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

“Some Fear Ebola Outbreak Could Make Nation Turn to Science”

Posted in Humor, Science

It’s Friday, so please indulge some cutting humor from Andy Borowitz. His humor is online at the New Yorker.

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—There is a deep-seated fear among some Americans that an Ebola outbreak could make the country turn to science.

In interviews conducted across the nation, leading anti-science activists expressed their concern that the American people, wracked with anxiety over the possible spread of the virus, might desperately look to science to save the day.
“It’s a very human reaction,” said Harland Dorrinson, a prominent anti-science activist from Springfield, Missouri. “If you put them under enough stress, perfectly rational people will panic and start believing in science.”

Additionally, he worries about a “slippery slope” situation, “in which a belief in science leads to a belief in math, which in turn fosters a dangerous dependence on facts.”

At the end of the day, though, Dorrinson hopes that such a doomsday scenario will not come to pass. “Time and time again through history, Americans have been exposed to science and refused to accept it,” he said. “I pray that this time will be no different.”

More Great Progress on Triggering the Immune System to See and Destroy Cancer Cells

Posted in Cancer, Science

Happy Friday, with really good news for kids with a form of leukemia. A new press release and an October 16, 2014 article in Fierce Biotech report on a new study of a new treatment that achieved 90% COMPLETE remissions in children with ALL – a vicious form of leukemia. This study is a fine example of how molecular researchers are doing great things as they figure out how to get the immune system to “see” blood and other cancers. That’s a big step because many cancers cells give off a “don’t eat me” signal that in effect causes the immune system to ignore the cancer cells. But once the new treatments gets the immune system to “see” the cancer cells, the immune system often can and will wipe out the cancer cells.

The doctors also are learning how to cope with a side effect. The side effect problem is that massive destruction of the cancer cells causes the cells to release cytokines (proteins involved in signaling). The massive, sudden release of all the cytokines can cause a “cytokine storm” that leads to extreme and potentially fatal fevers as the immune system goes into overdrive. But the doctors also are learning how to head off or treat the storms. Good news all the way around.

It’s a shame our nation invests trillions of  dollars in war and homeland security instead of the fundamental research needed to tame awful diseases such as the many diseases we call cancer, ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Awful diseases are the real terrorists for tens of millions of Americans.

Litigation Spin Wars – A Pro-plaintiff Counter on Class Actions

Posted in Class Actions, Litigation Industry

The litigation spin wars continue to increase in intensity and volume. News of more spin arrived through an October 15, 2014 post at ThePopTort. The post starts out as follows:

“Today, the Center for Justice & Democracy at New York Law School released a brand new study, “First Class Relief: How Class Actions Benefit Those Who Are Injured, Defrauded and Violated.”  The study is a compilation of more than 150 recent class actions that have been litigated and settled since 2005.  It’s an examination of a wide array of cases, and I mean wide: cases involved predatory and discriminatory lending, like illegal auto finance and mortgage loan mark-ups, payday loans, unlawful practices targeting Servicemembers, and Ponzi schemes.  Many race and gender employment discrimination class actions.  Nine antitrust class action settlements that distributed over $1 billion to tens of thousands of consumers and small and medium-sized businesses from companies who participated in criminal price-fixing cartels!  Wow.”

See the full post at PopTort for the links and more of the story.



Bankruptcy Court Secrecy – the Apple Version

Posted in Bankruptcy, Secrecy

How about a secret chapter 11 proceeding, to benefit Apple’s penchant for secrecy?  The issues are arising in the context of a chapter 11 filing by a would-be supplier to Apple of sapphire glass, GT Advanced. The secrecy sought for Apple seems contrary to law, and contrary to demands by the US Chamber of Commerce for transparency in bankruptcy court proceedings in Garlock. LAW360 has the story, and relevant papers.

Also compare and consider a recent ruling that upheld a Florida medical malpractice law. According to a story regarding the ruling, the 11th Circuit held that a claimant consents to state law by filing suit, and thereby waived any right to block  ex parte discussions of medical records between defense lawyers and the treating doctor. By parity of reasoning, a chapter 11 debtor consents to disclosure of its affairs, regardless of prior confidentiality terms.


More Advertising for More Tobacco Claiming – NGOs Focused on Litigation Are Forces to Consider

Posted in Asbestos, Tobacco

Dragging down big tobacco is a massive job. Asbestos defendants never have figured out how to do it successfully, perhaps in part because some insurance companies have conflicts of interest on the topic.

