Greedy Trial Lawyer
Category: Seeing Clearly Now
There have been more than a few voices expressing, in various ways, discomfort, surprise or puzzlement over the tone and substance of the Clarence Thomas media blitz publicizing the Justice's newly published book. A good example:
When I watched the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings many moons ago, I was more than a bit surprised to hear him fight back with a claim that the Anita Hill allegations of the hearings were, in his words, a "high-tech lynching for uppity blacks."
Judge Thomas once again walks down the road of blaming racism for the sexual harassment investigation.
Eric Turkewitz, New York Personal Injury Law Blog
My reaction to the Justice Thomas "Still Mad As Hell" book tour is that he has had ample time to put the past behind him and focus on performing the 40 year job he has been given by the American people, both black and white, liberal and conservative. Yet, he wants to relive every offense against his inner goodness so we can appreciate his triumph over evil.
None of us should be pleased to learn a Supreme Court justice continues to seethe over issues magnified by his need to brood about his perceived black victimhood and to polish his self image as the heroic, unbowed TRUE BLACK CONSERVATIVE. As I have stated before, Justice Thomas is the most persuasive argument for a reasonable term limit for all Supreme Court justices. Twenty years of warped judicial insight should be more than enough for our country to endure.
Category: Right On!
Some years ago I had the delightful experience of a jury note after 2 days of deliberation which asked the judge, "Do we fill out the amount of the damages if we agree the doctor was at fault?" Obviously, the doctor and his defense attorney were having far different feelings.
I recalled this incident when I read the following news account of the Isiah Thomas case.
Knicks coach Isiah Thomas isn't getting any love from the jury in his sensational sexual harassment case, a bombshell note from the panel revealed yesterday.
As a second full day of deliberations drew to a close, the seven jurors sent out a message signaling they all agree Thomas and Madison Square Garden subjected Knicks executive Anucha Browne Sanders to a hostile work environment.
The note from the jury forewoman said the panel is unanimous on eight of the nine charges in the case, but divided over whether to make Thomas dig into his own pocket.
The note indicated that a lone holdout juror is blocking their decision on whether Thomas should be forced to pay punitive damages to Sanders.
From the New York Post
Whatever the environment was at Madison Square Garden, my guess is that Thomas created a hostile home environment later in the evening. Soon to be followed by a hostile law office environment after the verdict.
Category: Gaming The System
The light bulb has gone on at Big Pharma. This genetic stuff can save our asses, is the new mantra.
Adverse drug reactions often appear idiosyncratic. Some drugs have powerful effects and everyone experiences the side effects (e.g., cancer chemotherapeutic agents). Others, however, seem to disagree with only a few people, although that disagreement can be major. Obviously drug companies would rather not have to contend with the fallout that occurs when their customers become collateral damage. Much of the controversy over drugs like Vioxx is how much the companies knew about that damage and what they did with that knowledge. Big Pharma would rather the blame the drug failure on the victim than the company. Maybe that's too cynical a view of a new initiative just started by five of the world's biggest drug companies. On the other hand, when it comes to drug companies, can any view be too cynical?
The companies started the International Serious Adverse Events Consortium to study genetic causes of bad drug reactions, according to a statement today by the nonprofit group. The first two projects, in partnership with university researchers and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will examine why some people suffer liver damage or life-threatening skin reactions to drugs. (Bloomberg)
Meanwhile the major cause of liver failure in the US remains Tylenol ingestion. Maybe that's the fault of some (fairly common) genetic variation. But maybe it's also caused by the combination of Tylenol with other factors in the diet, environment or over the counter or prescription drugs taken simultaneously.
Or maybe it's even because most of the American public thinks Tylenol is a perfectly safe drug. I wonder where they got that idea. Maybe they were genetically predisposed to believe it.
From Effect Measure
I would be interested in a genetic study of the leaders of the drug industry. There must be a common gene among them. It causes them to deny, deflect and deceive at every opportunity. It explains why they are doing so well under the Bush Administration.
Category: Right On!
The solution to the 40 million plus Americans without health insurance may lie in our prison system.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that inmates have a constitutional right to health care. (What a great country!) If we could criminalize failing to have health insurance and (this is important) impose prison sentences instead of handing out probation, we are home free.
We should parole the uninsured offenders when they turn 65, however, to avoid this pathetic scenario:
It's becoming a common sight: geriatric inmates spending their waning days behind bars. The soaring number of aging inmates is now outpacing the prison growth as a whole.
Tough sentencing laws passed in the 1980s and 1990s are largely to blame. It's all fueling an explosion in inmate health costs.
"It keeps going up and up," said Alan Adams, director of Health Services for the Georgia Department of Corrections. "We've got some old guys who are too sick to get out of bed. And some of them, they're going to die inside. The courts say we have to provide care and we do. But that costs money."
The trend is particularly pronounced in the South, which has some of the nation's toughest sentencing laws. In 16 Southern states, the growth rate has escalated by an average of 145 percent since 1997, according to the Southern Legislative Conference.
Category: The Latest Baddest
Allstate Insurance Co. has a split personality. Its TV/advertising personality is the Good Hands People. Its internal, claims-processing personality is similar to Mike Tyson's.
In lawsuits in New Orleans and across the country, Allstate Insurance Co. has been accused of using its financial might to drag out claims and coerce injury victims and property owners into accepting low-ball settlement offers for their insurance claims.
Secret documents that trial lawyers say show the motive behind Allstate's tactics have drawn increased national scrutiny, most recently from PBS's NOW, a TV news magazine.
