Monthly Archives: December 2021

Valuing a Higher Threshold for Trade Secrets

Camilla Alexandra Hrdy, The Value in Secrecy (Sep. 16, 2021), available at SSRN.

What makes a secret a trade secret worth enforcing? Trade secrets have traveled a bumpy path from the basis for a common law gut feeling about unfair competition to a federally enforced intellectual property right. Because almost any kind of “information” can be a trade secret, trade secret doctrine has a reputation for being a fact-soaked free-for-all. This is especially true when compared to the contours of copyrights, trademarks, and patents, which are strict at least in theory.

In The Value of Secrecy, Professor Camilla A. Hrdy calls for legal rigor and, despite the reputation that trade secrets are an opportunity to air grievances about contract loopholes rather than valid assets, finds that rigor in the statutory text and in courts’ recent rulings. Her hot-off-the-presses article posits that “independent economic value” is, descriptively and normatively, a meaningful threshold for trade-secret eligibility. Although a reader unfamiliar with the ins and outs of trade secret law may get a bit lost in the nuances, Professor Hrdy’s article on this fast-developing doctrine also illuminates to the generalist both the divide between legal theory and legal practice and the importance of framing a narrative to fit a court’s expectations. Continue reading "Valuing a Higher Threshold for Trade Secrets"

Gender, Populism, and the Constitution

Partly catalyzed by the #MeToo movement, there has been a renewed and re-energized interest in the intersection of law and gender in the past couple of years. Legal scholars, including critical scholars on gender, have long worked to critique discriminatory aspects of law, and women’s rights advocates have tirelessly sought to bring about greater gender equality for all around the world. Law and gender not only highlights abuses of power and crimes against women and other marginalized sexual groups but also asks how gender discrimination continues to hamper the development of women. And there are increasing calls from academics, policy-makers, and rights advocates for greater constitutionalization of gender equality. This renewed focus is to be welcome, in my view. Our conversations on law and gender should permeate all aspects in which law regulates society, and vice-versa.

One reenergized area of debate is a new orientation to gender and two other interrelated phenomena – populism and nationalism. In The Personal Is Political: The Feminist Critique of Liberalism and the Challenge of Right-Wing Populism, Gila Stopler takes on this important topic in an impressive and thought-provoking manner. She points out that the devotion of liberalism to structural claims of public-private, which continue to pervade how constitutional law is perceived, has now allowed “right-wing populism” to gain influence in several countries, with deleterious impact on the rights of women as well as that of other minorities. She places the blame on liberalism’s influence over constitutional design and discourse, critiquing Rawls’ political liberalism, primarily, and multiculturalism, secondarily, to reflect upon “structural and theoretical flaws within liberalism.” Continue reading "Gender, Populism, and the Constitution"

Medical Necessity, Then and Now

Amy B. Monahan and Daniel Schwarcz, Rules of Medical Necessity, 107 Iowa L. Rev. ­­___ (forthcoming, 2022), available at SSRN.

In a must-read article, Amy Monahan and Daniel Schwarcz have teamed up to undertake, in their own words, an “exhaustive review of caselaw and publicly filed health insurance policies,” and report back on what health insurers have been doing with their contract terms to try to control their claims spend-out. The results are riveting. Monahan & Schwarcz document a shift twenty years in the making. The nature of what they see is a switch from insurers defining the scope of coverage using the broad standard-like term of “medically necessity” within each benefit category, to the use of highly particularized rules embodied in clinical policies or guidelines that are directly or indirectly fixed by reference in the insurance policy terms.

Their piece is a reply of sorts in a conversation across the decades with another colossus of an article, Mark A. Hall & Gerard F. Anderson, Health Insurers’ Assessment of Medical Necessity, 140 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1637 (1992). Each article, Monahan & Schwarcz’s and Hall & Anderson’s, stands and grapples with the fundamental and enduring crosswinds of the health coverage conundrum and renders them into a coherent historical narrative of sweeping momentum. Continue reading "Medical Necessity, Then and Now"

Can the FDA Save Early Abortion?

