WSJ Headline – August 3, 2019

 

Lexis/Nexis is a poster child for a new WSJ article: “Everyone Hates Customer Service. This Is Why.  Technology lets companies see how badly they can treat consumers, right up until the moment they bolt.”  See WSJ article, August 3, 2019, by Sharon Terlep. For those who do not subscribe, I posted a copy online under the fair use doctrine.

The article explains the knowing failures of many tech companies who knowingly provide awful service to save money. It’s disgusting to read how precisely they can and do measure how bad they are, but well worth the time to read.

A premise of the article is that companies figure out how far they can fail before customers quit. From recent personal experience, I can say that RELX  – Lexis/Nexis has not figured out the line for its online caselaw services to law firms. That’s why I recently canceled the $6,000 per year online caselaw contract my small law firm had for the last several years.

In short, they knew their online service offering (Lexis/Nexis Advantage) had an online sign in problem existed because their web site refused to play well with/ coordinate with password keeping software (Dashlane)  of the sort we are forced to use because corporate America bolixed cyber security. The company, however,  did not warn customers, put up useless error messages, took hours to respond to emails,  and had endless voice prompts on calls, followed by useless advice.  After they finally admitted the problem, they delayed fixing the problem.

So, I went out looking for an alternative. I  found a much cheaper service that’s equally good on caselaw and statutes. Sadly, it means I also lose an actually valuable service (Mealey’s Litigation Reports ) but I refuse to pay $6k per year to such an awful company. I expect “cord cutting” ultimately will ruin Lexis/Nexis  because, other than Mealey’s (which it bought), its people have not figured out how to do anything new and valuable unique and valuable now that caselaw and statutes are commodity items.

Knowledge spreads at different paces. A July 2019 article from Clyde & Co. notes a January 2019 medical review article on prostate cancer and links to asbestos. Interestingly, the Clyde & Co. article mentions epidemiology but says nothing about genomics or plausible mechanisms of action.

It’s great to see lawyers writing about scientific article. That said, in my view, it’s important to go beyond epidemiology by also thinking about genomics and mechanisms of action as related to asbestos and as related to prostate cancer. Those other factors can make epidemiology seem more or less logical. That’s why PhD colleagues and I created ToxicoGenomica.

About a decade ago, I predicted that the Morrison case and litigation financing would drive more litigation around the world; see, e.g., here and here.  Today, that reality is increasingly acknowledged in commentary. See this July 14, 2019 post at D&O Diary, and this July 2019 commentary by Dechert.

Avoiding liability for fraudulent conveyances may have just become tougher. Why? Because this week, Kirkland & Ellis explicitly announced it is now seeking out plaintiff’s side contingent fee commercial cases, such as fraudulent conveyance cases. According to the firm’s press release, this move is motivated in part by its massive win in the chapter 11 case of Tronox. There, Kirkland took the plaintiff side in a fraudulent conveyance case involving many years of carving risks and assets out of a large company facing billions of long term legacy liabilities from environmental pollutants and tort claims. According to K&E’s July 10, 2019 press release:

“We took a look at the historical results we’ve achieved on the plaintiffs side over the last one or two decades for plaintiffs, and we’ve had some huge wins,” said partner Andrew Kassof, who co-led the team that represented Tronox Litigation Trust in winning $14 billion in damages in 2013 against Kerr-McGee in a fraudulent conveyance suit.”

A July 5, 2019 book review by Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution describes in a glowing terms a book that sounds interesting with respect to opioid issues. Among other things, the review states the following:

“The slightly misleading subtitle is How Rogue Chemists are Creating the Deadliest Wave of the Opioid Epidemic. Why misleading? So many substance abuse books are a mix of hysterical in tone and a disappointing “paint by numbers” in their execution, but this one really stands out for its research, journalism, and overall analysis. To give just one example, it is also a great book on China, and how China and the Chinese chemicals industry works, backed up by extensive original investigation.

***

Definitely recommended, this will be making my year-end “best of” list for non-fiction.”

A June 24, 2019 post at ThePopTort points out that the Supreme Courts of both Kansas and Oklahoma recently struck down damages cap statutes in their states. A related “fact sheet” provides a cogent summary of rulings on damages cap statutes. In short, caps remain common for medical malpractice statutes (24) but only 9 exist as general caps for a wide range of cases.

The Well Private Equity blog post of June 24, 2019 provides an interesting summary of what court’s say about contracts that are possibly for “forever.” It’s well written for a laugh along with substantive guidance; it is titled: “Forever is a Long Time or No Time at All: More Idiosyncrasies of the Common Law of Contract You Need to Know.”

 

 

Interesting to see a new lawsuit that provides numerous very specific allegations to support the claim that some Teslas have an unintended acceleration defect, which allegedly caused a fatal crash at issue in the lawsuit. The complaint is online here, and a June 26, 2019 story at Indiana Lawyer provides a summary story and background information about the crash at issue, which involved a lawyer who was starting up a new business. Apparently he briefly survived an awful crash and fire, but then died. The allegations caught my eye because a local Lexus dealer sold me one of the Lexus cars that had a very real unintended acceleration problem that made me think I was crazy. For a year or two, the dealership spoon fed me the “floor mat problem” and other lies that were later exposed as lies. When they finally admitted the problem and fixed the software, the problem went away. Time will tell.

Two days later, same idiotic error message and no access from my laptop.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Tuesday evening; two days after my first public complaint after multiple days of Lexis/Nexis failure. As of now, Lexis/Nexis still has not explained why my laptop cannot access the Lexis/Nexis site so that I can read cases, or read my $500 per month subscriptions to two Mealey’s reports. Same stupid error message still shows up.

Interesting times, to say the least. At the end of last week, the “conservative” block of SCOTUS overruled decades of precedent by holding that a takings claim against a state or local government can be immediately pursued in federal court rather than wading/waiting through state law processes. One also wonders what this ruling means for federal court suits against federal regulatory processes. SCOTUSblog summarizes the ruling – and dissents – in a June 22, 2019 post. The introduction is as follows:

“In its long-awaited opinion in Knick v. Township of Scott, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that plaintiffs alleging that local governments have violated the takings clause may proceed directly in federal court, rather than first litigating in state court. The opinion overrules a 34-year-old precedent, Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank, triggering a sharp dissent and another debate among the justices about the meaning of stare decisis. The majority opinion also rests on a reading of the takings clause—that a constitutional violation occurs at the moment property is “taken,” even if compensation is paid later—that may have consequences beyond this case.”