Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Can Bushmaster Be Sued Over CT School Shooting? - Defective Products / Products Liability - Injured

Can Bushmaster Be Sued Over CT School Shooting? - Defective Products / Products Liability - Injured:

Is there a basis in law - particularly in product liability law - for a manufacturer to be liable for the murderous use of its product?  A Bushmaster rifle was reportedly used in the shootings that claimed 26 lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. A Bushmaster rifle was also used in the Washington, D.C.-area sniper attacks in 2002, after which victims and their families sued the company, Forbes reports. The suit ended in a $2.5 million settlement.
The company may soon find itself involved in another lawsuit tied to the elementary school tragedy. This may be true even though there is a federal law that would seem to bar lawsuits against gunmakers for crimes committed with their products, according to Forbes.

Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2005, and President George W. Bush signed it into law. The act was specifically aimed at reducing lawsuits against gun manufacturers over illegal acts committed by their customers, writesForbes.

But even with this statutory protection, the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence says that gun manufacturers like Bushmaster could still face legal consequences for such tragedies.  The Products Liability Restatement generally rejected "categorical liability" - but in § 2, cmt d  allowed the possibility that a product could be so dangerous and of such little utility that no reasonable person would sell it.  Lawn darts was offered in one illustration was such a product.  Is a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle offered for non-military use such a product?

That's because while the 2005 act does provide general protections to gun manufacturers, there are loopholes in the law that could potentially expose a gun manufacturer to liability.


Monday, December 24, 2012

BP Gulf Oil Spill: Holding Individuals Accountable For Workplace Safety Violations | NC Workers Comp Journal

Holding Individuals Accountable For Workplace Safety Violations | North Carolina Workers' Compensation ExpertsNorth Carolina Workers' Compensation Experts:

British Petroleum (BP) supervisors Donald J. Vidrine and Robert Kaluza were indicted on manslaughter charges in the deaths of 11 fellow workers in connection with the 2009 Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. David Rainey, a BP deepwater explorer, was charged with obstruction of Congress and lying about the size of the spill. These indictments were in addition to a record $4.5 billion in criminal fines that BP agreed to pay for the disaster, which will be paid out over 5 years. Mr. Vidrine and Mr. Kaluza were negligent in their supervision of key safety tests performed on the drilling rig, and they failed to phone engineers on shore to alert them of problems in the drilling operation. These charges carry maximum penalties of 10 years in prison on each “seaman’s manslaughter” count, 8 years in prison on each involuntary manslaughter count and a year in prison on a Clean Water Act count. Mr. Rainey obstructed Congressional inquiries and made false statements by underestimating the flow rate to 5,000 barrels a day even as millions were gushing into the Gulf. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.

'via Blog this'

Sunday, December 23, 2012

JAMA: End Ban on Funding Gun Control Studies

 I did not know that Congress had blocked CDC studies of  gun control. This JAMA opinion piece recounts the appalling history. - gwc
Arthur L. Kellermann, MD, MPH; Frederick P. Rivara, MD, MPH
Journal of the American Medical Association - JAMA -  December 21, 2012
"Injury prevention research can have real and lasting effects. Over the last 20 years, the number of Americans dying in motor vehicle crashes has decreased by 31%.1 Deaths from fires and drowning have been reduced even more, by 38% and 52%, respectively.1 This progress was achieved without banning automobiles, swimming pools, or matches. Instead, it came from translating research findings into effective interventions.

Given the chance, could researchers achieve similar progress with firearm violence? It will not be possible to find out unless Congress rescinds its moratorium on firearm injury prevention research. Since Congress took this action in 1997, at least 427 000 people have died of gunshot wounds in the United States, including more than 165 000 who were victims of homicide.1 To put these numbers in context, during the same time period, 4586 Americans lost their lives in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.10

The United States has long relied on public health science to improve the safety, health, and lives of its citizens. Perhaps the same straightforward, problem-solving approach that worked well in other circumstances can help the nation meet the challenge of firearm violence. Otherwise, the heartache that the nation and perhaps the world is feeling over the senseless gun violence in Newtown will likely be repeated, again and again."

