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September 27, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Greedy And Evil George Soros - Bushies Proclaim

Category: Ho Hum

The Axis of Evil has gained a new member.

Greedy Capitalist Manipulates Public Opinion

George Soros is known for funding groups such as MoveOn.org that seek to manipulate public opinion.

We can't do anything about Soros for the moment - but he is a man bent on evil and who will stop at nothing to advance his sick worldview.

From Blogs For Bush

Thank God, President Bush has not announced an Axis of Greedy. I would hate to be lumped together with an evildoer like George Soros. It could ruin my reputation.

September 03, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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If You Have Stayed At A Holiday Inn Express You May Qualify For Attorney General

Category: Ho Hum

Over at PrawfsBlog there is an interesting take on who should be appointed to head the Department of Justice.

Should a Professor Replace Gonzales for AG?

The article actually names names and details some qualifications associated with the names.

Judging from the prior selection process used by President Bush I believe the best we can hope for is someone who has stayed at a Holiday Inn Express.


August 22, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Broken Arms Not As Bad As Broken Logic

Category: Ho Hum

First, they take away the bull-riding machines. Now, they pull the arm-wrestling machines. Next, they will ban the The O'Reilly Factor .

Arm wrestling arcade game recalled due to penchant for arm breaking

It's all fun and games until somebody gets their arm broken by a robotic arm wrestling machine. Atlas Co. is recalling its "Arm Spirit" arm wrestling arcade game from the market in Japan after the 150 machines scored three broken person arms between them. Spokeswoman Ayano Sakiyama had some smack for gamers puny enough to get their arms broken over the pink barrel: "The machine isn't that strong, much less so than a muscular man. Even women should be able to beat it."

July 26, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Objection. Inhumane.

Category: Ho Hum

Defense attorneys have been known to ask questions in depositions that cause plaintiffs to cry. And, on some of my better days, I have caused defendant doctors to curse. Is any of this "inhumane"? Maybe, slightly. But, is it acceptable?

Suit Charges 'Inhumane' Questions at Deposition Caused Emotional Distress

Rough spots are common on the road of civil litigation, but it's not every day that a plaintiffs attorney sues his adversary for asking "inhumane" questions during a deposition that allegedly inflict "grievous emotional distress." That's the thrust of a suit filed July 11 in Essex County, N.J., in which Bruce Nagel claims Judith Wahrenberger, his adversary in a medical malpractice case, acted tortiously by asking a husband whether he felt his wife had played a role in the death of their infant daughter by handling the child roughly.

"Wahrenberger's unsupported and intentional attack upon the parents was beyond any acceptable behavior of a civilized human being," alleges Nagel, of Nagel Rice in Roseland, N.J.

Wahrenberger, the attorney for an emergency room physician at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J., says she had an obligation to pursue the line of questioning because an autopsy showed the baby had a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage, which can be a sign of shaken-baby syndrome.

From The Legal Reader

I would not support adding "inhumane" to immaterial, irrelevant or leading as an objection to questions during litigation. (Now, "stupid" is something we could talk about, but that is another story.)

July 08, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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"A Man Of Character" Who Stages Auto Crashes For A Living

Category: Ho Hum

We all are asked to write letters of reference for relatives or friends. Sometimes it's hard to word the letters so they are positive (in light of the true facts of the applicant's life).

I have the impression trial lawyer Matthew L. Kolken had a difficult time composing a letter on behalf of his new brother-in-law.

Man gets time served for staging crashes

A Belarus native who helped put together a scheme that involved staged car crashes and phony insurance claims was sentenced to 16 months he already served and ordered to pay $334,000 restitution Friday in U.S. District Court.

Levin took a guilty plea in March, one of nearly two dozen people to plead in the case, and admitted that he ran the former First Buffalo Medical Clinic in Williamsville.

Investigators from a federal task force involving the FBI, the Labor Department, the Department of Health and Human Services and the state Insurance Department said Levin's clinic helped people file insurance claims for injuries they never suffered.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack E. Rogowski said the clinic also employed a phony doctor, Mark Nepokroeff, 45, of Pendleton. Nepokroeff was sentenced to four months in prison after he admitted that he used a forged Mexican medical school diploma and treated patients for nine years.

Levin, of Buffalo, also made money at the clinic by selling medical devices to people who never needed them. Authorities said insurers paid for the devices.

Levin also admitted a felony drug conspiracy charge involving cocaine.

Anthony J. Lana, Levin's attorney, told Skretny that Levin has turned around his life since his arrest. Skretny could have sentenced Levin to five years in federal prison.

Trial lawyer Matthew L. Kolken, who married Levin's sister Natasha last December, wrote Skretny that Levin "is a man of character" and said the Levin family was a classic American success story.

From BuffaloNews

July 04, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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How To Make Probation Disappear Without Even Trying

Category: Ho Hum

President Bush is willing to serve Scooter Libby's 2 year probation if the trial judge rules that the probation disappeared with the jail sentence the President vanished. If the fine also disappears, Vice President Cheney is standing by with his checkbook. Lying in the service of the Bush Administration has its advantages.

