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September 28, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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I Plead Guilty To Making Bad Doctors Paranoid

Category: In Your Face

People like me are responsible for the following falling dominoes: filing medical malpractice lawsuits against emergency room physicians, creating litigation paranoia among ER physicians, resulting in the practice of defensive medicine by cover-your-ass ER docs, who order costly medical testing and care. That is the indictment filed by Chris Rangel on his medical blog.

If anybody cares about the response of this greedy trial lawyer - I plead guilty as charged.

How Defensive Medicine Changes the Practice of Medicine.

Emergency physicians are well known in the medical profession to be paranoid about litigation. And well they should be. Emergency medicine docs are among such litigation high risk specialties as obstetricians and neurosurgeons. There is every reason to believe (and some evidence) that this paranoia alters how these physicians practice medicine and not necessarily for the better.

The practice of emergency medicine (among other high risk specialties) has become so regimented and infused with defensive medicine tactics that many ER docs are not even aware of how this has changed the way they think.

Medical malpractice attorneys are not directly at fault for this mess. But I don't see this problem correcting itself as long as physicians feel that the current tort system is a disincentive to changing from a mostly CYA (Cover Your Ass) system to one which couples good medical care to proper resource utilization. However, tort lawyers tend to oppose every single reform attempt and so in my book, if they are not part of the solution, then they are part of the problem.

From RangelMD.com

Not only am I guilty as charged, but I have every intention to continuing filing a lawsuit whenever a patient is seriously injured as a result of improper, unacceptable, substandard medical care. In my book, Dr. Chris, it is the job of the medical profession to pursue every single reform of the medical delivery system in order to do no harm in emergency rooms. Stop trying to blackmail the victims of medical malpractice into giving ER doctors a pass in order to remedy their paranoia. If ER doctors are paranoid about potential medical malpractice claims it is because they have earned it.

September 20, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Hospital Screw-ups - To Bill Or Not To Bill

Category: In Your Face

Poof! Hospitals are making charges for medical errors disappear from their bills.

More Than Half Of Massachusetts Hospitals Waive Fees For 'Never Events'

Thirty-three of 61 hospitals in Massachusetts have voluntarily adopted policies that waive fees for 28 "never events," such as wrong-site surgery and harmful medication errors, and other hospitals said they intend to do so in the future, according to a recent survey by The Leapfrog Group, the Boston Globe reports. According to the Globe, the fee waivers come "amid growing resistance from government and health insurers to paying for poor outcomes."

This sounds fair to me. But, not all hospitals are willing to use an eraser when bad practices cause additional medical charges.

Walter Ettinger, president of UMass Memorial Medical Center, which charges for medical errors, said, "Most people don't want to have these complications and infections," but "hospitals and doctors should be paid fairly for their services."

I can see the advertising for UMass Memorial Medical Center: We charge for medical screw-ups - it's the fair thing to do.

September 04, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Mr. President, An Easy-Bake Oven Shouldn't Send Kids To The ER

Category: In Your Face

More evidence that the Bush Administration is dismantling the federal health and safety agencies created to protect us and our children.

Number of Kids Hurt by Dangerous Products More than Doubles

A new study finds that the number of children injured by products recalled for fire- and burn-related hazards more than doubled in the last five years, in comparison with the preceding decade.

The study, conducted by the nonprofit organization Kids in Danger (KID), examined the 40 children's products recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in the last five years for risk of fire and burns, and analyzed the recall process and its participants.

The report found that products were recalled for electrical failure, battery failure, flammability, and exposed heat surface/substance. A total of 5,400,014 units were recalled.

"These recalls demonstrate the Consumer Product Safety Commission lacks the leadership, the money, the staff and the legal authority it needs to protect children from dangerous products," said Brian Imus, State Director for Illinois PIRG. "Consumers and parents deserve better than after-the-fact, ineffective recalls."

The President needs to bake some cookies down at his ranch.

While the report found that the majority of the products, nearly 60%, were recalled due to battery and electrical failure, the product which caused the most injuries and had the second largest recall was Hasbro Inc.'s Easy-Bake Oven, whose hazard was an exposed heat surface.

August 29, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Mud And The AG

Category: In Your Face

After watching the several appearances of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales before Congress I had concluded (a) candor was not his middle name, (b) competence was not his strong suit and (c) his motto must be laws were made to be broken.

President Bush, who probably received a two-sentence summary of each of Alberto's appearances prepared by Karl Rove, arrived at different conclusions.

Alberto Gonzales resigns as AG

In a statement tinged with bitterness and regret, Bush said Monday that he accepted the resignation reluctantly, while also appearing to bend to the political reality that the department had become dysfunctional under Gonzales' leadership.

"After months of unfair treatment that has created a harmful distraction at the Justice Department, Judge Gonzales decided to resign his position, and I accept his decision," Bush said. "It's sad that. . . his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons."

From the L.A. Times

Was the Attorney General dragged through the mud...or, was he the mud?

August 22, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Is Dogfighting As Bad As Hunting In Atlanta?

Category: In Your Face

I am not a big fan of hunters who sit in tree stands and wait for some unfortunate deer to wander into telescope range. But, my distaste for hunting is nothing compared to my absolute disgust at the thought of staged dogfighting and the related atrocities which have been revealed by the charges against Michael Vick. Apparently, some Vick supporters in the Atlanta area think hunting and dogfighting are equally bad. I worry about the hunting they may have seen.

NAACP Urges NFL to Let Vick Play Again

A civil rights organization says Michael Vick should be allowed to return to the NFL, preferably the Atlanta Falcons, after serving his sentence for his role in a dogfighting operation.

"As a society, we should aid in his rehabilitation and welcome a new Michael Vick back into the community without a permanent loss of his career in football," said R.L. White, president of the NAACP's Atlanta chapter. "We further ask the NFL, Falcons, and the sponsors not to permanently ban Mr. Vick from his ability to bring hours of enjoyment to fans all over this country."

White said the Falcons quarterback is a human being who has made a mistake and should be allowed to prove that he has learned from that mistake.

White said he regretted that the plea deal will mean all the facts of the case might never be known.

"Some have said things to save their own necks," White said. "Michael Vick has received more negative press than if he had killed a human being."

White said he does not support dogfighting and that he considers it as bad as hunting.

August 17, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Overlawyered Believes Polling Judges Is Nonsensical

Category: In Your Face

Ted Frank, at Overlawyered, must have spent years studying the techniques of the old logical argument called poisoning the well. His latest pre-emptive strike is against a Baylor Law Review study which, apparently, arrived at conclusions not to Ted's liking.

Survey of Texas judges

Bill Childs notes a Baylor Law Review study polling Texas judges on whether they think there are problems requiring tort reform.

I can't imagine why anyone thinks such a study will produce useful results. [Read as: Only lunatics would think of asking judges if more tort reform is needed.]

But there's a larger problem with the very nature of the study. Judges who correctly run their courtroom and follow the law are generally not going to have runaway juries, so they are likely to say (and even say correctly) that their juries generally don't produce outlandish results. The problem requiring reform are judges who are in the pocket of the plaintiffs' bar, and create judicial hellholes...[Read as: Some judges work in jurisdictions where verdicts are not pleasing to corporations, insurance companies and me.]

Polling judges in judicial hellholes to find out whether there is a need for legal reform like polling O.J. Simpson to find out if there's a problem with domestic violence. [Read as: Only Hitler would be a worst person to poll.]

Nevertheless, expect to see the poll widely used by the litigation lobby and their academic water-carriers in upcoming months and years. [Read as: Any professor who disagrees with me and my buddies in Corporate America is intellectually bankrupt.]

May I suggest that Ted has been carrying so much water for so long that he is developing two humps on his back.

August 15, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Relatively Rich Physicians Can Always Move To Texas

Category: In Your Face

Hoisting a Save Your Neurons banner a medical blogger who apparently enjoys his relatively high-paying job is throwing smoke grenades at the civil justice system.

There may be a neuron or two loose in the brain of Dr. Kevin Pho at Kevin, M.D. He remains in a stale and out-dated language mode continuing to label doctors as victims in medical malpractice claims, to deny the reality of grief, sorrow and mental suffering and to blame trial lawyers for encouraging the medical profession to move to Texas. (Doesn't he know lawyers for justice are now representing the real victims of medical malpractice?)

In the midst of his pathetic, time-worn diatribe Kevin assures us that doctors will always have a relatively high-paying job. At least we know what occupies most of his neurons.

In Kevin's own words:

Lawyers win again, patients lose

Illinois has found another way to victimize physicians:

Kate McDonough, spokesperson for the Illinois College of Emergency Physicians, said the new amended legislation allows a jury in a civil trial to award damages for grief, sorrow and mental suffering. The original legislation prohibited jurors in a civil trial from considering those three factors, she said.

McDonough said the new bill also deleted language limiting the amount of damages that could be awarded.

I can't really say that doctors really lose here - they can simply move to a malpractice-friendly state like Texas and continue working. The patients however, are left with a lack of physician access, making them the ultimate losers in this scenario.

Update:
Happyman puts it even more bluntly in the comments below. The runaway tort system really hurts patients more, not doctors:

And it's much more of a problem for PATIENTS than doctors - we will always have a relatively high-paying job, but if you are in a car wreck & need a craniotomy, blame your local trial lawyers for ending up a vegetable, as threatening or suing your local ER for not getting a neurosurgeon in time isn't gonna save your neurons.

July 19, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Imagine The Terrible Stress Error-Prone Doctors Feel

Category: In Your Face

Pity the poor doctor. Making medical mistakes causes stress, sleep problems and loss of confidence. We need to help them cope.

Survey finds many docs stress mistakes

CHICAGO (AP) -- Patients aren't the only ones harmed by medical errors, according to a survey released Wednesday that found many doctors who make mistakes - and even those who come close - suffer stress, sleep problems and loss of confidence.

Job stress related to medical errors potentially could make some doctors prone to depression, quitting or even making additional mistakes, underscoring the need for helping them cope, said Washington University psychologist Amy Waterman, the study's lead author.

Try this, docs, as a coping mechanism. Stop making mistakes.

Special note to Amy - maybe some of these malpractitioners need to quit so they and their patients can sleep better.

July 18, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Lessons From A Dumb, Pompous, Whining Flea

Category: In Your Face

There are physicians who are doing a fine job of blogging on health care issues. Then, there was this one physician, Dr. Lindeman (a.k.a. Flea), who was unmasked in the middle of his medical malpractice trial as the world's dumbest medical blogger.

Flea (and his defunct blog) is Bob Coffield's subject at Health Care Law Blog.

MD Net Guide Article: Are Physician Blogs in a Legal and Ethical Twilight Zone?

Last month I had the opportunity to collaborate with Fard Johnmar of Envision Solutions on an article for MD Net Guide, "Social Media Notebook: Are Physician Blogs in a Legal and Ethical Twilight Zone?" The article looks at the recent incident involving Dr. Lindeman, who blogged under the pseudonym "Flea," and the risks associated with physician blogging.

I shared some legal tips that physician bloggers should consider when blogging, including:

*Anonymous blogging does not guarantee your privacy

*Consider informing your employer about your blog [Consider?]

*Follow your HIPAA training

*Post a legal disclaimer

*Be cautious about giving advice to patients

I believe Bob left out some other tips that would have served "Flea" well. They are:

*Never blog about an ongoing medical malpractice case when you are the defendant

*Don't come across as a pompous ass or a whining victim of the legal system

July 09, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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SICKO Reviewed (Bashed) By Insurance Blog - Moore Is Confused

Category: In Your Face

Mike Feehan at INSUREBLOG, has pioneered a new movie review technique, the half-assed critique based on a half-assed viewing. Why waste valuable time watching an entire film when you can see just enough of a movie to spout off?

Michael and Me

I haven't seen all of Sicko, just enough to make a few comments. Yeah, the production looks good technically but basically, I think the movie should be no more relevant than, say, Hunt for Red October to an intelligent discussion of the issues of health care and health insurance.

Because the undeniable fact is that insurance is expensive because health care is expensive, not the other way around. Does Moore say that? No he does not. The cost of insurance is rising because the cost of health care is rising. Does Moore say that? No, he does not. The high cost of insurance is a symptom of the deeper problem of health care costs - and if our nation cannot solve the deeper problem, we will never be rid of the symptom. Does Moore say that? No, he does not. He's pecking around the fringes, not facing the problem itself. Worse he does not clearly articulate the problem as either health care or health insurance.

Mike, I saw the whole movie and thought it was extremely thought-provoking. I left the theater (after approximately two hours) wondering how is it possible for the citizens in four different countries to have created universal health care systems which seem to provide quality medical care to all. You left the theater (after 20 minutes?) wondering how you could trash Moore's effort and message.

By the way, what does the following gibberish from your article mean and how is it relevant to a discussion of universal health care?

BTW, I favor universal health care. I also favor universal health insurance to help pay for health care. [And, insurance commissions?] There is a lot of work to do because wishing does not make it so. I do not confuse health care with health insurance. [One generates obscene profits for medical providers and the other obscene profits for insurance companies.] I believe that the linkage of group health insurance with one's employment, while a useful tactic for decades, has outlived its usefulness and it's time to re-think. At the same time, I believe that any universal insurance scheme whether public or private CANNOT succeed in this country, unless the costs of health care can be reduced and the annual rate of growth in those costs is brought under meaningful control.

Are you seriously suggesting that we first work on reducing the costs of health care (within the present system of delivery) and, only after achieving an acceptable rate of growth, should we talk about universal health care? If so, I have to ask if your cart even has a horse to put behind it.

If you had watched all of SiCKO you would have heard Michael Moore and others express the belief that any country able to spend billions to blow up people and buildings should be able to spend whatever it takes to provide universal health care to its citizens. I thought it was, as I said, thought-provoking.

July 07, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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I Know Exactly When You Will Know Caps On Damages Are Wrong

Category: In Your Face

I need to get something off my chest.

Caps on damages are flat-out wrong.

Why should victims who suffer the most be forced to discount their just compensation (determined by a jury) in order to permit insurance companies, governmental entities and corporations to keep more of their money?

How is it fair to reform the tort system by penalizing the most seriously injured?

If there is a need to weed out so-called frivolous lawsuits what does that have to do with meritorious claims on behalf of the most seriously injured?

Damage caps are always unjust and irrational in their application. They are designed and intended to do the most harm to America's most worthy plaintiffs.

They are a cruel and cynical fraud perpetrated on the American public which only recognizes the scam one unfortunate victim at a time.

July 01, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Big Pharma Faces Big Problem In West Virginia

Category: In Your Face

Question: If drug manufacturers have decided they can safely market to consumers and spend millions on TV advertising that extols the magical power of endless prescription drugs, is there any reason to continue the charade of the learned intermediary doctrine (which gives Big Pharma a pass on giving warnings to patients)?

Answer: Not in West Virginia.

Drug and Device Law reports on this enlightened opinion - with a certain painful exasperation.

