me turn it over to Escambia County (FL) Judge Pat Kinsey:
Freed v Hanes 1.jpg
A question for the guys out there: How long would it take you to correct a problem involving sandpaper and your penis? Don’t you think penis chafing is something that requires immediate attention and decisive action?
And while we’re here, how long does it take for you to notice your stuff hanging out where it is not supposed to be?
Check out Albert’s excuse after the jump.

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American Association for Justice debt trial lawyers.JPGThe tort reformers among you are going to love this story. Just as it looks like there might be an opening to enact significant medical malpractice reform, it appears that one of the most powerful lobbying arms against reform is hemorrhaging money (gavel bang: Overlawyered). The Washington Times reports:

The American Association for Justice, the most prominent group representing plaintiffs’ attorneys, has seen a shake-up in its executive suite and has struggled to deal with what appears to be a mounting budget shortfall. To help it fight congressional efforts to make it harder for patients to sue doctors and lawyers, it recently sent out an extra solicitation to its members, asking them to fork over money for a lobbying campaign.
The most striking evidence of its financial woes is a swift decline in income, which resulted in a more than $6.2 million deficit in its operating budget for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2008, the most recent year for which data are available.

The reason for the shortfall appears to be fewer members. Details after the jump.

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Stupid lying plaintiff.jpgThe Connecticut Employment Law Blog reports on the kind of plaintiff that gives other plaintiffs a bad name:

In the middle of trial, a plaintiff (who is claiming his employment was terminated, among other reasons, in retaliation of his exercise of FMLA rights) drops a bombshell:

“[In the prior October], I learned that I had — have stage III prostate cancer with a metastatic brain lesion.”

What kind of client just blurts out “metastatic brain lesion” in open court? What kind of counsel allows that to happen?
Not surprisingly, defense counsel moved for a mistrial. The judge called a hearing, and then the idiot plaintiff had something else to say:

During the hearing, however, there’s another another unexpected development: The medical records show that the employee did not have (and never had) a metastatic brain lesion.

The plaintiff knew he didn’t have a brain lesion — though it seems self evident that something upstairs is not working properly in this guy’s head.
Is this a situation that demands more than a mistrial?

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Szul Jewelry web ad orgasm cunnilingus Above the Law blog.jpgWe weren’t surprised to see this case get a shout-out on I Am Lawsuit Abuse. From the AP:

A model who says she has worked hard to maintain a wholesome image has filed a $5 million lawsuit complaining that a jewelry company’s video advertisement in which she writhes and moans looks pornographic.

The commercial, seen on the Internet in a clip entitled “Rock Her World,” shows a woman wearing blue lacy lingerie and a diamond necklace while moaning and stroking her face and neck. It ends with the Web address for the jewelry company, Szul.com.

The 37-year-old woman claims in her lawsuit that she did not “consent to or authorize the use of her likeness, picture, image or name to simulate a female having an orgasm or otherwise experiencing sexual pleasure.”

Actually, we prefer the description of the New York Daily News:

The 35-second “Rock Her World” spot features the model rubbing her teal teddy and purring with pleasure to the hard-grinding sounds of a guitar as the slogan, “Jewelry works every time” pops up onscreen.

But look, no need to rely on print descriptions of the ad. One of the beauties of the internet as a medium is that, when it comes to audio or video, you can judge for yourself. So check out the clip — which, we warn you, is quasi-NSFW (at least with the sound turned on) — over at Blogonaut.
Done watching? Okay. We concur with our fellow blogger:

[W]e find it hard to believe that Jane Doe’s behavior on the ad could be taken for anything resembling the “wholesome” persona she claims was maligned. What could she have been thinking when she made the ad?

Indeed. What exactly did she think she was advertising when she consented to be filmed, clad in pastel lingerie, writhing on a bed? Anti-epilepsy drugs?
Anyway, casting directors, consider yourselves warned. If the woman from the Szul Jewelry ad shows up for your casting call, don’t even think of using her in that Herbal Essences ad.
Oh, and the “I’ll have what she’s having” scene from When Harry Met Sally? NOT FUNNY.
Update: Ted Frank has written about the case at Overlawyered. We like the title of his post, as well as this quip: “And, of course, she didn’t have to roll around on the bed in the first place.”
But he notes, in fairness, that the model-plaintiff is claiming no release (hehe). That might be a legitimate basis for a lawsuit.
Model’s suit: You used the video you took of me [Overlawyered]
NY Model Sues Jewelry Co for $5M Over R-Rated Web Ad [Blogonaut]
Model sues Szul Jewelry over Web ad [New York Daily News]
NY Lawsuit: My Commercial Looks Lewd [Associated Press]
Rock Her World [YouTube (mildly NSFW)]