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Judge Barbier approves BP Gulf Settlements

Judge Carl Barbier, E.D. Louisiana
The BP Gulf oil spill economic loss class action settlement was approved by District Judge Carl Barbier on December 21, 2012.  Barbier - who manages the litigation arising from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill - presents (over 125 pages) the history of the litigation and settlement.  It is an excellent overview.  Notable to me is that he does not note in approving the settlement how much wider was the scope of liability recognized here than in other disasters - such as the Exxon Valdez or the Fifth Circuit allowed in M/V Testbank.  There claims were limited under maritime law to fishermen and those who suffered property damage. 
In the Deepwater Horizon spill claimants had the benefit of the Oil Pollution Act (1990) which - Barbier had advised the parties - did not contain the maritime law's restrictions dating back to Robins Dry Dock & Repair Co. v. Flint, 275 U.S. 303 (1927). There Justice Holmes announced the rule that only those who suffered property damage or personal injury could make a claim for economic loss.   Until BP only fishermen had been spared that stricture.  The settlement vindicates the Testbank dissent by civil rights movement hero Judge John Minor Wisdom who argued that all engaged in "primary maritime activity" should be compensated including seafood processors, chandlers, tackle shops, fuel docks, and shoreline companies etc.  The DeepWater Horizon settlement actually exceeds Wisdom's suggested scope. - gwc

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No Clear Link Between Cancer and 9/11 Debris, New York Health Dept. Study Finds - NYTimes.com

No Clear Link Between Cancer and 9/11 Debris, New York Health Dept. Study Finds - NYTimes.com:
by Anemona Hartocollis
 "Six months after the federal government added cancer to the list of sicknesses covered by the $4.3 billion World Trade Center fund, a New York City health department study has found no clear link between cancer and the dust, debris and fumes released by the burning wreckage of the twin towers."

'via Blog this'

Sunday, December 16, 2012

OTHERWISE: Investigating the Link Between Gun Possession and Gun Assault

OTHERWISE: Investigating the Link Between Gun Possession and Gun Assault:
Charales Branas, et a (2009)
Conclusions. On average, guns did not protect those who possessed them from being shot in an assault. Although successful defensive gun uses occur each year, the probability of success may be low for civilian gun users in urban areas. Such users should reconsider their possession of guns or, at least, understand that regular possession necessitates careful safety countermeasures.

'via Blog this'

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gulf Coast States at Odds on Penalties for Oil Spill - NYTimes.com

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 washed up to Fourchon Beach, La.
Gulf Coast States at Odds on Penalties for Oil Spill - NYTimes.com:
by Campbell Robertson
 "NEW ORLEANS — With BP’s agreement on Thursday to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges and pay $4.5 billion in fines and other payments in connection with its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Gulf Coast politicians are now eyeing a much bigger potential windfall from the company: $20 billion or more in civil pollution penalties for the spill.

But the negotiations over those penalties — including which states get the money, how quickly, and what it can be used for — could be more contentious than the talks that led to the criminal settlement."  Officials with the Justice Department, who are leading the discussions, are not simply representing the federal government, but a number of other governments, including those of the five gulf states. And not only do some states have a different vision of a just settlement than federal officials do, they also disagree among one another. In some cases, leaders within a single state cannot agree on the best course of action.
Civil penalties under the Clean Water Act have not yet been settled.  Under the Restore Act the Gulf Cost states will share the proceeds.

'via Blog this'

Monday, December 10, 2012

Concussion Liability Costs May Rise, and Not Just for N.F.L. - NYTimes.com

Paul Kitagaki Jr./The Sacramento Bee, via Associated Press
SF 49'er QB Smith sustained a concussion with this hit in November
The National Football League, its affiliates and teams faces a wide array of claims.  A good source on these is the Paul Anderson's NFL Concussion Litigation blog  See, for example, this recent post.  The NFL inserted itself into the issue about twenty years ago when they created the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, which, like the Tobacco Institute's scientists, produced reports not simply later rebutted but discredited.
The dispute with insurers includes the issue that plaintiffs seeking to break the workers cop exclusivity bar allege fraud and intentional injury - which are probably not insurable torts as a matter of public policy. - GWC

Concussion Liability Costs May Rise, and Not Just for N.F.L. - NYTimes.com
by Ken Belson

"As the N.F.L. confronts a raft of lawsuits brought by thousands of former players who accuse the league of hiding information about the dangers of concussions, a less visible battle that may have a greater effect is unfolding between the league and 32 of its current and former insurers."***
Regardless of how it is resolved, the dispute could hurt teams, leagues and schools at all levels if insurers raise premiums to compensate for the increased risk of lawsuits from players and their parents who play hockey, lacrosse and other contact sports.
The N.F.L., which generates about $9 billion a year, may be equipped to survive these legal challenges. But colleges, high schools and club teams may be forced to consider severe measures in the face of liability issues, from raising fees to offset higher premiums to capping potential damages to requiring players to sign away their right to sue coaches and schools. Some schools and leagues may even shut down teams because the expense and legal risk are too high.

