The Intersection Among Torts, Science, Corporate Law, Insurance & Bankruptcy

Gaming the Law Through Chapter 11 – The Tax Law Version

Posted in Uncategorized

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. 


The Beginning of the Litigation Over High Frequency and High Speed Trading

Posted in Securities, Uncategorized

High frequency trading. It’s a “growing cancer” on Wall Street, according to Charles Schwab.  It’s the subject of Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, another great, investigative book by Michael Lewis.

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. “

Priceless – “The PopTort Finds Leaked Memo to General Mills!”

Posted in Uncategorized

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:

“We’ve updated our privacy policy,” the company wrote in a thin, gray bar across the top of its home page. “Please note we also have new legal terms which require all disputes related to the purchase or use of any General Mills product or service to be resolved through binding arbitration.”


Reputation Risks – Chicago Centric Airlines are Getting Worse, Not Better

Posted in Offtopic

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

Fourth Circuit Ruling Improves the Odds for Overturning the Garlock Secrecy Orders

Posted in Uncategorized

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.”

Pulitzer Prizes and Toxins – the Links Between The Two Topics

Posted in Uncategorized

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.

ACI Chemical Litigation Conference

Posted in Litigation Industry, Uncategorized

Time to head to Chicago. Yes, it was a long winter in Chicago but it is warmer now, and so toxic tort lawyers should think about attending ACI’s Chemical Products litigation conference on April 30 and May 1.

The first panel’s agenda says a lot about where toxic tort litigation is headed, with some emphasis added:

8:15 Defeating the Causal Link between Subdiseases and Low Dose Exposure to Injury: The Latest Developments in Causation and Dose

Larry Chilton
Chilton Yambert & Porter LLP (Chicago, IL)

Stephen C. Dillard
Fulbright & Jaworski LLP (Houston, TX)

Lawrence Riff
Steptoe & Johnson LLP (Los Angeles, CA)

  • Understanding the ramifications of the $7.5M Kinder Morgan verdict (Lewis, et al. v. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners)
    • What does the future of toxic torts look like with low dose exposure on the table?
  • Defending against the new onslaught of cases with multiple myeloma and Myelodysplastic Syndrome claims
  • Comprehending the importance of the Schnatter study linking benzene and MDS and its impact on future litigation
    • Low dose exposure and blood cancers
  • Using IARC studies to your advantage: specific diseases linked to specific chemical exposure
  • Preparing for the fallout from the IARC study listing diesel as a human carcinogen
  • Creating defenses for the increased plaintiffs’ focus on the benzene docket to link new disease subtypes and low dose causation
  • What is the current state of EPA IRIS and how will this affect litigation that relied on EPA studies?

Also note that Howard Jarvis and others will be talking about actually using genomics in the courtroom. Howard is well out ahead of most in this area.

The conference also includes a panel on securities fraud and products litigation – it’s good to see more conversations between defense lawyers and securities lawyers, as well as discussion of Caremark duties.

11:00 From $10M in Damages to $100M: Avoiding Securities Fraud Claims in Products Liability Litigation by Meeting SEC Disclosure Requirements

Gregory G. Little
White & Case LLP (New York, NY)

Jeremy D. Mishkin
Partner & Chair of Litigation Department
Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads LLP (Philadelphia, PA)

  • Avoiding non-disclosure liability
    • What must you report to the SEC?
    • When must you file the SEC report?
  • Determining how much to disclose once a problem or potential cause of action is identified
  • Risk assessment does not equal causation: preventing plaintiffs’ attorneys from creating a link
  • Damage control: what to do if you have disclosed too much
    • The in-house counsel dilemma

“Why insurers should fund medical research, By Dr John Moore-Gillon British Lung Foundation”

Posted in Asbestos, Asbestos Trusts, International Asbestos

It’s good to see more people openly suggesting that insurers should be funding medical research on mesothelioma. The same principles also apply more broadly. Mesothelioma research should be funded by asbestos trusts, futures representatives, asbestos defendants, and unions. Set out below are excerpts from an article on the subject from the BBC on Sunday April 13. See

“One solution is to work with the insurance industry. If, each year, insurers invested in mesothelioma research just a tiny fraction of the amount they will end up paying out in compensation – for example, just 0.05% of that £11bn – it would absolutely transform mesothelioma research.

What is loose change for a multi-billion pound global industry could prove life-saving for thousands.

And what is more, as treatments improve, and more mesothelioma patients live healthy, fulfilling and economically productive lives, the amount of compensation insurers would have to pay out would fall.

It’s a win-win situation that should save the industry money.”