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October 02, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Now Isiah Thomas Is In A Hostile Environment

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Some years ago I had the delightful experience of a jury note after 2 days of deliberation which asked the judge, "Do we fill out the amount of the damages if we agree the doctor was at fault?" Obviously, the doctor and his defense attorney were having far different feelings.

I recalled this incident when I read the following news account of the Isiah Thomas case.

A JURY OF HIS FEARS

Knicks coach Isiah Thomas isn't getting any love from the jury in his sensational sexual harassment case, a bombshell note from the panel revealed yesterday.

As a second full day of deliberations drew to a close, the seven jurors sent out a message signaling they all agree Thomas and Madison Square Garden subjected Knicks executive Anucha Browne Sanders to a hostile work environment.

The note from the jury forewoman said the panel is unanimous on eight of the nine charges in the case, but divided over whether to make Thomas dig into his own pocket.

The note indicated that a lone holdout juror is blocking their decision on whether Thomas should be forced to pay punitive damages to Sanders.

From the New York Post

Whatever the environment was at Madison Square Garden, my guess is that Thomas created a hostile home environment later in the evening. Soon to be followed by a hostile law office environment after the verdict.

September 30, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Throw The Uninsured In Jail!

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The solution to the 40 million plus Americans without health insurance may lie in our prison system.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that inmates have a constitutional right to health care. (What a great country!) If we could criminalize failing to have health insurance and (this is important) impose prison sentences instead of handing out probation, we are home free.

We should parole the uninsured offenders when they turn 65, however, to avoid this pathetic scenario:

As prison inmates age, health costs rise

It's becoming a common sight: geriatric inmates spending their waning days behind bars. The soaring number of aging inmates is now outpacing the prison growth as a whole.

Tough sentencing laws passed in the 1980s and 1990s are largely to blame. It's all fueling an explosion in inmate health costs.

"It keeps going up and up," said Alan Adams, director of Health Services for the Georgia Department of Corrections. "We've got some old guys who are too sick to get out of bed. And some of them, they're going to die inside. The courts say we have to provide care and we do. But that costs money."

The trend is particularly pronounced in the South, which has some of the nation's toughest sentencing laws. In 16 Southern states, the growth rate has escalated by an average of 145 percent since 1997, according to the Southern Legislative Conference.

September 29, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Give This Man A Jury Of His Peers

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In Ohio, a man accused of murder is concerned about getting an impartial jury. I say let the man have a jury of his peers - police officers.

Attorneys Thinking About Jury Impartiality In High-Profile Case

CANTON- Lawyers considered Friday whether an impartial jury can be found in the northeast Ohio county where a police officer is accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend.

Cutts could receive the death penalty if convicted of aggravated murder in the deaths of Jessie Davis and her unborn daughter. The body of Davis, 26, was found June 23 in a wooded area about 15 miles north of her home near North Canton.

Myron Watson, one of Cutts' attorneys, said after the hearing that he expects race will be a factor during jury selection. Cutts is black and Davis was white.

"In this case, ignoring the racial dynamic to it, I think, would be irresponsible," Watson said. "It is our hope to have a fair trial, but we have to do our homework and see if that can be accomplished here or in a different venue."

September 08, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Florida Trial Lawyer Matthew Noyes May Need Medical Attention

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Would someone please check the temperature of Florida lawyer, Matthew Noyes. He may be incoherent. Matthew is upset because the Florida No-Fault Law is soon to expire.

Get Ready to Hire An Attorney After Every Car Accident

The Florida Legislative leaders decided to postpone the upcoming Special Session. They claim they need more time to work out the ground rules and reach a consensus. I say it is, at least partially, because they want the Florida No-Fault Insurance to expire before their special session.

Come October 1st, the courtrooms around Florida will be full of you and me and everyone else who now needs to sue the at-fault driver for payment of the medical expenses caused by a car accident. You and me and everyone else will now have to sue the at-fault driver for lost wages incurred because of the negligence of an at-fault driver in a car accident.

