A regularly updated guide to random legal news that I find interesting -- and hope you will too. And links! Always links!


Saturday, December 21, 2002

Ohio Supreme Court Orders Part of Punitive Award Given to Charity

Esther Dardinger died of cancer at age 49 in 1997, after her insurer balked at continuing to pay for her chemotherapy treatment. The Ohio Supreme Court trimmed an award that originally topped $50 million to $32.5 million -- $2.5 million in compensatory, and $30 million in punitive damages. It ordered that $10 million of the punitives go to the victim's family, and the other $20 million go to charity, after legal fees are subtracted. I've never heard of this before, but it sounds like a good idea to me. Read an article about it here, or read the Court's opinion here (PDF format).

Friday, December 20, 2002

Special Aluminum Bats with "Pressurized Air Bladders" Take Playing Baseball Outside the Assumption of the Risk Doctrine

Normally, if a pitcher gets beaned upside the head by a line drive, too bad. He's assumed the risk by playing the game. Not so if the ball is hit super fast off a specialized aluminum bat, says California's Second District Court of Appeal in this opinion (PDF format). Read an article about it here.
$225 Million from Texas Jury for Ford Rollover, and All of it Compensatory

It sounds like Ford may have been bad. And it was a horrible accident. But none of the occupants was wearing a seatbelt. And $225 million in compensatory damages (not punitives)??? Come on . . . . Read all about it here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

L.A. Judge Reduces Punitives Award Against Philip-Morris from $28 Billion to $28 Million

Philip-Morris says even this award to an injured smoker is too rich. Read about it here.
Large Florida Software Company Sues State, Arguing Its Software Is "Speech" and Taxation Infringes It, Violating 1st Amendment and State Constitution

Somebody's gotta push the envelope, I guess. I like it that they fashioned the suit as a class action on behalf of all their (mostly giant corporate) customers. Read all about this interesting (and probably useless) lawsuit in this article.
Split Ownership of Barry Bonds' Ball

Judge Kevin McCarthy ruled today that each of the two competing claimants to Bonds' 73rd homerun ball owns a 50% interest in it, and ordered it to be sold and the proceeds split. I was in Judge McCarthy's courtroom this morning when he read his 12-page ruling, and it was pretty exciting. The small courtroom was overflowing with press and curious onlookers -- including lots of attorneys waiting to have their cases called on the Law and Motion calendar down the hall. I think I agree with what Judge McCarthy did, and I think the parties should have reached the same result privately before giving so much money to their lawyers. The only thing I would have done differently is that I would have gone for the "full Solomon" and ordered the damn ball sawn in half. Read an article all about it here.
"Court Upholds the Dismissal of Lawsuit Over Bikini at Pool"

The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting on a Tenth Circuit order upholding the dismissal of an employment discrimination lawsuit in which the plaintiff claimed she was discriminated against after her boss saw her at a public swimming pool in a bikini he considered inappropriately revealing. Read the Tribune's article here, and the Tenth Circuit's Order at this link. (Thanks again to How Appealing for the link.)
Law Schools Rebelling Against U.S. News' Rankings

According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. and Canadian law schools, with the help of the Law School Admission Council (which administers the LSAT test), may stop giving their students' LSAT scores to U.S. New & World Report, which relies heavily on those scores for its rankings. (Thanks to How Appealing for the link.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Fifteen Year Old Lesbian Sues School, Gym Teacher

Her 8th grade gym teacher told her mom that her sexual orientation made other girls "uncomfortable" in the locker room, so she had to sit out gym class in the principal's office each day. Now she's suing, with the help of the ACLU and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, CNN reports here. You go, girl!
Remind Me Not To Propose to This Woman . . . .

Minnesota mom faces trial for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), after a PI firm she hired to investigate her daughter's fiance obtained a credit report on him, according to this opinion of the 8th Circuit. (The two never wed, according to the article linked here.)
Not Guilty in First Criminal Copyright Case

A jury has acquitted a Russian company that disseminated code to unlock encrypted DVDs in the first-ever criminal prosecution under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, according to this article.
For Once, I Think I Agree With Yoko

For years, the press has been reporting about a tiff between Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono over songwriting credits for John Lennon's and Paul's McCartney's songs. As reported, Lennon and McCartney agreed in 1963 to share songwriting credit for all their joint and separate Beatle creations equally as "Lennon/McCartney". At first, they wrote together. As time went by they often wrote separately. Both became prolific solo artists -- even before the Beatles broke up and stopped recording together.

Now Sir Paul wants his name listed first (McCartney/Lennon rather than Lennon/McCartney) for songs he wrote alone or principally. Anyone who has ever listened carefully knows who wrote which songs. Those facts have been thoroughly documented.

This fight is not about money. At this point, all the money goes to Michael Jackson, who bought the publishing rights to the Beatles' catalogue from McCartney years ago.

All that is left to fight over is vanity.

Any decent Beatles fan knows within seconds whether a song is John's or Paul's (or George's or Ringo's).

We all know that "Lennon/McCartney" means written by both or either. And we don't care which name comes first.

I agree with Yoko here. Let sleeping dogs lie. UPDATE: Here's another story.

Monday, December 16, 2002

They're Stealing Our Thunder

The Christian Science Monitor is reporting about "How Lott scandal built momentum," and the article ultimately concludes that "it was the conservative press that alerted the mainstream press that there was a fissure in the GOP that needed attention" -- and not the bloggers. I know of some bloggers (not including me -- I never wrote about it) who are likely to be unhappy about this . . . .
Doh! Did Legislative Laziness Just Cost the University of Missouri $450 Million?

That's what this judge just said, in what was considered a mere "nuisance" lawsuit. It seems that Missouri was one of a dozen or so agrarian states that adopted "free tuition for any citizen 16 years or older" laws regarding their state colleges and universities in the late 19th century. Too bad Missouri is the only state that forgot to repeal the law once it became obsolete and the schools started charging tuition. Now UM might have to pay it back. (NYT article, may require registration.)


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