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

Mesothelioma Therapy – Preliminary Report – 1 Complete Response

Posted in Asbestos, Cancer, Science

Therapy with CAR-T cells (artificially modified t-cells) is a “hot” idea these days in cancer therapy.  Last week, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation highlighted some early days, limited success in researchers at MMSK using CAR T cells in a clinical trial setting involving treatment of persons suffering from mesotheliomas; see this May 18, 2018 article.  The article highlights a first report titled: Phase I Clinical Trial of Malignant Pleural Disease Treated with Regionally Delivered Autologous Mesothelin-Targeted CAR T Cells: Safety and Efficacy – A Preliminary Report.   The full article abstract is online here. For optimists, the key sentence is one that reports a “remission,” as follows:

“One patient with MPM had complete metabolic response on PET scan (3E5 CAR T cells/kg and 10 cycles of anti-PD1 therapy to date); this patient remains clinically well 8 months after CAR T-cell infusion, with evidence of CAR T-cell persistence in peripheral blood and tissue at 31 weeks.”

For lawyers, on either side of the aisle, one might think about the implications of increased survival time and/or perhaps even better. One might also think about the expenses/damages.  When procedures of this sort are provided as part of a clinical trial, the patient does not pay. But, the hospital and drug company do incur expenses and pay fees. And, the sponsors of the trials hope to create working therapies that will cost notable dollars if approved by the FDA.

Times Change – Knowledge Was Not Always So Widely Available – The UT Southwestern Example

Posted in Science

As we “Google” data so easily, we forget that knowledge was not always so easy to acquire. An example arises from the history presented in an obituary/honoring article. It explains that as of 1951, UT Southwestern was located in the Shack shown in the picture below. According to the article, the school was transformed  under the leadership of  Dr. Donald W. Seldin. See an April 25, 2018 article from UT, titled: Dr. Donald W. Seldin, ‘intellectual father’ of UT Southwestern, dies at 97.

UT Southwestern Medical School as of 1951 – Photo from UT Southwestern article



Autism Spectrum, and “The truth about Hans Asperger’s Nazi collusion”

Posted in Offtopic, Science

A recent article provides a disturbing history as to the misuse of science in politics, by the Nazis, as to the disease we now tend to call autism spectrum disorder.  The open access article is dated May 8, 2018, from Nature, one of the world’s best journals of peer-reviewed science. It is: Baron-Cohen S. The truth about Hans Asperger’s Nazi collusion. Nature. 2018  May;557(7705):305-306. doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-05112-1. PubMed PMID: 29740126.



Nathan Schactman Asks: “P-Values: Pernicious or Perspicacious?”

Posted in Evidence, Litigation Industry, Science

Statistical analysis tools remain topics that are comfortable for relatively few lawyers. One of them is Nathan Schactman. In a new blog post, he critiques a newish law review article on the topic.Kingsley R. Browne, “Pernicious P-Values: Statistical Proof of Not Very Much,” 42 Univ. Dayton L. Rev. 113 (2017) .The critique is well-worth reading, in his post of May 12, 2018.

“Appointing Extremists”

Posted in Judges

“Appointing Extremists”

Michael A. Bailey Matthew Spitzer
American Law and Economics Review, Volume 20, Issue 1, 1 April 2018, Pages 105–137,

Published: 02 November 2017

“Given their long tenure and broad powers, Supreme Court justices are among the most powerful actors in American politics. In this paper, we present a model of the nomination process that highlights the how uncertainty about a potential justice’s preferences can lead a president to prefer a nominee with extreme preferences. In certain cases, Senators may also prefer extreme nominees, leading to the nomination and confirmation of justices whose preferences seem to diverge from those of elected officials. While our focus in this paper is on the Supreme Court, the analysis extends in many ways to other multimember appointed bodies as well.”

“Product Liability in Markets for Vertically Differentiated Products”

Posted in Litigation Industry, Product Liability

Academic exploration of product liability as to product safety levels:

American Law and Economics Review, Volume 20, Issue 1, 1 April 2018, Pages 46–81,

Published:   14 July 2017

The abstract explains:

“This article shows that shifting losses from consumers with heterogeneous harm levels to vertically differentiated duopolists increases product safety levels, while narrowing the degree of product differentiation. Our setup features observable (but possibly nonverifiable) product safety levels and firms subject to strict liability according to a parametric liability specification. Firms’ expected liability payments depend on both product safety and price levels which critically influences the repercussions of shifting losses to firms. From a social standpoint, shifting some losses to firms is always beneficial.”

The Seamy Side of Vaginal Mesh Litigation: “How Profiteers Lure Women Into Often-Unneeded Surgery”

Posted in Litigation Industry, Mass Tort Issues

Part of the seamy side of vaginal mesh litigation was reported in an April 14, 2018 article in the NYT. The article, “How Profiteers Lure Women Into Often-Unneeded Surgery,” describes some of the financing companies that operate alongside the mass tort claims involving vaginal mesh. There are some very real problems with vaginal mesh in some settings, but this article highlights instance where the financiers and doctors worsened a situation for profit.

The article is yet another example of why all courts hearing mass tort cases should force transparency on all sides, including insurers. Protective orders and secrecy may be convenient, but sunshine remains the best disinfectant, in my opinion.

“Hanged After a Trial He Couldn’t Understand, and Pardoned 136 Years Later”

Posted in Comparative Law, Uncategorized

“When Maolra Seoighe entered a Dublin courtroom to be tried for murder, his name was recorded as Myles Joyce.

The change was a translation from his native Irish, or Gaelic, into English — a language Mr. Joyce did not speak. So he couldn’t understand the words of the defense lawyer, the judge or the jury members who decided he was guilty in November 1882, and he was hanged the next month.

But evidence soon emerged suggesting that Mr. Joyce was innocent, just as he had been saying in Irish all along. Now, 136 years after his death, he has been officially pardoned.”

Quite the story, and there also is a book. See this April 6, 2018 NYT article for more specifics after the quote above.