Friday, October 21, 2016

Are Detroit’s Most Terrible Schools Unconstitutional? - The New York Times

Are Detroit’s Most Terrible Schools Unconstitutional? - The New York Times

by Geoffrey Stone

At one Detroit school, just 4 percent of third graders scored proficient on Michigan’s English assessment test. At another, 9.5 percent did. Those students are among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed last month that asserts that children have a federal constitutional right to the opportunity to learn to read and write.
Illiteracy is the norm at those “slumlike” schools and others in Michigan’s biggest city, according to the plaintiffs. The facilities are decrepit and unsafe. The first thing some teachers do each morning is clean up rodent feces before their students arrive. In some cases, teachers buy the books and school supplies, even the toilet paper.
Lawyers for the students are arguing, in effect, that Michigan is denying their clients the right to a minimally adequate education, an issue that has been raised over the years in courts in other states under their state constitutions.
In Connecticut, a state judge last month ordered sweeping changes to reshape the state’s public schools after concluding that “Connecticut is defaulting on its constitutional duty” to provide all students with an adequate education. The judge concluded that the state’s funding system had “left rich school districts to flourish and poor school districts to flounder.”
Now the litigation in Detroit is raising this issue under the United States Constitution. The Supreme Court has never addressed whether disparities among schools would be constitutionally permissible if, as the court put it in 1973, a state failed “to provide each child with an opportunity to acquire the basic minimal skills necessary” for success in life....

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Trump's incoherent answer on Syria

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Litigation Funders Planning a New Role: Law Firm Ownership |

Litigation Funders Planning a New Role: Law Firm Ownership |

by Roy Strom

Finance has a long history of creative expansion. Financing lawsuits is proving to be no exception.
Since litigation finance hit the scene just a couple decades ago, the business has evolved from investing in single lawsuits to groups of claims to purchasing judgments at bankruptcy auctions, as Chicago-based Gerchen Keller Capital did earlier this year.
Now, some litigation finance firms are preparing for an even bigger change to their business model: Injecting cash directly into law firms in the form of an equity stake that isn’t tied to any specific case. Litigation funders Burford Capital and Woodsford Litigation Funding told they intend to invest in U.K.-based firms that are allowed to have nonlawyer owners, something that remains against professional ethics in the United States.
“We’re open to that and excited about that,” Burford’s chief investment officer, Jonathan Molot, said regarding investing in firms known in the U.K. as “alternative business structures.”
Not everyone agrees.
There is a segment of the lawsuit finance industry that believes taking ownership in law firms could put litigation funders at odds with the lawyers they seek to work with. Others argue that better-capitalized law firms may cannibalize the need for more traditional funding of individual or groups of lawsuits before the industry matures. And equity investments in law firms would require a change from the “underwriting” method litigation funders currently use to analyze the likely results of potential cases.
“I don’t think you’ll have nonlawyers just handing money to law firm management and saying, ‘We trust you,’ ” said a litigation funding executive who declined to be named.
The discussion comes on the heels of Burford’s announcement this month that it had formed its own law firm under the U.K.’salternative business structures (ABS) law. The firm, Molot said, is limited to a lawyer who will track down funds from litigants who try to dodge judgments that Burford’s investments have helped to win. Burford hired Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld counsel Tom Evans for the role, which it says represents “in-sourcing” an aspect of legal work that neither Burford nor the firms it funds typically specialize in.
Burford does not plan to hire lawyers to conduct its own case work, Molot said. The funder is wary to be seen as competing for legal work that it currently pays large law firms to handle, for fear of upsetting its relationships with those firms. Litigation funders typically rely on law firms to find many of the cases they ultimately invest in.
“That would never be our plan,” Molot said of creating a full-fledged ABS law firm.
For now, these concerns don’t affect law firms in the United States, where the American Bar Association still restricts nonlawyer ownership. The ABA asked for comments on potential rule changes in April, and Burford’s CEO, Christopher Bogart,responded in favor of expanding law firm ownership to nonlawyers. A change is not widely anticipated, and the ABA declined to expand ownership rules the last time it reviewed the subject, in 2011.
But there are plenty of U.S.-based litigation funders that do business in the U.K., and those financiers may see the opening of the country’s financial markets as an opportunity.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Monday, October 10, 2016

Health Insurance From Invention to Innovation: A History of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Companies

Health Insurance From Invention to Innovation: A History of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Companies: The Blues invented health insurance. And we will continue to reinvent health insurance with the same spirit of innovation that has helped to improve the lives of generations of Americans. Now you can read about it as it happens, here at The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Blog.