One might ask at this point in Matthew's vision of the future - what's the harm in that? After all, don't greedy trial lawyers make their living filing suits and clogging up courtrooms?

Here is the Noyes answer (and the reason we need to check for a serious brain infection):

As a personal injury attorney, I should be happy--it means more business for me. But, as a Floridian, it disgusts me how the insurance companies have the politicians in their pocket.

Matthew, you probably need to take two aspirin, drink plenty of liquids and go to bed until October 1. After that, I suspect you will need all of the energy you can muster to file the new lawsuits.

August 23, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Do The Right Thing - It Will Be A Refreshing Change

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Open Letter to Doctors Who Screw Up

Dear Doctors:

Read this article, take two aspirin and try being honest with your patient and the patient's family - you might start a trend and put me out of business.

Greedy Trial Lawyer

Doctors Urged To Admit Fault In Medical Errors, Apologize

Hospitals increasingly are creating policies that encourage doctors who make medical mistakes to apologize to patients, the Chicago Tribune reports. In the past, physicians have been "too proud, too afraid of malpractice lawsuits and too worried about losing face" to make apologies, according to the Tribune.

"One of the biggest obstacles to disclosure is the fear of lawsuits," the Tribune reports. Although some contend that admission of errors will make it easier for patients to file suit, others say that an apology and compensation for injuries will reduce that likelihood.

Steven Kraman, who helped develop the disclosure program at the Lexington VA Medical Center in Kentucky, said that admitting errors is a way for hospitals to learn from mistakes and develop ways to ensure they do not happen again, outweighing the potential costs of apologies.

During the first year of its disclosure policy, the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center had one malpractice claim filed among 40 acknowledged errors, according to the Tribune. UIC CEO John DeNardo said, "The best way to approach this is to own up to the fact that an incident happened and ask what can we do to fix it and make the situation better" (Graham, Chicago Tribune, 8/19).

August 19, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Medicare To Hospitals: No More Pay For Bad Medicine

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For the first time, hospitals and doctors will have a real incentive to eliminate errors in medical care. No more Mr. Nice Guy, says Medicare. Neither Medicare nor the patient will have to pay for the cost of medical mistakes.

Medicare Says It Won't Cover Hospital Errors

In a significant policy change, Bush administration officials say that Medicare will no longer pay the extra costs of treating preventable errors, injuries and infections that occur in hospitals, a move they say could save lives and millions of dollars.

Private insurers are considering similar changes, which they said could multiply the savings and benefits for patients.

Under the new rules, to be published next week, Medicare will not pay hospitals for the costs of treating certain "conditions that could reasonably have been prevented."

Among the conditions that will be affected are bedsores, or pressure ulcers; injuries caused by falls; and infections resulting from the prolonged use of catheters in blood vessels or the bladder.

In addition, Medicare says it will not pay for the treatment of "serious preventable events" like leaving a sponge or other object in a patient during surgery and providing a patient with incompatible blood or blood products.

Lisa A. McGiffert, a health policy analyst at Consumers Union, hailed the rules.

"Hundreds of thousands of people suffer needlessly from preventable hospital infections and medical errors every year," Ms. McGiffert said. "Medicare is using its clout to improve care and keep patients safe. It's forcing hospitals to face this problem in a way they never have before."

Christine K. Cahill, a registered nurse who used to inspect hospitals for the California Department of Public Health, said: "This is a great start. Infection-control specialists have been screaming for 20 years that federal and state officials should pay more attention to this problem because hospital infections hurt patients and cost money."

The rules, first reported in The Star-Ledger of Newark, carry out a directive from Congress included in a 2006 law. When they were proposed in May, consumer advocates said they feared that some hospitals might charge patients for costs that Medicare refused to pay.

But that is forbidden. "The hospital cannot bill the beneficiary for any charges associated with the hospital-acquired complication," the final rules say.