'via Blog this'

Saturday, December 8, 2012

BP Oil Spill Flow Rate Vastly Understated For Weeks, Emails Show

Bp Flow RateBP Oil Spill Flow Rate Vastly Understated For Weeks, Emails Show:
 "Emails that attorneys representing a defendant in the BP oil spill case plan to introduce in February show for the first time that the oil company knew the massive scale of the 2010 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico weeks earlier than previously disclosed.

BP has long maintained that it provided full disclosure to the public and the federal government about its knowledge of the spill’s extent and did so promptly. The emails suggest otherwise.

BP has said in the past that it learned of the spill's full extent months after the April 2010 blowout. But the emails indicate that the company knew almost immediately after the drilling rig exploded, killing 11 workers and injuring 17, that the spill may be extraordinarily large."

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Defending the jury system - CJ&D report

The Center for Justice and Democracy at New York Law School has issued a new report defending the civil jury system from its detractors.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Off the Charts Blog | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities | The Geography of Disability

The sort answer is that age, educational level, physical demands of the work explain disparate rates of receipt of SSD and SSI. - GWC
Off the Charts Blog | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities | The Geography of Disability:

'via Blog this'

Nate Silver's lessons of Romney campaign''s inaccurate polling

Nate Silver's analyses -we now know - were not biased but accurately forecast Obama's re-election.  The Romney campaign's own analyses were not so accurate. The lesson's Nate Silver draws from the Romney campaign's flawed polling are as true for litigation as they are for politics.  I have lost cases in which I invested a lot of time and money the same way that Romney lost.- GWC
Silver reports

Nonetheless, the seeming inaccuracy of Mr. Romney’s internal polls ought to present a warning to future campaigns. The problems with internal polls may run deeper than the tendency for campaigns to report them to the public in a selective or manipulative way. The campaigns may also be fooling themselves.
Our self-perceptions are very often more optimistic than the reality; 80 percent of people think they are above-average drivers, for example.
These problems can be worse when we join together to form businesses or organizations. Honest self-assessment is a challenge for any business, and it is one reason that management consultants are sometimes engaged at considerable expense to provide a supposedly more objective and unbiased take on the state of the organization’s operations. (Much of Mr. Romney’s success in business, of course, came precisely because he was able to identify companies whose organizational cultures prevented them from functioning efficiently.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

United States Temporarily Suspends BP From New Contracts - NYTimes.com

United States Temporarily Suspends BP From New Contracts - NYTimes.com: "WASHINGTON — Government officials have temporarily banned BP from new federal contracts because of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill that killed 11 workers and polluted hundreds of miles of Gulf of Mexico shoreline."
The Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that it was taking the action because of BP’s “lack of business integrity” demonstrated by the accident and the company’s inability to curb the flow of oil into the gulf. BP pleaded guilty earlier this month to federal criminal charges arising from the disaster and agreed to pay $4.5 billion, including $1.26 billion in criminal penalties.

'via Blog this'

Judge Kessler orders Tobacco Companies to Correct False Statements

In 1999 the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Consumer Protection Litigation filed suit against the tobacco companies. (DOJ archive)  After trial, in a massive 2006 "final opinion" U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler detailed lies the tobacco companies told and ordered them to correct the record publicly.  Among the most egregious was the denial that nicotine is addictive, particularly since the biggest seller - Marlboro - was fueled by the addition of ammonia which increased the amount of nicotine inhaled with the smoke. She found as fact:

Nicotine "Manipulation":  Defendants  Have Falsely Denied
that They Can and Do Control the Level of Nicotine Delivered
In Order to Create and Sustain Addiction.
For Decades, Defendants Have Recognized that
Controlling Nicotine Delivery, in Order to Create and
Sustain Smokers’ Addiction, Was Necessary to Ensure
Commercial  Success . .

Now Kessler has issued a remedial order. Among the statements are:

Corrective Statement A: Adverse Health Effects of Smoking
A Federal Court has ruled that the Defendant tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public about the health effects of smoking,1 and has ordered those companies to make this statement.2 Here is the truth:
• Smoking kills, on average, 1200 Americans. Every day.3
• More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol, combined.4
• Smoking causes heart disease,5 emphysema,6 acute myeloid leukemia,7 and cancer of the mouth,8 esophagus,9 larynx,10 lung,11 stomach,12 kidney,13 bladder,14 and pancreas.15
• Smoking also causes reduced fertility,16 low birth weight in newborns,17 and cancer of the cervix18 and uterus.19
The Citations are HERE on the blog Tobacco on Trial, which comprehensively covers U.S. v. Philip Morris.