Barring a last-minute settlement, Allstate's claims-handling will be put to the test in a civil trial set to start Monday in Fayette Circuit Court for a $1.425 billion lawsuit filed by Geneva Hager of Richmond.
The trial appears to be only the third time internal company documents that Allstate has fought to keep secret will be shown to the public.
The most famous document, which became the title of a book, plays off the company's slogan. It states that claimants who accept Allstate's offers are in "good hands" while those who object get the "boxing gloves." Trial lawyers call the McKinsey documents a blueprint for fraud.
The documents are actually 12,500 pages of PowerPoint slides developed by McKinsey & Co., which Allstate hired in 1992 to redesign the way it handles claims.
As a greedy trial lawyer who has gone more than a few rounds with Allstate, I would be willing to sit through all 12,500 slides to see the origin of the Allstate strategy to screw claimants. I probably could create dozens of slides from my experiences - for example: "I would like to offer more money for your broken neck, but the computer program says this is all I can pay." But, the original slides - that would be the Unholy Grail.
Category: The Latest Baddest
It is frightening to know there is a tortured soul in Washington, D.C., who is likely to influence every aspect of our society for, possibly, four decades while barely containing a seething resentment over events that occurred more than 15 years ago.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's new autobiography has just been published. Titled My Grandfather's Son, it covers his life up to his swearing in as a member of the high court.
In the book, Justice Thomas speaks out in vivid -- and sometimes seething -- detail about the events surrounding his nomination battle, the charges of sexual harassment against him by Anita Hill and his memories of growing up poor in rural Georgia.
From National Public Radio.
It must be very satisfying to Justice Thomas that he evens the score against the liberal, high-tech lynching party with every vote he casts.
Can anyone think of a better reason to impose a 20 year term limit on Supreme Court Justices?
Category: Right On!
In Ohio, a man accused of murder is concerned about getting an impartial jury. I say let the man have a jury of his peers - police officers.
CANTON- Lawyers considered Friday whether an impartial jury can be found in the northeast Ohio county where a police officer is accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend.
Cutts could receive the death penalty if convicted of aggravated murder in the deaths of Jessie Davis and her unborn daughter. The body of Davis, 26, was found June 23 in a wooded area about 15 miles north of her home near North Canton.
Myron Watson, one of Cutts' attorneys, said after the hearing that he expects race will be a factor during jury selection. Cutts is black and Davis was white.
"In this case, ignoring the racial dynamic to it, I think, would be irresponsible," Watson said. "It is our hope to have a fair trial, but we have to do our homework and see if that can be accomplished here or in a different venue."
Category: Seeing Clearly Now
Over at Bad Science Ben Goldacre discusses the placebo effect.
Now as I have said so many times before, the placebo effect is not about a sugar pill, it's about the cultural meaning of a treatment, and our expectations: we know from research that two sugar pills are more effective than one, that a salt water injection is better for pain than a sugar pill, that colour and packaging have a beneficial effect, and so on. Interestingly, there has even been a trial on patients with arm pain specifically comparing a placebo pill against a placebo ritual involving a sham medical device, modeled on acupuncture, which found that the elaborate ritual was more effective than the simple sugar pill. "Placebo" is not a unitary phenomenon, there is not "one type of placebo".
Ben provides some of the results of a recent study of the benefits of acupuncture for patients with chronic back pain. From his point of view the study has more to say regarding the placebo effect than acupuncture per se.
Firstly, 27% of the medical treatment group improved: this is an impressive testament to the well known healing power of simply "being in a trial", since medical treatment hadn't helped these patients for the preceding 8 years. Meanwhile 47% of the acupuncture group improved, but the sting is this: 44% of the fake acupuncture group improved too. There was no statistically significant difference between proper, genuine ancient wisdom acupuncture, and fake, "bung a needle in, anywhere you fancy, with a bit of theatrical ceremony" acupuncture.
Ben got me to thinking. If an elaborate ritual can work for patients might it also work to improve the conduct of doctors? If we could devise an elaborate ritual with a significant cultural meaning could we use it to upgrade the quality of medical care dispensed by the medical profession?
Then, it struck me - we already have such a ritual. It is called the medical malpractice claim.
Category: The Latest Baddest
Sometimes it's better to be a mouse than a man.
Federal investigator says little done to ensure patient safety
WASHINGTON - The Food and Drug Administration does very little to ensure the safety of the millions of people who participate in clinical trials, a federal investigator has found.
In a report released Friday, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, Daniel R. Levinson, said federal health officials did not know how many clinical trials were being conducted, audited fewer than 1 percent of the testing sites and, on the rare occasions when inspectors did appear, generally showed up long after the tests had been completed.
The F.D.A. has 200 inspectors, some of whom audit clinical trials part time, to police an estimated 350,000 testing sites. Even when those inspectors found serious problems in human trials, top drug officials in Washington downgraded their findings 68 percent of the time, the report found. Among the remaining cases, the agency almost never followed up with inspections to determine whether the corrective actions that the agency demanded had occurred, the report found.
"In many ways, rats and mice get greater protection as research subjects in the United States than do humans," said Arthur L. Caplan, chairman of the department of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania.
Animal research centers have to register with the federal government, keep track of subject numbers, have unannounced spot inspections and address problems speedily or risk closing, none of which is true in human research, Mr. Caplan said.
Everyone knows that humans can take the necessary steps to protect themselves if they choose to participate in a clinical trial of a new drug or medical device. Obviously, rats, mice and monkeys do not watch television or go to movies - how can they be expected to understand medical releases or detect the gradual decline in their liver function?