NCAA Student-Athlete Concussion Injury Litigation

National Collegiate Athletic Association Student-Athlete Concussion Injury Litigation

Welcome to the NCAA Student-Athlete Concussion Injury Litigation Website

*If you are a medical provider wishing to provide services in the NCAA Medical Monitoring Program, the RFP and Provider Application can be found here.

If you played a National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”)-sanctioned sport at an NCAA member school, you may be entitled to free medical screening and may receive free medical testing, known as “medical monitoring,” up to two times over the next 50 years.
This website is designed to inform current and former NCAA Student Athletes of a settlement of a class action lawsuit titled In re National Collegiate Athletic Association Student-Athlete Concussion Litigation, Case No. 1:13-cv-09116, brought on behalf of current and former NCAA student-athletes and pending before Judge John Z. Lee of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
The Court has granted preliminary approval of the Settlement and has set a final hearing to take place on May 5, 2017 at 10:00 am to determine if the Settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate, and to consider the request by Class Counsel for Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses and Service Awards for the Class Representatives. 
You are a member of the Settlement Class (meaning you would be referred to as a "Settlement Class Member")  if you played an NCAA-sanctioned sport at an NCAA school at any time prior to July 15, 2016.  You do not need to have been diagnosed with a concussion to be a member of the Medical Monitoring Class. 

If you are a Settlement Class Member, your legal rights and options are:
If you think you might want to participate in the Medical Monitoring Program, you should send the Notice Administrator your contact information to be sure you receive further notice. If you do not do so, however, you will still have the right to participate later. The commencement of the Medical Monitoring Period will be announced on the Settlement Website and inquiries regarding the Medical Monitoring Program can be directed to the Notice Administrator by clicking here
Write to the Court about why you do, or do not, like the Settlement. Your comments or objections must be in writing and postmarked no later thanMarch 10, 2017.
Ask to speak in Court about the fairness of the Settlement.  You may not speak unless have asked to do so in writing before March 10, 2017.

If you are a member of the Settlement Class but do not want to be bound by the proposed settlement, you must exclude yourself (“opt-out”) from the Settlement Class. If you exclude yourself, you will get no benefits.  To ask to be excluded, you mail a written request stating that you want to be excluded.  (Click here for further information about your right to exclude yourself from the Settlement Class.)
Participation in the Medical Monitoring Program is completely voluntary. Final approval by the Court of the Settlement simply means that those eligible Settlement Class Members who wish to participate will have the opportunity to do so.  If you do nothing now, you will have the right to participate in the Medical Monitoring Program in the future.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Is the N.F.L.’s Concussion Settlement Broken? - The New York Times

Dr. Robert Stern, Boston University center

for study of Ttrauumatic bain injury

has hope that ithin a decade CTE will be

diagnosable in living people,not just the dead at autopsy.

The short answer is Yes.  The Supreme Court should take the case and hold that it is impermissible for a settlement to bar those whose causes of action have not yet accrued.  Accrual means sufficient reason to believe  that you have suffered both harm and a wrong that are causally related. - GWC

Is the N.F.L.’s Concussion Settlement Broken? - The New York Times

by Joe Nocera

...If we are, in fact, going to have the ability to diagnose the disease in living football players within the next decade, shouldn’t the N.F.L. and the plaintiffs’ lawyers want to use that diagnostic tool, whatever it turns out to be, to figure out who does and does not have C.T.E.? And wouldn’t they want to compensate football players who could show they had the actual disease that even the league acknowledges is related to head trauma?

Yet there is nothing in the settlement that offers that possibility. Twenty years from now — assuming Stern and others have succeeded in creating an accurate C.T.E. test — players with the diagnosis who exhibit the classic C.T.E. symptoms of anger, suicidal tendencies and so on will still get nothing from the settlement because they’ll have the “wrong” symptoms. Only when they get Alzheimer’s, which has nothing to do with football, will they be eligible for compensation.