Monday, November 26, 2012

BP Criminal Guilty Plea Fact Sheet - ELI

"The Environmental Law Institute has developed a fact sheet on the plea agreement between BP and the U.S. Department of Justice

On November 15, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced an 
agreement with BP to resolve criminal charges against the company related to the Deepwater 
Horizon disaster.
This fact sheet sets out the main terms of the agreement. Keep in mind that:
 This agreement only addresses criminal charges. Civil claims against BP are still pending.
 This agreement only relates to BP. It does not address any other corporations or individuals.
For example, there are still pending charges against BP employees.
 The agreement must be approved by the court before it is finalized. If approved, BP cannot 
face any other criminal charges for conduct related to or arising out of Deepwater Horizon."

'via Blog this'

BP steadily moving beyond Gulf spill disaster - SFGate

BP steadily moving beyond Gulf spill disaster - SFGate: "BP's $4.5 billion settlement of federal criminal charges announced Thursday is a record amount, and a significant sum of money.

Or, looked at another way, it's less than the $5.5 billion in profit the British oil giant made between June and September of this year.

BP is not fully past the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the 2010 explosion that killed 11 workers and led to the largest oil spill in U.S. history. The company has so far set aside $42 billion to pay fines and damages resulting from the spill, and that amount may yet grow."

But the company is steadily resolving the spill's legal issues and has nearly met its target for asset sales to help pay for the spill's costs. In the process, BP PLC has reshaped itself into a somewhat smaller company — but one that's still a large and profitable force in the oil industry.
"The danger is not over," Christine Tiscareno an analyst at S&P Capital IQ in London. "But they are now a step closer" to moving beyond the disaster.
The biggest obstacle is a trial set for February in New Orleans to determine BP's civil liability. If a court finds that BP was grossly negligent in causing the spill, fines could be billions more than the company has estimated.
For instance, BP has reserved $3.51 billion for possible civil fines under the Clean Water Act. The act allows up to $17.6 billion in civil fines — maybe $21 billion depending on definitions of how much oil actually spilled into the Gulf — said Environmental Law Institute attorneys Jordan Diamond and Jay Austin.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/us/article/BP-steadily-moving-beyond-Gulf-spill-disaster-4041657.php#ixzz2DOMzAjJm

'via Blog this'

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Special report: Civil fine in Gulf spill could be $4,300 barrel | Reuters

Special report: Civil fine in Gulf spill could be $4,300 barrel | Reuters: "Reuters) - Just how many barrels of oil are gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon spill is a billion dollar question with implications that go beyond the environment. It could also help determine how much BP and others end up paying for the disaster.
A clause buried deep in the U.S. Clean Water Act may expose BP and others to civil fines that aren't limited to any finite cap -- unlike a $75 million limit on compensation for economic damages. The Act allows the government to seek civil penalties in court for every drop of oil that spills into U.S. navigable waters, including the area of BP's leaking well.

As a result, the U.S. government could seek to fine BP or others up to $4,300 for every barrel leaked into the U.S. Gulf, according to legal experts and official documents."

'via Blog this'

New York Reassessing Building Code to Limit Storm Damage - NYTimes.com

Going beyond the New York City building standards saved the new municipal recycling plant from flood damage, the Times reports. - gwc
New York Reassessing Building Code to Limit Storm Damage - NYTimes.com
by Kirsten Luce
"In the countdown to Hurricane Sandy last month, construction workers on a teeming pier in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, rushed to strap down materials and move forklifts and excavators into half-built structures to shield them from the tempest to come.When a 12-foot storm surge swept through nearby streets and parking lots on Oct. 29, the raised recycling plant did not flood.But the real storm preparations had been accomplished six years earlier, when Sims Metal Management approved a design for a state-of-the-art city recycling plant that is rising at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal."