Take me home, country roads (W. Va. rejects learned intermediary doctrine)

Take me home -- so long as home is not West Virginia.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia refused to adopt the learned intermediary doctrine. State of West Virginia ex rel. Johnson & Johnson Corp. v. Hon. Mark A Karl, No. 33211, slip op. (W. Va. June 27, 2007).

The learned intermediary doctrine provides, in general, that manufacturers of prescription drugs fulfill their duty to warn by warning prescribing physicians of the risks associated with a product. Manufacturers are not required to give warnings directly to patients.

That doctrine is widely, widely accepted.

The high court [of West Virginia] squarely rejected the doctrine on Wednesday.

Justice Davis' decision....concludes that direct-to-consumer advertising "obviates each of the premises upon which the [learned intermediary] doctrine rests." In a world of DTC [Direct to Consumer] advertising, patients become active participants in their health care, and they ask for particular drugs by name. And the existence of DTC ads supposedly proves that it is possible to explain accurately the risks and benefits of drugs directly to patients. The court therefore sees no benefit to adopting the learned intermediary doctrine. Manufacturers should simply warn patients directly of the risks associated with prescription drugs.

I do not pretend to know how much consumers are able to understand regarding the risks of a given drug. But, apparently, the manufacturers have determined they are perfectly able to understand the benefits and ask for the miracle pills by name.

June 24, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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And, Judicial Paradise Is (Drumroll) The State Of....

Category: In Your Face

The entire State of Delaware is considered a judicial paradise by business lawyers.

If any judicial hellholes are discovered in Delaware they are always microscopic and short-lived. The statewide Rapid Response Eradication Force assures that any outbreak of fair compensation of victims is quickly contained and neutralized. Nobody associated with the state's judicial system is permitted to use the phrase corporate wrongdoing. The worst level of corporate misconduct recognized in Delaware is a corporate boo-boo. You get the picture why business lawyers love the place. The question is, why should anyone else like it?

Corporations like Del. courts best

The verdict is in, and once again business lawyers ranked Delaware courts the nation's best in an annual survey sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In a survey conducted by Harris Interactive Inc., 1,599 corporate lawyers were asked their thoughts about the fairness of the legal system in the 50 states.

The survey looked at 12 factors that affect businesses, including punitive damages, class-action lawsuits, the impartiality and competence of judges, and the fairness of juries.

The survey, which was restricted to lawyers representing companies with annual revenue of $100 million or more, and did not include plaintiffs' lawyers, points out the need for a simpler, more balanced legal system, Chamber officials said in announcing the results.

"The best thing a state can do to attract business is to have a balanced legal system," said Tom Donohue, the business group's president and chief executive officer. "An unfair system sucks the life out of a state's economy."

On the other hand, Bill Schulz, a spokesman for the American Association for Justice, which represents the nation's trial lawyers, blasted the Chamber-sponsored survey as "nothing more than propaganda to further their campaign to limit access to justice for those who've been the victims of corporate wrongdoing."

From DelawareOnline

June 11, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Are There "Traps" In Pennsylvania For Doctors?

Category: In Your Face

I always thought of a trap as something that is not obvious as someone is walking into it. I think of speed traps, for example. If there were a huge sign that said "radar guns in use just around this next bend" who would call that a speed trap?

Clark Venable, at Waking Up Costs, has a different take on traps. Clark thinks that medical doctors are likely to be trapped by a Pennsylvania offer to pay student loans off over a ten year period. By his logic, medical school trapped these same doctors by educating them for a fee. Nice try, Clark.

(By the way, jackpot medical malpractice system is a nice touch.)

Pennsylvania Doctor Trap Number Two Proposed

Pennsylvania has chosen an interesting strategy to keep doctors from leaving the state. Rather than fix the current jackpot medical malpractice system they've decided to try to trap doctors that are already here.

The legislature is now working on trap number two--a physician loan forgiveness program. For a period of ten years, for every year a physician practices in Pennsylvania after completing training the state will pay off ten percent of their student loan debt. If they leave early (say, after five years), they have to pay the state back ALL of the money the state paid toward their loans.

June 09, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Medical Hellholes Revealed

Category: In Your Face

The report does not use the term "Medical Hellholes", but it does paint an ugly picture of the quality of medical practice in some states.

Public Citizen Issues Annual Ranking of State Medical Boards

Public Citizen today released its annual report ranking how effective state medical boards are at disciplining doctors, with Mississippi ranked worst and Alaska best.

The rankings are based on state-by-state data released by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) about the number of disciplinary actions taken against doctors in 2006, combined with data from earlier FSMB reports covering 2004 and 2005. Public Citizen calculated the rate of serious disciplinary actions (revocations, surrenders, suspensions and probation/restrictions) per 1,000 doctors in each state for each year and compiled a national ranking of state boards by the average rate of serious disciplinary actions for 2004-2006 and for earlier three-year intervals. Non-serious board actions were not included.

There were 2,916 serious disciplinary actions taken by state medical boards in 2006, down 10.4 percent from the 3,255 serious actions taken in 2005. The national average disciplinary rate was 3.18 serious actions per 1,000 physicians, compared to 3.62 in 2005. The three-year state disciplinary rates ranged from 1.41 serious actions per 1,000 physicians (Mississippi) to 7.30 actions per 1,000 physicians (Alaska), a 5.2-fold difference between the best and worst states.

The bottom 10 states - those with the lowest serious disciplinary action rates for 2004-2006 - were, starting with the lowest: Mississippi (1.41 serious actions per 1,000 physicians); South Carolina (1.45); Minnesota (1.45); South Dakota (1.52); Nevada (1.68); Wisconsin (1.78); Washington (2.06); Delaware (2.22); Maryland (2.25); and Connecticut (2.34).

Nine states have experienced at least a 10-place drop in ranking between the 2001-2003 ranking and the 2004-2006 ranking: Alabama went from 13th to 26th; Georgia from 15th to 25th; Idaho from 14th to 24th; Mississippi from 20th to 51st; Nevada from 33rd to 47th; New Jersey from 24th to 40th; North Dakota from 3rd to 19th; South Dakota from 37th to 48th; and Virginia from 30th to 41st.

What does all this mean?

"The data demonstrate a remarkable variability in the rates of serious disciplinary actions taken by state boards," said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of the health research group at Public Citizen. "As there is no reason to believe that physicians deserving of discipline are much more common in one state than another, these large differences in rates are likely due to the board's practices themselves. There is considerable evidence that most boards are under-disciplining physicians."

"Most states are not living up to their obligations to protect patients from doctors who are practicing medicine in a substandard manner and endangering the lives and health of their patients," Wolfe said. "State legislatures must act to increase the amount of doctor discipline and patient protection. Without adequate oversight, many medical boards will continue to perform poorly."

June 05, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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"Medical Error Disclosure" - What A Novel Idea!

Category: In Your Face

Welcome to the concept of medical error disclosure. For those of you who are doctors or patients this may be a totally new experience for you. For those of you who are personal injury attorneys you may be more familiar with the concepts of medical error concealment or medical error denial.

Anyway, thanks to a good poop ("In which [a blogger answers] the questions posed in the titles of some scientific articles in a generally snarky and sarcastic manner") I was pointed to:

Disclosure of medical error: is it worth the risk?

Straumanis JP, Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Abstract -

The climate within the United States is rapidly changing with respect to patient and family knowledge of medical error and their expectations of the events that should occur after an error.

This article examines the history and changing tide of medical error disclosure, reviews the limited but growing body of literature surrounding patient and physician attitudes toward disclosing and discussing medical error, makes suggestions on what and how to disclose to patients and families that an error has occurred, and finally, discusses the effect of error disclosure.

CONCLUSION: It seems that if disclosure of medical error is made with compassion, in a timely manner, and with good communication skills both during and after the disclosure process, patients and their families are at least no more likely to seek legal action and some lawsuits may actually be avoided.

Should it really take the carrot of avoiding some lawsuits to convince doctors to disclose medical errors to the families of pediatric patients?

May 28, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Dr. Jack Kevorkian And The Death Toll In Iraq

Category: In Your Face

The All Spin Zone connects the release of Dr. Jack Kevorkian from prison to the war in Iraq. Heavy thoughts, indeed.

A Death By Any Other Name Would Not Be Accepted

This coming Friday, Dr. Jack Kevorkian will be released from prison after serving eight years for his part in assisting in the suicides of over one hundred individuals...individuals that by and large suffered ailments that would eventually end their lives or that had taken from them the lives that they cherished such that they already felt dead...though by some trick of fate, remained here in this existence against their will.

This past week Congress authorized a military spending bill that met with the president's approval and that did not include any timetable for withdrawal from Iraq...despite the fact that one can argue that the 2006 election sent a strong message that our elected officials bring an end to the war in Iraq and prevent the deaths of more U.S. soldiers.

Every indication suggests that George Bush will leave office...after eight years...with a significant presence of U.S. military troops still in Iraq. Back in 1998, the state of Michigan passed a law that led to the eight year imprisonment of Dr. Kevorkian for his part in facilitating the deaths of individuals who wanted to end their lives. Now I'm not suggesting the president or this congress should be imprisoned for their part in facilitating the death of 100 soldiers during the month of May...or the nearly 1,000 since last Memorial Day...or the 3,439 total soldiers killed in Iraq since the war began back in 2003.

The rest of the article is worth a read on this Memorial Day.

May 14, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Malpractice Defense Attorneys Don't Like Sworn Testimony - From Their Doctor/Clients

Category: In Your Face

Critics: Medical review panels aren't working

CHEYENNE, WYOMING - Critics of panels that review medical malpractice cases in Wyoming say the oversight has not lowered the cost of malpractice insurance in the state. The panels have been around since 2005. The goal is to sort out frivolous claims from malpractice claims that have merit. Eric Easton directs the Wyoming Medical Review Panel. He says the panel has an effect on about 25% of medical malpractice cases in Wyoming. That means patients sometimes withdraw claims rather than have them go to court. Susie Pouliot, director of the Wyoming Medical Society, says the program would be more effective if panel reviews were mandatory, rather than optional. Pouliot says the society has not seen lower rates for medical malpractice insurance as a result of panel reviews.

So, who is avoiding the use of the panels? Probably the greedy trial lawyers, you might say. But, you would be wrong.

The rest of the story:

Medical malpractice defense attorneys say they usually tell their clients not to participate in the panel reviews. That's because what doctors say under oath in front of the panel can be used against them in court.

Obviously, the panels would enjoy the blessing of the defense attorneys if their clients could lie their way through the hearings without any fear.

February 22, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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I Would Rather Die Than Work At A Legal Boutique

Category: In Your Face

Why is it that defense firms are willing to be called trial boutiques? No self-respecting plaintiff's personal injury attorney would get up each morning, strap on his six-shooter and ride to his trial boutique.

Blawg's Blog has this post:

Small is the New Big...For Law

Larry Bodine smelled a "golden opportunity" for boutiques/smaller firms in his post a couple weeks back, Marketing Opportunity: Megafirms overpay $160,000 for First-year Associates:

"This creates a huge opportunity for mid-size and boutique law firms. Not only can they offer better rates but also more specialized expertise. Corporate Counsel are going to be looking for a 20-lawyer trial boutique in Minneapolis -- which does nothing but work in court-- as opposed to the litigation department of an expensive New York megafirm. Litigation accounts for 34% of overall corporate legal spending."

I know we will never see Gerry Spence's horse outside a boutique law firm - unless it would be while he was making a substantial withdrawal of compensation for an injured client.

February 09, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Judging A Man By The Size Of His Home

Category: In Your Face

If John Edwards were a Republican his decision to live in a large home would be praised as proof there is an American Dream in our free enterprise system for every hardworking businessman. And, that family values are alive and well in North Carolina.

But, John Edwards is a Democrat.

John Edwards on his 24,000 sq. ft. home

Former Sen. John "Two Americas" Edwards spoke to the Columbia (S.C) State this morning about his lovely new home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

From that paper:

Edwards also responded to criticism over the 24,000-square-foot estate he and his wife are building outside Chapel Hill, N.C. Observers have questioned whether Edwards can be a sincere advocate for the poor while living in such splendor.

Edwards said his experience of growing up in modest means as the son of a mill worker made him want to do more for his family.

A wealthy trial lawyer, Edwards said he is able to do for his children what his father couldn't. "You don't want your kids' lives to be like yours. You don't want it to be as hard," he said.

January 30, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Special, Favored, Protected No More

Category: In Your Face

In Oklahoma, doctors aren't so special anymore.

Special Malpractice Statute Unconstitutional

Monica Belinda Zeier brought a malpractice suit against Zimmer, Inc. and Theron S. Nichols, M.D., asserting that the doctor installed the wrong and defective replacement parts manufactured by Zimmer during her knee replacement surgery. Ms. Zeier failed to attach an affidavit of medical negligence signed by a physician to her complaint as required by Oklahoma law prior to the commencement of a lawsuit. Her case was dismissed. She challenged the decision by the trial court, asserting that the state law was unconstitutional in that it violated a provision in the Oklahoma state constitution prohibiting "special" statutes. In Zwier v. Zimmer, Inc., and Theron S. Nichols, M.D., 2006 WL 3717904, the Oklahoma Supreme Court agreed.

The defendants argued that a statute covering all health care providers is a general rather than a special law. The Supreme Court disagreed.

The affidavit of merit requirement immediately divides tort victims alleging negligence into two classes-those who pursue a clause of action in negligence generally and those who name medical professionals as defendants.

When treating doctors start providing affidavits of merit to patients as they make a diagnosis or start a treatment it may be fair to require patients to do the same in medical malpractice lawsuits.

January 27, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Pity The Enslaved Emergency Doctors?

Category: In Your Face

GruntDoc is billed as the Ramblings of an Emergency Physician in Texas. Based on the following post, the only conclusion we can draw is that emergency physicians are slaves working in a wreck of a service and depriving emergency room patients of something. [Certainly not medical care.]

Health Insurance is not a "Right"

It's a reprint of a 1993 article, and its main points are still valid, in Frontpagemag.com, by Leonard Peikoff:

Just one of the quotable quotes:

...
As with any good or service that is provided by some specific group of men, if you try to make its possession by all a right, you thereby enslave the providers of the service, wreck the service, and end up depriving the very consumers you are supposed to be helping. To call "medical care" a right will merely enslave the doctors and thus destroy the quality of medical care in this country, as socialized medicine has done around the world, wherever it has been tried, including Canada (I was born in Canada and I know a bit about that system first hand).
...

The last time I checked, it is mandatory for emergency rooms to treat everyone who enters regardless of their ability to pay. ER patients might be forgiven if they assume it is their right to be treated.

I have not seen Free The ER Docs placards carried by picketers outside emergency room departments so, apparently, the enslaved docs are relatively satisfied with their enslavement (including salary and fringe benefits).

January 13, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Defense Department Turns Guns On Defense Attorneys

Category: In Your Face

They say dog owners begin to look like their dogs. The Bush Administration is beginning to look like its enemies.