Judge questions Libby's probation after Bush clemency

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush spared former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby from prison, and his clemency order may wipe out Libby's 2-year probation as well, the trial judge told lawyers Tuesday.

Strictly interpreted, the statute authorizing probation indicates that supervised release "should occur only after the defendant has already served a term of imprisonment," U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton wrote.

Walton ordered lawyers to weigh in with their arguments on the matter by Monday.

June 30, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Liar, Liar, Diaper On Fire

Category: Ho Hum

In a setback for the adult diaper business we have now been informed by defense counsel that former astronaut Lisa Nowak didn't wear diapers during her 950-mile road trip to confront a romantic rival.

Ex-astronaut didn't wear diaper on trip, lawyer says

ORLANDO, Fla . -- Former astronaut Lisa Nowak didn't wear diapers during her 950-mile road trip to confront a romantic rival, her lawyer said Friday, disputing one of the more bizarre details to emerge from the NASA love triangle.

Stay tuned for the list of the restroom stops on this mission.

June 20, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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A Judicial Hellhole Enters The 21st Century

Category: Ho Hum

Can there be civil discourse between litigants in a judicial hellhole? In an experiment that may elevate a hellhole to purgatory status Madison County is requiring the parties in medical malpractice cases to use mediation in an effort to settle their disputes.

New rules adopted for malpractice cases

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

EDWARDSVILLE -- People claiming injuries and the doctors they sue now must meet and at least talk of settling any time a medical malpractice case is filed, according to rules adopted Monday by the Madison County court.

Earlier this year, some Madison County judges said they had enough of their courthouse being repeatedly maligned as a "judicial hellhole." Chief Circuit Judge Ann Callis established a judicial committee to investigate the issue and determine whether any procedural changes could ease the tension between doctors and lawyers.

Judges met with leaders of the Illinois State Medical Society, as well as its insurance company -- the largest medical malpractice company in the state. Numerous lawyers also took part in the discussions, though some questioned whether judges were pandering to political forces.

The results were the new rules announced Monday. In addition to mandatory mediation, a panel of judges will be required to meet monthly to review pending medical malpractice cases. Also, plaintiffs will have the opportunity to amend lawsuits to comply with a state law requiring a certificate of merit -- a report that the case has been reviewed by a physician before filing.

In many jurisdictions throughout the U.S. mandatory mediation or arbitration (binding or non-binding) has been required in all civil lawsuits for years. Welcome to the 21st Century, Madison!

June 06, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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What Would Have Happened If They Booed At The Graduation?

Category: Ho Hum

Memo to school administration at Galesburg High School:

On behalf of all of those who cheered during the May 27 graduation ceremony I wish to extend sincere apologies. Now, when can they pick up their diplomas?

Students denied diplomas until families apologize for graduation disruption

GALESBURG, Ill. (AP) -- Five students denied diplomas after cheers erupted when their names were called at a high school graduation emerged empty-handed Tuesday from a meeting with school administrators.

The students and their families met briefly with Galesburg High School officials at an administration building, but they were again denied the diplomas because no one apologized to school officials for the cheers at the May 27 ceremony.

School officials withheld the diplomas because they said the cheering violated a school policy aimed at restoring graduation decorum. Officials told the five female students and their parents Friday that they would hand over diplomas if they received apologies -- even anonymously.

June 04, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Doctors Now Practicing Defensive Blogging

Category: Ho Hum

Doctor RW has just published his legal treatise on Avoiding Cross-Examination Meltdowns for doctors who may testify one day in defense of their medical care.

New details of Flea's trial offer yet another lesson in smart blogging

Recent discussions of blogging hazards have focused on patient confidentiality, saying things you wouldn't want your boss to read and, most recently, blogging about your malpractice trial. But new revelations about Flea's trial raise another hazard that has received little attention up to now.

We tend to regard clinical topics as safe blogging material. Flea's case tells us that's not necessarily so. Clinical opinions, or opinions about text books and other clinical references, particularly strong declarative statements, could be used against you as a defendant when the clinical topic is relevant to the case you're defending.

What's a blogger to do? First and foremost, whether you're anonymous or open don't be dogmatic or absolute. Clinical medicine, after all, isn't that way. It is subtle and nuanced, so [1] be subtle and nuanced in your discussions. [2] Be careful how you describe clinical references. Up to Date may be helpful at the point of care but it's not "authoritative". Harrison's textbook may be a useful reference but it's not "the bible".

My take on Doctor RW's advice is that we may be witnessing the birth of defensive blogging by medical practitioners.

As it happens, in the history of medical malpractice trials I believe there may only be one or two reported instances in which any doctor/defendant has ever conceded any medical treatise or publication to be authoritative. I have concluded that one of the first courses in medical school must instill a fear of the word. It remains a puzzle why the medical profession collects and reviews so many non-authoritative books and journals.

