Everything is relative, it seems. The tobacco industry complains bitterly about plain packaging for cigarettes. Compare, in contrast, this National Health Service television ad showing a tumor in a beer bottle.
Outliers. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book about things one can learn by looking at outliers. The point here is to highlight that outliers can matter in both cancer research and litigation, if and when people stop to look and understand. Today, for example, outliers are useful to disease researchers trying to understand more about how cancer works by looking at the genomes of persons who were “extreme responders” in clinical trials. Yesterday’s outlier extreme responders are studied today because now researchers can use new and/or far less expensive investigative tools compared to last year or five years ago. So, now, when tissues and/or fluids have been preserved, the researchers can go back and seek to find out why 1 person out of x people had a complete remission during a clinical trial, but the others did not.
The same retrospective perspective and tools could be applied to most any kind of toxic tort litigation with many claimants, when tissues have been preserved. Consider, for example, outliers in asbestos litigation. Why did that one person with mesothelioma survive for 10 years? Was it really mesothelioma? Did she or have true mesothelioma and a unique sets of genes or RNA or …? The lessons then could be applied prospectively. But will anyone bother to invest in looking at the outlier persons in asbestos litigation?
Chapter 11 is a place where creditors and debtors sometimes can and do game the law. Mass tort bankruptcies highlight the problem of gaming state tort law. As it turns, out however, there also is tax law gaming, as described on the CLS Blue Sky blog in a brief article by Diane Lourdes Dick, Assistant Professor of Law at Seattle University School of Law, regarding a full article titled “Bankruptcy’s Corporate Tax Loophole,” 82 Fordham Law Review 2273 (2014). The full paper is online.
Now the litigation is underway – see here for the plaintiff side and here for a defense side D & O article. The litigation will be fascinating, especially looks into “dark pools” and “what did you know, and when did you know it. “
Assume a Can Opener. Pretty good humor and writing about economists – from the Epicurean Dealmaker.
Humor and sarcasm are wonderful tools. Kudos to the PopTort for using both to make General Mills look awful, which it appears to deserve, for tying litigation waivers to buying breakfast food, use of coupons or signing up for social media groups. The New York Times provides a less humorous account of the strategies employed by General Mills. The punchline is the following missive from General Mills:
New data indicates worsening in the rankings and performance of Chicago centric airlines. Some of the outcomes probably arise from the snowy winter, but that does not account for other foibles and follies, such as lousy computer systems. Reputations are easy to lose in this age of growing numbers of reports on metrics, and rapid and wide-spread distribution of information
Alison Frankel reported yesterday on a Fourth Circuit ruling that may well make it easier to undo the veil of secrecy imposed on secret trial proceedings in the Garlock asbestos bankruptcy case. The entire article is well worth reading; in the opening paragraph, she explained:
“I plow through a lot of appellate opinions. Few of them make me want to stand up and read aloud in the Reuters newsroom. But a couple of sentences, from a ruling Wednesday by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, just about pushed me out of my chair. “A corporation very well may desire that the allegations lodged against it in the course of litigation be kept from public view to protect its corporate image, but the First Amendment right of access does not yield to such an interest,” the three-judge 4th Circuit panel wrote. “Whether in the context of products liability claims, securities litigation, employment matters or consumer fraud cases, the public and press enjoy a presumptive right of access to civil proceedings and documents filed therein, notwithstanding the negative publicity those documents may shower upon a company.”
Are we in a new age of investigative journalism, and so are reputation risks even higher for companies involved with stories that are not favorable ? The question arises because Pulitzer prizes were announced yesterday, and two relate to actual or alleged toxins. One Pulitzer went to the Center for Public Interest for its reporting on the fiasco that is black lung litigation. Another went to Dan Fagin for his book, Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation. It’s a non-fiction telling of the story of a river, pollution by Ciba-Geigy, and years of action and inaction.
Asbestorama appears to have been busy adding asbestos-related pictures to Flickr.