Official calls for boycott of law firms representing detainees

A Defense Department official has stirred up a maelstrom in the American legal community by calling on U.S. corporations to boycott law firms whose attorneys represent suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Speaking to a morning radio talk show Thursday, Cully Stimson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, rattled off a list of some of the most prestigious law firms in the nation.

Each apparently has attorneys providing pro bono, or no-charge, legal representation to captives at the U.S. Navy base, where the Bush administration is holding some 395 men and teens as so-called enemy combatants.

"I think quite honestly when corporate CEOs see that those firms are representing the very terrorists that hit their bottom line in 2001," he said, "those CEOs are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms.

"It's shocking," said Stimson, 43, a former federal attorney and Navy lawyer. "The major law firms in this country . . . are out there representing detainees."

It's shocking that any American government official, former federal lawyer and Navy lawyer would be out there making these threats. It is obvious the greatest threat to America comes from within and from an Administration that ignores the Constitution and our system of justice.

December 24, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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A Secrecy Tax For Sealed Court Files

Category: In Your Face

My lips are sealed may be the right promise to make and keep about a client's confidences, but Let's seal the amount of the settlement or the court file rarely is the right thing to do. Once a matter has become a publicly litigated case in our civil justice system the public has a right to know.

I propose a secrecy tax that would be imposed annually upon any litigants who convince a court to seal a file or settlement. The money would fund a public Anti-Court Secrecy Bureau of attorneys whose only mission would be to constantly litigate to unseal what has been sealed.

Sealed Settlements Study

At the request of the Civil Rules Advisory Committee, researchers at the Federal Judicial Center did an empirical study of settlements that were sealed. Now one of the researchers writes about the project: Robert Timothy Reagan, The Hunt for Sealed Settlement Agreements, 81 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 439-62 (2006).

He notes that, even when the settlement is sealed, the public is not necessarily deprived of all information about the case. Often the complaint and docket sheet were not sealed -- so one could find out what the plaintiff's allegations were. Most often, the only information that was sealed was the amount of settlement.

The whole study is Robert Timothy Reagan et al., Sealed Settlement Agreements in Federal District Court (Federal Judicial Center 2004). It includes an appendix summarizing local district court rules on the topic. An earlier report summarizes federal and state rules, as of 2003: Robert Timothy Reagan et al., Sealed Settlement Agreements in Federal District Court -- May 2003 Progress Report.

Excerpted from Trial Ad Notes

December 20, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Major Error In Script For Trial Lawyer Commercial

Category: In Your Face

There it is, posted for all the world to read on LUBBLOG - a suggested TV commercial script for a personal injury lawyer.

Truth in Advertising

You would think that with all the legislation about "truth in advertising" we would see more of it, well, except for election campaigning. Here are some ads I would like to see:

PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER. If you have ever been injured, sick, seen a doctor, been in a hospital, treated for any kind of illness, taken any kind of medication whether prescription or across-the-counter, had your feelings hurt, been insulted for any reason or even think you have, been looked at crossways, or generally just don't feel good about things, you may be entitled to MONEY DAMAGES. I will sue anybody for anything for any amount of money to compensate you for any real or imagined injuries or emotional distress. SOMEBODY MUST PAY for your suffering and pain. Most of the time it is not even necessary to go to trial, many companies and individuals will settle out of court because of the expense and bad publicity, which is what I am counting on. So, all you have to do is hire me to file your complaint and sit back and wait for the money to come in. Of course, I will be entitled to 30% of the damages awarded plus my expenses, but what the heck, otherwise you wouldn't be getting anything, would you? If you have a real injury, now that could be a problem, because I still get my fee even if the jury award doesn't cover your medical expenses. But, don't sweat the small stuff, it's better than nothing. I feel your pain.

I do not know why people write such inaccurate stuff about greedy trial lawyers. The customary fee is 33 1/3%, not 30%.

December 17, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Get Ready For Greedy First Amendment Trial Lawyers

Category: In Your Face

I am not sure if this blog could be categorized as a type of advertising. For one thing, I do not reveal my name or the name of my law firm. For another, I disclaim any interest in generating clients as a result of the blog.

But, there are many attorneys who choose to blog under their own names and probably hope their effort leads to an increase in their practice. I believe their blogs are beneficial to the public and to the legal profession. Apparently, some state bar associations think the blogs are a type of advertising which, therefore, requires pre-posting review and approval of content.

Law and More covers the matter with this post (which probably did not go through any review process):

Attorney Blogs & Efficient Markets

No newsflash, attorney and all other professional blogs are the way to develop new business, enhance a brand name, expand networks and bypass the traditional media gatekeepers, ranging from THE WALL STREET JOURNAL to THE AMERICAN LAWYER, to get heard. The trick, of course, is that the content got to be something readers want and maybe even need. Like every other product and service out there, blogs are subject to the rule of efficient markets. We all have had the experience of posting stale or self-indulgent content and our numbers tank.

Well, for some reason, state bar associations - think New York - don't understand how efficient the marketplace has been and will continue to be in regulating weblogs. Proposed New York rules seek to classify weblogs as a type of advertising. That means that attorneys would have to file this digital content with the state powers-that-be. Given the exponential growth of blogging, including in the legal profession, those state powers-that-be will be busy bees with all that reviewing. So, attorney bloggers can't expect an okay in timely fashion from those reviewers.

When and if someone demands the right to review and approve my posts they will discover how quickly a greedy trial lawyer can become a greedy first amendment trial lawyer.

December 15, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Congratulations To This Year's Judicial Hellholes

Category: In Your Face

The annual listing of Judicial Hellholes has made its appearance. The entire state of West Virginia heads the list. South Florida placed second. Kudos to all of the Hellholes for providing the fairest opportunity for justice and full compensation to the victims of corporate misconduct. As I have suggested before, each should proudly proclaim its support for the American civil justice system and promote the honor of its selection.

ATRF Lists 'Judicial Hellholes'

Just in time for the holidays, the American Tort Reform Foundation has released its picks of the courts you don't want on your forum-shopping list -- that is, if you are a lawyer who defends companies in civil litigation. The report, Judicial Hellholes 2006, claims to shine a spotlight on "America's worst jurisdictions in which to face a lawsuit."

The six worst courts, according to the report:

West Virginia
South Florida
Rio Grande Valley and Gulf Coast of Texas
Cook County, Ill.
Madison County, Ill.
St. Clair County, Ill.

Of course, one man's hell is another man's heaven, to paraphrase the old saying. Not everyone sees damnation in the courts singled out by ATRF. The Center for Justice and Democracy, for one, called the report "vicious and undemocratic, not to mention dishonest and ungrounded." It released a fact sheet of its own, describing ATRA as representing "polluters, tobacco companies and the insurance industry, to name a few," and providing its counterpoints to ATRF's findings.

December 13, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Blacklisted Patients Arise!

Category: In Your Face

My wife was thrown out of an ob/gyn practice because I am a Greedy Trial Lawyer. The official term for what happened to her, I suppose, is blacklisting by proxy. But, patient blacklisting, itself, is a much more common practice.

Patient Blacklisting explains and documents this epidemic that is spreading through (and encouraged by) the medical community.

Patients can be blacklisted by doctors without ever having sued a doctor at all. Blacklisting is basically getting stigmatized through hidden data sharing. It is fairly easy to get labeled as a "problem patient" and then you get blacklisted without understanding what is happening. Patients with chronic illnesses are at risk, especially those with chronic pain or mental illness, and misdiagnosed or undiagnosed repeat patients.

How do doctors blacklist patients? Doctors blacklist patients using the patient's medical records and in computer systems such as HealthConnect or Epic. Blacklisting has no borders. It is a global epidemic that is prevalent in all industrialized nations.

There is some potential good news here, however. The use of computers makes patient blacklisting vulnerable to hackers. Can you imagine the direct marketing which could be done by greedy trial lawyers to the blacklisted patients? I can.

December 02, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Meet Judge Truth-Speaker

Category: In Your Face

A New Jersey trial judge mistakenly believes he was appointed as a truth-speaker who can proclaim his version of how things are or should be whenever his tongue is ready and not otherwise occupied.

Free-Tongued New Jersey Judge Suspended Without Pay

The New Jersey Supreme Court suspended a state court judge for 30 days without pay, ruling that his outspokenness violated the code of judicial conduct.

Superior Court Judge Bill Mathesius, 66, reportedly was nicknamed Wild Bill for his intemperance when he was a federal and county prosecutor. He apparently didn't tone it down after being appointed to the bench in 2002.

"Judge Mathesius presents an almost indecipherable riddle," the court's opinion said. "On the one side," it said, the judge had been portrayed as "a longtime public servant who is learned in his craft, willing to assist his colleagues and generous with his time and knowledge." But "on the other side," the court said, was "indisputable proof of repeated and unremorseful instances of petulance, sarcasm, anger and arrogance."

Among the incidents: After a criminal trial he told the defendant after a not guilty verdict to "thank God that this jury didn't see the forest for the trees" and then entered the jury room and, according to one juror, "asked us what the hell we were thinking about."

In a statement, Judge Mathesius said the charges "involve no allegation of criminal or civil wrongdoing, no personal misbehavior, no embarrassing conduct -- in short, no allegations remotely involving moral turpitude." He added: "I have, however, spoken and written what I believe to be the truth, and to that I plead guilty."

Excerpted from the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

November 17, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Was Garish Orange The Original Color Of The Alamo?

Category: In Your Face

Overlawyered.com alerts us to a visual blight upon San Antonio. My assumption is that this blight, after much research and analysis, is going to be attributed to frivolous lawsuits which, in turn, are brought by greedy trial lawyers.

The Alamo -- and its orange stripe

Tourists from around the country descend on San Antonio to snap pictures of the famed Alamo, which looks pretty much as it must have looked in Texas's pre-statehood days, with one big exception: the curb in front of the historic battle site and running the length of the building has been painted a garish orange, as an accident-prevention measure.

On behalf of the frivolous injured persons who have stepped off unmarked curbs I acknowledge the ugliness of the orange or yellow paint (although garish may be a stretch).

I presume Overlawyered is developing a pastel orange or, perhaps, a camouflage motif to improve the vista at the Alamo. Or, urging there be no special marking at all. Good for you. See you in court.

By the way, the only existing video footage of the Alamo taken by Davy Crockett shows its original color was orange.

November 17, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Delta Airlines Boots Breast-Feeding Mommy

Category: In Your Face

Something is wrong with our society when the breast-feeding of an infant on an airplane is not acceptable conduct.

Woman kicked off plane for breast-feeding baby

A woman who claims she was kicked off an airplane because she was breast-feeding her baby has filed a complaint against two airlines, her attorney said.

Emily Gillette, 27, of Santa Fe, N.M., filed the complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission late last week against Delta Air Lines and Freedom Airlines, said her attorney, Elizabeth Boepple. Freedom was operating the Delta flight between Burlington and New York City.

Gillette said she was discreetly breast-feeding her 22-month-old daughter on Oct. 13 as their flight prepared to leave Burlington International Airport. She said she was seated by the window in the next-to-last row, her husband was seated between her and the aisle and no part of her breast was showing.

Delta, apparently, does not know that one of the primary uses of the female breast is to provide nutrition to a baby. And, that people with brains to control their eye movements have the ability to avert their eyes from a passenger's breast in the next to the last row, up against the window, if they find the sight of a loving mother caring for the needs of her baby offensive. I regularly have to avert my eyes from the nonsense inflicted upon all passengers on the drop-down TV screens. I also have to tune out the loudmouths in the next row who need to "chat" mindlessly for an entire flight. It never occurred to me that I could have the screens and the loudmouths removed from the plane.

Does anyone else see the irony in the name of Delta's partner, Freedom Airlines?

November 15, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Remaining Frivolous Lawsuits Need A Good Thumping

Category: In Your Face

How many Americans think courthouses should be converted to retail outlets?

86% Want Congress To Reform Litigation Mess

The Dems may be back but the trial lawyers might not be a happy bunch. A poll by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) found that "86% say the next Congress should continue to reform the lawsuit system." There's more. The poll also found that "three-quarters of those who say they are strong Democrats regard frivolous lawsuits as a problem." How this reform plays out, say the activist voters among them, will determine how they vote in the future. Message to this Congress: You better do something on this issue before the 2008 election. [Law And More]

The ILR poll results are shocking, shocking, shocking. Who would have thought that this anti-tort-litigation arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would have uncovered such feelings?

Next week, I believe the Chamber will release it's annual Thanksgiving poll results which will show that Americans are most thankful for the record high profits of the insurance and oil companies. It is rumored that the poll will confirm the Chamber's effort to ban the use of the word negligent is supported by 98% of corporate shareholders.

"We don't need a three syllable 'N' word being tossed around by injured folks who never voted for Ronald Reagan in the first place," according to one comment in the leaked poll results.

Let us pause to remember that on May 30, 1986, President Reagan and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shared a little laugh together.

Remarks to Members of the American Tort Reform Association

It's an honor to be here today with the members of the American Tort Reform Association. You know, we'd originally planned to meet across the street in the White House, but it turned out there was so much interest, we had to find a bigger hall. And many thanks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the chamber president, Dick Lesher, for permitting us to come here. Now, I know that you've already heard from the Attorney General and the Secretary of Commerce and a number of others, so I'll try to keep my own remarks brief. Given the subject, I wouldn't want anyone to mistake me for a lawyer. [Laughter]

The laughter at the Chamber continues to this day while the pain of the victims of misconduct is discounted in a relentless public relations campaign orchestrated by the Institute for Legal Reform and others.

November 06, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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This Greedy Trial Lawyer Is Voting For Justice

Category: In Your Face

Guess which party I will be voting for tomorrow and why.

Trial Lawyers & The Democratic Party

Whether or not you are aware of it, the attack on the civil justice system and trial lawyers is also by design or by coincidence an attack on the Democratic Party. Something that Democrats and Republicans should both know, is that trial lawyers give large amounts of money to the Democratic Party.

As a result, the attack on trial lawyers by the corporate funded and self labeled tort "reform" movement has the double benefit of reducing funding for the democratic party and creating corporate immunities at the same time.

As outlined in a report called the Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law by David Johnson of the Commonweal Institute:

The Political Agenda -- Defunding Trial Lawyers The alliance of the tort reform movement with the far right involves an agenda that goes beyond such tort-specific issues as jury awards. These linked movements want more than just restricting litigants' rights and weakening regulatory constraints on business. By working to limit jury awards, and thus limiting the income of plaintiffs' attorneys, conservatives seek to "defund the trial lawyers," thereby undermining the attorneys' ability to lobby effectively and to contribute money to the conservatives' political opposition.

In a candid article discussing the Right's agenda, Grover Norquist writes, "Modest tort reform, much of which has been actively considered by committees in both houses, would defund the trial lawyers, now second only to the unions‹and this is debatable‹as the funding source of the Left in America."[27] He has also written, "Modest tort reform would deprive pillar number three--greedy trial lawyers--of billions from American consumers. In some states trial lawyers give more to Democrats than union leaders do."