Greer Donley, Early Abortion Exceptionalism, 107 Cornell L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2021), available on SSRN.

In Early Abortion Exceptionalism, forthcoming in the Cornell Law Review, Professor Greer Donley addresses the regulation of medication abortion by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Almost 40% of abortions are completed by taking two drugs at or before 10 weeks of gestation. Mifepristone is the first drug and, the second drug, misoprostol, is taken 24 to 48 hours after. The FDA issues a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) for drugs it deems risky and in need of monitoring. Professor Donley focuses on two requirements this drug safety program imposes on providers seeking to prescribe mifepristone. For one, all providers must be certified to prescribe mifepristone, which requires submitting a form to the drug sponsor attesting that the provider can “assess the duration of pregnancy accurately,” “diagnose ectopic pregnancies,” and “provide surgical intervention” or “have made plans to provide such care through others.” (P. 11.) For another, the FDA requires that patients collect mifepristone at a healthcare facility – in-person at a hospital, clinic, or medical office. The effect of the FDA’s dispensation requirement has been to prohibit retail pharmacies and mail order prescription services from distributing mifepristone.

Professor Donley explains the complexities of the FDA regulation with clarity. But detailing the rules that govern medication abortion is not the point of her novel piece. Rather, Professor Donley assesses these restrictions in light of their ineffectiveness – medication abortion has been subject to strict controls even though it is comparatively safer than less regulated drugs. And she demonstrates why lifting these regulations would greatly expand access to early abortion. To make this case, her article offers three important insights. Continue reading "Can the FDA Save Early Abortion?"

Trumpism and Critical Contract Theory

  • Marissa Jackson Sow, Protect and Serve, __ Cal. L. Rev. __ (forthcoming, 2022), available at SSRN.
  • Marissa Jackson Sow, Whiteness as Contract, 78 Wash. Lee L. Rev. __ (forthcoming, 2021), available at SSRN.

In the waning days of Trump’s presidency, the far Right put Critical Race Theory in its crosshairs. In a flurry of executive orders and guidance documents, Trump tried to paint CRT as the cause of racial unrest in our nation. This move, which has since set off campaigns in state legislatures to outright ban CRT in public schools, is unsurprising. Trump and large swaths of his followers are white supremacists full-stop. As such, they see CRT as a threat to their racist agenda.

CRT does not cause “racial unrest,” sow racial hatred, and it is not now and has never been routinely taught in K–12 schools. Those seeking to literally outlaw CRT are not in any honest sense concerned with our youths’ minds or souls. Instead, they fear CRT’s capacity to shed light on how racial division has been and continues to be used to maintain white power. CRT is dangerous because the movement in the academe and in the streets seeks to transform the relationship between race, racism, and power. If the stakes weren’t so high right now, we might chuckle at how ridiculously Trumpian the far Right’s strategy is here. What more Trump move could there be than to claim CRT, which helps us dissect and discuss racism in sophisticated ways, is a bigger threat to our nation than racism itself.

Thankfully, in these troubling times, scholars like Marissa Jackson Sow, continue to build out and expand CRT discourse in new and innovative ways. My focus here is on two of Sow’s recent articles, Whiteness as Contract and Protect and Serve. Continue reading "Trumpism and Critical Contract Theory"

Circumventing Procedure in Eviction Court

Nicole Summers, Civil Probation (Aug. 3, 2021), available at SSRN.

Although 98% of cases in the United States are filed in state courts, it has become common to lament the lack of state-court-focused scholarship. Statements such as “staggeringly little legal scholarship focuses on state courts and judges” and “[w]e know astonishingly little about [state courts]” abound. A recent jot highlighted an article calling for more attention on “the actual,” not just “the ideal,” in procedural due process.

Luckily these tides are changing. Nicole Summers is an important member of an emerging vanguard here to help.

Summers studies eviction courts from the ground up. In her latest article, Civil Probation, she not only provides invaluable empirical data about the real workings of eviction courts, but she contextualizes her findings in theories that enhance our understanding of state civil courts generally and eviction courts in particular. (See also her earlier study of NYC housing court.) Continue reading "Circumventing Procedure in Eviction Court"

Decolonizing Criminology and Its Relevance to Understand the Birth of the Prison in Latin America.