May 30, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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2008 - A Year To Avoid

Category: Ho Hum

The presidential primaries continue to move to earlier and earlier slots in 2008.

Alaska, Georgia move up presidential primary contests to Feb. 5

Georgia and Alaska joined the growing list of states pushing up their presidential primary voting to Feb. 5, a date clearly shaping up as a national primary day for Republicans and Democrats.

Fifteen states, led by delegate-rich New York, California and New Jersey, have moved their primary voting to Feb. 5 and at least five states, including Illinois and Texas, are close to making a similar shift.

Iowa opens the presidential nomination process with its caucuses on Jan. 14. Nevada Democrats hold their caucus on Jan. 19. New Hampshire has not scheduled its primary yet; in the past, it's been a week after the Iowa caucus.

Last week, Florida joined South Carolina Democrats with plans for a primary on Jan. 29.

My expectation is that America will be blessed/cursed with the start of a full-on presidential campaign between the obvious Republican and Democratic nominees by midnight on February 5, 2008. Can we survive a nine month campaign? Gentlemen, start your swift boats!

May 18, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Paris Hilton Traumatized Into PTSD

Category: Ho Hum

Paris Hilton is the latest victim of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Honest!

"Emotionally Distraught" Paris Hilton Can't Testify in Civil Lawsuit Against Her

According to a doctor that has been seeing Paris Hilton for the last eight months the 26-year-old celebutante is too "emotionally distraught and traumatized" to appear and testify at an ongoing civil case against her.

Apparently a 45-day jail sentence and "her fear of incarceration" as a result of violating her probation has placed Hilton in such a fragile state that she is incapable of providing "any significant input into her defense."

At least that is what Dr. Charles Sophy has claimed in court papers filed Monday.

Would someone tell me if there is any reason to believe that Paris Hilton will ever arrive at a point in her life when she is not "emotionally distraught."

By the way, if this works for Paris I can't wait to see the motions filed on behalf of all of the alleged felons who must have an even greater fear of incarceration.

March 08, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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If We Offered To Pay $1 Million For Every Medical Apology....We Might Get A Couple

Category: Ho Hum

Has it occurred to anyone that doctors simply do not like to admit mistakes? Is it possible that most doctors have such enormous egos that there is no room for admitting an error? I raise these questions because of this article. And, because I happen to think getting an apology from a doctor is only likely to happen in the middle of a lawsuit as part of a settlement effort.

Carrie Lavargna: Dear Doctor: Learn to say, 'I'm sorry'

Apology laws, as they are called, allow doctors to express sympathy and compassion after a patient is injured without fear that their words will be used against them in a civil suit. Florida was one of the first states to pass an apology law. State law also requires hospitals to inform patients of incidents that caused serious harm. The disclosure is not to be used against the hospital in court.

Even though these laws are in place, Florida doctors and hospitals have not taken the lead in developing or implementing apology programs.

The public expects physicians to be honest and forthcoming, and the American Medical Association Code of Ethics requires disclosure when a significant medical complication results from a physician's mistake of judgment. Even so, only in about 30 percent of cases are medical mistakes disclosed to the patient, according to a 2002 report from the New England Journal of Medicine.

March 02, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Another Day, Another Slap On The Wrist Of A Wayward Cop

Category: Ho Hum

There it is, in Overlawyered - Red meat for a plaintiff's lawyer. A police sergeant who uses excessive force and lies under oath gets only a five-day suspension.

Actually, it is closer to stale grits for most of us who spend our lives investigating jail deaths, hot pursuit collisions, shooting deaths of unarmed drunks, police brutality, false arrests and other wayward conduct of the men in blue. It is almost axiomatic that one or more officers will lie under oath and that the "investigation" of the incident will result in exoneration or a pathetically mild penalty.

Excessive force lawsuit

In August 2004, a security guard at a Pittsburgh restaurant roughed up Deven Werling, a patron who had insulted him. So Mr. Werling sued the restaurant, the security guard, and, of course... the city of Pittsburgh. It turns out that the security guard was actually a Pittsburgh police officer -- an off-duty police officer -- which made this assault a federal case. Now the city is paying $200,000 as part of a settlement the defendants reached with Werling just before trial (Post-Gazette; WTAE). Apparently,even though the officer was off-duty, he was working security in his official police uniform, and that may have been sufficient to put taxpayers on the hook.

Before you start feeling too much sympathy for the innocent city that was dragged into this suit, though, check out this nugget:

The city's Office of Municipal Investigations found that Sgt. Eggleton contradicted himself under oath, and he was fired.

In October, the dismissal was reduced to a five-day suspension by then-Operations Director Dennis Regan. Mr. Eggleton continues to work as a sergeant.

So excessive force and lying under oath = five-day suspension. That will be red meat for the next plaintiff's lawyer who sues the city over police brutality.

