Various pundits are saying 2019 will include a surge in litigation. In that vein, it will be interesting to see if adverse financial outcomes for M&A deals and IPOs result in state court class action securities cases. For more on that topic, see a November 16, 2018 guest post at D&O Diary, titled: A New Twist in M&A Litigation: Section 11 Cases in State Court.
Age of exposure to toxins is receiving increasing attention from researchers. Below, the abstract from an interesting study of arsenic drinking water exposures in Chile.
Arsenic in drinking water is known to cause cancer and noncancer diseases, but little is known about its association with age at exposure. Here, we investigated age at arsenic exposure and mortality in Antofagasta, Chile, 30螔years after a distinct period of very high water arsenic concentrations (1958). We calculated standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) comparing Antofagasta with the rest of Chile for 2001by sex and age at potential first exposure. A remarkable relationship with age at first exposure was found for bronchiectasis, with increased risk in adults 30螔years after exposure being confined to those who were in utero (SMR = 11.7, 95% confidence interval (CI): 4.3, 25.4) or aged 1蝶years (SMR = 5.4, 95% CI: 1.1, 15.8) during the high-exposure period. Increased SMRs for lung, bladder, and laryngeal cancer were evident for exposures starting at all ages, but the highest SMRs were for exposures beginning at birth (for bladder cancer, SMR = 16.0 (95% CI: 10.3, 23.8); for laryngeal cancer, SMR = 6.8 (95% CI: 2.2, 15.8); for lung cancer, SMR = 3.8 (95% CI: 2.9, 4.9)). These findings suggest that interventions targeting early-life arsenic exposure could have major impacts in reducing long-term mortality due to arsenic 30螔years after exposure ends.”
Below, an interesting agenda item from the now ongoing PLAC annual meeting:
“10:00 am – 10:30 am: The Trend Toward Monster Verdicts—What Is Happening and What To Do About It
Eight and nine figure verdicts are coming down with increasing frequency. If the trend continues, it will dramatically change the product liability landscape. We will discuss what is happening, why it is happening, what the plaintiffs are doing to perpetuate the trend and what we can do to stop it.
Christopher C. Spencer, Esq. Spencer Shuford LLC”
A new article consolidates information on the use of chapter 11 by Catholic dioceses. The author is a Penn State law professor, Marie Reilly. The article is posted in SSRN, Catholic Dioceses in Bankruptcy. Hat tip to Private Law Theory blog for flagging the article.
The abstract states:
“The Catholic Church is coping with mass tort liability for sexual abuse of children by priests. Since 2004, eighteen Catholic organizations have filed for relief in bankruptcy. Fifteen debtors emerged from bankruptcy after settling with sexual abuse claimants and insurers. During settlement negotiations, sexual abuse claimants and debtors clashed over the extent of the debtors’ property and ability to pay claims. Although such disputes are common in chapter 11 plan negotiations, the Catholic cases required the parties and bankruptcy courts to account for unique religious attributes of Catholic debtors. This article reviews the arguments and outcomes on property issues based on reported decisions, pleadings, plans, and disclosure statements. It explains the key characteristics of Catholic dioceses under canon and secular organization law and the bankruptcy contexts in which these characteristics became hot button issues. It offers an analysis of the legacy of the Catholic cases for bankruptcy law, religious liberty, and for the relationships among entities within a Catholic diocese.”
Now online is the 1/3 fee petition from Hale v. State Farm. et al., # 3:12- cv-00660, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. As explained in an October 17, 2018 article in LAW360, the suit’s allegations assert thatState Farm “funneled millions into the campaign coffers of a candidate for an open seat on the [Illinois Supreme] court in order to buy his vote to overturn [a prior ruling] — and then lied about it in court filings, the suit claimed.” Unfortunately, the motion says nothing about what will or will not be done to make public the testimony and documents collected in discovery. That seems incongruous when the fee petitioners claim this case is important for the public.
As the molecular revolution continues, take a look ahead to what trial lawyers will have for exhibits in the future:
Watch Mouse Embryos Develop Under This 4-D Microscope https://www.wired.com/story/watch-mouse-embryos-develop-under-this-4-d-microscope/?mbid=social_twitter_onsiteshare …
Ever focused on science and law issues, Nathan Schactman’s October 3, 2018 post highlights several new articles focused on points of intersection between science and law. Several of the articles appear useful for tort lawyers.
The October 3, 2018 post at Drug & Device blog is a must read. It’s a quick, humorous and pithy summary of a true story – a church-based scheme involving a “miracle water.” Amazing.
To tease you into reading, here’s the introduction:
“Take out your hymnal, and turn to Hawkins v. State, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 7863 (Texas Ct. App., 14th Dist. Sept. 27, 2018). Consider the case of Mr. Hawkins, hereinafter referred to as “the defendant,” but who self-identified as a bishop of the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing. A primary teaching of said church was the amazing curative power of “MMS,” which variously stands for Miracle Mineral Solution, Master Mineral Solution, or Miracle Mineral Supplement. (We think of MMS as an abbreviation either for the more prosaic Multimedia Messaging Service or the sillier Make Me Smile. But who are we to depart from church doctrine?). MMS is a sodium chloride product typically used as a disinfectant. It is an industrial bleaching agent. The defendant held monthly seminars and taught his flock how to mix and consumer MMS. And what bounty shall this marvelous MMS elixir deliver? Why, nothing less than a cure for cancer, HIV, heart disease, autism, and Ebola. So sayeth the defendant.”
Some years back, a few people (including me, in 2010) bucked conventional wisdom and predicted the rise of class actions in Europe. See, for example, my 2010 post at https://www.globaltort.com/2010/03/be-careful-what-you-wish-for-in-litigation-might-that-rule-apply-to-the-iqbaltwombly-pleading-standard/.
In fact, class actions continue to expand in Europe. For a timely and useful article providing news on the latest possible expansion, see “Collective re-dress: all talk and now trousers.” It’s online at Cooley.com. Among other things, the article points out the following possible expansion:
- “More sectors in scope: the Committee proposes to significantly extend the scope of representative actions to include a much larger number of legislative instruments, primarily focussed on product safety. These include the General Product Safety Directive, and the regimes relating to low voltage equipment, radio equipment, machinery, PPE, chemicals, cosmetics, toys, foods, medicines and medical devices.”
As pointed out in Tuesday’s post (September 18, 2018), Praedicat and Allianz recently published facts and assessments on a “toxic” trio associated with some cosmetics. Again, this is an innovative effort, and deserves careful consideration. The third member of the “toxic trio” substances is formaldehyde. The facts and assessment of the future are – again – notable:
“Formaldehyde is listed as a known carcinogen by the US National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)…. However, formaldehyde is most commonly used to make resins – precursors to many plastic and adhesive chemicals – that are used in dozens of industrial processes that eventually produce hundreds of consumer products: pressed wood, disinfectants, clothing, adhesives, laminates, insulation, paper products, and personal care products. Formaldehyde is often a component of hair straighteners used both in salons and at home.
Using Praedicat’s model to evaluate the current consensus and projected evolution of the peer-reviewed scientific literature, we summarize the hypothesised bodily injuries linked to formaldehyde exposure in the table.”