University of Louisville Law Faculty Blog

Hot Coffee,Tort Reform & Greater Tax Burdens

A new documentary, Hot Coffee, explores the infamous 1992 case brought against McDonald's after hot coffee spilled on a customer's lap. On Janaury 25, 2011, Democracy Now! spent the hour with various guests discussing the case, the documentary and how the incident has been used by corporations and the Chamber of Commerce to advocate for tort reform, with one result being that hard caps on medical malpractice damages shift the burden to taxpayers. 

Should the U.S. Prosecute Julian Assange?

Marvin Ammori concludes that the U.S. should not prosecute Assange for publishing diplomatic cables - "not for the benefit of Assange, but for the benefit of Americans and of the United States." Read Ammori's thoughtful analysis here.

Arbitration and New Technologies

I had the pleasure of presenting on Arbitration and New Technologies at the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service Bi-Annual Midwest Arbitrators' Symposium at Chicago-Kent College of Law (Institute for Law and the Workplace) on Friday, November 19, 2010.  This presentation updates my previous work in the area.  Attached are my notes and slides, which include citations to recent decisions.  A copy of the article referenced in the slides is available to download here.

Congratulations to the Arbitration Team

The arbitration team competed at the ABA Arbitration Competition Regional at NKU last weekend.  They won the first round (but lost the second to a very high ranking team that came in second overall after the first two rounds).  The team received compliments from many judges on their professionalism.  The judges complimented Brandon Edwards for a well organized opening and direct examination and good leading questions on cross examination, as well as an overall excellent presentation.  They complimented Megan Keane for her very smooth direct examination, her good leading cross examination, her use of a document, and a great job overall.  The judges complimented Samantha Thomas for use of a good timeline on opening statement, her submission of relevant reliable evidence on direct examination, her strategic use of respondent's own exhibits on cross-examination, and her overall very good presentation.  The judges complimented Aaron Price for his use of a good timeline on direct examination, his effective discrediting of the witness on cross examination, his persuasive presentation and use of a demonstrative exhibit on summation, and his overall very good presentation.

The Art of ADR Advocacy


I had the pleasure of serving as the moderator for a panel last week, at the Fourth Annual ABA LEL Section Conference, entitled "The Art of ADR Advocacy and When to Ignore Your Basic Instincts."  On the panel were four highly experienced and knowledgeable neutrals, Vivian Berger, Susan Grody-Ruben, Mark Irvings, and David Weisenfeld, whose bios are attached.  Also attached are the questions addressed and the outline for the presentation (which includes some of Vivian's insightful thoughts) as well as the papers or outlines submitted by me and the other panelists.

MHAKY Beers Award


On October 29, 2010, Mental Health America of Kentucky, a/k/a the Mental Health Association of Kentucky, Kentucky’s oldest mental health education and advocacy organization, presented me with the Clifford W. Beers Mental Health Consumer Award for 2010.  The award recognizes my mental health advocacy work through my numerous speeches regarding the wrongfulness of the stigma against those with mental illnesses and the ability of some with severe mental illness who have proper treatment to be successful professionals.  These especially include my talks to nursing, social work, psychology, and law students.  The award is in the shape of a bell and is a facsimile of the 300 pound Mental Health America bell that was forged of melted chains and shackles that once restrained those confined in asylums because they had mental illnesses.  The MHA bell is a powerful reminder that the invisible chains of misunderstanding and discrimination continue to bind people with mental illnesses.  Today it rings out hope for improving mental health and achieving victory over mental illnesses.

In 1900 young Yale-educated businessman Clifford W. Beers, born in 1876, was first confined to a private mental institution.  He would later be confined to another private hospital as well as a state institution. During these periods he experienced and witnessed serious maltreatment at the hands of hospital staff. After the publication of A Mind That Found Itself (1908), an autobiographical account of his hospitalizations and the abuses he suffered and saw during them, he gained the support of the medical profession and other prominent national leaders of the time, including the philosopher William James and the Rockefeller family, in the work to reform the treatment of those with mental illnesses.  In 1909 Beers founded the "National Committee for Mental Hygiene," now named Mental Health America, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization that addresses all aspects of mental health and mental illness through advocacy, education, research, and service.  He did so in order to continue the reform of the treatment of those with psychiatric diseases by promoting mental health and improving conditions for children and adults living with these health problems.  Beers was a leader in the mental health field until his 1939 retirement.  He died in 1943.

Union Waivers of Court Forum for Statutory Claims


I spent Friday and Saturday at the Fifth Annual Labor and Employment Law Colloquium.  I attended many presentations, all of which were extremely engaging and informative.  I presented Friday afternoon at Washington University School of Law on a panel with Thomas Burch (Florida State) and Zev Eigen (Northwestern). 

 I am starting research on a project that will look at arbitration decisions in the union sector to inform the debate over the adquacy of labor arbitration for deciding statutory employment disputes.  The slides of my presentation and accompanying handout are attached to this post.

 Thomas proposed regulation of mandatory arbitration of consumer, employment, and other disputes to make it more fair.  My understanding is that his paper is still in draft form, but I will post a link to it once it is publicly available. 

Zev proposed changes to the procedures used for mandatory arbitration of employment disputes, including updating the Due Process Protocol, to make it a more optimal way to structure rights disputes.  His co-authored article is available here

Warns Institute Papers

The papers from the Warns Institute are now available.

Sharing What Works: Enhancing Our Teaching through Technology

Thank you to everyone who attended this session at the LWI Biennial Conference.  We have now finished compiling the master list of all the great suggestions reported out to the group, which is attached.  The slides and handouts are also attached.  And at one participant's suggestion, we have attached a sample PowerPoint of possible ways to use "clicker" exercises.

Using Visual Aids to Enhance Your Case

I had the pleasure of presenting with Luke Morgan and Lars Smith at the KBA Convention today.  Attached are the materials, the slides, and my notes for our presentation, "Using Visual Aids to Enhance Your Case."  You can find the video of Professor Smith's "how to" segment here