From The New York Times

August 16, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Welcome To The Drug Channel, 24 Hour Pill Pushing

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I am more convinced than ever that the time is right for The Drug Channel, 24 hours a day of nothing but commercials for prescription drugs. The scroll bar at the bottom of the screen can continuously run the necessary disclaimers and "ask your physician" nonsense. The ads could expand gradually into music videos, game and talk shows and even live athletic events [The Boston Restless Leg Marathon would be a winner].

Why am I so confident that all of this is just around the corner? Read on.

More Frequent Dose of Dollars for Drug Ads

Drugmakers' spending on consumer advertising is growing faster than their total spending on marketing, a new study finds.

It has been a decade since new federal regulations allowed drug companies to start pitching prescription medications on TV. Yet despite the controversy that has arisen from this direct-to-consumer (DTC) promotion, spending on such ads continues to grow faster than spending on drug-industry marketing as a whole. So say the authors of a study set to be published in the Aug. 16 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

DTC ad spending has grown on average 14% a year since 2002--to $4.2 billion a year--while total promotional spending is up about 9% a year to $30 billion, according to the study, which was a joint effort of the University of Pittsburgh and Harvard University.

The spike in spending comes just as the U.S. Food & Drug Administration seems to be easing up on its oversight of pharmaceutical company advertising. In 1997, the FDA sent 142 letters warning pharma companies that their ads violated federal laws governing how they communicate the balance between risks and benefits. In 2006, the agency sent just 22 such letters.

July 31, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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A Long Tradition - The Contingency Fee Predates The Constitution

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I am holding my head a little higher today. I have just learned contingency fee arrangements are older than the U.S.

Contingency Fees Don't Violate Separation of Powers, Says Columbia Prof Michael C. Dorf

We lead-paint watchers are accustomed to hearing and repeating the conventional arguments against contingency arrangement between government entities and private law firms. Maybe too accustomed. That could be lulling us into a false sense of optimism that the contingency agreement in Rhode Island will be struck down by that state's Supreme Court and that even if the ruling is appealed in County of Santa Clara, et al. v Atlantic Richfield Co., et al. our position will triumph.

Columbia Law Professor Michael C. Dorf aggressively argues against what has become the party line - the separation of power notion - in contingency battles. In his blog Dorf on Law, Dorf states that contingency fee arrangements, for example, between state attorneys general and private lawyers do not violate the separation of powers. Period.

Dorf contends...the tradition of contingency arrangements is even older than the United States of America. Back then those private entities were called "relators" and they were able to file qui tam actions on the part of government entities. The relators got a cut of the action. Those sorts of arrangements still go on today, for instance, to enforce the False Claims Act.

From Law And More

It is a pity the founding fathers neglected to include the right to a contingency fee arrangement in the Bill of Rights.

July 19, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Incoming Praise Of The Genius Of The Plaintiff Bar

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It is always heartening when a critic of plaintiff trial lawyers gives us even a back-handed compliment. In the middle of what feels like a slam on our civil justice system, Jane Genova, posting at Law And More, sees what she calls our genius.

The Marketing & Sale of American "Justice" - Creating Demand

The genius of the plaintiff bar has been its ability to embed in the national consciousness of America a whole new idea. That's the notion that lawsuits are the right way to resolve disputes, seek abstract or concrete justice (usually through an award of damages), and change society.

Jane may or may not be right. But, the notion, which seems perfectly reasonable to me, could not have taken hold in America without the monumental misconduct of corporations and other wrongdoers which continues to cause needless injuries, deaths and economic losses. Most rational victims do prefer the court system to duels, riots or fire bombing as a means of seeking justice and compensation.

Jane claims to remember a world before people thought of filing lawsuits:

And you never ever ever initiated a lawsuit. Somehow you worked it out another way. Not all of those ways were good, of course. In my Jersey City, NJ neighborhood, we were instructed by our elders to steal from stores which did us wrong. [At least they didn't use hit men.]

Then, Jane sees the benefit to litigation when meritorious.

Lawsuits with merit probably represent progress in a civilization.

Bottom line for Jane, I suppose, is Meritorious Lawsuits Good but Frivolous Lawsuits Bad. (Does anyone have a handy-dandy guide that could substitute for a judicial determination of this issue?)