I’ve listened to Seeger and others talk about how this was the best deal the players could have gotten, given the state of the science, the possibility of having the case thrown out of court, the lines in the sand the N.F.L. drew and so on. That’s all well and good.  But if you’re going to settle lawsuits that are about a disease called C.T.E., wouldn’t you insist that the settlement have something to do with, well, C.T.E.? This one does not.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Talc Cancer Suits Consolidated in District of New Jersey // NJ Law Journal

Talc Cancer Suits Consolidated in District of New Jersey // NJ Law Journal
by Charles Toutant

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has picked New Jersey as the site to consolidate suits nationwide linking cancer to usage of talcum powder.
The Oct. 4 order transferred 11 pending cases and 43 more potential actions from around the country to U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson of the District of New Jersey. Wolfson presides over Chakalos v. Johnson & Johnson, which was filed in November 2014, making it the most advanced suit of its kind in the nation. Her experience with that case makes her well-situated to structure the litigation to minimize delay and avoid duplication of discovery and motion practice, the panel said. Furthermore, New Jersey is the best venue for the suits because it is home to Johnson & Johnson, a defendant in the litigation, so that relevant witnesses and evidence are likely located in the state, the panel said.
New Jersey was selected even though most plaintiffs who supported consolidation—those in nine cases—wanted the suits heard in the Southern District of Illinois, where two of the suits were filed. Plaintiffs in 12 cases opposed centralization. Johnson & Johnson and several other defendants proposed consolidation in the District of New Jersey or the Western District of Oklahoma.
The suits seek compensation for personal injuries or wrongful death that resulted from ovarian or uterine cancer in women who applied talcum powder to their genital area and for failure to warn of the risk of cancer. Some of the suits claim researchers have linked talc to cancer since the 1960s. The suits say manufacturers represented talcum powder as safe, failed to warn that it may cause cancer, and marketed the product to women with ads encouraging them to use such products to mask odors.
In addition to Johnson & Johnson, defendants include Sanofi US, Imerys Talc, Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Chattem. The plaintiffs used products such as Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder, Shower to Shower and Gold Bond. Shower to Shower was previously made by Johnson & Johnson but recently sold to Valeant; Gold Bond was made by Chattem, which was acquired by Sanofi in 2010. Imerys mined the talc in the products, plaintiffs claim.

Monday, September 26, 2016

NJ Justices Reject 'Feel of the Case' Doctrine, Overturn 2011 Ruling Reducing Damage Award | New Jersey Law Journal

 In Cuevas v. Wentworth the Supreme Court of New Jersey has overturned its ill-considered ruling in He v. Miller,  207 N.J. 230 (2011) which embraced a vague "feel of the case standard" for judges considering motions to reduce a jury verdict.  The rule, which harked back to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes view that the jury "aid" the conscience of the court, and that as trial experience grows judges need juries less and less. -gwc

NJ Justices Reject 'Feel of the Case' Doctrine, Overturn 2011 Ruling Reducing Damage Award | New 

by Carmen Natale

In a unanimous ruling, the court repudiated its five-year-old ruling that said judges could rely on their experiences as attorneys in private practice and their years on the bench to determine whether verdicts are unusually or unjustly high and need to be trimmed.
"The pre-eminent role that the jury plays in our justice system call for judicial restraint in exercising the power to reduce a jury's damages award," wrote Justice Barry Albin in Cuevas v. Wentworth Group. "A court should not grant a remittitur except in the unusual case in which the jury's award is so patently excessive, so pervaded by a sense of wrongness, that it shocks the judicial conscience."
The ruling in Cuevas essentially overturns the court's 2011 3-2 ruling in He v. Miller, in which the majority ruled that a judge was permitted to rely on his "feel for the case"—based on his professional experience—to slash a $1 million verdict to $200,000 in a medical malpractice case.
Albin and Chief Justice Stuart Rabner dissented in He. The members of the majority, Justices Helen Hoens and Roberto Rivera-Soto and Appellate Division Judge Dorothea Wefing, temporarily assigned, no longer sit on the court.
"[W]e now conclude that such an approach is not sound in principle or workable in practice," Albin said, referring to the ruling in He,
"A judge's personal knowledge of verdicts from experiences as a private practitioner or jurist is information outside the record and is not subject to the typical scrutiny evidence receives in the adversarial process," he said. "A judge therefore should not rely on personal knowledge of the verdicts."
A trial judge should also not do comparative case analysis in deciding motions for remittitur, Albin said. He said jury verdicts in specific cases differ and are not susceptible to comparison.
In Cuevas, the court upheld a verdict in which two Hispanic brothers were awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars each in damages after alleging that they faced discrimination in the workplace because of their ethnicity, even though they did not present any expert testimony attesting to the severity of their emotional distress.
At their trial, they were the only ones to testify about their emotional distress. Ramon Cuevas told the jury he was "despondent" and "depressed." Jeffrey Cuevas also testified that he was depressed, court documents said.
A Passaic County jury awarded Ramon Cuevas and Jeffrey Cuevas $800,000 and $600,000, respectively. Superior Court Judge Esther Suarez declined to apply her personal experiences as a jurist and attorney and denied a defense motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, saying it "did not shock the judicial conscience."...