The ABA Journal’s Blawg 100

We here at Abnormal Use are very pleased to announce that our humble blog was selected yesterday for inclusion in the ABA Journal‘s Blawg 100, the “annual list of the best of the blawgosphere.” It was less than a year ago, in January, when we began this fateful enterprise, and we’ve posted each business day since that time on the latest products liability cases and news. Now, after nearly 250 posts, almost a dozen interviews with law professors and practitioners, and a sizable quantity of Friday Links, we’re not quite veterans, but we believe we’re starting to get the hang of the slings and arrows of this blogging thing.

When we first heard the news we weren’t quite certain how to react. We tried to play it cool, but we were never successful at creating such a facade. Cynical as we purport to be, we’re actually rank sentimentalists at heart, and we’re quite honored to be included among the other seven torts blogs, those being the Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, the Drug and Device Law Blog, the FDA Law Blog, Jackson on Consumer Class Actions and Mass Torts, Marler Blog, New York Personal Injury Law Blog, and The Pop Tort. We’re still a little shocked.

This project would certainly not have been possible without the support of our firm. Kudos also go to our two principal authors Phil Reeves and Stephanie Flynn, as well as our five associate contributors: Kevin Couch, Jim Dedman, Mary Giorgi, Laura Simons, and Frances Zacher. We also thank former contributor Dan Eller for his work on the project during 2010.

Further, we would not be what we are today without the support of other blogs, including the Drug and Device Law blog as well as the Overlawyered and Point of Law blogs, all of which served as an inspiration to us as we prepared to enter the blogosphere just over a year ago.

Finally, we thank everyone who nominated us for inclusion in the list. We’ve got just one more favor to ask. After announcing the final 100 blawgs, the ABA Journal is now asking its readers to vote for the best of the final 100 in 12 substantive categories. Our blog is included in the Torts category, and we ask that you register at the ABA Journal‘s site and cast a vote for us here.

And if that’s not enough, we’ve got some big things in store for you in the coming weeks. Don’t forget: You can follow Abnormal Use on Twitter at @gwblawfirm. (In fact, check out our GWB 2.0 website for all of our social media endeavors as a blog and law firm.).

Thank you again, dear readers, for your visits to our site and support. We very much appreciate it, and we are looking forward to bringing you another year of commentary in 2011.

Friday Links

Above, you’ll find the cover for Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #28, published way back in 1958, which depicts Jimmy Olsen as “The Boy Who Killed Superman.” Note that he is in a police line-up, presumably for identification purposes, though the police officer is already presenting the evidence against him. (We love that there is a label tied to a piece of Kryptonite noting that it is “Exhibit B,” even though Olsen has yet to be identified, much less indicted or brought to trial.). We’ll leave it to the criminal lawyers to opine on whether the officer’s asking “Where have you hidden [Superman's] body?” constitutes a custodial interrogation. However, this being 1958, Jimmy would not yet have been afforded many of the protections fashioned by the Warren Court. Oh, well.

Speaking of comic books, after months and months of commenting upon silly and fun superhero/courtroom comic book covers in our Friday Links posts, we now learn that the Ivy League has taken an interest and created an exhibit on that very subject. Earlier this month, our friends at the Yale Law School Library debuted the exhibit, “Superheroes in Court! Lawyers, Law and Comic Books,”which is curated by Mark S. Zaid. If you find yourself in Connecticut, you must see this exhibition, which runs until December 16, 2010 . See here for some official information on the exhibit, including a handful of covers, some of which even we here had not previously seen. (Thanks to eagle eyed reader Ryan Steans for bringing this New York Times piece on the exhibit to our attention.).

Man, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog beat us to the punch with the Rolling Stones allusion in their piece on the Ninth Circuit’s striking down of a municipal tattoo parlor ban. South Carolina is no stranger to such issues, as it banned tattoo parlors until 2006, when the 36 year old prohibition, which had survived a constitutional challenge in the courts, was repealed by the legislature. For more on the Ninth’s Circuit’s recent ruling, see here, here, and here.

The Evidence Law Prof Blog analyzes a recent North Carolina case regarding the authentication of emails, still a hot topic, even after all of these years of email use.

Civility seems to be the issue of the week. The DRI Blog has a piece by Brett A. Ross entitled “Professionalism: It’s not Just for Kids Anymore,” in which the author notes that “as mature practitioners, we should know better how to respond to bad behavior by our opponents even though it often seems that is not the case.” Meanwhile, Lawyerist has “Are You Civil With Opposing Counsel?,” in which the author’s advice is “Stick to your guns and keep it civil. It will pay off in the long run.” And our pals at Overlawyered have this post, in which they analyze a recent scolding of uncooperative counsel by a U.S. Magistrate.