Thanks for the history of justice lesson, the key to good and bad lawsuits and the praise of the efforts of trial lawyers.

July 16, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Democratic Presidential Nominee Who Wins

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Memo from Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc. to the American Association for Justice:

Civil Justice Issues and the 2008 Election

From June 28 to July 3, 2007, Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc., conducted a national telephone survey for the American Association for Justice among 1,007 likely 2008 voters (margin of error equals ±3.2 percentage points). The survey explored voters' attitudes toward the civil justice system and the impact of civil justice issues on voting preferences.

Americans are deeply worried about their nation's future, and concern about corporate misconduct is a major source of their anxiety. "Worried swing voters," who see corporate irresponsibility as a central problem, may play a pivotal role in the 2008 election.

On issues of civil justice, voters consider corporate misconduct to be a much more serious national problem today than alleged "lawsuit abuse."

Americans believe that the civil justice system provides essential safeguards for them at a time when corporate misconduct is such a serious problem.

In the electoral arena, the survey results provide strong evidence that voters will reward candidates and parties who support the civil justice system, and seek to hold corporations accountable for misconduct, over those who attack trial lawyers and favor policies that restrict access to the civil justice system.

I come away from the survey with an action plan for the 2008 election. The logic behind my ingenious plan is highlighted in this paragraph from the survey results:

Voters worry about their future currently vote Democratic (in a generic presidential ballot) by 32 percentage points, whereas those confident about their outlook favor a GOP candidate by 10 points.

My plan:

1. The Democrats must run a generic presidential candidate. If they foolishly identify a real person as a candidate the odds of winning will drop to zilch. Look what happened to Gore and Kerry.

2) I urge the Democrats to nominate a leader. Not a real person with leadership qualities. I am talking about A Leader, Someone We Can Trust To End Our Worries. This will avoid all the swift-boating. A Leader will be about the future, not the past. A Leader will not have to explain prior positions away.

Think of the money that will be saved for the general election by not wallowing through the primaries. Think how frustrated the Republicans would be without Hillary, Obama or Edwards to kick around.

July 14, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Medical Airlifts - A Solution To Our Health Care Crisis

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"Honey, let's take the kids to India this summer and have my knee replaced."

Shopping For Healthcare Overseas

The exploding cost of healthcare in the United States has many Americans traveling overseas for treatment. With the aid of the Internet, patients can find international providers who will administer the healthcare they need at a fraction of the cost. Medical tourism, as this trend is called, has the potential to dramatically impact the economies of developing countries and has serious implications for healthcare around the globe.

Medical Tourism in Developing Countries explores this international trade in medical services and discusses its potential as an economic growth strategy. The book, to be released on August 7, is co-authored by Saint Joseph's University Economist Milica Z. Bookman, Ph.D., and her daughter, an intellectual property attorney, Karla R. Bookman.

The United States is the only industrialized nation without free, universal healthcare. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are currently 43.6 million people in the United States without health insurance. These individuals, however, are not the largest consumers of medical tourism.

"Not all uninsured individuals have the internet savvy and wherewithal to research something like medical tourism. Some do, and they would be good candidates for treatment abroad," explains Dr. Bookman. "It's more likely for the insured, facing huge deductibles, to take advantage of medical tourism."

Now, if we could only ship the indigent and uninsured overseas that would be the real trick.

July 13, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Praise For The Tort System

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Unaccustomed as I am to dealing with praise of trial lawyers and their role in society, I am having trouble reacting to the love I am receiving from Jeffrey Pfeffer's article in Business 2.0.

Trial lawyer William A. "Bill" Daniels posts the entire article at the link below.

In defense of lawyers (no joke)

With fewer regulators acting as watchdogs over business, attorneys - love 'em or hate 'em - are everyone's best defense, writes Business 2.0's Jeffrey Pfeffer:

Tort-reform advocates love to rail against the skyrocketing costs of litigation and multimillion-dollar damage awards, yet one definitive study from Rand showed no increase in the percentage of tort cases won by plaintiffs and no statistically significant increase in the median award paid by businesses. Comparisons with other countries can also be misleading because they have more stringent regulatory regimes.

