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Personal Injury Law Round-Up #40

This is an early edition of the Personal Injury Law Round-Up since I’ll be out of the office tomorrow working a volunteer project at a low income school in East Austin (even personal injury lawyers do some good out there).

Perhaps the biggest news of the week, Eric Turkewitz was in a car wreck. He was not hurt, but he writes about the plaintiff lawyer’s experience of a car wreck. Continuing the “plaintiff’s lawyer’s view of the system,” I have been called for jury duty next week (a criminal court so I might get picked) and will try to write on that experience.

Now, onto tort reform…

TrialAdNotes has a post about Benched: the Corporate Takeover of the Judiciary, a DVD about judicial election and tort reform.

With Democrats in control, trial lobby makes headway, at least according to The Hill. Most of the article focuses on preemption issues.

In another New York Times article, Joe Nocera takes on lead paint litigation. Law and More’s Jane Genova was quoted in the article and has her own review. Barry Barnett at Blawgletter offers a rebuttal of the article.

From the TortsProf Blog, the Insurance Journal has an article on Texas tort reform. The article covers an Austin insurance defense lawyer’s speech to an insurance association where the lawyer claims that one downside to tort reform from the insurance company’s perspective is that more insureds are choosing to self-insure. His money quote: “We want a little bit of litigation out there, don’t we? We want a little bit of risk. We need risk or we’re all out of business….We’ll see what happens but tort reform has worked. I just hope for all of our sakes it hasn’t worked too well.” I’m not sure why this is a surprise? When Prop 12, our constitutional amendment on tort reform was being debated, many docs made no secret that one of their goals was to get the limits low enough so that they could self-insure. Stephanie Mencimer has her own summary of the story.

And pseudo tort reform, several lawmakers have filed an amicus brief criticizing the Texas Supreme Court. I wrote extensive about it here. And I have the link to the brief here.

And not really tort reform, but arbitration agreements have been in the news a bit due to Jamie Leigh Jones’ suit against Halliburton. I’ll spare the rhetoric that’s all over the net, but coverage is available at the USPIRG Consumer Blog, Torts Prof, and Overlawyered. I will add that Ted seems to question the plaintiff’s lawyers. Todd Kelly and Paul Waldner are both well-respected attorneys (I think Paul is the president-elect of the Texas Trial Lawyer’s Association, of which I’m proud to be a member).

Speaking of arbitration, the Senate Judiciary Comm is holding hearings on the Arbitration Fairness Act.

And for actual litigation news….

There was a lot of continued coverage on the Riegel v Medtronic case. The Mass Tort Litigation Blog has a link to a webcast of Professor Richard Epstein discussing the case. Epstein’s views will not be welcomed by plaintiff’s attorneys. Kia Franklin has a post on the case at TortDeform. The Drug and Device Law blog also posts on the case and the other two preemption cases in the Supreme Court pipeline. The Legal Intelligencer also has an article on the preemption cases at the 3rd Circuit.

Despite the potential for success at the Supreme Court, it was a bad week for Medtronic. On Tuesday, a federal judge entered a $226 million patent infringement judgment against Medtronic in favor of Johnson and Johnson. At the same time, it was announced that the Feds were investigating payments Medtronic made to docs, hospitals and others to use its devices.

Eli Lilly is now trying to persuade psychiatrists that they can prescribe their meds without incurring liability.

In a car wreck case, the parties reached an $18.3 million settlement the day before closing arguments were scheduled. The defendants reportedly refused a $1 million offer prior to trial. Ouch.

There was also a report of a $6 million settlement in a Big Dig case.

On the products front, LA personal injury lawyer Lowell Steiger has the “case of the exploding wine bottle.”

And on the other coast, a Conn. jury awarded a man $3.4 million for a defective nail gun that forced a nail through the plaintiff’s cheek and into his brain.

Staying on the east coast, the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court held that a doctor who failed to warn a patient about the side effects of medication can be held liable for the man’s car crash that killed a 10 year old boy. Ron Miller has a lengthy discussion of the case, and Bill Childs at Tort Profs has an account of the case. Similarly, the WSJ Law Blog and Health Blog have their own posts on the story.

Michael DeMayo at the North Carolina Injury Blog reports on a suit against Blackwater based on killings in Iraq.

Sticking with med mal, from the Consumerist, surgical objects are accidentally left inside 1500 patients a year. With that many incidents, maybe doctors are setting up a defense that a reasonably prudent doctor leaves a sponge in every now and then. Eric Turkewitz has also posted his views with x-rays.

In trucking news, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration upheld the current 11 hour driving requirement, rejecting requests by safety advocates.

The Houston Chronicle has continuing coverage of the BP trial. Bloomberg also has an article on the trial.

And Bill Marler has a radio interview regarding food poisoning lawsuits.

And now, for the unusual or whimsical or simply useful:

Evan Schaeffer has Depositions: Critical Questions for a Defendant Doctor.

The Consumerist reports that a shopping mall was found not responsible for a wild goose attacking a customer even though the stores employees had been feeding the goose.

A dubious world record — a good samaritan who stopped to help out victims of a car wreck was hit by another car and thrown in the air for a world record 118 feet.

On the fun side, the Trial Ad Notes blog has a link to a YouTube video featuring a video with Lego people singing about hearsay exceptions.

John Day has a useful link to Justia’s new service to search for federal court filings.

And a few weeks ago, we had a scathing opinion from a judge about attorney civility, and now we have a New York judge ordering court supervision of an attorney for his improper conduct.

Blawg Review #138, celebrating human rights day, is up at de novo.

Have a great weekend.

Brooks Schuelke

Brooks Schuelke is an Austin accident and injury lawyer.

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