Yesterday, Kevin Couch, one of our intrepid bloggers at this site, posted his review of the new Jimmy Smits legal drama, “Outlaw.” Apparently, the show is about a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, played by Smits, whose frustration with the system causes him to resign his seat on the Court and go about righting wrongs and correcting injustices in the trenches. (It seems he was in a pretty good position to do that on the U.S. Supreme Court, but oh well, it’s television.). Our thought: It would have been much more interesting had this series been a direct sequel to “L.A. Law” and Smits was playing his old character Victor Sifuentes, who had somehow managed to make it all the way from Los Angeles to the nation’s High Court. Another potential benefit of that approach: Susan Dey cameos.

Finally, we learned this week that Bob Dylan, the immortal folk singer, the voice of his generation, will be playing a concert later this year in nearby Clemson. We’ve seen him before and walked away unimpressed, so we leave you with a piece from Seattle Weekly, entitled “Top 7 Reasons to Walk Out of a Bob Dylan Show.” (Full disclosure: we adore our CD of the 1966 “Royal Albert Hall” concert, but that show was some time ago.).

Our First Milestone: 100 Posts

We here at Abnormal Use have officially hit our first milestone and are, as of today, 100 posts old. To commemorate the first of what we hope will be many such anniversaries to come, we pause to reflect on where we started, and what we have learned along the way.

It has been just four short months since we unveiled this products liability blog with a formal mission statement. Whereas we feel certain that blogging may come naturally to some, our first foray into the blogosphere was not without some trepidation. Naturally, we asked ourselves: Will there be sufficient source material? But we quickly learned that this was the least of our concerns. Fortunately for products liability bloggers, in the rapid, ever-changing world of litigation, there is rarely a day that passes without something newsworthy, whether it be a new court decision, an interesting verdict, a product recall (an augury of imminent litigation), or a story on a future Plaintiff’s new and “inventive” use of a product that, predictably, went awry. Needless to say, we have found plenty of cases and news items about which to post. We are also proud to have presented several original interviews with law professors in our series which we affectionately call Abnormal Interviews (more of which are to come in the future).

Branding ourselves the authors of an “unreasonably dangerous products liability blog,” we’ve also attempted to inject a bit of humor into our posts, at least every once in a while. We have, of course, enjoyed sharing our light-hearted Friday Links. We also hope that you will remember what, for us, became one of our most infamous posts. On February 3, just a few weeks into this enterprise, we posted what we fondly refer to as the the chicken sandwich post, a reflection on the Fourth Circuit’s opinion in Sutton v. Roth, L.L.C., a case that evolved out of yet another instance of a hot item becoming a dangerous instrumentality. Then, of course, we could not resist an April Fool’s Day post. In keeping with our food-related theme, we decided to reflect on whether a Snickers really satisfies (“Unsatisfying Snickers Bar Unreasonably Dangerous and Defective, Texas Court Holds“). Whereas most of us here would agree that a Snickers bar does indeed satisfy (roasted peanuts, nougat, caramel and chocolate!), gone are the days when we as attorneys would actually be surprised to see a lawsuit that would seek to challenge what has been and still is a highly successful marketing campaign for Mars, Inc. (Just check out Betty White’s appearance in Snicker’s Superbowl commercial!). Apparently, the post did actually fool a few readers, as we received a missive or two asking if the post was, in fact, reality.

We cannot observe this anniversary without pausing to thank others in the blogosphere who have both supported and inspired us. Special thanks go to James M. Beck of the Drug and Device Law Blog and Walter Olson (of both Overlawyered and Point of Law) for their support.

This is not to say that the blog is always fun and easy. This site has now become a daily part of our professional existence – yet another generator of deadlines. Sometimes, it is a joy. Other times, though, it is simply one more item to check off of an already lengthy to-do list. Mark Herrmann (former author of the Drug and Device Law blog) warns of the perils of lawyer blogging in his recent article “Memoirs of A Blogger“). We’ve taken some of these concerns to heart, but we’ve also attempted to fashion a blogging infrastructure here that avoids some of the issue Herrmann presents. (Certainly, dividing the work amongst seven attorneys makes the task a bit less daunting.). But, in any event, we have been gratified and encouraged by the feedback that we have received and the knowledge that we have acquired throughout this project.

Despite this anniversary, we are only getting started. Thanks to all of you for visiting the site, and we look forward to bringing you much more products liability commentary in the future.