'via Blog this'

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Failed Experiment - NYTimes.com

Private solutions vs, public planning is an American dilemma - and we picked the wrong one, in the view of Nicholas Kristof. - GWC
A Failed Experiment - NYTimes.com:
by Nicholas Kristof
 "[T]he lust for generators is a reflection of our antiquated electrical grid and failure to address climate change. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave our grid, prone to bottlenecks and blackouts, a grade of D+ in 2009.
So Generac, a Wisconsin company that dominates the generator market, says it is running three shifts to meet surging demand. About 3 percent of stand-alone homes worth more than $100,000 in the country now have standby generators installed.
`Demand for generators has been overwhelming, and we are increasing our production levels,' Art Aiello, a spokesman for Generac, told me.
That’s how things often work in America. Half-a-century of tax cuts focused on the wealthiest Americans leave us with third-rate public services, leading the wealthy to develop inefficient private workarounds."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Customers sue JCP&L for outages after Hurricane Sandy | NJ.com

Customers sue JCP&L for outages after Hurricane Sandy | NJ.com:
"Twenty customers of Jersey Central Power & Light have filed suit against the utility for damages that resulted from losing power after Hurricane Sandy hit.
The Somerville attorney behind the allegations of negligence and consumer fraud filed today against the utility and its parent company FirstEnergy said he hopes the court grants class action status for the lawsuit so many more customers can join in.
"The real problem here is in the past year, 365 days, we’ve had two of these happen. As long as people say it’s OK, it will continue to happen more often and more often," said Britt Simon, who filed the suit and is also a plaintiff.
JCP&L spokesman Ron Morano said today he couldn’t comment on the suit, but called Sandy the worst storm in the company’s history."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tenants in Storm-Damaged Lower Manhattan Are Filing Lawsuits - NYTimes.com

A plan of the city of New-York & its environs to Greenwich, on the North or Hudsons River, and to Crown Point, on the East or Sound River, shewing the several streets, publick buildings, docks, fort & battery, with the true form & course ..., 1775 by John Montrésor
Napoli Bern - the lawyers who represented workers claiming injury in the World Trade Center demolition and removal operations - have filed suit on behalf of tenants who suffered flood damage losses in Manhattan.  Others will surely do the same.  One of the defendants, Cooper Square Realty, manages our 550 unit cooperative, wisely located at the highest natural point in Manhattan, 265 feet above sea level.  Plaintiffs will presumably point to recent engineering reports that warned of flood dangers.probofstormsurge_1029.jpg

'via Blog this'

Monday, November 19, 2012

“Managerial Judging” – Judge Hellerstein defends his role in forcing a settlement in WTC cases | Professional Responsibility: A Contemporary Approach

The plaintiffs lawyers borrowed $30 million at high interest to finance work done on contingent fee.  Patton Boggs and other defense firms funded by the FEMA-funed WTC Captive Insurance Co. got paid over $165 million in legal fees - as he work was done.  Guess whose fees got cut?  Was risk rewarded? - gwc
“Managerial Judging” – Judge Hellerstein defends his role in forcing a settlement in WTC cases | Professional Responsibility: A Contemporary Approach: "Federal District Judge Alvin Hellerstein and his Special Masters Aaron Twerski and James Henderson have mounted a major defense of the court’s role in enhancing the settlement of the World Trade Center cleanup litigation by cutting attorneys fees and forcing defendants to sweeten the pot before he would “approve the settlement” – something the Rules gave him no power to do.  It is a fascinating case study of the pressures on lawyers who undertake complex contingent fee litigation, of the limitations on clients’ ability to meaningfully consent to settlement in aggregate litigation (RPC 1.2), the meaning of a reasonable fee (RPC 1.5), and the power of judges over plaintiffs lawyers working on contingent fee in MDL-type mass tort litigation." - GWC

'via Blog this'

Friday, November 16, 2012

OTHERWISE: Managerial Judging: The 9/11 Responders' Tort Litigation by Alvin Hellerstein, James Henderson, Aaron Twerski :: SSRN

OTHERWISE: Managerial Judging: The 9/11 Responders' Tort Litigation by Alvin Hellerstein, James Henderson, Aaron Twerski :: SSRN: "udge Alvin Hellerstein undertook the monumental task of handling all the tort litigation arising from the 9/11 catastrophe which was venued in the Southern District of New York - by act of Congress.  He asserted power far beyond that expresssly granted him by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure- rejecting a settlement, cutting attorneys fees, denying plaintiffs lawyers the right to recoup the costs of financing the enormously expensive litigation brought on behalf of the demolition and rescue workers who worked on the smoldering ruins. The Judge and the Special Masters he appointed - Professors Aaron Twerski and James Henderson - make the case that power derives from necessity. - GWC
Managerial Judging: The 9/11 Responders' Tort Litigation by Alvin Hellerstein, James Henderson, Aaron Twerski "
'via Blog this'

Thursday, November 15, 2012

BP to admit crimes, pay $4.5 billion penalties

BP, the British oil company, said Thursday that it would pay $4.5 billion in fines and other payments to the government and plead guilty to 14 criminal charges in connection with the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago.
US Coast Guard, via Associated Press
The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico that was connected to a well owned by BP killed 11 workers and spilled millions of barrels of oil.