November 12, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Surgeon Sid's Heart-Wrenching First Malpractice Lawsuit

Category: Ho Hum

Time to tune the violin. Another doctor is sharing his personal agony over his first medical malpractice claim.

Sid Schwab, at SurgeonsBlog, is the agonizer of the moment. I'm a pretty-much retired general surgeon. After a long and busy time in practice, I've taken a deep breath. And, apparently, decided to solicit as much sympathy as possible for himself and his fellow docs.

Nice try, Sid. I can't wait to hear more about how the referring doctor, the hospital and the nurses turned on you.

Thank you, at least, for assuring us it was not a frivolous case.

Losing My Virginity; Part One

In all my years of practice, my dad called me at the office only twice. The second was to inform me of a horrible family tragedy. The first -- well, I guess in a small way you could say it was the same.

"I hear you joined the club," he said.

"What?"

I hear you joined the club," he repeated. "I read in the paper today you're being sued." I nearly dropped the phone and fell over.

But it hit me like... well, it hit me like a lawsuit. And it was only the first blow in a series that lasted over a couple of years, wrenching me back and forth, up and down, tearing me apart in every possible way. Robbing my sleep, souring my outlook, breaking my cherry in the most bloody of ways....

So now I knew: it was a horrible case, the worst case ever, one which gave me and will always give me nightmares, whether I'd been sued or not....

Every hour of the day and night when I wasn't required elsewhere, I was at his side in the ICU or at his family's. It was agonizing for everyone, and it was soon clear there was no chance of survival. When he died, I felt drained for weeks....

The main issue in my mind was whether I should have operated immediately when I saw him...

It was and remains the worst case of my career: a death in a previously healthy person...

It would have been on my mind forever, no matter what. But with the lawsuit, I found myself in a battle against people I thought were my allies: the referring doc, the hospital, a battery of lawyers, nurses. It opened my eyes, I suppose, to the realities of the world of medical malpractice. Knowing reality is good, so they say. But it also shut my heart part way to the love I'd had for what I do.

October 14, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Another Year Of Spectacular Insurance Profits And Higher Premiums

Category: Ho Hum

In good years and bad, big hurricanes or small, the profits of the insurance industry are spectacular.

The New York Times tells us we needn't have worried about America's insurance companies making their payrolls. And, we need not have hoped for lower premiums.

Earnings for Insurers Are Soaring

Insurance companies are expecting record profits in 2006 after predictions of another year of devastating hurricanes have so far come to naught.

Industry experts are estimating that profits may reach $60 billion, on a combination of higher premiums along the coasts, no major payouts for natural disasters and strong investment returns. The insurers also had high profits on other lines of coverage like auto insurance, workers compensation and general liability.

The record profits expected this year come after a terrible 2005, when insurers paid out $61 billion for damage from Hurricane Katrina and other storms. Even so, the insurers ended up with a profit of $43 billion for the year because of exceptionally good results on investments, declining claims on policies on homes away from the coast and profits on other lines of coverage.

But homeowners and businesses along the coasts, hit with much higher insurance costs after the barrage of hurricanes, probably will not get any relief as a result of the much quieter season, industry experts and consumer advocates said.

...owners of coastal homes and businesses should not expect any easing of their insurance costs.

"Just because there wasn't a major storm this year, doesn't mean there won't be one next year or the year after," Mr. Auden said. "Certain coastal markets are probably still underpriced."

Consumer advocates, on the other hand, are crying foul.

"It's unfair," said J. Robert Hunter, the director of insurance at the Consumer Federation of American. "They have overestimated their losses and vastly overpriced. And now, when the money rolls in, there is no relief for consumers."

October 13, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Hospital Doctors To Trash Pagers

Category: Ho Hum

The debate is over, and cellphones have won.

Hospital Docs 'Should Use Mobiles Not Pagers'

Hospital doctors would be better off using mobile phones instead of pagers to keep in touch with medical staff, reports Life Style Extra.

"The most important concern with mobile phones is interference with sensitive medical equipment. But a study by the Medical Devices Agency found that, in general, the interference was merely an irritation and ultimately harmless to the patient.

A recent survey of American Anaesthesiologists found just 2.4% had ever experienced interference between a medical device and a mobile.

This is especially good news for golfing buddies, girlfriends and stock brokers.

October 09, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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If This Be Advertising, I Be Stupid

Category: Ho Hum

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog raises a question we can do without.

Should Lawyers' Blogs Be Subject to Advertising Rules?

Allow me to answer with a question of my own. Should Bar Associations Be Allowed To Have Advertising Rules?

September 18, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Overlawyered Does Deep Thinking On Public Safety And Tort Reform

Category: Ho Hum

"I oppose any tort reform measure that places corporate efficiency ahead of the public safety." Seems like a good policy for any reform of our civil justice system.

Does that statement mean "safety always trumps efficiency?" Nope. It only says that a "reform" of our civil justice system should not be for the purpose of corporate efficiency at the expense of public safety.

