OK, we'd wandered off into product-liability law, I didn't realize Tjoe was returning to the original subject, and was trying to relate "TILA" to something in product liability without any luck.
Any attorney worth his salt would remove such a suit to Federal court, and say that the state may not regulate where Congress has occupied the field. Nuisance suits occur with or without warning stickers, and while they are an easy target, I doubt if all of the costs rolled up together amount to $1 per item. Like I said before, if we eliminated the legal duty, probably every company out there would still put them on, because it gives them an affirmative defense. I like warning stickers; I think people should have them.
It is true the quality of state judges varies quite a bit. But Federal courts have to be called upon if the issue is Federal regulations, and the standard for Federal judges is quite a bit higher. If for no other reason than that, I would prefer Federal warning requirements for my product, so that if I were sued in a state court I could remove it to Federal court.
Ah, poor Judge Pantsman. He lost the lawsuit, the defendants took pity on him and waived their attorney fee costs in an effort to make nice, and the bastard then went and appealed to the Court of Appeals. Luckily, the local judicial board tossed him out of his job, but he is still appealing the loss, and meanwhile the dry cleaners has gone out of business.
The Chicago Sun-Times has a column called "QT" which regularly runs short (one- or two-sentence) items regarding lawsuits of this type. They usually name the general location but not the specific plaintiff or defendant.
Rules of law are dependent on the quality of the judge sitting on the bench. In Illinois and 36 other states, judges run for office in partisan political elections with their party affiliation listed on the ballot. Although the various bar associations and legal groups issue ratings for the candidates, we regularly see judges elected or re-elected despite unanimous "NOT QUALIFIED" ratings. Appearing before one of those judges means you're at the mercy of his/her biases and preconceptions rather than being tried according to the law.
A couple of years ago there was a scandal in Cook County, IL, when it was revealed that the mechanism for determining which judge heard which case, in both the criminal and civil divisions, was NOT random as the public had been told, but was being manipulated by mid-level managers in the Clerk of the Circuit Court's office--criminal defendants' attorneys and civil-suit plaintiffs' attorneys could select the judge they wanted by dropping a few Benjamins on the counter before the selection was made public. Given the fact that some of the judges were known to be bribeable, justice was easily perverted. As an example, look up "Harry Aleman" on Wikipedia--the only man to be successfully retried and convicted for a murder for which he had previously been acquitted (a federal court ruled that the judge in the first trial had been bribed and Mr. Aleman had therefore not been in jeapordy during the first bench trial--the judge couldn't be prosecuted because he had committed suicide when the bagman who delivered the bribe was offered immunity in return for his testimony).
In another post I talked about Marion County, IL as being a plaintiff's heaven because judges regularly rule against coroporate respondents in product-liability suits. Even though the state appellate and supreme courts frequently overruled the original verdicts, winning on appeal is much more expensive than having your opponent's suit thrown out at the first status hearing, and plaintiffs' attorneys count on that in setting their "make this suit go away" demands.
What about that infamous administrative law judge in DC and his $54 million suit over a temporarily-lost pair of pants? Was he ever suitably disciplined?
"The judge could..."--but WOULD (s)he? Marion County, Illinois was famous for many years as "plaintiff's heaven" in product-liability suits because the judges and juries in that county consistently favored the plaintiff regardless of the actual merits of the case. Law firms specializing in product liability cases would try to find someone resident in Marion County whom they could use as lead plaintiff so they could file there for multi-state class action suits. I think the practice ended when the Supremes decided that if plaintiffs resided in multiple states, class-action lawsuits would have to be filed in federal courts rather than allowing attorneys to shop around among 2000-plus state court districts.
Even without considering the effect of "plaintiffs' heavens", every medium and large company has a "nuisance lawsuit" threshold which represents what it would cost the company to win a baseless lawsuit which actually went far enough for a judge to rule on it. If the company can settle for less than the threshold, it'll do so rather than incur the extra costs (and possible competitive disadvantage resulting from "accidental" disclosure of confidential material surrendered during discovery proceedings) of letting the case continue. The cost of allowing for the nuisance suits adds to the price of that sticker. $10-$20 is more realistic than $1.
Contract law is old, but I was under the impression that criminal law was older, starting when some tribal leader said, "If you do THIS, THAT is what will happen to you."
Most of contract law was irrelevant to the man on the street prior to the 20th century (leases being the primary exception since most people in urban areas did not own their domiciles), and it didn't really start to sprout until the post-WWII housing (and mortgage) boom. "Gotcha"-type contract law seems to have sprouted with TV advertising and then been transplanted into other areas, including Internet purchases.
My local high school district has had a "preparation for independent living" (my term, not theirs) course as a graduation requirement since at least 1986. In addition to covering topics like "how much will a baby cramp your lifestyle" (by requiring students to cart a 10-lb bag of flour wrapped in baby blankets around with them, "feed" it, "change its diaper" and pay real cash for babysitting when they want to do something with friends), the course covers things like proper and improper use of credit, the costs and potential problems of taking out a loan to buy a house or car, and alerts to common deceptive advertising practices. I consider it to have been time well spent by my kids when they went to high school--neither of them has ever gotten into credit problems and the course material might have been sufficient to help them even if I hadn't given them a good example.
Contracts is the oldest form of law, so naturally some of it gets esoteric, but mostly it is difficult because it must try to anticipate and provide for every kind of human behavior. Human complexity makes for contract complexity. And yes, lawyers are part of the problem. But they wouldn't exist without clients, for whom they are working.
In the whole subprime mess, there is more than enough blame to go around. For every group of stupid borrowers, you can also see a hard-sell lender saying "Borrow $700,000 for payments of only $600 a month." I used to see them on my computer all the time, with some big wiener-dog or other animated animal that expanded like an accordian. Those lenders used those tactics for one reason; they worked. They got people who were too stupid to read the fine print to borrow from them. Let's not spare them some of the blame here. While an experience homeowner knows better, someone buying their first home might not know better. And memories are short. Why, just a few years ago I recall you could find no shortage of people on financial message boards saying we should privitize Social Security because the stock market always returned 10% annually, at least.