Yesterday brought the issuance of dozens of papers about the importance – or not – of p-values. That’s important news for trial lawyers, corporate officers, corporate directors, and risk managers. Persons in those roles (and others) are in for surprises if not aware of and ready for debates about and likely reduction in the litigation-related power of p values. Indeed, the many papers issued yesterday on use of statistics deserve attention when thinking about opportunities and risks in litigation.

For yesterday’s editorial from the American Statistical Association, go here to read, and more:  “Moving to a World Beyond “p < 0.05.”

For the paper shown in the cartoon, go here to Nature.

Today, more and more studies involve gathering real world data as exposures occur, and then monitoring the health conditions of the monitored group. Studies of this sort sometimes are referred to as “exposomic studies.” New studies of this sort are underway in New Hampshire involving possible exposures to PFAs, and possible health. Interestingly, these studies include efforts to study whether exposures to PFAs produce observable changes in the immune systems of children. To that end, one study looks at before and after data for children before and after booster shots for kindergarten children, as reported in a March 18, 2019 post at DES Daughters Network.

In Portsmouth, Amico’s organization is working as a community liaison for a $2.6 million federally funded study that will examine the effects of PFAS on the immune systems of kindergarteners exposed to contaminated drinking water at Pease International Tradeport and on Massachusetts’ Cape Cod.

Shaina Kasper, New Hampshire state director for Toxics Action Center, said they hope this research will add to the body of knowledge on PFAS and the effects of exposure in utero and as young children. Researchers from Silent Spring Institute and Northeastern University will examine the children’s immune response before and after their kindergarten booster shots, she said.

 

What if Alexa went to law school? That’s the interesting headline used to tee of some exchanges about AI and changes to Lexis/Nexis products, including legal research and court dockets.  This February 11, 2019 post at Dewey B. Strategic is worth reading for some glimpses into the past and what’s ahead; it is titled: Lexis Prepares to Launch a Research Bot – And a CourtLink Makeover

Three new justices joined the Florida Supreme Court early in 2019 due to retirements of others. The new justices all were appointed by a Republican governor; no doubt tort system defendants are hoping the new justices alter the existing legal balance in Florida. It will be interesting to see what happens. Evelyn Fletcher Davis provides a cogent summary of the new justices here in a February 20, 2019 article.

It’s world cancer day, a reminder of the biggest global terrorist and driver of much litigation.

The chart is from: Bray F, Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Siegel RL, Torre LA, Jemal A. Global cancer
statistics 2018: GLOBOCAN estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36
cancers in 185 countries. CA Cancer J Clin. 2018 Nov;68(6):394-424. doi:
10.3322/caac.21492.

Lawyers involved in mass tort litigation should be aware of this January 24, 2019 article (some would say puff piece) in Science regarding Dr. David Egilman, as well as some of quotes in it. The title is:  “Expert witness David Egilman wins billions—and makes enemies—as he fights companies over public health.” The author,  Douglas Starr,  is co-director of the Boston University Science Journalism Program.

Depending on perspectives, the California Supreme Court is famous (or infamous) for its rulings and is nationally influential. Accordingly, its useful to keep an eye on changes. Most recently, Joshua Groban, age 45, was confirmed to the court.  He is a long time senior advisor to Governor Brown and was involved in the selection of over 600 judges for the state. His private practice career was at Munger Tolles and then Paul Weiss, as described in a December 21, 2018 post at LAW360. His confirmation  gives Democrats a majority on the state high court for the first time in decades.

In addition, California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye “dropped” her Republican Party registration, but did not register as  a Democrat, as explained in a December 14, 2018 LA Times article. The Chief Justice is becoming a force, and was appointed to the courts by Republican governors; Governor Schwarzenegger appointed her to the high court in 2010, according to a May 28, 2017 article in the LA Times.

 

Some recent reading reminded me that the Conversable Economist blog includes an October 23,  2013 post that provides a very useful discussion of some of the issues and data tied up in trying to value a life for purposes of statistics. It begins as follows, and includes much more.

“The costs of regulations can be measured by the money that must be spent for compliance. But many of the benefits of regulation are measured by lives saved or injuries avoided. Thus, comparing costs and benefits requires putting some kind of a monetary value on the reduction of risks to life and limb. For example, the US Department of Transportation estimates the “value of a statistical life” at $9.1 million in 2012. In a memo called “Guidance on Treatment of the Economic Value of a Statistical Life in the U.S. Department of Transportation Analyses,” it explains how this number was reached. I’ll run through the DoT estimates, and then raise some of the broader issues as discussed in a recent paper by Cass Sunstein called “The value of a statistical life: some clarifications and puzzles,” which appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Benefit Cost Analysis (4:2, pp. 237-261).”