Quotulatiousness

June 29, 2014

NFL Films may have key evidence in the concussion dispute

Filed under: Football, Health, Law — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 11:02

At Viking Update, John Holler says an old NFL Films product may become very important in the ongoing dispute between the league and former players over concussions:

The ongoing concussion lawsuit that appears to be close to being settled out of court is making progress to be finalized. The bottom line is that players needing help will get significantly more assistance than they have in the past because the spotlight is on and both sides are compelled to try to reach a mutually-agreed upon decision.

But, if the case remains unsettled, the NFL equivalent to the Zapruder film may well already be in possession of the NFL.

Many of the former players who are seeking reparations for the injuries they sustained during their playing days played the sport at a much different time. They weren’t just Old School. They played in the school that was replaced by the school now referred to as Old School.

Over the weekend, thanks to the good people at Netflix, I watched a three-disc NFL Films series called “Inside the Vault.” The series highlighted the NFL of the 1960s and early 1970s and, while used as a promotional tool, gave unprecedented access to what actually happened on the sidelines of games when injured players were being treated and, at times, sent back into action.

The footage contained on the DVDs was both fascinating and troubling. At the time the “vault” was opened in 2003, NFL Films was getting involved in the new medium of marketing and selling itself. The DVD market of the time created “The Vault.”

What the NFL Films set portrayed was a testament to the bravado of the NFL and the players, coaches and sideline personnel involved. Ed Sabol founded NFL Films and, in the “Vault” collection, he was interviewed and quoted as saying that he instructed his camera crews not to unnecessarily throw away any film that wasn’t spoiled in developing.

June 18, 2014

The liability concern in the future of driverless cars

Filed under: Law, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 08:04

Tim Worstall asks when it would be appropriate for your driverless car to kill you:

Owen Barder points out a quite delightful problem that we’re all going to have to come up with some collective answer to over the driverless cars coming from Google and others. Just when is it going to be acceptable that the car kills you, the driver, or someone else? This is a difficult public policy question and I’m really not sure who the right people to be trying to solve it are. We could, I guess, given that it is a public policy question, turn it over to the political process. It is, after all, there to decide on such questions for us. But given the power of the tort bar over that process I’m not sure that we’d actually like the answer we got. For it would most likely mean that we never do get driverless cars, at least not in the US.

The basic background here is that driverless cars are likely to be hugely safer than the current human directed versions. For most accidents come about as a result of driver error. So, we expect the number of accidents to fall considerably as the technology rolls out. This is great, we want this to happen. However, we’re not going to end up with a world of no car accidents. Which leaves us with the problem of how do we program the cars to work when there is unavoidably going to be an accident?

[...]

So we actually end up with two problems here. The first being the one that Barder has outlined, which is that there’s an ethical question to be answered over how the programming decisions are made. Seriously, under what circumstances should a driverless car, made by Google or anyone else, be allowed to kill you or anyone else? The basic Trolly Problem is easy enough, kill fewer people by preference. But when one is necessary which one? And then a second problem which is that the people who have done the coding are going to have to take legal liability for that decision they’ve made. And given the ferocity of the plaintiff’s bar at times I’m not sure that anyone will really be willing to make that decision and thus adopt that potential liability.

Clearly, this needs to be sorted out at the political level. Laws need to be made clarifying the situation. And hands up everyone who thinks that the current political gridlock is going to manage that in a timely manner?

Quite.

February 4, 2013

A legal spectre is haunting the NFL

Filed under: Football, Health, Law, Media, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:12

In the wake of a vastly entertaining SuperBowl contest between the “San Francisco 50-1’ers”* and the “Baltimore Black Birds”*, Steve Chapman outlines the possibility that we won’t see too many more SuperBowl games:

Professional football is the most popular spectator sport in America, which is one reason yesterday’s Super Bowl was expected to draw 110 million viewers. With its famous athletes, storied franchises, and lucrative TV contracts, it’s an industry whose future appears limitless.

But football has a problem: the specter of mass brain damage among current and former players. So far, the steady trickle of disturbing revelations has had no apparent effect on ticket sales or TV ratings. What it has done, though, is more ominous: It has invited lawsuits.

If football falls into decline, it may not be the result of fans turning away, athletes avoiding it, or parents forbidding it. It may be from lawyers representing players who sustained chronic traumatic encephalopathy and expect to be compensated for the damage.

[. . .]

Walter Olson, a Cato Institute fellow, blogger (Overlawyered.com), and author of several books on liability, knows well how a tide of litigation can transform a landscape. And he has a bold prediction: “If we were to apply the same legal principles to football as we do to other industries, it would have to become extremely different, if not go out of business.”

“Seriously?” you may ask. A guy who made a good living engaging in high-speed collisions with 300-lb. blocks of granite can say he didn’t understand the risks involved? It may seem that case will be laughed out of court.

But Olson thinks not. “Courts have not been very friendly to this argument, particularly when something as grave as permanent brain damage is involved,” he told me. And it’s become apparent that while players were aware of the possibility of mangled knees, broken bones, and concussions, they didn’t grasp that repeated blows to the head could produce debilitating and irreversible mental harms.

* See the Samsung commercial in this post for explanation of the team names.

October 3, 2010

Personal responsibility is key

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Europe, Liberty, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:41

A post at The Economist looks at the ongoing debate on liberal/libertarian joint concerns:

My colleague noted the other day the discussion Matthew Yglesias has been having with his readers over whether liberals and libertarians can agree on some regulations they both hate. So, here’s a regulation I hate: you’re not allowed to swim across the lake anymore in Massachusetts state parks. You have to stay inside the dinky little waist-deep swimming areas, with their bobbing lines of white buoys. There you are, under a deep blue New England summer sky, the lake laid out like a mirror in front of you and the rocks on the far shore gleaming under a bristling comb of red pine; you plunge in, strike out across the water, and tweet! A parks official blows his whistle and shouts after you. “Sir! Sir! Get back inside the swimming area!” What is this, summer camp? Henry David Thoreau never had to put up with this. It offends the dignity of man and nature. You want to shout, with Andy Samberg: “I’m an adult!

I would gladly join any movement that promised to do away with this sort of nonsense. For example, Philip K. Howard’s organisation “Common Good” works on precisely this agenda. Common Good’s very bugaboo is useless, wasteful legal interference in schools, health care, recreation, and so on. But what you quickly note with many of these issues is that they’re driven by legal liability concerns. You have a snowblader in Colorado suing a resort because she crashed into someone. You have states declining to put up road-hazard signs because the signs prove they knew the hazard was there, which could render them liable for damages. You have the war on children’s playgrounds. The Massachusetts swimming ban, too, is driven by liability concerns. The park officials in Massachusetts aren’t really trying to minimise the risk that you might drown. They’re trying to minimise the risk that you might sue. The problem here, as Mr Howard says, isn’t simply over-regulation as such. It’s a culture of litigiousness and a refusal to accept personal responsibility. When some of the public behave like children, we all get a nanny state.

As Robert Heinlein put it, “The whole principle is wrong; it’s like demanding that grown men live on skimmed milk because the baby can’t eat steak.”

« « Pakistan’s self-harming border closure| The war heckler’s latest book » »

Powered by WordPress