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

“Woman Who Was Raped as a Teenager Is Awarded $1 Billion in [Compensatory] Damages”

Posted in Litigation Industry, Mass Tort Issues, Policy Issues, Punitives

A $1 billion compensatory damages verdict last week seems to be another signal of significant unhappiness among the people who are serving on juries. An April 23, 2018 article in the NYT provides more specifics. According to the article, the trial was only on damages, perhaps after a default judgment. As described in my prior post of February 20, 2018. There, I highlighted a jury research report that emphasized that jurors are seeking to use their verdicts to send messages. According to the researchers:

“The most telling thing about the shift in attitudes is the message potential jurors want to send with their verdicts. While some core opinions may have remained somewhat stable, recent respondents are less willing to compromise, and they are more willing to use damage awards to voice their discontent with vigor.” 

Before issuing an award, jury asks: “Can we punish the defendants by requiring them to place a warning label on their products?”

Posted in Cancer, Litigation Industry, Mass Tort Issues, Punitives

Yesterday’s punitive damages verdict against J&J arrived after interesting questions from the jury to the court. One wonders how J&J will account for the questions on a going forward basis. As reported by LAW360, the questions were as set out below:

“Law360, Los Angeles (May 24, 2018, 1:09 PM EDT) — A California jury found Thursday that Johnson & Johnson should pay $4 million in punitive damages a day after finding that asbestos in its talc baby powder was responsible for a woman’s mesothelioma and awarding the woman $21.7 million in compensatory damages.
The jury began deliberations on Thursday morning posing questions to the court, asking if any punitive damages would go to Anderson and whether they could circumvent monetary punitive damages and instead punish the defendants by requiring them to place a warning label on their products.

The court responded that yes, any punitive damages would go to Anderson, and no, the jury could not order a warning label.”

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.”