...the Right is not involved in advocating tort reform solely due to their concern over the insurance rates paid by doctors or damage awards paid by businesses. In a coordinated effort to weaken their political opposition, they are similarly targeting the Labor movement through "Paycheck Protection" legislation,[30] teachers unions through advocacy of vouchers,[31] aid to the urban poor, and attacking voting rights.

From Tort Deform

October 27, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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How Reprehensible Was Phillip Morris?

Category: In Your Face

Reprehensibility, according to the United States Supreme Court, is the primary criterion for punitive damages. In our lifetimes can there be any more reprehensible behavior by corporations than the conduct of cigarette manufacturers?

We are soon going to hear an argument before the Supreme Court that juries need to be on shorter leashes when considering punitive damages. It will be made in a room where smoking is banned for health reasons by a company (Phillip Morris) that has fraudulently marketed its cancer-causing products for decades. Everyone will be very proper and academic.

It will be countered by arguments, such as those contained in an amicus brief filed by a Duke University law professor, Neil Vidmar.

Juries Behave 'Rationally' When Making Punitive Damage Awards, Law Professor Says

Juries behave rationally and deliberately when they make large punitive damage awards, says Duke University law professor Neil Vidmar.

Vidmar, who conducts empirical studies on the legal system, including the subject of punitive damages, is the principal author of an amicus brief filed in the case of Philip Morris USA v. Mayola Williams, which is scheduled for argument in the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 31. His brief has been endorsed by 23 other academics who also study jury awards.

In the pending case, Philip Morris is challenging an Oregon jury's award to a smoker's widow of more than $79 million in punitive damages on top of a compensatory damage award of $500,000, arguing that it is grossly excessive and a violation of due process. The cigarette maker is asking the Court to raise the standard for assessing punitive damages but, according to Vidmar, no such additional federal standards should be imposed on state punitive damages laws.

Vidmar said that underlying Philip Morris's challenge is a false assumption that juries are "out of control" in awarding punitive damages and that judges are not properly scrutinizing the awards. Empirical evidence "on what juries actually do" tells a different story, said Vidmar, the Russell M. Robinson II Professor of Law and professor of psychology at Duke.

Punitive damages are intended to address societal damage for purposes of deterrence and retribution for bad behavior, Vidmar points out, citing the Supreme Court's recent decisions in BMW v. Gore and State Farm v. Campbell. "The Supreme Court has said the primary criterion for punitive damages is 'reprehensibility.' When you look at the facts of this case, what the tobacco companies knew [about the addictive and cancer-causing properties of nicotine] and what they continued to do, you can't help but come away with the conclusion that this was reprehensible behavior."

Since the corporate behavior is the most reprehensible in our lifetimes I suggest the Supreme Court should take a pass, express its total disgust and applaud the jury for its restraint.

October 24, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Greedy Trial Lawyer For Justice

Category: In Your Face

I want to be clear - I will remain Greedy Trial Lawyer despite the decision of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) to change its name to the American Association for Justice. I do not object to ATLA's decision. It does reflect the aspirations of its members. However, as an op-ed piece in the New York Times notes, since the tort system does marshal the entrepreneurial energies of the bar - I will continue on my greedy way to obtain the best results for each victim of misconduct.

First, Rename All the Lawyers

IF a rose would smell as sweet by any other name, will trial lawyers smell better with a new one? That's the question posed by the impending self-reinvention of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America [ATLA]. After Election Day, the 65,000-member outfit whose lawyers brought us multibillion dollar settlements in cigarette cases, millions of asbestos injury claims and lawsuits over McDonald's coffee will change its name to the American Association for Justice.

[The history of the name changes of ATLA is then outlined.]

The problem for the lawyers is that the genius of the tort system -- its capacity to marshal the entrepreneurial energies of the bar -- is also its greatest public relations liability. Indeed, whether trial lawyers are part of a distinctively American regulatory solution or part of a distinctively American problem, the new name seems unlikely to change the way Americans view them.

At KFC (né Kentucky Fried Chicken), the chicken is still fried. At Altria (né Philip Morris), the cigarettes still cause cancer. And at the American Association for Justice, some will say that the trial lawyers are still chasing ambulances.

And, some will say that the tort reformers are still screwing victims in the quest for higher corporate profits.

October 04, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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A "Jackpot" Malpractice Verdict? Hardly

Category: In Your Face

A $217 Million medical malpractice verdict (including punitive damages) is highlighted on Kevin, M.D.

Jackpot! A malpractice verdict fires up a plaintiff lawyer

Some choice quotes from the plaintiff lawyer:

Family attorney Steve Yerrid said he'll pursue damages from the insurance company, which is now claiming in a lawsuit that it has no duty to defend Austin because the doctor breached his contract.

"We're coming after them next," vowed Yerrid, who was part of a team of lawyers that brought Florida's landmark suit against tobacco companies and has won numerous other multimillion dollar verdicts.

"For all those people who believe in tort reform, they better find a new day job," Yerrid said. "We're here to stay."

Thank you, Steve Yerrid, for seeking justice for your client and for saying what needs to be said.

As for you, Kevin, take a closer look at how the insurance company declined an opportunity to settle within the policy limits, at why an unlicensed person examined the patient and at why an obvious stroke patient was sent home from the hospital to worsen without care. The word Jackpot! should be replaced with Stupidity!

The Birmingham News highlights just two of the monumentally stupid events in this tragic case.

ProAssurance's subsidiary, ProNational Insurance Co., was the malpractice insurer for a doctor's group running a Tampa area hospital emergency room where patient Allan Navarro's stroke was misdiagnosed by an unlicensed physician's assistant as a headache and sinus infection.

Yerrid told the Tampa newspaper he tried to get the insurance company to settle for the maximum allowed under the policy - $1 million for the doctor and $1 million for the physicians' group. Instead, he said, the insurance company wanted to settle for $300, offering $100 for Navarro, $100 for his wife and $100 for his 10-year-old son.

October 03, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Overlawyered Accuses Me Of Reflexively Regurgitating Trial-Lawyer Propaganda

Category: In Your Face

Today, I came upon a post by Ted Frank at Overlawyered which accuses Public Citizen of lying with statistics AND Cyrus Dugger of Tort Deform and me of reflexively regurgitating trial-lawyer propaganda without thinking. I am getting accustomed to Ted's shrillness, but this cascade of high-pitched ranting is over the top.

It all began with a very short article posted by me entitled, And, The Leader In Filing Frivolous Lawsuits Is....Corporate America

"A recent study by Public Citizen found that in 2001 in Arkansas, Mississippi, Cook County Illinois., and Philadelphia, corporations were 3.3-5.8 times more likely to bring a lawsuit than individual tort plaintiffs. The study also found that when these corporations did file lawsuits, they and their attorneys were 69% more likely than individual tort plaintiffs and their attorneys to be sanctioned by federal judges for filing frivolous claims or defenses."

Ted Frank, who apparently was a statistician in a former life, leads with this salvo:

Businesses "More Likely to Sue Frivolously" trumpets Bizarro-Overlawyered and Greedy Trial Lawyer, quoting a Public Citizen report. Except not even the Public Citizen report supports this claim, and no mathematically-literate person reading the report could think so.

After his analysis and comments he proclaims:

That Cyrus Dugger and GTL got it so wrong shows the danger of reflexively regurgitating trial-lawyer propaganda without thinking.

The meat of Ted's tirade is excerpted below:

Lying with statistics: Public Citizen edition

Here's what the Public Citizen press release says: "The study also found that when these corporations did file lawsuits, they and their attorneys were 69% more likely than individual tort plaintiffs and their attorneys to be sanctioned by federal judges for filing frivolous claims or defenses."

In fact, all the study did was look at the most recent hundred Rule 11 sanctions issued by federal judges. As we've discussed before, what Rule 11 considers "frivolous" is considerably narrower what the common non-lawyer considers "frivolous." But let's take Public Citizen's methodology at face value and ignore the issue with the small sample size, or the fact that Public Citizen didn't investigate whether the sanctions were reversed on appeal. Out of the 100 sanctions, a whopping thirty-five were issued to corporations. Thus, corporations, say Public Citizen, are more likely to be sanctioned.

Now, those of you who have graduated second grade might be wondering, "But isn't 35 a minority of 100?" And you would be right. Public Citizen gerrymandered corporations into the leading source of sanctions by (1) combining all corporate suits into one group; and (2) separating individual suits into three groups: individual tort suits with an attorney, individual non-tort suits with an attorney, and pro se suits. Once those 65 sanctions are divided into three different categories, only 22 of them are for represented individuals suing in tort, and 35 is 69% more than 22. Thus, says Public Citizen, corporate lawsuits are 69% more likely to be sanctioned than individual tort plaintiffs.

Except even this manipulatedly bogus statistic is wrong on its own terms. "More likely" requires a denominator. And, as Public Citizen points out, corporations file 3.3 to 5.8 times as many lawsuits as individual tort plaintiff, in part because half of all corporate suits are contract suits, and Public Citizen omitted individual contract suits from the other side of the equation. But only 1.7 times as many sanctions are issued to corporations. Do the junior-high-school math with denominators, and one finds that, in fact, using Public Citizen's data, individual tort plaintiffs represented by attorneys are between 107% and 264% more likely to be sanctioned for frivolous filings: Public Citizen and DMI got it precisely backwards. (NB also that Public Citizen's press release made the similar mathematically-illiterate error of translating "3.3 times as many lawsuits" into "3.3 times more likely to file a lawsuit," despite the absence of a comparable denominator: Costco, for example, engages in millions of times as many transactions as an individual.)

Peter Nordberg from Daubert On The Web has posted the first comment to Ted Frank's hyperventilation. Among his eight specific critiques of Ted's article is this arrow to the heart of the matter:

You've articulated a scathing critique of one English-language sentence, from a press release, summarizing the statistics. It's important, I agree, that sentences be accurate, in press releases and elsewhere. But the issue is also the numbers themselves. The following sentence, for example, would be a basically accurate summary of the Public Citizen numbers (with that caveat about the margin of error): "When a lawyer in a federal lawsuit is sanctioned for frivolous conduct, he's 69% more likely to be representing a business than to be representing an individual suing in tort." There isn't one right denominator, you know. It's a matter of what aspect of the numbers might interest someone. And if the question on the floor is who's responsible for the costs of the frivolous litigation that is supposedly placing such a damper on commerce, it's scant consolation, perhaps, if the responsible parties also bring a very high number of more meritorious suits.

I stand by my initial post and agree with Peter Nordberg's full and careful analysis of Ted Frank's critique of the methodology of the study.

I agree there is danger in reflexively regurgitating propaganda without thinking. (If nothing else, it sounds like it may be harmful or even deadly.) There is also danger in applying second grade math to statistical analysis. It may only impress the second graders among us.

September 28, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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A Whacky Editorial Defends Tobacco Companies

Category: In Your Face

Would it be whacky to allow a lawsuit against a developer who sold a swamp as subdivision lots? Or, a lawsuit against a drug manufacturer who sold a sugar pill as a cancer medication?

Somehow the LA Times has concluded it is whacky for purchasers of "light" cigarettes to sue tobacco companies on the grounds that there was nothing "light" about them, that they were not safer than ordinary cigarettes and that smokers of "light" cigarettes were getting sick as often as other smokers.

The editors need to have their own heads examined.

Wacky Tobacco Lawsuit

AN APPEALS COURT MUST DECIDE whether, as a matter of law, a federal judge in Brooklyn erred in refusing to block a class-action racketeering lawsuit against tobacco companies on behalf of millions of smokers of "light" cigarettes. But lay people are likely to scratch their heads over District Judge Jack B. Weinstein's decision to let this lawsuit proceed -- especially when they learn that the damage supposedly caused by the tobacco industry was to smokers' wallets, not their lungs.

That's right, the lawsuit certified by Weinstein alleges not that smokers of "light" cigarettes were made sick by the cigarettes they purchased but that they were misled into thinking that "light" and "low tar" cigarette designations meant they were safer. It's much easier to allege that people were duped by marketing than to show that they got sick from smoking. The lawyers bringing the suit seek to force tobacco companies to disgorge their "ill-gotten gains."

September 20, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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HCA And United Healthcare Having Trouble Dividing The Spoils

Category: In Your Face

It is not quite the O. J. Simpson Trial of the Century, but the looming court cases throughout the country pitting HCA against United Healthcare should be fascinating to follow. Basically, HCA wants to make more money and, surprise, United HealthCare wants to make more money.

My suggestion is that one of the companies should buy the other. Then, the HCA-United All-In-One Health Service can just continue gouging the public without all the internal strife.

United HealthCare sues HCA over tactics

Denver contract expired in August; talks have stalled

United HealthCare has sued HCA Inc. over what it sees as hardball negotiating tactics in an important Western market, upping the ante in a bitter fight over rates there.

United, the nation's No. 2 health insurer, asked a Colorado judge Monday to bar HCA from engaging in anti-competitive behavior that it says is eroding its business in the Denver area.

United's suit accuses HCA of using its dominance in Denver to wring unfair rates from United and other health insurers.

The dispute is one of several contentious battles between HCA and health insurance companies around the country. HCA and United are at odds in Miami, for instance, and HCA is battling another insurance company in Las Vegas over rates.

According to United's lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Denver, HCA has demanded a 35 percent increase in rates for commercial business over the next four years. United, which has about 400,000 customers in the city, says it has insisted on rates that are closer to the rate of inflation.

The disparity led HCA to cancel its contracts with United, effective Aug. 31.

As that date approached, HCA began using tactics that exploited its power in Denver -- the chain owns seven hospitals, 11 ambulatory surgery centers, 30 outpatient clinics and 70 percent of the city's mammography services -- and violated Colorado and federal antitrust laws, United says in the suit.

September 09, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Informed Consent Is Not A License To Kill

Category: In Your Face

Virtually every operation is performed only after the patient signs what is called an informed consent. The form usually lists a number of medical problems or injuries which could occur during the surgery, including death. By signing the form the patient is acknowledging the fact that serious complications could occur but, nonetheless, consents to the procedure.

Nowhere on the form does the patient consent to carelessness, incompetence, breaches of the standard of care, poor technique, inattention, recklessness or any other type of misconduct by the surgeon or his assistants.

Kevin, M.D. appears to have the mistaken impression that if misconduct by the surgeon produces an injury which happens to have been listed in the informed consent the surgeon should be home free. Sorry, Kevin. It doesn't work that way. You're thinking of Agent 007's license to kill.

Informed consent doesn't shield this neurosurgeon

A physician loses a malpractice case due to a known complication:

At trial, Wagner, OHSU's lawyer, told the jury that Ackerman's injury was a known risk of the surgery, and Ackerman had signed the consent form acknowledging that his doctor had educated him on complications.

September 06, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The "Hope" Of The Medical Profession Is For Greater Immunity

Category: In Your Face

You can almost see the author/doctor's anguished expression as he typed the title of his recent medical journal article.