* Apparently the President of the United States is somehow involved in the judicial nomination process. [The Weekly Standard via How Appealing]
* Too much litigation? Blame all those conservative trial lawyers. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Vick’s state trial date will be set today. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
* Nevada tries to smoke out some justice. [Reno Gazette-Journal]
* How tough can you be on protestors at a free speech debate? [BBC]

Roy Pearson Judge Roy L Pearson Abovethelaw Above the Law legal blog.jpgOkay, it’s not a “layoff,” since it’s not due to economic pressures. Rather, it’s due to his being a total asshat judicial record and temperament — and maybe a certain infamous lawsuit he filed.
From the Washington Post:

Roy L. Pearson Jr., whose $54 million lawsuit against a Northeast Washington dry-cleaning shop was rejected in court, is about to lose his job as an administrative law judge, sources said last night.

A city commission voted yesterday against reappointing Pearson to the bench of the Office of Administrative Hearings, which hears cases involving various D.C. boards and agencies. Pearson, who was up for a 10-year term, had tried to hold on to the job.

Expect the litigious Pearson to fight any refusal to reappoint him:

If the panel carries out its decision against reappointing him, Pearson, 57, could take the case to the D.C. Court of Appeals. In a separate filing, he is asking the appellate court to overturn the decision in the dry-cleaning case.

The sources said that had Pearson’s term not ended this May, at the height of his battle with the dry cleaners, he might have kept the job. His term has expired, but Pearson has remained on the payroll, making $100,000 a year as an attorney adviser for the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Judge Set to Lose Job, Sources Say [Washington Post]

Ernie Chambers Omaha Nebraska senator suing God Above the Law blog.jpgTime for a quick update on a recent Lawsuit of the Day — the case filed by Nebraska state senator Ernie Chambers, against God. Yes, God.
From the AP (via TaxProf Blog):

A legislator who filed a lawsuit against God has gotten something he might not have expected: a response.

One of two court filings from “God” came Wednesday under otherworldly circumstances, according to John Friend, clerk of the Douglas County District Court in Omaha.

“This one miraculously appeared on the counter. It just all of a sudden was here — poof!” Friend said.

Or maybe the court clerks didn’t notice when it was dropped off, since they were too busy gabbing about why Tyra picked a chick with Asperger’s for America’s Next Top Model.
More after the jump.

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Ernie Chambers Omaha Nebraska senator suing God Above the Law blog.jpgIt’s me, Ernie — Nebraska state senator Ernie Chambers. And I’m suing your divine ass! From the AP:

The defendant in a state senator’s lawsuit is accused of causing untold death and horror and threatening to cause more still. He can be sued in Douglas County, the legislator claims, because He’s everywhere.

State Sen. Ernie Chambers sued God last week. Angered by another lawsuit he considers frivolous, Chambers says he’s trying to make the point that anybody can file a lawsuit against anybody.

Chambers says in his lawsuit that God has made terroristic threats against the senator and his constituents, inspired fear and caused “widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants.”

And he pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda, and microwaved a few pooches. Jonathan Lee Riches, holla!
What relief is Chambers seeking? The WSJ Law Blog reports:

The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction against God, ordering him to cease certain harmful activities. Chambers asked the court to waive personal-service requirement. Because God is omniscient, he argues, he will have actual knowledge of the action.

And you thought the $54 million pants lawsuit was crazy. If God’s deposition ends up being taken, can someone ask him about the proper construction of this contractual provision?
P.S. Props to the AP reporter who conferred a Jesus-like halo upon Senator Chambers. You win the prize for Most Creative Use of an Electric Fan as a Background Element.
[AP via WSJ Law Blog]

From the National Examiner:

The American Tort Reform Association has posted Weird Al’s “I’ll Sue Ya” on its Web site, suggesting that the tune be “adopted as a theme song by America’s personal injury lawyers.”
“It’s been awhile since I’ve personally kept up with Weird Al’s work, but it’s nice to know he hasn’t lost his genius,” ATRA director of communications Darren McKinney said.
“Like all good comedy, Weird Al builds on a foundation of truth,” he added.

What foundation of truth, that there are too many lawsuits in this country, or that Korn sucks?
Check out the music video for Weird Al’s tune after the jump.
Related:
American Tort Reform Association
“Weird Al” Yankovic

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