But, Ted Frank, at Overlawyered, decides he has to rescue Justinian Lane from shallow thinking for daring to state "I oppose any tort reform measure that places corporate efficiency ahead of the public safety." What technique does he use? He creates a straw man by noting that a nationwide speed limit of 10 mph would be very safe, but terribly inefficient. Based upon this analogy he concludes it is "simply not the case that safety always trumps efficiency, nor should it be." Well, that settles that! Now, we can certainly understand why the deep thinkers place corporate efficiency ahead of public safety in tort reform.

Efficiency and safety

Justinian Lane writes in the comments: "I oppose any tort reform measure that places corporate efficiency ahead of the public safety."

I don't believe him. I mean, perhaps Lane honestly believes that one can always put safety ahead of efficiency, but if so, it's because he hasn't thought about it very deeply.

There's a very simple efficiency versus safety measure that could be implemented now that would save more than 35,000 lives and hundreds of thousands of injuries a year in the United States, and I would be stunned if Lane supports it: a nationwide speed limit for automobiles of 10 mph.

Automobile manufacturers design cars that can go faster than 10 mph even though they know, as a matter of statistical certainty, that thousands of people will die every year because they were traveling faster than 10 mph. For the most part, the liability system doesn't hold these manufacturers liable for these tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries, even though it's certain that the motivation for designing cars to go faster than 10 mph is profit (after all, very few would buy an expensive car that couldn't go faster than 10 mph). It's simply not the case that safety always trumps efficiency, nor should it be.

September 18, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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South Carolina Plays The Waiting Game For Reduced Malpractice Premiums

Category: Ho Hum

South Carolina is waiting, waiting, waiting for a reduction of medical malpractice premiums after imposing caps on malpractice pay-outs. I guess good things are worth waiting for.

Malpractice cap hasn't lowered premiums

[South Carolina's] pain and suffering law took effect a year ago.

It's been a little more than a year since the state cap on malpractice pay-outs took effect, but both supporters and opponents say it will be years before its impact is felt -- if ever.

Taylor Lincoln of the national consumer group Public Citizen said that historically premiums have gone up independent of malpractice pay-outs.

"One of the things we noticed in their advocacy for these laws," he said, "was that insurance companies when asked wouldn't pledge to lower their rates."

A Public Citizen analysis found that the number of malpractice pay-outs dropped 9 percent between 1991 and 2004 -- 16 percent between 2001 and 2004 alone -- and that the number of multi-million dollar pay-outs, which represent just 1 percent of all awards, declined 56 percent during that time, a time when premiums increased most.

Noting that double-digit premium increases have been seen in other areas as well, the group says what's needed is reform of insurance industry business practices.

Patient safety advocate Helen Haskell of Columbia, who settled a malpractice suit for $950,000 after her 15-year-old son died as a result of surgery in 2000, suspects there's been little impact from the cap so far.

But she points to government reports of the thousands of Americans who die from medical errors every year, along with untold numbers of medical injuries, whose families are often left with staggering hospital and doctor bills and disability in addition to their grief. And she says that "penalizing" injured patients through caps is not the way to go.

"I find it interesting that they're talking about all these frivolous lawsuits and yet admitting all these medical errors," she says.

"It's truly remarkable that there is so much indignation over lawsuits and virtually none over the literally millions of patients who have been grievously harmed. If doctors applied a fraction of the effort to patient safety that they do to tort reform, they would solve their problem."

September 07, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Camel And The Tent Of Individual Liberties

Category: Ho Hum

James Regions from the Ozarks has published his manifesto about a camel nose poking into the tent of individual liberties.

I think of the Ozarks as more likely to have wild boar than camels, but I get his point. My real concern is that James' obvious desire to let his patients puff on a cigarette is clouding his thinking about the bans on weapons at courthouses, tag-free playgrounds, tobacco-free hospitals, sugar-free soda pop machines in schools and the rest.

Everyone is invited to live with James in his tent of individual liberties, Ozarks branch, where, apparently, people have a desire to carry weapons into courthouses, fill hospitals with tobacco smoke, drain nothing more than regular Coke at school, play tag in every playground and carry anything they want on planes. Personally, my camel and I will poke around and live elsewhere.

Tobacco-free zones chip away at our freedoms

Tobacco-free zones are popular for the populists and therefore best for everyone.

Oh? Weapon (penknife)-free courthouses and fingernail clipper-free airlines and tobacco-free hospitals and tag play-free playgrounds and sugar-free soda pop machines in schools reduce freedoms in the name of safety or security or health.

Next to come will be the fat police, enforcing the sale of no-fat hamburgers. Shades of Orwell! I know. I know. Don't complain. Conform.

Our future will find us encased in bubble suits, driving battery-powered cars and drinking government-approved packets of vitamins-only gloop if the trend continues. We will then be clean, healthy and, well, clean and healthy. Spare me.

