Camera Lucida

February 20, 2006

Lost baggage blues

Filed under: Society — CL @ 6:21 pm

There was some attention paid this weekend to a news report that some 10,000 pieces of luggage are lost by airlines every day. Presumably this largish figure includes the pieces that are somewhat delayed but soon returned to their owners. Every traveler, though, can regale us with one or more stories of baggage gone far, far astray.

There is a rather simple technique that could be used to assist with this problem. If every traveler were to attach a special identification card with a barcode to his luggage, and if some central authority were to be tasked to maintain a database of which barcodes go with which names and addresses, the airlines would have a quick way to connect the user with his lost bag. Right now, the only searching is human-driven: a traveler reports that his bag is missing and is asked to provide a description, both sides recognizing that his bag probably resembles about four million others circulating on baggage claim carousels. If the airlines used barcodes and the database to allow the lost bag to also search for the traveler, the chances of reuniting the two would increase exponentially.

February 19, 2006

Upcoming property rights decisions

Filed under: Constitutional law — CL @ 10:07 am

The most significant property rights case of the current term of the U.S. Supreme Court is to be argued on Tuesday, February 21. In the companion cases of Carabell v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Rapanos v. United States, both of which are on appeal from decisions of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the petitioners are challenging the authority of the ACE to regulate wetlands well away from the navigable waters of the United States.

Over the last ten years, the Federal government’s regulation of wetlands has grown, as the ACE has claimed very extensive authority in this area, which is typically regulated by the states. The ACE’s assertion of authority is premised on a statutory prohibition, contained in the Clean Water Act, against the discharge of any “pollutants, including dredged or fill material” into the navigable waters of the United States without a permit from the ACE.

The Court decided in United States v. Riverside Bayview Homes, Inc., 474 U.S. 121 (1985) and in Solid Waste Agency Of Northern Cook County v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, 531 U.S. 159 (2001) that the regulations adopted by the ACE were a reasonable exercise of the authority conferred under the Clean Water Act. In the Solid Waste Agency case, however, the Court ruled that the ACE did not have the authority to regulate “isolated ponds”.

LII has posted an extensive analysis of these cases and the issues they present, with links to several of the briefs, at http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/cert/04-1034.html. The analysts note that these two cases will offer the Court the opportunity to refine or redefine the meaning of waters that are “adjacent” to navigable waters.

And the Endangered Species & Wetlands Report has a web page including links to briefs and other resources relating to the case. (Pointer by How Appealing)

February 12, 2006

Insurers vs. defense counsel

Filed under: Law practice — CL @ 9:34 am

A new concern for defense lawyers:

Insurance Defense Malpractice Suit May Signal a Trend

An insurance defense bar beset by pressure to handle more cases at lower rates has a new reason to fear carriers as clients.

In a rare case of defense lawyer malpractice, a jury in Camden County awarded $362,000 Thursday to an insurance company that didn’t like the performance of its outside counsel at a personal injury trial.

The jury voted, 6-1, that a New Jersey partner in Philadelphia’s 165-lawyer Post & Schell caused Safestep Reinsurance Inc. a loss in the 1997 defense of a worker’s claim that he fell from a defective ladder.

Carriers rarely sue. In fact, it was the first time Safestep did in 2,500 cases over its 29-year history, says claims executive Paul Junius. . .

ABA committee chair Ben Hill of Tampa, Fla., told the ABA Journal in October that while insurance companies have traditionally stood by their lawyers, “Today, loyalty doesn’t exist like it did”. . .

It appears from the writeup that the defense attorney, in response to the insurer’s claim that he spent “woefully few hours preparing” for trial, countered with expert testimony to the effect that “short preparation time is a fact of life for all lawyers”. That does not seem like a strategy calculated to prevail in such a claim.

Source: New Jersey Law Journal – Law.com

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