The payments include $4 billion related to the criminal charges and $525 million to securities regulators, the company said in a statement. As part of the settlement, BP agreed to plead guilty to 11 felony counts of misconduct or neglect related to the deaths of 11 people in the Deepwater Horizon accident in April 2010, which released millions of barrels of oil into the gulf over the course of the next few months.
The Justice Department stated it had also filed criminal charges against three BP employees on Thursday.
 BP still faces even larger civil liability under the Clean Water Act, ranging from $6 to $21 billion, which may come out on the high end of that range in light of the company’s admission about lying to Congress about the size of the spill. BP announced that it had added $3.8 billion to the $38.1 billion charge it already had taken to cover its liability for the spill. 
As to the criminal charge, here's the maritime law 18 USC Sec. 1115 Misconduct of neglect f ship's officers
Every captain, engineer, pilot, or other person employed on any steamboat or vessel, by whose misconduct, negligence, or inattention to his duties on such vessel the life of any person is destroyed, and every owner, charterer, inspector, or other public officer, through whose fraud, neglect, connivance, misconduct, or violation of law the life of any person is destroyed, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
When the owner or charterer of any steamboat or vessel is a corporation, any executive officer of such corporation, for the time being actually charged with the control and management of the operation, equipment, or navigation of such steamboat or vessel, who has knowingly and willfully caused or allowed such fraud, neglect, connivance, misconduct, or violation of law, by which the life of any person is destroyed, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

'via Blog this'

BP to Admit Crimes and Pay $4.5 Billion in Gulf Settlement - NYTimes.com

BP to Admit Crimes and Pay $4.5 Billion in Gulf Settlement - NYTimes.com:
 "LONDON — BP, the British oil company, said Thursday it would pay $4.5 billion in fines and other payments to the United States government and plead guilty to 14 criminal charges in connection with the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago.The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico that was connected to a well owned by BP killed 11 workers and spilled millions of barrels of oil.
The payments include a $4 billion fine to be paid over five years, with much of it to go to government environmental agencies, BP said in a statement.
As part of the settlement, BP pleaded guilty to 11 felony misconduct or neglect charges related to the deaths of 11 people in the Deepwater Horizon accident in 2010, which unleashed millions of barrels of oil into the gulf."
'via Blog this'

BP in 'Advanced Talks' on Settlement With U.S. Over Gulf Disaster - NYTimes.com

BP in 'Advanced Talks' on Settlement With U.S. Over Gulf Disaster - NYTimes.com: "“BP confirms that it is in advanced discussions with the United States Department of Justice and the Securities & Exchange Commission regarding proposed resolutions of all US federal government criminal and SEC claims against BP in connection with the Deepwater Horizon incident,” BP said in a statement."

'via Blog this'

Monday, November 5, 2012

In 2009, Engineers Detailed Storm Surge Threat to New York City - NYTimes.com

In 2009, Engineers Detailed Storm Surge Threat to New York City - NYTimes.com:

by James Glanz and Mireya Navarro
As the authorities examine how they can protect New York City from extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy, one of the nation’s most influential groups of engineers is pointing out that more than three years ago, it presented detailed warnings that a devastating storm surge in the region was all but inevitable.
The warnings were voiced at a seminar in New York City convened by the American Society of Civil Engineers, whose findings are so respected that they are often written into building codes around the world. Corporate, academic and government engineers at the meeting presented computer simulations of the storm-surge threat and detailed engineering designs of measures to counter it.Officials from the city’s Office of Emergency Management and the United States Army Corps of Engineers took part in the seminar, serving on review panels or giving talks.