I supervise an intensive outpatient program for treating individuals who have significant, life-threatening -- to the addicted person, their families and society in general -- addictions to a variety of drugs and alcohol.

Some are in treatment voluntarily, most are mandated, and many are in the program daily for several hours a day.

Almost all of them smoke cigarettes excessively, but believe me, when a person has an alcohol or drug craving to the degree they do, to deny cigarettes will almost guarantee failure to comply with the attendance requirements of their treatment program.

I also oversee a day program for seriously mentally ill clients, most of whom smoke excessively. Denying them the opportunity to smoke will assure their non-attendance at the programs that will help them with problems that are much more serious than smoking. And, yes, we have smoking cessation groups and offer patches and other aids to help them quit -- if they choose.

That is the bottom-line problem with many of the "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" approaches to tobacco-free hospitals and treatment centers. Choices that should not have to be made are being forced, and the loser will be not only the individuals needing treatment but, ultimately, society also.

Tobacco-free hospitals or tag-free playgrounds, these programs are parts of the nose of the caution-at-any-cost camel, pushing his way into the tent of individual liberties.

June 11, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Drug Benefits In Big Type - Risks In Small Type

Category: Ho Hum

This is shocking news. A study shows that drug companies emphasize the benefits of their products and not the risks.

Drug Ads Aimed At Cancer Patients Difficult To Read, Make More Appeals To Effectiveness Than Safety

Oncology drug advertisements that ran in patient-focused cancer magazines presented the drugs' benefits differently -- earlier in the advertisement text and in larger type size -- than their side effects or risks, according to an analysis by researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. The findings will be presented the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting in Atlanta.

The advertisements were found to be difficult to read overall, but the text outlining the benefits had the highest readability score. Information about the drugs' benefits, on average, appeared in the top third of the advertisement text, while descriptions of side effects and risks typically ran in the bottom third. Also, the largest type size of the text explaining the benefits was about twice as large as the largest text outlining side effects and risks. Interestingly, the amount of text devoted to benefits versus risks and side effects was roughly the same.

June 07, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Newest Trial Lawyer Skill - The "Confidential Settlement Smile"

Category: Ho Hum

Only in California could the confidential settlement of a lawsuit result in dueling attorney press conferences where the size of their respective smiles and grins became the main topic. It was something like, "My smile is bigger than your grin." Whatever happened to "Smile and the world smiles at you"?

By the way, the conduct that was the subject of this lawsuit was nothing to smile about.

'Slave' case settled as attorneys bicker

A Pebble Beach family accused in a lawsuit of treating two Sri Lankan employees as virtual slaves in their posh residences have settled the case for an undisclosed sum prior to a jury trial that was to begin this week.

The settlement set off a war of words between the attorneys in the case, both of whom declared victory while declining to reveal terms of their agreement.

"It was settled to the satisfaction of all parties, and I have a big smile on my face," said Monterey attorney Larry Biegel, counsel for plaintiffs Asoka Jayasinghe and his wife, Lalitha Perera. "My clients are very happy with it and happy it's resolved."

Jeffrey Ryan, the San Jose attorney representing Enzo and Sarah Cecconi and her mother, Elizabeth Montegue, the Dowager Duchess of Manchester, said his clients, too, were happy and he was grinning "from ear to ear."

Jayasinghe and Perera claimed in their original lawsuit that they had been hired by Sarah Cecconi to care for Montegue, the widow of the 10th Duke of Manchester. They said Sarah Cecconi promised to help them get their immigration papers. Instead, they claimed, they were forced to live apart in the two households and to work 15-hour days, six days a week, for $1,000 a month, the equivalent of $2.35 per hour.

They also claimed the Cecconis and Montegue subjected them to racial slurs, refused to let them attend church and retaliated against them for filing a wage claim against the family by reporting the couple to immigration authorities.

May 19, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Laugh Is On Me

Category: Ho Hum

It may be time to prove that lawyers, even greedy trial lawyers, can laugh at themselves. Here is a good place to have a belly laugh at my expense:

Biting humor

Lawyer jokes ... there ought to be a law!

Didja hear the one about the lawyer?

Chances are you've heard more than one.

Barrister-bashing is a favorite American form of humor. Marc Galanter, author of "Lowering the Bar--Lawyer Jokes and Legal Culture," estimates that there are some 500 lawyer jokes floating around at any time. Lawyers are portrayed as greedy, sneaky and deceptive. They're compared to creatures from sharks to snakes.

April 17, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Wal-Mart To Provide Medical Care - For Customers

Category: Ho Hum

Wal-Mart is putting medical clinics in its stores. The promise is service within 15 minutes. This is ironic because it provides so little health insurance for its employees.

Based on the history of Wal-Mart should we expect Chinese doctors?

Will doctors sell pants in retaliation?

From ArkansasBusines.com:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville is pushing the next trend in health care: in-store clinics.

Wal-Mart already has 12 such clinics, including one in Fayetteville, and by the end of the year it hopes to have 50 more.