Libardo José Ariza and Fernando León Tamayo Arboleda, El cuerpo de los condenados. Cárcel y violencia en América Latina (The Body of the Convicted. Prisons and Violence in Latin America), 73 Revista de Estudios Sociales 83 (2020).

In criminology we are used to reading brief and ‘filtered versions’ of the history of the prison. Despite recent works that provide useful summaries (Rubin, 2019),1 our main knowledge about the emergence of the prison still comes foremost from the liberal or ‘Whig’ histories or from revisionist accounts (represented by Rothman, Foucault, and in a distant third place on the podium Spierenburg, Rusche and Kirkheimer, Ignatieff, and Melossi and Pavarini). The liberal version asserts that the emergence of the prison was the product of the ‘Enlightenment’ in the eighteenth century, and that this new form of punishment was a progressive triumph of humanitarian ideals which opposed corporal punishments and public executions. The revisionist version questions this benevolent explanation and, in the most influential Foucauldian version, declares that prison is also a cruel but ‘hidden’ punishment addressed to the soul (instead of the body), with the goal of disciplining and creating ‘docile bodies’, and destined not to punish less but better. Both the liberal and the revisionist versions have also been subject to criticism. Ariza and Tamayo’s paper El cuerpo de los condenados. Cárcel y Violencia en America Latina (The Body of the Convicted. Prisons and Violence in Latin America) provides a good example why both accounts need to be reconsidered.

As so often happens in criminology, and in general in the social sciences, our accounts derive mainly from the countries that produce them, the US, and the UK. In the social sciences, this generally means that even in Spain we explain the history of prison comparing ‘the system of Auburn and Philadelphia’. This is logical, to a certain extent, because the main scholarship has been developed there. However, this sometimes misleads us because the chronology of the birth of the prison, its principal ideas and influences, and also finally the main actors might obviously be more diverse in different countries. In her fascinating paper Mary Gibson (2011) summarizes the birth of the prison in three other continents to explain that not all countries followed the sources or tempos of the birth of the penitentiary. There are countries where the emergence of the prison ‘was introduced by a colonial government (Vietnam, Africa), by indigenous rulers under imperialist pressure from Western powers (China, Japan), or by postcolonial leaders (Peru).’2 This literature produced from the margins allows us to capture new elements surrounding the origin of the prison institution, like racism, European imperialism, the brutal pre-modern conditions of the prison, and the substitution of less violent punishments existing in these societies before the prison, composing a more complete picture of the birth of the prison. Continue reading "Decolonizing Criminology and Its Relevance to Understand the Birth of the Prison in Latin America."

Reconstructing the Meaning of “Fair Value” in the Wake of Appraisal Arbitrage

Robert Miller, Stock Market Value and Deal Value in Appraisal Proceedings, 96 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1403 (2021), available at SSRN.

Delaware’s law of appraisal rights has been in an uproar since hedge fund arbitrageurs showed up in the Chancery Court fifteen or so years ago as appraisal petitioners. The shock led to minor changes in the statute and extensive changes in the caselaw. Responsive commentaries continue to appear with regularity. Professor Robert Miller takes a fresh look at the situation in Stock Market Value and Deal Value in Appraisal Proceedings. His paper is well worth a look.

I need to back up those fifteen years in order to frame the paper. Appraisal arbitrage really changed the game. All of a sudden a notoriously plaintiff-unfriendly legal remedy became a play space for Wall Street smart money looking for Alpha. The arbs worked the system by cooking up persuasive discounted cash flow (DCF) valuations that came in above the merger price. Shareholder advocates saw much to like in this development. The Delaware bar and judiciary, along with most of the rest of the establishment, saw things differently. The bar pushed through some minor revisions of the statute through the legislature, but those were not enough to stop the show. Continue reading "Reconstructing the Meaning of “Fair Value” in the Wake of Appraisal Arbitrage"

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