Sunday, July 26, 2015

Fiat Chrysler Hit With Record $105 Million Fine For Safety Defects

Federal regulators are fining Fiat Chrysler $105 million for failing to acknowledge and address safety defects in a timely fashion. The civil penalty — the largest ever imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — will be accompanied by three years of "unprecedented" federal oversight, the agency says.  Go here for more details.

Court upholds constitutionality of Florida statute that authorizes defendants' lawyers in medical malpractice cases to communicate directly with the plaintiffs' doctors without having to inform the plaintiffs or their lawyers

As reported in the TortsProf blog,
In 2013, the Florida legislature passed a med mal reform requiring claimants filing lawsuits to sign forms authorizing ex parte communications:   In ex parte communications, for example, defense attorneys representing a doctor accused of malpractice could get personal health information about the patient involved in the case. That information could come from other doctors who treated the patient, and disclosure could occur without the patient's attorney being present.  In October of 2014, the Eleventh Circuit held that the reform did not violate HIPAA.  Now the 1st District Court of Appeal has upheld the constitutionality of the reform from challenges that it violates the right to privacy and separation of powers. CBS Miami has the story.

Please help a friend of mine with her research

My colleague Prof. Cynthia Bond is working on a article and she needs your help.  Here is her request:

I am working on an article this summer on uses of popular culture in the law school classroom.  I am defining popular culture broadly to include mass culture texts like movies, TV shows, popular music, images which circulate on the internet, etc, and also any current events that you may reference in the classroom which are not purely legal in nature (i.e. not simply a recent court decision).
To support this article, I am doing a rather unscientific survey to get a sense of what law professors are doing in this area.  If you are a law professor and you use popular culture in your class, I would be most grateful if you could answer this quick, anonymous survey I have put together:
Thanks in advance for your time and have a wonderful rest of summer!
Cynthia Bond
The John Marshall Law School
Chicago, IL

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Florida Intermediate Appellate Court Rules Med Mal Cap Unconstitutional

The TortsProf Blog is reporting that "[r]elying on the Florida Supreme Court's ruling that a cap on emotional distress damages in wrongful death cases is unconstitutional, an intermediate appellate court (the Fourth District Court of Appeal) ruled the state's medical malpractice cap on non-economic damages violates the equal protection clause of the Florida Constitution."

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Follow up on story re vaccines

Just to follow up on my posts regarding possible liability on parents who fail to vaccinate children, here are a few update on related issues.

On June 25, the California State Assembly passed SB 277, a bill mandating that children in day care or school be vaccinated. The bill eliminates the personal-belief and religious exemptions, leaving intact only the medical exemption.  See here, here, here and here.

Five days later, the Governor signed the bill into law.  See here and here.

NY Court of Appeals reaffirms rule that immunizes dog owners for injuries caused by their negligence in handling their dogs

Eric Turkewitz, of The New York Personal Injury Law Blog, has a very interesting post on a recent decision by the NY Court of Appeals (the highest court in the state) on a topic I have written about in the past - the possible liability of a dog owner.

The facts of the case are relatively simple.  The defendant allowed his dog to run around in Central Park, and later called it to come back.  The dog bolted across the road exactly as commanded but unfortunately into the path of a bicyclist who suffered an injury as a result.  The plaintiff sued the dog owner for negligence.  Simple enough: the owner was negligent in either allowing the dog to run unleashed or in the way he called it back without taking precautions, and caused an injury as a result.

Prima facie case, right?   Not so in New York, where courts, for some reason, do not recognize causes of action for negligence in cases of injuries caused by pets, although they do in cases of injuries caused by other animals.

Instead of recognizing how illogical the current state of affairs is, however, the court reaffirmed its position and decided to continue to adhere to a rule that essentially provides immunity to dog owners who cause injury with their negligent handling of their animals.

The case is Doerr v. Goldsmith  and it is available here.  In his post, Turkewitz briefly comments on the concurring opinion and one of the dissenting opinions and I agree with him entirely.  The concurring opinion's reasoning is unpersuasive and the dissenting opinions are much more reasonable, logical and consistent with basic principles of tort law.  As Chief Judge Lippman, in dissent, points out, the position taken by the court, "serve[s] only to immunize defendant from the consequences of her own negligent actions, for no reason other than that a dog happened to be involved in the accident."

Also, as pointed out by Judge Fahey, who also dissented, "We should return to the basic principle that the owner of an animal may be liable for failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in a similar situation."

I agree.