Other retailers, such as Target and Kroger, are warming up to the idea of having health clinics in their stores as owners look for a way to lure customers inside.

"I think it's going to take off like wildfire," said Candace Corlett, principal of WSL Strategic Retail, a Manhattan, N.Y., retail consulting firm. "It's affordable for many people who don't have health insurance."

Each in-store clinic is staffed by a nurse practitioner who will treat 20 of the most common aliments, such as strep throat and bladder infections, for around $50. The health clinics also offer to get the patients in and out within about 15 minutes. No appointment is necessary, and the clinics are open on the weekends.

But the concept makes the some doctors' blood pressure rise.

"My take on it is, 'Would you come to my office to buy a pair of pants?'" said Dr. Larry Fields of Ashland, Ky., president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. "If you would, then you should probably go to Wal-Mart to get your health care."

The American Medical Society said the in-store clinic concept is too new for it to have a position, but it plans to consider the clinics at its annual meeting in June.

February 21, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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If A Tree Falls In The Woods Is Warren Meyer Liable?

Category: Ho Hum

Warren Meyer at Overlawyered starts with a fair question, Do Acts of God Still Exist? He then provides a hypothetical scenario and invites comments. My comment is that Warren is busy stoking the tort reform fires far more than he is seeking an answer to his question. My question is, Does Poisoning The Well Still Work? Warren, I'll bite on your question and say that you are off the hook for the falling tree, but your experts may have some legal liability depending on the autopsy of the tree.

...does the legal term "act of god" have any meaning nowadays vis a vis liability, or are all damages now necessarily someone's fault?

Let me give a specific example that is not real but is typical of these claims.

A customer drives into a National Forest campground we operate. During their stay, on a particularly windy day, several trees fall over including a large tree that crushes the roof of their camper. Is this an act of god? Or am I, as I can assure you every such customer and insurance lawyer out there seems to believe, liable for the damage to their car?

Well certainly, one criteria would be whether I exercised due care in maintaining the health of the trees in public areas. And in fact we have a hazard tree process where experts from the US Forest Service, whom a reasonable person would consider the best in their field, assess the health of trees in public areas and mark trees that might pose a danger of falling for us to remove. Lets posit that we had just completed this process, and the tree that fell looked healthy to all the experts. I guess the question is, in today's legal environment, is there any such thing as being able to prove "all due care", or in effect does the accident itself serve as prima facia evidence that due care was not exercised, even if no one can think of what else could be done? Comments are open.

February 17, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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A Protection Racket For Doctors

Category: Ho Hum

Doctors are finally safe from frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits. Medical Justice, for a modest fee, combines deterrence with counter-attack to smite any suit-happy patient. It is like having a giant Ninja standing next to the doc at all times. Or, maybe Tony Soprano.

Run by physicians for physicians, Medical Justice is a membership-based organization that offers proactive [protection?] services designed to deter proponents of frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits [injured patients?], as well as a proven strategy for successful countersuit prosecution.

Medical Justice works as a supplement to conventional medical malpractice policies or as a stand-alone service. Its primary goal is to deter the filing of meritless suits. Secondarily the company executes early-intervention tactics, which inform opposing counsel that the physician is equipped to fight back. When deterrence is not enough, Medical Justice members can access the unparalleled counterclaims expertise of the company's legal "offense" team. With Medical Justice coverage, proponents of frivolous lawsuits against health care providers can now be held accountable for their actions.

When a claim is made against a member physician, Medical Justice activates an early intervention strategy whereby the company's defense counsel notifies the plaintiff's counsel of the physician's Medical Justice coverage and benefits. Not infrequently, this notification is enough to persuade the plaintiff to drop a meritless case.

February 07, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Big Pharma Never Sleeps

Category: Ho Hum

The drug industry hits the mother lode - are you tossing and turning instead of getting that restful night's sleep your body needs to recharge its batteries for the next day's mini-wars? Better yet, are you losing sleep because you are overweight? Even better, are you fat, sleepless and having anxiety attacks? The New York Times reports on the push to put you to sleep ever so gently with that special little pill.

These companies deserve protections from lawsuits?

Record Sales of Sleeping Pills Are Causing Worries

Americans are taking sleeping pills like never before, fueled by frenetic workdays that do not go gently into a great night's sleep, and lulled by a surge of consumer advertising that promises safe slumber with minimal side effects.

About 42 million sleeping pill prescriptions were filled last year, according to the research company IMS Health, up nearly 60 percent since 2000.

But some experts worry that the drugs are being oversubscribed without enough regard to known, if rare, side effects or the implications of long-term use. And they fear doctors may be ignoring other conditions, like depression, that might be the cause of sleeplessness.

Drug makers spent $298 million in the first 11 months of 2005 to convince consumers that the sleep aids are safe and effective. That was more than four times such ad spending in all of 2004.