One NGO has been a consistent force in dragging down big tobacco – it is now known as the Public Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University School of Law – see here for some history. Professor Richard Daynard has been leading the group for years. The group has created a new center, and it’s now pushing further into action. The new push is through the PHAI’s Center for Public Health Litigation. That group is launching a new ad campaign seeking victims for suits against big tobacco. 

Set out below is the text from the group’s blog page, and the new ad, also from the blog page.


October 10th, 2014

The Center for Public Health Litigation, a project of the Public Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University School of Law, has launched an advertising campaign in Massachusetts to help inform victims of cigarette companies of their legal rights. While Massachusetts is the best state in the nation to hold cigarette makers responsible in court for the decades of damage they have done after two landmark rulings from the state’s highest court, few Massachusetts victims realize that they are in a position to find some measure of justice in the courtroom.

The Center for Public Health Litigation seeks to inform victims of their rights and, where possible, provide or find legal representation to hold the industry liable. The ad, reproduced below, will appear in newspapers and other media over the next several weeks. It makes references to the $79 million payment by Lorillard Tobacco Company to the family of lung cancer victim Marie Evans.

Unlike other advertising by trial lawyers, this is an effort by a non-profit public health-committed organization. It is one of several public health legal initiatives being undertaken by PHAI’s new Center for Public Health Litigation.

Tobacco ad  PHAISpec-corrected-816x1024



A Multi-Disciplinary Conference: “Public Health in the Shadow of the First Amendment”

Posted in First Amendment, Science

Courtesy of Torts Today and Jack Balkin, a link to and story about an upcoming multi-disciplinary conference on the public health issues arising as SCOTUS makes new law around the First Amendment. Those rulings are creating even more room for difficult and important intersections between science and law.

The conference home page explains the conference as follows:

A Conference Hosted by Yale Law School, Yale Medical School, and the Yale School of Public Health

Sponsored by the Information Society Project (ISP), the Yale Global Health Justice Partnership (GHJP), and the Yale Health Law and Policy Society (YHeLPS), with generous support from the Samuel and Liselotte Herman Fund for the Social and Behavioral Sciences at The Yale School of Public Health, and the Oscar M. Reubhausen Fund.

Public Health in the Shadow of the First Amendment will bring together leading scholars, key policy makers, and top experts in law, public health and medicine. This conference, the first of its kind, will investigate a broad range of complex constitutional issues raised at the intersection of medicine, public health, and the First Amendment.

The regulation of food, medicines, and tobacco all rely crucially today on the regulation of speech, for example through behavioral marketing, disclosures, and restrictions on certain modes of commercial promotion. First Amendment doctrine has recently changed in significant ways, bringing it into potentially deep tension with such measures. For example, commercial speech doctrine has been used to invalidate FDA restrictions on off-label marketing of drugs, to prevent graphic warnings on cigarette packages, and to challenge calorie disclosures in restaurants.

In addition, new and important questions about the limits of a legislature’s ability to mandate or forbid certain physician speech are emerging. For example, should the First Amendment protect doctors from requirements that they provide patients with ultrasounds or medically unproven “information” in the abortion context, or mental health providers from restrictions on conducting reparative therapy for gay teens? In cases such as these, courts and legislatures are also increasingly required to adjudicate questions of scientific merit. Many recent examples suggest reason for concern about the results.

Neither courts nor scholars have developed a consistent and coherent approach to these different areas. Experts in First Amendment law are rarely in a position to fully articulate the health consequences of these cases, and health experts rarely have the literacy in free speech law required to navigate these issues.

This conference will investigate these enormously important issues, with panels on food and drug regulation, behavioral marketing in the context of obesity, tobacco, and food policy, the regulation of professional conduct, First Amendment theory, and the intersection between science and democracy.”

“A short history of the toxicology of inhaled particles”

Posted in Asbestos, Science

“A short history of the toxicology of inhaled particles” is a helpful history for persons thinking about asbestos and disease, as well as other particles and disease.   Ken Donaldson and Anthony Seaton, Fibre Toxicology 2012, 9:13  doi:10.1186/1743-8977-9-13.  Another article provides interesting insights into Mr. Donaldson and his career.   It is:  Ken Donaldson: retirement of a young mind , Paul Borm and Flemming R. Cassee,  Particle and Fibre Toxicology 2013, 10:8  doi:10.1186/1743-8977-10-8

Targeting and Catching a Global Fraudster, via London’s Courts

Posted in Fraud

It’s a James Bond type of story, as Michael Goldhaber points out, in telling the short version of a story regarding British lawyers at Lovells Hogan using London’s courts to target and imprison a global fraudster (Mukhtar Ablyazov). Read the October 9, 2014 story at American Lawyer to learn the incredible value and flexibility of an order to cooperate under the Norwich Pharmacal doctrine.