True, regulatory agencies cost billions, and so does our legal system. But I would argue it's a pretty good deal -- simply a necessary cost of running an economy in which people rely on the promises and products of strangers.

The next time you want to complain about "frivolous" lawsuits, picture doing business in a world where promises can't be relied on and you can only deal with people and organizations you already know well. There are undoubtedly abuses and problems in our current system, but the cost of punishing malfeasance is a necessary and small price to pay for running a modern economy.

Thank you, Bill, for tipping us to the Pfeffer article. And, thank you, Jeffrey, for getting it right.

July 10, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Up Close And Personal In The Justice Department

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I think I have found a true public servant working in the U.S. Department of Justice. His name is John S. Koppel, and he has recently submitted an article to the Denver Post. Stand back as you read these excerpts. The heat and passion could ignite you.

Bush justice is a national disgrace

As a longtime attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, I can honestly say that I have never been as ashamed of the department and government that I serve as I am at this time.

The public record now plainly demonstrates that both the DOJ and the government as a whole have been thoroughly politicized in a manner that is inappropriate, unethical and indeed unlawful. The unconscionable commutation of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's sentence, the misuse of warrantless investigative powers under the Patriot Act and the deplorable treatment of U.S. attorneys all point to an unmistakable pattern of abuse.

In more than a quarter of a century at the DOJ, I have never before seen such consistent and marked disrespect on the part of the highest ranking government policymakers for both law and ethics.

The public trust has been flagrantly violated, and meaningful accountability is long overdue. Officials who have brought into disrepute both the Department of Justice and the administration of justice as a whole should finally have to answer for it - and the misdeeds at issue involve not merely garden-variety misconduct, but multiple "high crimes and misdemeanors," including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

John S. Koppel has been a civil appellate attorney with the Department of Justice since 1981.

Thanks to Trial Ad Notes for blogging on this act of bravery.

July 10, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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National Association Of Manufacturers Promotes Trial Lawyer Convention

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A special thanks today goes to the National Association of Manufacturers who are publicizing the upcoming national convention of trial lawyers in Chicago.

A List of Everyone You Can Sue

The City of Deep Pockets, er, Big Shoulders, is hosting the annual convention of the American Association for Justice, that is, the former Association of Trial Lawyers of America. The Chicago gathering, which starts Saturday, is the first convention since the organization gave itself the new, non-threatening title.

Just what will these kitten fish be up to this week? Same old, same old, sharpening their teeth for the unsuspecting defendant. Take a look at page 12 of the convention's program (full program here in .pdf). It's a list of the meetings of AAJ Litigation Groups, the lawyers who specialize in suing various groups. They'll put their heads together, study the latest "groundbreaking legal theory," figure out how best to sue the next employer, the next shopkeeper, the next manufacturer. Workshops on finding the next victim.

And it's quite a list: 77 different categories, or rather, targets.

The members of NAM have reliably provided new targets of litigation for so many years now that NAM has agreed to provide marketing services for greedy trial lawyers and their organizations. (We can pardon the reference to the unsuspecting defendant - all manufacturers are suspects when their consumers are maimed and killed regularly.)

July 09, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The 11 Grenades Tossed At Universal Heath Care

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We can thank Joe Paduda at Managed Care Matters for providing us with a list of the most common criticisms of the concept of Universal Health Care. (You will need to visit his site to read them.)

The top ten reasons universal coverage is bad

Why is universal coverage so bad? Here, culled from the speeches, monographs, and policy papers are the consensus top ten reasons.

I'll explore each of them in turn this week.

My expectation is that Joe will do a thorough job discussing them.

I feel I should point out, however, the one, rarely spoken, reason: the likely loss of substantial income and profits by health care providers and insurance companies. Few of the other reasons carry the motivational force as this reason to oppose Universal Health Care.