'via Blog this'

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Aurora theater shooting fund plan: No money to mentally injured, non-hospitalized victims - Denver - News - The Latest Word

Ken Feinberg thumbnail.jpg
Kenneth Feinberg administrator of charitable fund
Aurora theater shooting fund plan: No money to mentally injured, non-hospitalized victims - Denver - News - The Latest Word: The families of the twelve people who died in the Aurora theater shooting and the victims who were brain injured or paralyzed will split 70 percent of the $5 million left in the Aurora Victim Relief Fund, while those who suffered less severe physical injuries will share the remaining 30 percent, according to a protocol engineered by the fund's "special master" Ken Feinberg and announced this morning by Governor John Hickenlooper's office.
Update, October 15, 4:38 p.m.: A representative of the majority of the families who lost loved ones sent this statement in response to the news:

"The majority of the families of the deceased recognize the need for more donations and are working tirelessly behind the scenes to raise additional funds. We are in the process of aligning with a trusted, nationally-recognized organization to ensure victims of the theater shooting -- the physically and emotionally injured in theater 9 and the physically injured in theater 8 -- will receive donations past the November 15 deadline imposed by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper."

'via Blog this'

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Medicare's Enduring Struggle to Define “Reasonable and Necessary” Care — NEJM

Medicare's Enduring Struggle to Define “Reasonable and Necessary” Care — NEJM
: "No payment may be made . . . for any expenses incurred for items or services, which . . . are not reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of illness or injury or to improve the functioning of a malformed body member.
— Sec. 1862(a) of the Social Security Act
The Medicare program, among its many functions, serves as the country's preeminent organization for the assessment of health technology. Its decisions to cover and pay for medical technology can have profound consequences for patients' access to therapies, physicians' treatment options, and the fiscal well-being of the program."

'via Blog this'

Workers' Compensation: $85 Million Verdict Against KBR for Negligently Exposing Soldiers to Toxins in Iraq

Workers' Compensation: $85 Million Verdict Against KBR for Negligently Exposing Soldiers to Toxins in Iraq: "An Oregon jury returned an $85 Million verdict against Kellog Brown & Root (KBR), a US Iraq War contractor, for exposing Oregon soldiers to toxins and causing them illness. 

After a 3 week trial, the jury deliberated 2 days, and found KBR guilty of negligently exposing the American soldiers to sodium dichromate, a cancer causing toxin substance containing hexavalent chromium. The soldiers complained of respiratory ailments after being exposed in Iraq near a water treatment plant."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The 2011 Report That Predicted New York's Subway Flooding Disaster - Commute - The Atlantic Cities

The 2011 Report That Predicted New York's Subway Flooding Disaster - Commute - The Atlantic Cities: "Last fall, as part of a massive report on climate change in New York, a research team led by Klaus Jacob of Columbia University drafted a case study that estimated the effects of a 100-year storm on the city's transportation infrastructure. Considering MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota’s comments today that Hurricane Sandy's impact on the subway was "worse than the worst case scenario," it seems pretty safe to put Sandy in the 100-year category. In that case, assuming the rest of the report holds true, the subway system could be looking at a recovery time of several weeks, with residual effects lasting for months and years.

The researchers modeled a potential 100-year storm that consisted of either a category 1 or 2 hurricane hitting nearby, or a severe nor’easter that coincided with high tide. (As we know now, Sandy was a hybrid of all three events.) The models predicted complete flooding of several tunnels after such an event, including all the tunnels in the East River:"

'via Blog this'

NFL Concussion Litigation - Plaintiffs Respond

Plaintiffs respond to NFL Motion to Dismiss
by Paul Anderson

In a scathing 45-page brief, the plaintiffs responded to the NFL’s motion to dismiss, arguing that they deserve to have their day in court.The plaintiffs used this as another attempt to convince Judge Brody, and the public, that their claims have nothing to do with the collective bargaining agreements.At the heart of the preemption issue, the plaintiffs have to show that their purported state-law claims are not substantially dependent upon or inextricably intertwined with the terms of the CBAs. (This is legal jargon meaning that Judge Brody can toss aside the CBAs and adjudicate the players’ claims without resort to the players’ contracts.)The plaintiffs argue that none of their claims require interpretation of the CBA; rather, these are stand-alone claims that can be successfully prosecuted without construing, among others, various health and safety provisions of the CBAs.According to the plaintiffs, the NFL acted negligently in failing to safeguard the health of the players. The NFL allegedly owed a duty to the players based upon its historical role of  “holding itself out as a protector of player well-being,” its “glorification of football violence” and its “voluntary decision to create the MTBI Committee.”This in turn, created a “special relationship” which required the NFL to act reasonably in discharging its duty. According to the plaintiffs, the court would not need to examine the various provisions of the CBA to determine the scope of this relationship because common law principles would apply.

