May It Please The Court: Weblog of legal news and observations, including a quote of the day and daily updates

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There are 2033 Journal Items on 255 page(s) and you are on page number 231

Is The Evidence In Yet? Salmon Still Swimming

Earlier this month, you saw it here: farm-raised salmon are high in PCBs. Now, it appears that two someones may file suit.

The Environmental Working Group and the Center for Environmental Health filed this Proposition 65 Notice against some 50 salmon farms.

Under Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, companies are required to notify consumers if their products contain hazardous levels of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm.

The lead notice recipient, Atlantic Salmon of Maine, LLC, has been in trouble before for alleged Clean Water Act violations.

ASOM has its own website that is worth perusing. Here's the reaction from the industry, "(Consumers) will be doing themselves and their families a great disservice if they stop eating farmed salmon," said Alex Trent, executive director of the trade group Salmon of the Americas.

He noted that farmed salmon, a source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, is much cheaper than wild salmon and can be purchased year-round. Their press release, however, didn't quite accurately predict the outcome of the study in Science that found high levels of PCBs in farm-raised salmon.

Unlike the prejudging we've done in recent celebrity legal flaps, let's wait until the evidence is in on this one. There's always at least two sides to every story. Check out Riverdale Elementary School's Salmon Page for everything salmon, and check out this take this report from the Free Market Project , arguing that the media has it all wrong. You might learn a few things.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, January 24, 2004 at 12:41. Comments Closed (0) |

New State Implementation Plan Out for Comment

You're dying to know. The South Coast Air Quality Management District submitted its new SIP (State Implementation Plan) to the USEAP.

First time we've had an update since 1999. 'Bout time.

If you want to read the Plan, click here. IF you want to comment, send them to USEPA, 75 Hawthorne Street (Air-2), San Francisco, CA 94105- 3901, Attn: Eleanor Kaplan or call her at 415-947-4147. Comments must be submitted by February 23, 2004.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, January 24, 2004 at 12:14. Comments Closed (0) |

Home Buying Just Got a Little Trickier

The courts and juries have been especially tough on homebuilders in recent years, and developers understandably reacted by writing limitations on their warranties into their contracts.

One of those contracts just got upheld, with a little bonus for the developer. In Hicks v. Sup.Ct. (Kaufman & Broad Home Corp.), the Court said that the contract not only was valid to disclaim express warranties, but also the implied warranty of quality.

This implied warranty was a judicially-created warranty, stretching back to 1974. Apparently, it has taken developer's attorneys a long time to figure a way around that doctrine.

But this time, it worked. Kaufman & Broad is understandably happy, and there will likely be a number of insurers who are, too.

Homeowners, on the other hand, have to read their contracts more carefully and understand what they're buying. You can expect this language to creep into all types of contracts now.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, January 23, 2004 at 11:12. Comments Closed (0) |

Kansas? From South America to the Smithsonian

You're the head of the Smithsonian Institution. You receive an offer to purchase South American headdresses that include feathers from endangered birds. More than likely, you know that such a purchase would violate several laws, including international treaties. What do you do?

If you're Secretary Lawrence M. Small, you seek legal advice (which apparently OK'd the purchase), and then after buying them, you display them at several of the Smithsonian Museums.

Then, you get a tap on the shoulder from the U.S. Attorney in Raleigh, NC. I thought the Smithsonian was in Washington, D.C., just a couple of states North. How did we get this far South, Toto?

Next thing you know, you're pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating a federal law protecting endangered birds. Whoops!

But, thankfully, your employer isn't going to fire you. According to the Smithsonian's Board of Directors, investigation and guilty plea "has not impaired, is not impairing, and will not hereafter impair" Small's ability to run the Smithsonian. Wow! Past, present and future imperfect participles all in one sentence.

Small will continue to run the Smithsonian's 16 museums and galleries, the National Zoo in Washington and research facilities in the United States and abroad.

Apparently, there's a little bit of larceny in everyone. Or maybe just Indiana Jones. Funny, they don't even look alike.

