We start with a non-PI case since this is a problem that could stop this blog cold: Law.com reports of a malpractice liability insurer (Executive Risk Specialty, a unit of Chubb) stopping lawyers from blogging out of a fear of legal malpractice concerns — Before You Blog, Check With Your Insurance Carrier. Does this mean their insured won’t also be able to write an article? Put up a web site? Give a CLE lecture? If you have Chubb as your carrier, you may want to tell them to take a powder before they tell you. And tell them why they have lost your business.
Moving right on to the juxtaposition of law and medicine –>> In the world of FDA regulation, Pharmalot not only reports on how the FDA will limit conflicts of interest with respect to drug and device manufacturers, but does so a day ahead of it being the lead article in the New York Times. If you have pharma cases, this new blog, started in January, is chock full of news, apparently aiming to be to pharma what Howard Bashman’s How Appealing is to lawyers;
From the FDA to cigarettes –> Byron Stier notes at the Mass Torts Blog that Tobacco Companies May Not Market Cigarettes As “Low Tar” or “Light” Overseas; while on the same blog Howard Erichson discusses the ethics involved in mass tort representation;
In hospital news, the WSJ Health Blog reports that at Massachusetts General Hospital it was found that doctors and nurses didn‘t wash their hands as often as they should. If that’s what it’s like at one of the best hospitals in the nation, what is going on in your neighborhood? (Though it’s still an improvement over practicing medicine with your fingernails.)
Also in medical malpractice, Kevin at LexBlog reports on a widow that warns of a hospital’s medical malpractice on her husband in a blog. The widow’s blog posting now seems to be a dead link, but Kevin’s is not. Once upon a time an angry customer might stand outside a store with a picket sign if she felt she was wronged. Now she can blog it to the world. What next, webcams in the hospital to watch your family?
Blogs also come up on the heels of last weeks $55M verdict against Chrysler, as the plaintiff’s attorneys are speaking out in the comments section of blogs to defend the verdict against what they apparently view as Chrysler propaganda. Ted Frank at Overlawyered had complained about the verdict, which resulted in a lengthy comment from plaintiff’s counsel and subsequent emails. He then put up a new post with the comments and responsive emails included, which was good to see since the folks that try a case are invariably in a better position to speak to merits than others. One of the plaintiff’s attorneys also wrote in responding to my own blog, Will DaimlerChrysler $50M Punitive Damage Verdict Withstand Review?.
While all those folks will likely be in appellate litigation for years to come, Ronald Miller has a piece on how to avoid just that for the less sensational suits, at the Trial Lawyer Resource Center blog, about negotiations and listening to insurance adjusters;
On more a more pedestrian front, Miller discusses at the Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog why it is so important to be choosy on slip and fall cases on ice and snow.
Still in Maryland, John Day from Day on Torts reports on a significant new ruling from the highest court on economic loss in tort cases;
Since weather obviously plays a role in so many personal injury cases, I might as well point out a good practice tip from the Kentucky Law Review on obtaining certified copies of past weather conditions from National Climatic Data Center;
Another practice tip comes from Evan Schaeffer at his Illinois Trial Practice Weblog regarding various technologies to keep track of trial and deposition testimony;
Anne Reed’s tips on voir dire questions at Deliberations reminds me of a question I heard a few years back from defense counsel in a med mal I was trying, which I am sure no potential juror was expecting: “What magazines to you subscribe to?” If the answer is Mother Jones or Guns and Ammo you may get insights you might have otherwise missed. Perhaps one might also ask these days, “Do you read any blogs, and if so, which ones?”
From voir dire and into trial, at Simple Justice new blogger Scott Greenfield writes about cameras in the courtroom in I’m Ready for my Close-up, Justice DeMille as the matter gets debated in our state capitol.
Shifting gears to a bit of constitutional law that reared its head regarding the federal Transportation Equity Act of 2005. This law attempts to preempt those state statutes that permit the owners of rented or leased motor vehicles to be vicariously liable for the negligence of the drivers. If valid, it would override New York’s own law to the contrary. But one state judge held in September 2006 that it was unconstitutional, asserting in Graham v. Dunkley that the Commerce Clause did not apply and that the federal government was seizing a state right in violation of the Tenth Amendment. Matthew Lerner at New York Civil Law discusses this week the precedential value of the case and how other courts have responded;
From Conlaw to Petlaw — >> Stephanie Mencimer writes in the Tortellini about tainted pet food in Whither the pet plaintiff. In New York, as in many places, damages are limited to the cost of the pet (assuming you could prove causation), making good lawsuits and discovery unlikely unless some type of class action could be brought. My gut feeling is that it would take a lot of creative lawyering to achieve anything beyond the costs of the food. This did not stop this one New York couple and their lawyer, which just filed suit for compensatory and punitive damages for their dog that they said has died from the tainted food. Since causation will have to be proved, the legal fee might not pay the rent even if they succeed on the compensatories, and punitive damages will no doubt be a difficult road. [Addendum: CNN reports that the first class action suit has been filed in Wisconsin]
And finally, slightly off the personal injury page to employment discrimination, Monica at The Common Scold tips us off to a creative blog about the issues The Office manages to bring up in each episode in, That’s What She Said.
Enjoy the weekend.
(Submissions for next week’s edition may be made to blog[at]TurkewitzLaw.com)