What's the next big litigation frontier for plaintiffs' lawyers? According to an editorial in today's Investor's Business Daily, it's . . . global warming!
According to IBD, "global warming will be the vehicle for the next big litigation lottery," with a potential to "have a far bigger financial footprint" (and payout for "private plaintiffs' lawyers") than the $246 billion tobacco settlement.
Nonetheless, I did enough research this morning to learn that the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School hosts a useful U.S. Litigation Chart that can be used to determine whether global-warming lawsuits are becoming nothing but a "source of cheap wealth" for plaintiffs' lawyers, as IBD puts it.
So far, as you can see for yourself in the chart (for example, the lawsuits for "money damages"), it's not quite the "naked cash grab" by plaintiffs' lawyers that IBD fears.
But I'm going to keep watching. And that litigation chart is pretty awesome . . .
In 1985, a 31-year-old North Carolina lawyer named John Edwards stood before a jury and channeled the words of an unborn baby girl.
Referring to an hour-by-hour record of a fetal heartbeat monitor, Mr. Edwards told the jury: "She said at 3, `I'm fine.' She said at 4, `I'm having a little trouble, but I'm doing O.K.' Five, she said, `I'm having problems.' At 5:30, she said, `I need out.' "
But the obstetrician, he argued in an artful blend of science and passion, failed to heed the call. By waiting 90 more minutes to perform a breech delivery, rather than immediately performing a Caesarean section, Mr. Edwards said, the doctor permanently damaged the girl's brain.
The article gives the outcome of the trial and recounts some of the highlights of Edwards' career as a lawyer.
After arguing that "it is possible that the 2003-04 term may go down in history as the one when Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist lost his court," the article reviews this year's key Supreme Court decisions in these categories: Detainees, Politics, Criminal Law, Privacy, Discrimination, Federalism and Regulation, Speech and Religion, and Jurisdiction.