Q&A with Patrick Juneau - Gulf claims administrator

Patrick Juneau - Deepwater Horizon
Claims Administrator
Q&A Oil Spill Chief Weighs In
by Emily Pickrell, Houston Chronicle
Q: How does the Deepwater Horizon Claims Center differ from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility?
A: These are two totally different programs. The Deepwater Horizon Claims Center is a precise, detailed settlement program. It lays out the formula for how you go about determining what your claim is worth and eligibility. It is based on a detailed document, as distinguished from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, whose detail was significantly less. If a claimant wanted to know about eligibility, it difficult to assess under the GCCF.
My main responsibility is to make sure that the settlement program is settled across the board and that there is equal treatment for everyone. We are not going to short one dime off that settlement agreement.
I report to myself and Judge Barbier and that's it. Barbier's a hands-on guy and asks me for data all the time. This is not a transitory thing to him.
Q: How many people are accepting the claim offers they have received from the Claims Center?
A: We have distributed $572 million (as of Oct. 15) with a current acceptance rate of 73 percent. We are aiming for 90 to 95 percent acceptance rate. The resounding feedback of all these determination letters so far has been incredibly positive, with as high as 90 percent acceptance rate from a variety of people.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dark night: NY ignored years of flood warnings - NY times

Manhattan - dark after Sandy

Read my lips "No new taxes".  Is anyone other than the voters responsible for the Hurricane Sandy disaster?
For years, New York ignored warnings.
by David W. Chen and Mireya Navarro

For nearly a decade, scientists have warned city and state officials that New York faces certain peril: rising sea levels, more frequent flooding and extreme weather patterns. The alarm bells grew louder after Tropical Storm Irene last year, when the city shut down its subway system and water rushed into the Rockaways and Lower Manhattan.
On Tuesday, as New Yorkers woke up to submerged neighborhoods and water-soaked electrical equipment, officials took their first tentative steps toward considering major infrastructure changes that could protect the city’s fragile shores and eight million residents from repeated disastrous damage.
riprap seawall at Brooklyn Bridge Park

Thursday, October 25, 2012

CNOOC faces lawsuit in US over spill disclosure - China.org.cn

"As the repercussions of the June 2011 Bohai Bay oil spill still linger, China's state-owned oil company CNOOC faces a new headache after it was sued by its U.S. investors over its misleading statements issued during the spill.

China's largest offshore oil company said in an announcement posted on its website Tuesday evening that it received notice of the class action suit filed by its U.S. investor Sam Sinay, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The plaintiffs accused CNOOC of failing to disclose June 2011's Bohai Bay oil spill in a timely manner and also releasing false and misleading information about its performance and financials.

A CNOOC official refuted Sinay's allegations, saying the company complied with rules and terms concerning information disclosure during the spill."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lawsuits connected to compounder’s tainted steroids will multiply rapidly, legal specialists say - Business - The Boston Globe

Lawsuits connected to compounder’s tainted steroids will multiply rapidly, legal specialists say - Business - The Boston Globe
by Jay Fitzgerald

"A nationwide meningitis outbreak linked to a Framingham drug compounding pharmacy is likely to cause a flood of lawsuits that could involve physicians, health clinics, hospitals, and others connected in any way with the contaminated medicines, according to legal specialists.

Attorneys representing clients who say they were injected with tainted steroids from New England Compounding Center already have filed at least a dozen lawsuits across the country, accusing it of pharmacy malpractice, general negligence, breach of warranties, and other wrongdoing."

While legal specialists say it’s usually difficult to win claims against health care providers for using faulty medical products they didn’t make, the meningitis outbreak is so large — with more than 250 reported cases, 21 deaths, and potentially thousands of people injected with steroids in 16 states — that widespread suits against New England Compounding and others are all but inevitable.


“You’re really talking about a cascading crisis of claims,” said Michael Rustad, a professor at Suffolk University School of Law. “We’re talking of hundreds of millions of dollars in potential claims."
'via Blog this'

Monday, October 22, 2012

CDC - Multistate Meningitis Outbreak

CDC - HAI - Multistate Meningitis Outbreak:
"Meningitis Outbreak Investigation

CDC Responds to Multistate Fungal Meningitis Outbreak
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with state and local health departments and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is investigating a multistate fungal meningitis outbreak among patients who received contaminated steroid injections. This form of meningitis is not contagious. The investigation also includes fungal infections associated with injections in a peripheral joint space, such as a knee, shoulder or ankle."


'via Blog this'