What hope is there for meaningful tort reform to stop another malpractice crisis? J Fam Pract. 2006 Sep;55(9):782-6.

Might I suggest he change his question to: What hope is there for meaningful reduction in medical malpractice to stop the ongoing injuries and deaths of patients?

Hoping that the injuries and deaths can continue as usual while the rights of the victims are reduced does not seem like good medicine - but it does make good economic sense to the anguished doctor and his colleagues.

September 04, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Some Words Have This Odor About Them

Category: In Your Face

We all link music and art, but only a tiny minority of us is aware of the crossover of senses in our brains, according to a UCL (University College London) neuroscientist, speaking today at the BA Festival of Science. New research has found that vision and hearing are inextricably interlinked in everyone's brain, but only synaesthetes, who have a rare condition in which the senses mingle, are conscious of it.

From Medical News Today, Science Says Kandinsky Was Right - Paintings Can Be Heard.

Over the years I have discovered there is an inextricable interlink between vision and another sense - smell. The same is true with hearing and smell. I am generally able to immediately recognize a certain stench from something written or spoken by THE BIGS, Tobacco, Pharma, Corporations, Medicine, Insurance and their allies, particularly when they speak or write in criticism of our American civil justice system.

See if you get a whiff of the same foul odor from these sample pronouncements:

In a 1987 memo, Hamish Maxwell, then CEO of Philip Morris, discussed "this corporation's drive toward improving products liability law at the federal and state levels."

The American Legal System is out of control. Rising liability costs place a crippling burden on American businesses and have strained the ability of insurers to meet demand for liability coverages. Legislative tort reform, both at the state and federal levels and rigorous risk management are needed. - The Insurance Information Institute, AIG and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The $250,000 (damages) caps that we've passed in the state of California stabilized (medical malpractice) premiums somewhat, but we still have this awful, awful system. This is a terrible system. - William Plested III, president of the American Medical Association

To understand how THE BIGS have coordinated their foul-smelling propaganda for years:

THE CALA FILES - THE SECRET CAMPAIGN BY BIG TOBACCO AND OTHER MAJOR INDUSTRIES TO TAKE AWAY YOUR RIGHTS

For the last 15 years, insurance companies, manufacturers of dangerous products and chemicals, the tobacco industry and other major industries have been engaged in a nationwide assault on the civil justice system.

The goals of these attacks on the system are clear: to insulate corporations from lawsuits for their reckless behavior and to strip the rights of injured consumers who would be entitled to compensation. Threatened by the willingness of impartial juries to penalize them where it hurts most -- their bottom line -- corporations and their insurers are out to convince the public that the civil justice system is "out of control" and needs to be scaled back.

September 02, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Beware Of Downtown Attorneys Wearing Three-Piece Suits

Category: In Your Face

Today's longest journey for legal news is to South Africa and the website of Jacobson Attorneys.

Stretching the limits of legal marketing ...

There is a thread going around the legal blogosphere about the marketing tactics some law firms are employing. Some of these ads are regarded as somewhat problematic. One example of a particularly edgy ad is this video which was posted on YouTube by Steve Miller, a trial lawyer in Florida and Massachusetts.

I was about to write about the problem with this approach and approaches like it and then I stopped myself and asked myself why this is problematic? Should lawyers be permitted to advertise using this sort of content? I'm not talking about using multimedia to advertise but rather what is said in that ad. As Carolyn Elefant of MyShingle puts it:

Personally, I'm not sure why Miller chose to market to angry or disgruntled clients, because he doesn't have to. As Miller's website makes clear, Miller competes aggressively on price which I've always believed is both a credible and necessary approach not just for lawyers, but for clients priced out of the legal services market. But by attempting to appeal to people who call their spouse "vermin" or refer to their marriage as a "hell hole," Miller virtually guarantees that he's going to attract clients who are unreasonable and uncompromising. These clients may think of their spouses as vermin when they call to retain Miller, but I'm guessing that by the end of the case, they'll be referring to Miller as vermin as well. Sometimes you get the clients you deserve.

Carolyn Elefant focuses on the targeting of angry or disgruntled clients but only mentions the words the ad uses to describe the spouse or the marriage.

Miller also seeks to distinguish his firm from some piece of crap three-piece suit downtown [lawyer, I presume].

With ads of this tenor and focus we have entered the arena of professional wrestling.

August 24, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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I Salute Greedy Government Workers

Category: In Your Face

Steve Bartin, posting at NewsAlert, comments on the pensions of certain government workers. He refers to these particular workers as greedy, presumably because of the size of their pensions. Something about the post gives me the impression that Steve is using greedy in a derogatory way.

Maybe I am overly sensitive about the use of greedy since I have long been a Greedy Trial Lawyer. But, it seems to me that the Greedy Government Workers should wear the designation with pride. They have worked hard and negotiated even harder. The result is a pension that they deserve. It is one that should inspire other workers throughout the country to organize and seek.

The next time a greedy firefighter enters a burning building to look for a child in the back bedroom we should be blessing his greedy ass. Ditto when the corrections officer breaks up an attempted jail break and is bitten by an inmate.

Greedy Government Workers Can Retire in Their 40's

The New York Times has this comment on those very special people called government workers:

Urban park rangers and 911 operators can now retire with full pensions after 25 years on the job -- even if they're still in their 40's. Correction officers, emergency medical technicians, sanitation workers, firefighters and police officers who come down with heart disease can retire with pensions equal to three-quarters of their salary, exempt from state and local taxes. Ditto correction officers, police officers and firefighters who contract hepatitis, tuberculosis or H.I.V. Meanwhile, the city's pension plans may be facing a shortfall of up to $49 billion.

August 16, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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John Stossel Redux - Can He Be Saved?

Category: In Your Face

Blog 702 takes the time necessary to dissect the pathetic babbling of John Stossel in his recent column which concludes that our present civil justice system has suffocated innovation in America.

Stossel's words:

Sure, fear of the "invisible fist" makes manufacturers more careful. Some lives have been saved because the litigation threat got companies to make their products safer. That's the "seen" benefit.

But that benefit comes with a bigger unseen cost: The fear that stops the bad things stops good things, too -- new vaccines, new drugs, new medical devices. Fear suffocates the innovation that, over the past century, has helped extend our life spans by almost 30 years. Every day, we lose good things.

Wow! Who knows how long we will live if we close our courts to civil lawsuits?

Stossel's Story: A Polemic

We are violating our own prescription against polluting the national discourse on medical malpractice liability with partisan polemic. We're sorry, but we just can't help ourselves.

Having made its original appearance in the August 4 New York Sun, an anti-tort* column by ABC's John Stossel (you know, the guy who needs a break) has now been pressed into service as a retread at Point of Law.

It is a retread in more than one particular. In the space of a few short paragraphs, it deploys so many shopworn propagandistic parlor tricks that it's hard to keep track of them all.

Earlier, I had sent an open letter to Mr. Stossel expressing concern about his mental processes. Blog 702 has probably correctly diagnosed the situation as parlor trickery. In either case, John needs help.

August 02, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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An Open Letter To John Stossel, Myth-Buster

Category: In Your Face

Dear John Stossel:

Have you fallen on your head? Were you taken to an alien spaceship for a brain transplant? Are your ratings so far down that desperate ranting was recommended by your agent?

Your article,The Trial Lawyers' 'Justice' Myth, has a manic quality to it that rivals Ann Coulter at her best (and worst).

The Association of Trial Lawyers of America recently changed its name to the American Association for Justice. It may be a smart PR move, because everyone likes the word "justice," and apparently the name "trial lawyers" has acquired a negative tinge. It's good that it has, because although trial lawyers say they "protect the little guy," that's a myth. In truth, for every little guy they help, they hurt thousands.

[Obviously, a variation of "For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction."]

When those big medical malpractice awards hit the headlines, it sounds like the little guy was helped. "$1 million awarded to victim of medical device!" But the headline leaves out a great deal.

Nurses are terrified. Doctors can't sleep. Their hard-earned reputations are trashed by newspapers quoting plaintiffs' lawyers, who paint deceitful pictures of the doctors' incompetence and negligence.

Doctors become more secretive, talk less openly with patients and become averse to acknowledging any mistake.

[Now we know what's wrong with the medical profession - it's me.]

Sure, fear of the "invisible fist" makes manufacturers more careful. Some lives have been saved because the litigation threat got companies to make their products safer. That's the "seen" benefit.

But that benefit comes with a bigger unseen cost: The fear that stops the bad things stops good things, too -- new vaccines, new drugs, new medical devices. Fear suffocates the innovation that, over the past century, has helped extend our life spans by almost 30 years. Every day, we lose good things.

We can't even begin to imagine the life-saving products that might have existed -- if innovators didn't live in a climate of fear.

[For the good of mankind, I need to go.}

You need to seek medical attention quickly, John. I am afraid there may be a malignancy in your brain. Unfortunately, you will have to see one of the sleep-deprived, tight-lipped doctors using old medical devices. Try to avoid hospitalization, though. A terrified hospital nurse would likely give you at least one erroneous medication per day.

Greedy Trial Lawyer

August 01, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Michigan Rids Judiciary Of Jackasses And Nazis

Category: In Your Face

There may be "jackasses" on some appellate courts, but we lawyers cannot point them out. To do so would amount to "personal abuse" and subject the lawyer to disciplinary action. Lawyers also cannot compare judges to Nazis or Adolph Hitler. (In Michigan, at least.)

Would it be "personal abuse" to mention that a judge was ignorant of the law or inattentive or unprepared during oral argument? How about plain old lazy? Or, out of touch with reality?

My guess would be that in Michigan any of these comments would warrant a reprimand. The judicial branch of government may only be described by Michigan lawyers as magnificent, inspiring and totally fair. I am reminded of the line in a Disney movie: If you can't say something nice... don't say nothing at all.

Mich. Supreme Court reprimands lawyer

The Michigan Supreme Court on Monday reprimanded an outspoken lawyer for "vulgar and crude" attacks against appeals court judges, whom he likened during radio appearances to Nazis.

The court voted 4-3 to reprimand Geoffrey Fieger for twice appearing on Detroit-areas radio shows in 1999 and calling state Court of Appeals judges "jackasses" and other names. The judges had angered Fieger by overturning a $15 million medical malpractice judgment he had won.

Fieger - best known for defending assisted-suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian - also likened the judges to Adolph Hitler and other Nazis.
Fieger argued he and other lawyers have a First Amendment right to publicly criticize judges. The Michigan Attorney Discipline Board agreed in a 2004 ruling, but the grievance board that filed the complaint against Fieger appealed to the state's high court.

In the majority opinion, Chief Justice Clifford Taylor concluded Fieger's broadcast remarks were "nothing more than personal abuse."

The dissent said Fieger's speech was political and should be protected under the U.S. Constitution.

July 27, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Let The Shunning Begin

Category: In Your Face

In the latest effort to enable doctors to shun patients who sue, an offshore company has launched an Internet site that lists the names of plaintiffs who have filed medical malpractice cases in Florida and their attorneys.

This development, reported at Web Site Encourages Blacklist of Med-Mal Plaintiffs, has opened the door for a website I have been contemplating for some time. I would call it TerribleTreatment.com (if that name is still available.) On it would be posted the medical expert reviews finding clear evidence of terrible medical care that did not lead to the filing of a medical malpractice case. My estimate would be that for every medical malpractice case that is filed more than 10 other cases of documented terrible care are reviewed. The declined terrible care cases are not pursued as lawsuits because of the legal and economic barriers that have been erected to protect the medical profession from itself.

The public should be able to shun doctors who provide terrible medical care.

More about the patient shunning website:

The site, LitiPages.com, encourages doctors to consider avoiding patients who are listed in the database, and it strongly encourages plaintiffs who have lost their cases at trial to turn around and sue their plaintiffs attorney.

"If your attorney proceeded with a lawsuit without warning you of the risks involved, you may be the victim of Legal Malpractice and may be entitled to compensation," the site states.

The new Web site is likely to trigger a fresh round of acrimony between doctors and plaintiffs lawyers in their long-running war over medical malpractice litigation. Plaintiffs lawyers and medical ethics experts say the LitiPages.com site is unethical.

Andrew Yaffa, a plaintiffs attorney at Grossman Roth Olin Meadow Cohen Yaffa Pennekamp & Cohen in Boca Raton, Fla., called the site "disgusting." Yaffa said "it's a devious attempt to intimidate people from pursuing their rights."

The registered operator of the Web site, Medico-Judicial Online Media, has begun gathering data on Florida medical malpractice cases filed after July 4, said company spokesman Vishal Castun. The operators plan to make the database available for free starting next July, and eventually hope to publish a database covering medical malpractice cases across the United States.

Castun said the site does not take any formal position on whether doctors should screen out patients based on whether they are listed in the database. The Web site will simply "report the news," he said.

But the language on the site clearly encourages doctors to avoid such patients.

The Web site suggests that doctors also should consider refusing elective care to plaintiffs attorneys who bring the medical malpractice cases that did not result in plaintiff verdicts.

Bill Allen, program director for the University of Florida medical school's bioethics, law and medical professionalism program, said the site treads on thin ethical ice.

July 19, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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A Little Hypocrisy At Overlawyered?

Category: In Your Face

Ted Frank at Overlawyered takes on ATLA's attack on reform supporters.

Evan Schaeffer was very excited by the fact that ATLA made its Trial magazine attack on reform freely available on line, so I clicked over to see what the fuss was. The first story I looked at was Justinian Lane's "Corporate wolves in victims' clothing," which featured, among various baseless assertions and screeds about high executive salaries, the following strawman:

And the next time someone brings up Stella Liebeck and the McDonald's coffee case, ask why a $2 million lawsuit over third-degree burns to a woman's genitals is frivolous, but a $5 billion lawsuit over Donald Trump's ego isn't.

Fascinating. What fictional reformer supports Donald Trump's lawsuit? Certainly not the main author of this site, who has repeatedly scoffed at it. Where's the hypocrisy? ... Lane's claim that proposed reforms wouldn't affect Trump's case is absolutely false; reforms such as anti-SLAPP laws, loser-pays, procedural streamlining, and limiting forum-shopping would all cabin the ability of a Trump to attempt to use litigation to intimidate critics.

Ted Frank apparently believes tort reformers are not hypocrites because it is remotely possible that some reforms would slightly impact lawsuits other than those brought by average Americans injured by wrongful acts. Ted needs to accept and acknowledge the true mission of tort reform, not the miniscule collateral damage that a few of its missiles might do to the Donald Trump crowd. Get serious, Ted. We all know what the impact is of a $100,000 or $200,000 cap on non-economic damages upon the claim of a young quadriplegic? We all know MONEY in the pockets of the big guys trumps JUST COMPENSATION for the little guys.