Then again, you could be prosecuted by the likes of Andy Griffith.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, January 22, 2004 at 11:15. Comments Closed (0) |

Supremes Hand USEPA the Hammer

Federalism reigns Supreme. Supreme Court that is.

In a riveting, 61-page opinion, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can overrule state courts when ordering anti-pollution measures, even if they entail increased costs.

What?

Well, look at it this way: the USEPA has final authority over the 50 states when it comes to air pollution, even if it means that the cost to implement pollution control devices is expensive. Same thing, different way.

The Clean Air Act gives initial authority to the states to regulate pollution control devices, but allows the USEPA to look over the states' shoulder. When the USEPA thinks the state is being too lenient, it can step in and order that the pollution control devices be installed, without regard to cost.

Big decision, big cost. Not good news for industries, but good news for environmentalists.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, January 21, 2004 at 16:04. Comments Closed (0) |

What? I Have To Pay For My Electricity?

If you live in Italy, you can seek compensation for electrical blackouts.

What a deal! Now just what is the statute of limitations on that one?

Perhaps some enterprising lawyer in California has filed suit against the utilities that sponsor rolling blackouts like they sponsor baseball fields (well, not anymore).

Imagine the possibilities. Instead of my meter running backwards, my bank account would run forward.

But, like the Ohio power blackout late last year, our blackouts would be solved if we could just get Ronco products off the air.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, January 20, 2004 at 13:36. Comments Closed (0) |

Is Your Chocolate Heavy?

Is there more than just naturally occurring lead and cadmium in your candy bar? One group wants us to think that the question is still up in the air. Maybe it was never a problem in the first place.

According to Prop 65 News, the nation's major candy companies settled a Proposition 65 warning lawsuit with American Environmental Safety Institute for just $20,000. Prop 65 is a California creation, designed to require warnings to consumers when levels of toxic chemicals might cause cancer or reproductive harm.

According to this article, the allegations were very serious, and AESI alleged that lead was "clearly" in the chocolate. When all was said and done though, Prop 65 News reported, "No penalties or attorney fees were awarded and the deal, which was the result of the defendantsí "offer to compromise," did not require the companies to warn customers of lead or cadmium exposures."

Maybe the allegations were all a mistake. Or maybe they were just designed to get money. You be the judge.

You can look at AESI's chocolate page, and the candy association's response.

The California Attorney General had this to say: AESI's claims "lack merit."

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, January 19, 2004 at 08:40. Comments Closed (0) |

Watch Where You Walk - It Could Blow Up

Here's sneak peek at a sobering set of facts: removing unexploded munitions and hazardous waste found so far on 15 million acres of closed U.S. military ranges could take up to 330 years at the current rate of spending, according to congressional auditors.

There are 39 million acres in all where unexploded munitions could be.

In a not-yet released report to members of Congress, the Government Accounting Office said the Department of Defense has not yet assessed three-fifths of the 2,307 potentially contaminated sites identified as of September 2002 and has finished cleaning up only one percent of them.

Some of these areas have already been redeveloped for homes and parks. Boom!

But there could be many more sites with contamination, according to the GAO. Though the Navy and Air Force examined their sites, the Army had only looked at 14 percent of its installations, or 105 ranges, as of last year, the GAO said.

If you're wondering whether you live or work on one of these sites, you can look at the list.

As if you didn't feel good about it already, an anonymous government source said the Army plans to add another 500 sites to the list.

What's there? The biggest contaminants that have been found are TNT, RDXand HMX explosives, perchlorate used in rocket fuels and white phosphorus. TNT and RDX are possible human carcinogens; HMX causes potential liver and central nervous system damage, animal studies suggest; perchlorate can cause thyroid disorders; white phosphorus can damage reproductivity, the liver, heart and kidney.

Make sure you click on the HMX link - it's a web site created by a 10th grader as part of his science project.

The Army Corps of Engineers is in charge of the cleanup. They just don't have enough money to finish the cleanup anytime soon.

Things are so bad that even the detailed assessment of these sites won't be finished until 2012.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, January 18, 2004 at 00:15. Comments Closed (1) |



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