Constitutional law continues to ripple through mass tort issues, and so a new database may be helpful for mass tort lawyers (and others). It’s a compilation of all cases in which SCOTUS reviewed an act of Congress. It’s online here. The interesting image below is from the database.

“The preferred citation for the use of the dataset is Keith E. Whittington, The Judicial Review of Congress Database (May 2019) (available at https://scholar.princeton.edu/kewhitt/judicial-review-congress-database).”

 

Image from new database

An interesting new article follows up on Adam Winkler’s book; the article is online at this page of SSRN. Hat tip to Steve Hedley for flagging the article.

“Abstract

Adam Winkler’s We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights identifies the legal foundations of corporate constitutional rights and traces the historical development of those rights. On Winkler’s account, the Supreme Court’ corporate rights cases treat corporations as “associations of citizens” — not as “separate legal persons.” Winkler uses the phrase “piercing the corporate veil” to describe the legal theory embraced by the Supreme Court in the seminal corporate rights cases. 

This Review argues that the language of veil-piercing, even if used metaphorically, mischaracterizes the legal theory the Supreme Court embraces and weakens the full force of Winkler’s critique. Winkler is correct that the Supreme Court treats corporations as associations of persons, but he is incorrect that this treatment constitutes piercing the corporate veil. When a court pierces the corporate veil, it performs a practical, fact-based inquiry in which it determines whether the corporation is truly a separate juridical entity from its shareholders, creditors, and directors. If the court determines that there is no legal separateness, then it can hold shareholders personally liable for the obligations of the corporation. The Supreme Court does not provide any such analysis in the cases Winkler discusses. Rather than consider whether a particular corporation has acted in a manner that suggests that it is not truly a separate juridical entity, the Supreme Court seems to assert that corporations are never distinct from their shareholders when they are claiming constitutional protections. And the Court has offered no legal or theoretical defense for that assertion. Both veil-piercing and treating the shareholders as an association of persons look behind the corporate form, but the way the Court has treated corporations in corporate-rights cases is more radical and less justifiable than Winkler’s metaphor suggests. What Winkler has identified is not that the Supreme Court “pierces the corporate veil” in constitutional cases but rather that the Supreme Court refuses to recognize the very existence of the corporate form in those cases altogether. In describing this phenomenon as “piercing the corporate veil,” Winkler implies that the Supreme Court’s treatment of the corporation in constitutional cases is part of a sensible and coherent corporate law doctrine. What Winkler actually shows is that the Supreme Court’s existential theory of the corporation in constitutional rights cases is radically at odds with the existential theory of the corporation it adopts in every other area of the law.

Macey, Joshua, What Corporate Veil? (May 6, 2019). Michigan Law Review, Vol. 117, No. 6, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3383713″

 

 

 

 

 

New findings – from a highly credible source – provide yet another example of the power of AI to find previously unseen patterns that drive diseases, including cancers. As the new findings illustrate, use of the term “junk DNA” after the Human Genome Project was not such a good idea. Today, there is much more ability to understand molecular systems thanks to massive and cheap molecular investigation tools, combined with the power of AI to find patterns within the data. See “AI Finds Mutations in “Junk” DNA that Cause Autism.”

 

Two flu shots per year may become the standard, along with increases in “boosters” for other vaccines. Why? Because increasing data shows that effective life spans are limited for some vaccines, and we are all different to one degree or another. See this April 18, 2019 article in Science:  “How long do vaccines last? The surprising answers may help protect people longer.”

The abstract pasted below was not an April fool’s joke. To the contrary, it illustrated the increasing efforts to combine in silico and in vitro analysis to predict in vivo outcomes, and to extrapolate across biologic systems. The abstract is online here, as of April 1, 2019, at Environmental Health Perspectives.

“Abstract

Background:
Low-cost, high-throughput in vitro bioassays have potential as alternatives to animal models for toxicity testing. However, incorporating in vitro bioassays into chemical toxicity evaluations such as read-across requires significant data curation and analysis based on knowledge of relevant toxicity mechanisms, lowering the enthusiasm of using the massive amount of unstructured public data.

Objective:
We aimed to develop a computational method to automatically extract useful bioassay data from a public repository (i.e., PubChem) and assess its ability to predict animal toxicity using a novel bioprofile-based read-across approach.

Methods:
A training database containing 7,385 compounds with diverse rat acute oral toxicity data was searched against PubChem to establish in vitro bioprofiles. Using a novel subspace clustering algorithm, bioassay groups that may inform on relevant toxicity mechanisms underlying acute oral toxicity were identified. These bioassays groups were used to predict animal acute oral toxicity using read-across through a cross-validation process. Finally, an external test set of over 600 new compounds was used to validate the resulting model predictivity.

Results:
Several bioassay clusters showed high predictivity for acute oral toxicity (positive prediction rates range from 62–100%) through cross-validation. After incorporating individual clusters into an ensemble model, chemical toxicants in the external test set were evaluated for putative acute toxicity (positive prediction rate equal to 76%). Additionally, chemical fragment–in vitro–in vivo relationships were identified to illustrate new animal toxicity mechanisms.

Conclusions:
The in vitro bioassay data-driven profiling strategy developed in this study meets the urgent needs of computational toxicology in the current big data era and can be extended to develop predictive models for other complex toxicity end points.

https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP3614″

For persons facing cancer in the Chicago area, May 11, 2019 will bring a local opportunity to learn about the entire range of legal rights of persons during and after cancer. The location is a conference room at a hotel near O’Hare.

Triage Cancer is a one of a kind national not for profit lead by two lawyers who are by far the national leaders on this topic. Indeed, Joanna Morales and Monica Bryant recently wrote a comprehensive book on the topic. I’m delighted to serve as a director.

For more specific on the conference, and to register, go to this page at Triage Cancer.  

The book is available online from the American Bar Association, at this page.

Cancer Rights Law: An Interdisciplinary Approach

By Monica Fawzy Bryant and Joanna Fawzy Morales

“Cancer Rights Law provides an overview of key areas of the law that often come into play for individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers, including health insurance, employment, disability insurance, genetics, estate planning and medical decision making, and finances and consumer rights.”