July 11, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Florida Supreme Court Tells Us Just How Bad Cigarettes Really Are

Category: In Your Face

The headline of the article pretty well summarizes the court decision:

Florida Supreme Court Finds Cigarettes Kill - But Take a Number and Get in Line to Get Money

Reading the findings of the Florida Supreme Court makes me feel that the $145 Billion punitive damage award was not enough given the facts. Here is how the article at ePluribus Media sees things -

On Wednesday, the Florida State Supreme Court threw out the punitive damages award of $145 billion previously granted by a lower court to a class of approximately 700,000 Floridian plaintiffs suing cigarette companies for their medical injuries from smoking in Florida.

The reality is that, although it is a victory for tobacco companies, it is not an absolute one.

The Florida State Supreme Court also found that:

1. Smoking cigarettes causes aortic aneurysm, bladder cancer, cerebrovascular disease, cervical cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary heart disease, esophageal cancer, kidney cancer, laryngeal cancer, lung cancer (specifically, adenocarinoma, large cell carcinoma, small cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma), complications of pregnancy, oral cavity/tongue cancer, pancreatic cancer, peripheral vascular disease, pharyngeal cancer, and stomach cancer)

2. Nicotine in cigarettes is addictive.

3. The defendants placed cigarettes on the market that were defective and unreasonably dangerous.

4. The defendants concealed or omitted material information not otherwise.
known or available knowing that the material was false or misleading or failed to disclose a material fact concerning the health effects or addictive nature of smoking cigarettes or both.

5. All of the defendants agreed to misrepresent information relating to the health effects of cigarettes or the addictive nature of cigarettes with the intention that smokers and the public would rely on this information to their detriment.

6. The defendants agreed to conceal or omit information regarding the health effects of cigarettes or their addictive nature with the intention that smokers and the public would rely on this information to their detriment.

This ruling means that every one of the approximately 700,000 original class action plaintiffs can re-file and sue as individuals with the support of the findings of the court which means they now must only prove that they actually individually suffered injuries (as opposed to having to prove that cigarettes can actually injure).

Now, the process of each of the remaining 699,997 individuals having to seek out and secure lawyers (let alone good ones) while suffering from the debilitating effects of their tobacco induced medical condition, are challenging to say the least.

Moreover, the dissolution of the class action means that now every case for punitive damages must be individually addressed as a separate suit, further burdening the courts with duplicitous lawsuits that could have been handled efficiently by one court and one judge.

June 30, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Greedy Trial Lawyers Crusade Against Fun

Category: In Your Face

Kudos to the Center for Individual Freedom for capturing the essence of being a Greedy Trial Lawyer. CFIF says we are bent on making a quick buck from even the most trivial lawsuit. I do have a slight criticism, however. I believe it should be quick bucks.

I also like the idea of being part of a crusade. It conjures up an image of riding a magnificent steed, wearing shining armor and carrying a colorful banner proclaiming Down With Fun.

Crusade Against Fun Continues

Fun? Who wants fun? Fun is so last year.

For starters, we can thank the greedy trial lawyers bent on making a quick buck from even the most trivial lawsuit. They've created a climate where insurance companies, school lawyers and administrators have to go to ridiculous lengths to limit possible liability. (Ever wonder why every aspirin and vitamin has to be turned over to the school nurse. Otherwise, it would only be a matter of time before some kid OD'd on vitamins.) [I have never wondered why - it is part of our Crusade Against Fun.]

The extreme measures that schools employ to protect themselves from liability mean preventing kids from doing things they might enjoy, especially if those things involve the slightest risk.

The Mission of CFIF:

Founded in 1998, the Center for Individual Freedom is a non-partisan, non-profit organization with the mission to protect and defend individual freedoms and individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

The Center seeks to focus public, legislative and judicial attention on the rule of law as embodied in the federal and state constitutions. Those fundamental documents both express and safeguard society's commitment to individual freedom, not only through specific protections such as the Bill of Rights, but also through structural protections that constrain and disperse governmental authority.

In addition, the Center seeks to foster intellectual discourse by bringing together independent thinkers to examine broad-ranging issues of individual freedom in our global society. While the Center is decidedly for individual freedom, scholars and legal authorities who share that same basic philosophy differ as to the application of those principles in the complex world in which we live. The Center strives for balanced debate that encourages conflict resolution where there is tension between the rights of individuals and the requirements of government, as well as between individuals.

Are we having fun yet?

June 10, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Thank You, Reader's Digest, For The Kind Words About Lawyers

Category: In Your Face

I appreciate the publicity given to my profession by the Reader's Digest in a newly published article.

That's Outrageous: Lawsuit Lunacy

There's big money in blaming others for your own bad luck. Too bad it costs all of us.

With greedy lawyers poised to take advantage of every goofy mishap, dreams of big bucks have replaced common sense.

It is good to know that our efforts are noted and understood. We trial lawyers do look behind apparent bad luck when it causes injury to see if there is a legally liable entity sponsoring it. Nowadays, we find a lot of bad luck is caused by evildoers or just ordinary wrongdoers. Unfortunately, evildoers or wrongdoers who inflict this bad luck on the rest of us do end up costing the wrongfully injured and the rest of society.

And, yes, I am a greedy lawyer poised to take advantage of even a goofy mishap, like when a hospital kills a young mother because the nurse gives her four times the prescribed drug. Pretty goofy, but hard on the survivors.

It is even true that thinking of obtaining substantial compensation for a wrongfully injured person makes me try to overcome prejudices and attitudes such as those expressed by the Reader's Digest.

Am I guilty as charged? Yep.

June 07, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Score One For Plaintiffs' Medical Experts

Category: In Your Face

A North Carolina Court has thrown out the disciplinary action of the State's Medical Board against a plaintiff's expert witness.

The surest way to reduce the pool of potential plaintiffs' experts is to impose disciplinary actions whenever one has the fortitude to call it like he sees it in the courtroom. I do not know Dr. Lustgarten, but I know his discipline was not because he acted unprofessionally (as claimed by the Medical Board). He dared to criticize the care of a North Carolina physician.

Court voids doctor's punishment

Testimony angered oversight board

A Florida brain surgeon was vindicated by the state Court of Appeals when it ruled Tuesday that he was wrongly disciplined for his testimony in a medical malpractice case.

The case attracted attention from medical groups, who saw Dr. Gary Lustgarten as a "hired gun" brought in to back a frivolous lawsuit. It also drew notice from lawyers, who saw him as the scapegoat of doctors seeking to punish anyone who questioned the competence of their colleagues.

In 2002, the N.C. Medical Board stripped Lustgarten, a neurosurgeon who practices in Miami, of the right to practice in North Carolina after he testified in court that a Fayetteville brain surgeon might have omitted incriminating details from his operative notes after a patient died. Lustgarten said the North Carolina doctors provided substandard care.

The medical board said Lustgarten behaved unprofessionally and voted to revoke his license. Lustgarten appealed the decision to a Wake County Superior Court judge. The judge threw out part but not all of the board's punishment, and Lustgarten pressed his case to the state Court of Appeals.

In a unanimous ruling, the higher court said the board was wrong to assert that Lustgarten made a "groundless accusation" during testimony against the North Carolina doctor. Instead, the appeals court said, Lustgarten stated a medical basis for his comments. Further, the opinion states, Lustgarten did not testify that the operative notes might have been softened to conceal negligence "until pressed to do so on cross-examination."

Thomas Mansfield, the N.C. Medical Board's chief prosecutor, said the board remains convinced it had ample reason to discipline Lustgarten. He said the board's 12 members, eight of whom are doctors, are best able to interpret medical testimony and determine whether it is based on sound medical knowledge and reasoning.

June 01, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Constitutionally Unconscionable - Punitive Damages Or Outrageous Corporate Conduct?

Category: In Your Face

The Law Blog of the Wall Street Journal has tip-toed into the subject of punitive damages. I would like to stomp around the outrageous conduct that necessarily supports punitive damages a bit myself.

Excerpts from The Supreme Court and Punitive Damages

Juries have no place awarding huge sums in punitive damages for alleged wrongdoing that has never been proved in court, writes Financial Times legal columnist Patti Waldmeir.

In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision earlier this week to take up the hot-button issue of punitive damages next term, Waldmeir looks at the questions the Court will address:

Should jurors be allowed to punish defendants for harm they may cause to people who are not party to the suit? Is that necessary to deter corporate wrongdoing? Or is it economically counter- productive - and constitutionally unconscionable - to hit corporate defendants with damages in three-figure millions for each case of wrongdoing?

I believe it is constitutionally unconscionable for the U.S. Supreme Court, after just stocking itself with two pro-business justices, to consider abolishing the only mechanism left to the citizen-victims of our country to get the attention of a reckless, fraudulent or malicious corporation. Unless the corporate wallet is significantly lightened by an occasional punitive damage award for outrageous (not careless) conduct corporate bad actors will simply continue to factor into the cost of a product the additional "cost" of injuries and deaths caused by it. Have we all forgotten the Ford memos that candidly factored in the future "costs" of the expected burned and killed passengers of the poorly designed Pinto with its exploding gas tank?

June 01, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Doctor's Advocate Takes "Free Swings" At Malpractice Crisis

Category: In Your Face

At Doctor's Advocate, a website created to peddle legal services to the medical profession under the banner of the malpractice crisis, the three culprits responsible for the crisis are identified.

The crisis stems from:

*Trial lawyers who are paid on a contingency basis and, due to the nature of many legal systems, are allowed to take "free swings" at physicians in the courtroom. There is no disincentive and nothing to lose by suing a doctor.

*Insurance companies that are forced to settle in court to keep from paying outrageous legal fees. But settling on a doctor's behalf is an indirect "admission of guilt" by the physician. Not only does this trend drive up insurance premiums, but it affects the physician for the rest of his or her career.

*Physicians who betray their colleagues by serving as "hired gun" medical experts and testify against their fellow doctors

Not even one footnote about medical errors is included.

Is it remotely possible that many insurance companies settle malpractice claims because they determine that a jury will properly decide there was a breach of the standard of care?

When did it become more important for physicians not to testify against their fellow doctors than to provide honest testimony that a breach of the standard of care has occurred?

Should trial lawyers be required to ignore breaches of the standard of care that result in serious injury?

By the way, anyone who says trial lawyers are allowed to take "free swings" at physicians in the courtroom is, how shall I put this, trying to drum up business.

Doctor's Advocate knows better. But, "free swings" sells.

May 26, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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New York's Federal District Court A Judicial Hellhole

Category: In Your Face

I am APPALLED!! Once again our court system has been hijacked by greedy corporate lawyers who have bamboozled a pliable jury into awarding outrageous compensatory damages and, HORRORS, almost $100 Million in punitive damages.

The defendant corporation was obviously just doing the best it could in the business world. If verdicts like this continue corporations will move to other, more friendly locales. We must shut down the New York Federal District Court or, at least, engrave Judicial Hellhole above its door.

New York jury awards $125 million to California manufacturer

NEW YORK (AP) -- A federal jury has awarded $125 million in damages to OSI Systems Inc., a Southern California maker of airport security-detection systems, after lawyers successfully argued that a dispute with L-3 Communications Inc. caused it to lose substantial business after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The jury in U.S. District Court in Manhattan awarded $33 million in compensatory damages and $92.6 million in punitive damages, finding that L-3 Communications engaged in malice, oppression or intentional fraud as the two companies sought to acquire a third company, Perkin Elmer Security Detection Systems, in 2002.

May 11, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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R.I.P. - "Frivolous Lawsuits"

Category: In Your Face

Where and when will we conduct the burial service for the medical malpractice frivolous lawsuit?

A Harvard study published in today's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine can be read at the wake.

'Frivolous' Claims Make Up Small Share of Malpractice Suits

New research shows that most malpractice litigation results from legitimate claims, and that eliminating "frivolous" lawsuits won't improve things.

"Some people have suggested that the system is overrun with frivolous litigation. Our findings don't support that," said study author David M. Studdert, an associate professor of health policy and management at Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston. "The system is doing a reasonable job of channeling compensation to the right sorts of claims."

"These findings are absolutely no surprise to any of us in the policy community. They are consistent with everything we suspected and learned from research over last 20 years, which is that the major problem out there is medical errors that are not compensated, rather than frivolous claims that are compensated," added Dr. William Sage, a professor of law at Columbia University in New York City.

May 05, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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I Am Everyman - I Am Power - I Am Influence

Category: In Your Face

I can sense the rising power of my keystrokes and the expanding influence of my greedy thoughts. Can you hear me now?

Blogs grow in numbers, power and influence - Once far outside the mainstream, now often part of the national dialogue

They are the new age opinion page -- Internet blogs written by big names and no names -- and this week they even had the White House on the defensive.

On April 28, President George Bush, discussing the National Anthem being sung in Spanish, said, "I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English."

When bloggers pointed out that a book claims Mr. Bush once sang the anthem in Spanish, the White House responded it was absurd.

What started as lonely voices from laptops are a growing influence in the mainstream media. Most every news outlet -- including our own -- now has at least one.

"It used to be a few gatekeepers at the top decided what the topics of the national conversations were going to be," says Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.com. "Now it bubbles up from the bottom."

The voice of the everyman is growing louder and being heard everywhere.

From MSNBC

Let me get this off my chest: If anyone wants to sing our national anthem in Spanish, especially on Cinco de Mayo, I say, Go For It! Abogado de Ensayo Codicioso

April 30, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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My Whore Is Better Than Your Whore

Category: In Your Face

Over at Kevin, M.D., there is a worthwhile post regarding Legal and medical evidence. What really caught my greedy eye, however, was the comment of an ER doctor:

I am a board certified ER doctor with many distinguished awards. A physician who completed one year of a pediatric residency for her training and who had not practiced in EM in over 15 years testified against me.

It doesn't take any "credentials" to be an "expert" witness, just some desperation and willingness to whore oneself.

Anonymous

Special Note to Mr. Distinguished ER Doc: I am sure your own whores were board-certified and very distinguished ER doctors who, under the questioning of your crack defense attorneys, fully testified that you far exceeded the standards even in the world's finest ER rooms. I am hoping that the jury determined the Plaintiff's whore was telling the TRUTH.

April 17, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Doctors Feel New Genes Needed In Their Ranks

Category: In Your Face

I just read a heartrending article in the Orlando Business Journal, Doctors advise children not to be physicians. Excerpts are below. Be sure you have a hankie before you read even these three paragraphs.

Nearly 80 percent of Florida doctors responding to a recent survey conducted by The Doctors Co., a physician-owned medical liability insurer, say that the growing threat of lawsuits makes them hesitant to recommend a medical career to their children.

The survey results illustrate that the fear of groundless malpractice lawsuits greatly reduces the quality of professional life for physicians and may be steering the best and brightest of tomorrow's generation into other careers....

The practice of medicine in Florida is clearly a profession in crisis. Two-thirds of the doctors in the survey who had parents in medicine said they were encouraged to follow them into practice; today, four out of every five Florida doctors are now inclined to discourage their children from a medical career. Almost 45 percent of Florida doctors who participated in the survey now say they regret their own decision to enter medicine because of medical liability concerns, compared to 30 percent nationwide.