January 31, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Punitive Damages - The Reckless Need To Pay Until It Hurts

Category: Ho Hum

You can get deep, really deep, into the debate regarding punitive damages by reading the article at Law.com on the subject. (It is a topic that generates far too much hot air in the Tort Reform talkathons.)

Are Punitive Damage Awards Too High?

Two leading scholars crunch the numbers and come up with very different answers on jury awards

Punitive damages remain one of the most controversial aspects of the tort system. Are outsize jury awards signs that the system needs fixing, or are they aberrations that don't matter much in the long run?

My bottom line is that the bad guys (like those who are found to recklessly disregard the safety of others) need to have a big chunk taken from their wallets in order to get the message that they are well outside the norms of behavior expected of them. If the chunk happens to be too big, I won't be losing any sleep over it.

January 09, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Doctors Developing Bedside Comedy Acts

Category: Ho Hum

It started with an innocent observation by Tim Thompson at The Gainesville Times:

Recently I attended a party and spent some time talking to a well-respected surgeon. He shared something with me that I found quite interesting.

He said that the insurance industry has done studies to determine when people are more likely to sue a doctor for malpractice. The interesting conclusion to the study is that regardless of how bad a doctor screwed up, a patient is more likely to sue a doctor if he wasn't friendly. When the doctor had a good bedside manner, he was less likely to be sued.

People just don't like to sue nice people. So, what's the tip here for you and me? Regardless of your profession, treating people nicely can keep you out of trouble!

The word on the malpractice beat is that traveling teams of professional comedians are training doctors in short routines suitable for various illnesses. The idea is to come in somewhere between Chris Rock and Garrison Keillor.

January 08, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Greedy Sociopath Weasels

Category: Ho Hum

Just when you become comfortable with the phrase greedy trial lawyers along comes Ralph at From LA to El Dorado and greedy sociopath weasels. Ralph tells about being deposed. As you may have guessed, it was not a pleasant experience.

I thank Ralph for his closing thought: I guess our legal system is like our government. It's a pretty poor thing but still the best in the world.

January 07, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Hospital Industry Making Big Bucks

Category: Ho Hum

Shed no more tears over the health of the hospital industry. Its profit margin is at a 6 year high and it is building new facilities at the highest rate in 50 years. Might we expect a reduction in hospital charges or improvement in patient safety? Probably not. The industry is putting its money in the stock market.

The story of riches in those wards and operating suites comes from USA Today:

The nation's hospitals, boosted by a slowdown in expense growth and continued ability to drive a hard bargain with insurers, posted profit margins that reached a six-year high in 2004 - and indications are that 2005 was just as good. The hospital industry is in the midst of its biggest construction boom in 50 years, spending nearly $100 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars in the past five years for new and expanded facilities nationwide, often in rapidly growing suburban areas.

That spending comes as conditions have been good for both borrowing and spending. Hospitals reported an average 5.2% profit margin in 2004, the last full year of data available from the American Hospital Association.

In addition to strong bargaining power and slowing expenses, profits were also driven by investment income from an improving stock market, says the association's Rick Wade.

January 03, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Pity The Paparazzi?

Category: Ho Hum

We love them and hate them. Celebrities just hate them. The paparazzi, sometimes called "stalkerazzi", hound the rich and famous to get the endless candid photos plastered in the magazines that feed our fantasies. Because their tactics have become more and more intrusive, the Washington Times reports on a new California law which went into effect this week that increased penalties against overly aggressive photographers. They will now be liable for three times the damages they inflict, plus lose any payments their published photos might earn. Publishers can also be held liable. Will I be bringing any lawsuits under the new legislation? Nope.

December 24, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Doctors And Greedy Trial Lawyers Learn To Play Nice

Category: Ho Hum

The idea must have been appealing in Illinois. Let's bring doctors and greedy trial lawyers together in a classroom so they can learn to play nice. The classes are in the second year. My bet is that the following has occurred: 1) the doctors got lots of free legal advice and 1) the trial lawyers got some great expert witnesses for their cases.

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December 23, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Anesthesiologist Wanted

Category: Ho Hum

Hospital Jobs Online posts this opportunity: Lucrative Anesthesiology Position in Scenic Area. The icing on the cake is CRNA's can do unsupervised work and they take first call. I will be posting my ad next week: Patients Injured By Unsupervised CRNA's Wanted.

December 20, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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So, Exactly What Is A Lolsuit?

Category: Ho Hum

From the Urban Dictionary we get the definition of Lolsuit: A fake, frivolous lawsuit that is so ridiculous or baseless, you can't help but laugh. Often used to refer to the threat of such a lawsuit. "Zephyr tried to file a lolsuit against me just because I said he didn't know how to use a bar of soap."

December 13, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Official Silence In Rhode Island

Category: Ho Hum

Stone-faced city and town officials in Rhode Island may resort to wearing duct tape over their mouths. The Attorney General has decreed that it would be a violation of the state's open meeting law if an official responded to comments from the public. So much for access to our representatives. We can talk to them, but they cannot talk to us.

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