With over 90% of the medical errors never resulting in even a consultation with an attorney the Business Journal or The Doctors Co. may wish to thank the present doctors for eliminating their genes from the ranks of tomorrow's doctors. We may be able to save about 100,000 patient lives by bringing in some new blood.

From USA Today:

As many as 98,000 Americans still die each year because of medical errors despite an unprecedented focus on patient safety over the last five years, according to a study released today.

April 15, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Junk Lawsuits Harder To Find Than Weapons Of Mass Destruction In Iraq

Category: In Your Face

The President of the U.S., faced with more than a few credibility problems concerning the war in Iraq, is trotting out his campaign to eliminate "junk lawsuits" (previously know as "frivolous lawsuits"). Day On Torts reports on the response from ATLA and then provides a factual refutation of the need for tort reform.

ATLA Takes On The President

(Washington, DC)--ATLA CEO Jon Haber issued the following statement in response to Bush's attacks today on the civil justice system:

"It would take the President less than a minute to discover the number of physicians is on the rise, not declining, and that the reason for inflated malpractice insurance premiums is directly attributable to insurance industry greed. Bush carelessly throws around terms like 'junk lawsuits.' But the civil justice system he is attacking protects families who lose children as the result of medical negligence and patients who suffer devastating injuries -- all of whom deserve accountability. So it appears the 'plethora of lawsuits' the President referred to must be buried out there somewhere with the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."

I propose a special task force to search for any relationship between the proposals of the President and his fellow tort reformers and the elimination of junk lawsuits. We could use the experts who scoured Iraq for the WMD. Every litigator already knows that tort reform is not intended to eradicate junk lawsuits, but the bait and switch by the President continues. We seem to require a task force or commission these days before anything is accepted as fact.

April 02, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Join "Patients Against Infections"

Category: In Your Face

Maybe we need an organization named Patients Against Infections. There are plenty of reports that hospital-acquired infections are becoming a major problem for patients. Yet, the focus of the tort reformers continues to be on avoiding legal liability for the very practices that are causing the epidemic. I propose that half the money spent on the eradication of Greedy Trial Lawyers be directed to infection control in our nation's hospitals. If this works, then I have some other suggestions for places to put the rest of the money.

From Day On Torts:

Cost of Infections

The Washington Post tells us that hospital-acquired infections cost more than $600M per year - and that is just in Pennsylvania!

An excerpt from the article: "Doctors, nurses and patients' relatives have long known the risks of contracting an infection while in a hospital. But there has been little quantifiable data available on the cost of those infections, from a financial or a medical perspective. The average hospital payment for a Pennsylvania patient who did not have an infection was $8,078, compared with $60,678 for patients who did, according to the report by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council."

Wouldn't it be nice if doctors and hospitals spent their time and money trying to prevent infections rather than trying to reduce their financial responsibility for negligence? The cost of malpractice insurance in a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of hospital-acquired infections.

MSNBC had this report in 2005:

Hospital-acquired infections rising, study finds

WASHINGTON - Hospital-acquired infections are worsening in the United States, even though the problem is widely recognized, according to a report issued Monday.

And the problem of such infections provides a good indication of which hospitals are prone to errors overall, the report, from Colorado-based Health Grades Inc, finds.

"Hospital-acquired infections rates worsened by approximately 20 percent from 2000 to 2003 and accounted for 9,552 deaths and $2.60 billion, almost 30 percent of the total excess cost related to the patient safety incidents," the company said in its report.

Continue reading "Join "Patients Against Infections""

March 22, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Microphone Is Open At WhatMakesUsSick

Category: In Your Face

A public forum, WhatMakesUsSick, is seeking stories from doctors to support tort reform efforts.

Step to the Mic

Since launching this forum back in 2005, we've written about a lot of WhatMakesUsSick. Docs getting squeezed by malpractice insurance premiums, here. Patients dealing with aloof, callous health care providers, here. Elected leaders getting busy, here.

Now we want to hear from you.

We want docs to vent about defensive medicine and what it's like to practice now. Maybe your spouse or child had a ER nightmare. How about a truly frivolous malpractice lawsuit. Step up and tell your story. Changing the system begins with you.

I borrowed the microphone briefly to post the first comment about a doctor who killed his patient by prescribing lethal doses of narcotics. If victims of medical malpractice have a story to tell the microphone is open 24 hours a day.

March 21, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Are Some Primary Care Doctors Greedy?

Category: In Your Face

Over at Kevin, M.D., the comments are beginning to turn nasty after Kevin posted excerpts from AMA tips to avoid malpractice.

The AMA gives tips to avoid malpractice (subscription required). Some choice quotes:

"'The standard of care in medical malpractice is a failure by physicians to use 'reasonable' judgment, but the public expects it to be perfect.' . . .

. . . Family doctors and internists especially, when they are unsure, should refer patients to specialists, 'and cancer should be a first, not a last, consideration'"

Sample comments so far:

How are we ever going to solve the problem of escalating health care costs if we continue this spiral of constant defensive medicine. Think cancer first. Order an MRI for every pain. Refer everyone to specialists. It's impossible for a doctor to practice medicine anymore, especially a primary care doctor. I'm getting out.

They shouldn't be telling us to order more tests, they should be spending their money greasing politicians and paying for golf junkets and teenage hookers for the democrats in order to get tort reform passed.

Speaking for the unfortunate patient who happens to have cancer I would humbly suggest that when you primary care docs are unsure, what is wrong with referring to a specialist and thinking cancer first, not last?

I may be greedy, but it sounds like some primary care docs are brain dead or lazy or greedy, too.

March 15, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Frivolous Lawsuits Versus Frivolous Defenses

Category: In Your Face

Someone has posted an extremely fair and balanced article about Frivolous Lawsuits and Defenses on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. I appreciate the even-handed discription of two concepts. My personal estimate would be that for every legitimate lawsuit there is at least one or two Frivolous Defenses filed. Yet, this national blight on our system of justice goes largely unreported.

"Frivolous lawsuits" is a phrase that refers to actions at law or "lawsuits" that lack legal or factual merit or have only marginal legal or factual merit. The phrase is somewhat amorphous and prone to interpretation (e.g. what one person considers to be frivilous another may consider to have merit).

Any discussion of frivolous lawsuits warrants equal time discussing "frivolous defenses." "Frivolous defenses" refers to any position taken by a defendant in a legal action or lawsuit that lacks factual or legal merit or has only marginal factual or legal merit. It is often associated with positions taken by the criminally accused, where innovative or so called "twinkie" defenses are raised by a defendant in a desperate attempt to avoid responsibility for a criminal act. Frivilous defenses are also commonly motivated by the insurance and medical industry as an attempt to statistically reduce or prevent payment on bodily injury claims and lawsuits.

Frivolous lawsuits and frivolous defenses are equally harmful to the legal system and society. Frivolous defenses in particular perpetuate a systematic avoidance of basic accountability when our society's laws of responsibility have been breached. Frivolous defenses increase the cost of litigation and clog the court system, and often wastefully enrich defense law firms and defense oriented expert witnesses (particularly in bodily injury and medical malpractice litigation where expert witness testimony is nearly always required to address the issues), and often force the loss or abandonment of an otherwise legitimate lawsuit or claim. Frivolous defenses also systematically erode at basic civic lessons taught early in life (e.g. to accept responsibility for one's actions rather than deny or deflect responsibility) and encourage irresponsible conduct in adults, professionals, and corporate leadership.

In recent years the insurance and medical industry has capitalized on the phrase "frivolous lawsuits" and has incorporated it into modern political and social lexicon as a form of propoganda. Still in more recent years, the phrase "frivolous defenses" has also gained recognition as identifying a widespread and common problem of responsibility avoidance in our justice system and society at large.

February 18, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Nothing Frivolous About The Natalee Holloway Lawsuit

Category: In Your Face

Natalee Holloway has disappeared. Her parents are trying through every legal means at their disposal to determine the facts of the disappearance. It appears that they have filed a civil lawsuit which may permit them to undertake discovery, including depositions. I see nothing frivolous about this effort. If it were my daughter and I learned what the Holloway's have learned since Natalee's disappearance my lawsuit would have been filed long before now.

But, there are those who cannot resist designating one lawsuit or another frivolous. It has become a national sport to be the first to pin the label on a Complaint. I cite one example of frivolous mania below.

Twitty, Holloway Lawsuit Most Likely Going Nowhere we are informed by the Riehl World View.

A lawsuit has apparently been filed lacking any substantive facts, based solely on the single-minded and misguided hyperbole we've been witnessing on Fox News.

None of this goes to whether Joran Van Der Sloot is guilty of any crime, or not. And that's a question I can't claim to answer. But the lack of a charge or conviction in a tragic case does not give anyone the right to harass another individual or family with what amounts to a frivolous lawsuit.

Based on all knowable facts at this time, I suspect any judge or jury would likely conclude that Natalee Holloway could just as easily have fallen victim to an unknown perpetrator on the way back to her hotel, including another Mountain Brook resident, taken her own life as a result of emotional issues complicated by intoxication, died accidentally from drowning, or been murdered by Joran Van Der Sloot.

As I doubt any evidence will point to one scenario over another, it's likely the lawsuit should simply be dismissed.

February 17, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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In Defense Of Greed

Category: In Your Face

Have you ever thought about why most people seek the services of a greedy trial lawyer when they have been injured? Why is it that someone who would normally not hire a greedy accountant or a greedy doctor would prefer greediness in a personal injury lawyer?

Let me digress for a moment in order to show you the logic of this apparent inconsistency. If you were wrongly accused of murder would you seek out the kindest criminal defense attorney in the community or the baddest? If you would pick the baddest you are half way to understanding the appeal of greediness.

The next step is to understand that trial lawyers who represent victims are not paid by the hour or the task as are accountants or doctors. They agree to accept a percentage of the recovery they are able to achieve and do not collect any fee if no recovery occurs. In addition, it is almost universal that the trial lawyer advances the costs necessary to prosecute the claim.

At about this point you should be understanding why a greedy trial lawyer ultimately works hardest for the largest recovery. The greater the award or settlement, the greater the fee. And, the greater the net recovery to the injured victim.

You can post any flaws in this scenario by commenting. But, I haven't heard one with any substance yet.

February 09, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Collaterally Estopped Is Fatally Flawed

Category: In Your Face

Jurispunk posts an introspective on Collaterally Estopped that sickens me. Here is Jurispunk, who seems to be just aimlessly drifting through law school, talking:

Motivation

For some odd reason, the further I go through this law school experience, the less motivated I am to finish it. I will finish. There is no doubt about that. But I am wondering whether I really want to.

Hopefully, it [life after law school] will be what I make of it. I am not going to get a job offered to me. I am going to have to scratch and claw my way into whatever job I do get. Either that or ease myself back into my former career. Neither sounds too attractive.

Jurispunk also posts this self description: Once a confident man, I am now a law student with a lackluster transcript - a future attorney with little to no future.

Special message to Jurispunk: Nobody can scratch and claw without passion and desire. Please do all of us and yourself a favor and drop out of law school. If you cannot find the strength to do that I support your alternative plan - ease yourself back into your former career after law school. Not every lawyer has to be greedy, but every lawyer needs passion and desire. You are lacking both.

February 03, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Is Your iPod A Dangerously Defective Product? Hear Me Out

Category: In Your Face

Suppose you discovered that thousands of innocent people were at risk for sustaining a serious and permanent injury as a result of using a dangerous product. Would you do something to stop the carnage? Should you do something? Well, John Patterson of San Jose did and is catching flack for his efforts. So is his greedy trial lawyer.

Posted at Pixelbomb:

A man has sued Apple claiming that iPods can lead to hearing loss and do not come with enough warning labels.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of John Kiel Patterson in a district court in San Jose, California. He wants it to be a class action.

The lawsuit says the iPod can generate more than 115 decibels, a level that could damage hearing to a user exposed for more than 28 seconds a day.

Mr Patterson's lawyer, Steve W Berman, told Associated Press news agency that his client did not know if he had suffered hearing loss but that was not the issue.

Is this guy serious? This is just more proof that there are A) too many lawyers with too much time on their hands, and B) too many greedy/stupid people who take advantage of "A".

January 28, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Judge Takes Four Years To Notice A Case Is Frivolous

Category: In Your Face

My personal definition of frivolous would require that within, say, a 6 month period it would be apparent to any reasonable judge. When a judge takes 4 years to notice frivolousness I have to think he was not minding the store. At the end of four years of litigation a claim may be dismissed for a failure of proof, just as a defense may be disallowed for lack of evidence. However, to call a claim or a defense frivolous after it has survived for 4 years is laughable. A judge who could announce such a ruling might be labeled inattentive or obtuse or, more likely, wrong.

The story of the sleeping judge is reported on George's Employment Blawg:

In a recent ruling, EEOC was sanctioned $1 million for filing what the judge ruled was a frivolous lawsuit.

Some of the details of this case are:

EEOC had filed a discrimination lawsuit [in 2001] against Robert L. Reeves & Associates, a law firm specializing in immigration law. The lawsuit asserted that there had been harassment and discrimination going on at the law firm.

The law firm maintained that the charges were made up by former law associates, who intended to ruin the firm.

The judge accused the EEOC of "unreasonable and just plain mean-spirited" conduct. Not surprisingly, EEOC is appealing the ruling.

January 27, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Candidate For Florida Governor Babbles Incoherently Before Florida Chamber Of Commerce Trustees

Category: In Your Face

OK. Maybe what came out of Tom Gallagher's mouth was in English and understandable. But, it was a bucket of Tort Reform gibberish. The man has declared open war on the rights of injured victims to seek compensation in our system of justice.

One of his biggest targets is the slip-and-fall premises case. Mr. Tom claims the present court rules on these cases are unfair to the business owner, frequently a supermarket. He thinks the injured patron should be required to prove more in order to permit a jury to determine whether the supermarket's negligence created or permitted the dangerous liquid to be on the floor. The problem is that his thinking is dervied from the Tort Reform Hymnal, not reality.

Continue reading "Candidate For Florida Governor Babbles Incoherently Before Florida Chamber Of Commerce Trustees"

January 27, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Texas Republican Party Fears Texas Trial Lawyer Sharks

Category: In Your Face

You would think that Texas Republicans would be macho hombres who would fear neither man nor beast nor fish. I mean, President Bush certainly walks the walk and talks the talk. Isn't "Bring 'em on!" the Texas State motto?

Well, all may not be as it seems. An article posted on Law.com describes some pretty whiney Republican wimps who fear that the trial lawyer sharks are about to eat them alive. I guess even manly men trying to do their Tort Reform thing can panic when they see shark fins circling.

Report: Trial Lawyers Are Sharks Biting at Tort Reform

A conservative group contends in a new report that Texas trial lawyers are sharks and that the state Republican Party is their prey.

Texans for Texas, a nonprofit organization, warns in the "shark watch" alert, e-mailed to grassroots conservatives on Jan. 16, that trial lawyers have infiltrated the Republican Party to thwart tort reforms.

In the 19-page report, illustrated throughout with pictures of sharks and brightly colored graphics, the group contends that personal-injury lawyers, including Fred Baron, John Eddie Williams and W. Mark Lanier, have quietly poured money into Republican campaigns and organizations in an attempt to drive a wedge through the Republican Party on civil justice issues.

"They [trial lawyers] covertly recruit and fund candidates for GOP primaries," the group contends in its report.

"We're just wanting conservatives to understand who's writing checks to what candidates," says Janelle Shepard, executive director of Texans for Texas and former Parker County Republican Party chairwoman.

Williams, a partner in Houston's Williams Bailey, says he has supported Republicans, Democrats and independents.

"I support people who support a system that allows trials by jury, as allowed in the Constitution, and holding wrongdoers accountable," Williams says.


January 20, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Bad Manners Get Defense Doctor Sued For Medical Malpracitce

Category: In Your Face

In every personal injury lawsuit the defense is permitted at least one examination by a defense doctor of its choosing. Many of these examinations are about as fair as a kangaroo court. Some get downright nasty. One plaintiff has struck back. Here are the details:

Can a neuropsychologist be sued for medical malpractice for his conduct in conducting a defense medical examination?

Yes, says the Virginia Appeals Court in the case of Harris v. Kreutzer.

....following the exam, the plaintiff claimed that the neuropsychologist harassed and intimidated her during the exam. The plaintiff claimed that this neuropsychologist "verbally abused her, raised his voice to her, caused her to break down into tears in his office, stated that she was 'putting on a show,' and accused her for being a faker and a malingerer." As a result the plaintiff claimed that this conduct "aggravated her pre-existing condition, her post traumatic stress disorder and her brain injury"

The court said that the brain damaged plaintiff can go forward with her case and attempt to convince a jury that the conduct of the neuropsychologist was contrary to accepted standards of conduct and that the unacceptable conduct caused her further injury.

Excerpted from the words of Attorney Michael V. Kaplen who posted a summary of the case on his blog.

January 18, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Editorial Writer Leaves Planet To Wander In Tort Reform Fantasy Land

Category: In Your Face

Editorials rarely cause me to respond as strongly as I will about this misdirected missile fired by the Las Vegas Journal- Review. The editor ignores and misrepresents the facts of the a wrongful death case as they were decided by a jury and then mocks the damages assessed against a defendant/employer whose reckless misconduct caused the death of a good woman.

Let's start with a little of the editorial:

EDITORIAL: Chasing the deepest pockets

In 2001, a drunken Darwin Ray Ellison took a Terrible Herbst truck and went cruising through downtown Las Vegas. Rosa Delegado, a 58-year-old grandmother, was stepping into her car on Fremont Street, her back turned to the careening vehicle, when the truck ran her over and killed her.

.... Mrs. Delegado's family decided to chase the deep pockets of Terrible Herbst's convenience store, gas station, auto maintenance and neighborhood gaming empire.

You see, Ellison was a temporary employee of Terrible Herbst. Although Ellison gave his bosses reason to believe he was a hard drinker away from work, his employer had no record of him abusing alcohol on the job. And during a civil trial in Clark County District Court this month, the company established that Ellison took the truck without permission on that fateful day in 2001.

Nonetheless, on Saturday, a jury ordered Terrible Herbst companies to pay Mrs. Delegado's family an astounding $4.1 million in compensatory damages and preposterously high $10 million in punitive damages.

Mr. Editor, did you fail to read other press accounts of the this trial in which there is testimony that strongly supports the fact that this particular temporary employee (and, in fact, all of the company's temporary employees) abused alcohol both on and off the job. I suspect that might be reckless behavior on the part of an eimployee. And, Mr. Editor, drunk employees will from time to time violate company rules - for example, I suspect they would sometimes drive off in a company truck without permission.

Continue reading "Editorial Writer Leaves Planet To Wander In Tort Reform Fantasy Land"

January 13, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Soulless Porcine Hunger Of Greedy Corporate Pigs

Category: In Your Face

Speaking on behalf of greedy trial lawyers throughout our nation I wish to recognize the insightful and colorful analysis of corporate America posted on Brown Sludge:

As I watch the papers and blogs and on-line news sources every day, I'm continually amazed by the way that Corporate America seems to be able to find endless ways to hurt the American economy, the American worker, and the American way of life. I'm also continually saddened by the Right's stultifying ambivalence to these horrors.

Corporate Greed is shipping our jobs overseas at a frightening rate. Like a carnivorous wild pig with an insatiable appetite - it roots and tusks in the mud - searching hungrily for anything it can uproot that it might be able to slop down grunting and slurping. Every vital root, every nutritious thing, is sacrificed to it's soulless porcine hunger.

January 12, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Hungry Tort Lawyers And Hothouse Mushrooms

Category: In Your Face

Walter Olson posts at Point Of Law about a September 2005 Forbes article. I think he likes the word picture created by the excerpt he selected:

Cozy ties between state attorneys general and hungry tort lawyers have grown like hothouse mushrooms...Most of the 20 states pursuing Medicaid fraud cases against Big Pharma have hired contingency-fee lawyers to do it for them.

Will hungry tort lawyers replace greedy trial lawyers in the media? I understand where Forbes is coming from. But, Walter's point of origin is a puzzle. Is he alerting us to the September 2005 article which we might run into at our barber shop? Would he prefer that Big Pharma have less greedy or hungry attorneys on its tail?

January 08, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Root Of All Evil Discovered

Category: In Your Face

Being greedy, like being aggesssive or ambitious, does not establish a membership in the Axis of Evil. Yet, according to Right from the Right, trial lawyers are the root of all evil. "American companies are at a disadvantage" is the premise of the piece. Somehow, in the middle of a simple-headed analysis of the reasons for the impending bankruptcies of American corporations, the author shares his discovery of the root of all evil. My observation would be that stupidity has probably generated more evil than greedy trial lawyers. But, I digress...

January 07, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Laughing At Warning Labels

Category: In Your Face

The Club For Growth points to Wacky Warning Labels: Tort reform, anyone? Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch (M-LAW) has issued its annual list of "Wacky Warning Labels". My favorite was a warning label found on a baking pan that read, "Ovenware will get hot when used in oven."

From the M-LAW site: The contest, now in its ninth year, is conducted by M-LAW, to reveal how lawsuits, and concern about lawsuits, have created a need for common sense warnings on products. A heat gun and paint remover that produces temperatures of 1,000 degrees and warns users, "Do not use this tool as a hair dryer" has been identified as the nation's wackiest warning label in M-LAW's annual Wacky Warning Label Contest.

Now that the laughter has died down, think about the days when there were virtually no warning labels. Were we better off when parents bought totally unsafe toys for toddlers? Or, when children's furniture was tipping over? Or, when drugs came with no warnings about risks during pregnancy? I prefer to have some apparently unnecessary warnings. We can laugh if we wish, but I may have tried that heat gun as a hair dryer.

January 07, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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More Greedy Trial Lawyers On The Way

Category: In Your Face

Arkansas law schools report record numbers of wannabe lawyer applicants. My guess is that they are attracted by the high public esteem of the profession. What do you think?

They're the butts of countless jokes, a buzzword for "greedy" if they do trial work, and all over the United States - including Arkansas - legislatures are capping the amount of money they can earn. So there ought to be fewer men and women attracted to a career as a lawyer, right?

Wrong. Applications to law school in Arkansas at both campuses, in Little Rock and Fayetteville, have increased steadily over the past three and four years to hit record highs this year.

Excerpt from Arkansas Times article

December 26, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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"You Say Judicial Oversight; I Say Phooey"

Category: In Your Face

I know we are "at war" and will be forever. And, we have to cut the President some slack so he can be the Commander-In-Chief we need. But, should the slack include three years of a secret and illegal eavesdropping program? One can assume that the program would have continued in secret for at least another three years, probably more. By the time my grandchildren reach maturity I suspect no communication would have been off limits to this program.

It reminds me of the reach of the discovery rules in civil lawsuits. Defendants are permitted to obtain information and documents that may lead to relevant information. But, in discovery a court is there to police the fishing expeditions. Funny thing, a court was there to police the President, too, but that would have been inconvenient.

Continue reading ""You Say Judicial Oversight; I Say Phooey""

December 21, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Do We Really Want Another Government Board?

Category: In Your Face

Paul W. Galva, Republicans For National Health Care, in his enthusiasm for the adoption of a national health care system in the U.S., envisions a new government board that would hear claims against its own healthcare providers and render presumably fair judgments. "Malpractice is just one more of the medical side shows that would be eliminated (could be eliminated) through national health care. The government could just create a malpractice board to hear complaints and render judgments - but that would be too simple, wouldn't it." Paul, we already have an independent civil justice system that performs this task.

December 20, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Rental Car Companies Turn To Friends In Congress For A Favor

Category: In Your Face

Corporate welfare has many faces - some are pretty pathetic. The prosperous vehicle rental industry (Hertz, Avis and the rest) asked its friends in Congress for a tiny favor, and it was granted. According to SignOnSanDiego.com: "Inserted among the thousands of road projects in a massive highway bill Congress passed last summer was language annulling state 'vicarious liability' laws that hold vehicle rental and leasing companies liable when a driver without sufficient insurance causes a serious accident." Goodbye legal responsibility and hello more profits. I may be greedy, but I am not pathetic.

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December 19, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Justinian Lane Is Fighting For Your Rights

Category: In Your Face

Justinian Lane is on a mission at his blog, Corpreform.com. "Corpreform.com's mission is to tell the public the truth about tort reform - that it punishes people to protect profits. That is it. There is no hidden motive. There is no effort to sign up personal injury cases, or garner support for a particular political candidate." Justinian says his site is not affiliated or associated with any business groups, political groups, or lobbying groups. He claims It does not take money from any PAC, and is not a nonprofit corporation. In fact, he says it is not even a corporation. He runs the whole operation. I believe him. And, I applaud him and his efforts. Read what he has to say about the Judicial Hellholes recently announced.

December 19, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Is Cowboy Action Shooting A Sport?

Category: In Your Face

A Tennessee man accidentally shot himself to death at a Florida gun range Saturday while practicing a supposedly popular and fast growing sport called cowboy action shooting. Eyewitnesses said he had two single-action revolvers - a .357-caliber Magnum in each hand - and was firing .38-caliber rounds in the weapons back and forth. At about the eighth shot, a weapon somehow rotated toward him and discharged, striking him in the abdomen. Web sites dedicated to cowboy action shooting describe it as a fast growing sport. The weapons used are mostly older style guns, and the shooter attempts to hit as many targets as he can in the shortest time possible. If this is a sport, it badly needs some safety rules.


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December 17, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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What Gets A Doctor Barred From Practice?

Category: In Your Face

North Dakota recently announced that three doctors have been barred from practicing medicine in that state. One had sex with a paitient; one habitually used alcohol; and one was involved in child pornography. Those are the sins that lose medical licenses in just about every state. Harming patients while continuously and notoriously practicing bad medicine usually merits, at best, mild consternation.

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December 17, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Sometimes An "Idiot" Is Right

Category: In Your Face

Debating Today's Drug Policies. That is the masthead motto of DrugWonks.com. Opening sentence of one of its debates: "When it comes to health care policy Paul Krugman (the New York Times editorialist) is an idiot." Thank you, Peter Pitts, for setting just the right tone for a debate on Krugman's contention that there is a "medical-industrial complex" with conflicts of interest and avarice. Pitts introduces the wisdom of Casey Stengel into his discussion. The problem is that the old ball game has been played for too many years with the same rules and umpires. Krugman is right, and Pitts is in left field.

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December 14, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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"Judicial Hellholes" Agree To Replace Courts With Dunking Ponds

Category: In Your Face

The meticulously fair and balanced American Tort Reform Association has just released "Judicial Hellholes 2005" and its benefits are already rolling in. Two top hellholes have abolished their civil court system and substituted dunking ponds. Three other holes have announced plans to replace human jurors with roboraptors, which should be more readily available after Christmas. Fifteen of the top 25 hellholes have agreed with the position of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and will be leveling their courthouses within 90 days.

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December 03, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Why Are Civil Trials Declining? Not A Difficult Answer

Category: In Your Face

Legal Underground raises the question: why are the numbers of civil trials steadily declining in both state and federal courts? While there may be numerous causes contributing to the decline, there is one mammoth force that is relentlessly seeking to end civil trials and to deny access to the courts. That force is the insurance-business complex. We were once warned by a great Republican president of the military-industrial complex. However, for over 20 years that same Republican Party has been the political arm of the insurance-business complex. The motto, "What is good for insurance companies and for business is good for America" might even replace "In God We Trust" on our currency if this force is not tethered.

Justice and access to a functioning court system require that there be opposition to continued tort reform that, in actuality, is a form of simultaneous immunity and government subsidy of giant corporations.

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December 01, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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"If Pigs Could Fly" Toy Banned From Insurance Company Offices

Category: In Your Face

Sometimes even pigs can fly. A rejected insurance claimant was awarded almost $3 million against an insurance company that motivated its claim processing personnel to reduce claim payments with a battery-operated if pigs could fly toy. The insurance company plans an appeal and to remove all flying pig toys from its premises.

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November 13, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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No More Mr. Nice Guy At Work In Tennessee

Category: In Your Face

The Tennessee Supreme Court apparently believes that any injury incurred by a worker in an activity voluntarily undertaken is not covered by Worker's Compensation. Well, Tennessee employees, be darn sure you have been given a direct order by a supervisor before your fanny leaves your seat. No more Mr. Nice Guy around the office.

I suspect the fact that the injury to Phyllis A. Young happened in a three-legged race on a company picnic blinded the Court to the reality that many activities which benefit an employer are voluntary in nature. It was probably the visualization of the worker hopping across a grassy field on a beautiful day that caused the Court to declare that volunteerism in the pursuit of employment security is no virtue in Tennessee. If Ms. Young were stationed voluntarily at the registration table for the company picniic and were killed by a bolt of lightning the result may have been different.

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November 04, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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FEMA - The Fusion Of Fashion And Relief

Category: In Your Face

Today must be my day for venting about matters beyond the boundaries of civil trial law. In the middle of the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, FEMA director Michael Brown emailed that "I am a fashion god". I thought nothing about the federal response to Katrina could top "Nice job, Brownie", but Brownie, himself, did the President one better. Can a nation survive if its government officials are total buffoons? I guess we will have to wait and see.

Somehow, I would have preferred to think Brownie was just a parasitic crony lining his pockets through bribes.

November 02, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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It's Not The Spiders, Stupid!

Category: In Your Face

A rather large number of doctors have obviously concluded that brown spiders have commenced a coordinated assault upon homo sapiens. They have reached this conclusion without the benefit of any scientific evidence and in the face of overwhelming evidence in the medical literature that what they are treating as spider bites (sometimes multiple spider bites) is actually a life-threatening staph infection, MRSA. It would be comical if it were not deadly for some of the misdiagnosed patients.

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