June 25, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Should Trial Lawyers Discount Fees For America's Heroes?

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Minnesota may soon become the Land of 10,000 Free Wills.

Minnesota lawyers launch "Wills for Heroes" program

Members of the Minnesota State Bar Association launch an unusual program to help those who risk their lives to keep society safe. Lawyers are donating their time to draft wills and health care directives for firefighters, police, paramedics, emergency medical technicians and corrections officers.

Should personal injury lawyers discount their fees for these same front-line protectors?

June 14, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Trial Lawyer's Perverse Argument Obtains Compensation For Dog Bite Victim

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I rarely agree with the posts at Overlawyered, but David Nieporent today has gotten something almost exactly right.

Dog bites taxpayers

In 2002, a couple of Rottweilers attacked and seriously injured Marguene St. Juste, a woman in Delray Beach, Florida. Last week, the jury awarded this woman $3.76 million for her injuries. Routine -- if expensive -- dog bite case, right? The patented Overlawyered twist? The jury decided that the owner of the Rottweilers, who had allegedly repeatedly allowed the dogs to run free, was only 40% responsible for this tragedy. The other 60% of the blame -- no, not the dogs, or the victim, or the doctors who treated her, or anybody obvious like that. Rather, the majority of the responsibility was assigned to the city of Delray Beach, Florida....

More importantly, why should it make the city liable at all? It doesn't in other contexts; you can't sue the police for failing to arrest a dangerous criminal, for instance. (It's well-established that the police do not have a legal duty to protect you, absent special circumstances.) Once again, we see trial lawyers perversely arguing that an inconsistently-followed safety rule should make a defendant more liable than not having a safety rule at all. [And, perversely prevailing, I guess.] If Delray Beach had no animal control ordinance, it could not have been sued under these circumstances. But because it had one, taxpayers are on the hook for up to $2.2 million. Now, we don't expect trial lawyers to care about the incentives that their lawsuits create; after all, they're just in this game for the money. But shouldn't our legal system factor in these public policy considerations?

While I would take exception to David's use of the word "game" (if he is referring to the civil justice system) it is true that trial lawyers focus in individual cases on the monetary compensation of each victim of wrongdoing. We are not legislators nor judges, only advocates. The process of seeking justice for each victim probably moves the common law and, in some instances, legislative bodies in one direction or another. Public policy is not the reason most victims seek redress for a civil wrong. And, public policy is not the guiding light for most trial lawyers.

Thank you, David for recognizing our role in the civil justice system.

Now, about the City's liability. I am perversely willing to trust the judicial system to determine if the verdict against the City is legally correct.

June 12, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Scooter's Judge May Write For The Daily Show

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Scooter Libby probably does not find much to laugh about these days. But, a tongue-in-cheek footnote to his judge's order is causing some chuckles in cyberspace.

Best. Footnote. Ever

Twelve extremely eminent law professors -- Vikram Amar, Randy Barnett, Robert Bork, Alan Dershowitz, Viet Dinh, Douglas Kmiec, Gary Lawson, Earl Maltz, Thomas Merrill, Robert Nagel, Richard Parker, and Robert Pushaw -- have submitted an amicus brief in defense of Scooter Libby. The judge's order granting the request contained this footnote:

It is an impressive show of public service when twelve prominent and distinguished current and former law professors of well-respected schools are able to amass their collective wisdom in the course of only several days to provide their legal expertise to the Court on behalf of a criminal defendant. The Court trusts that this is a reflection of these eminent academics' willingness in the future to step to the plate and provide like assistance in cases involving any of the numerous litigants, both in this Court and throughout the courts of our nation, who lack the financial means to fully and properly articulate the merits of their legal positions even in instances where failure to do so could result in monetary penalties, incarceration, or worse. The Court will certainly not hesitate to call for such assistance from these luminaries, as necessary in the interests of justice and equity, whenever similar questions arise in the cases that come before it.

Posted on Alas! under the banner (Legal Funnies!)

Jon Stewart of The Daily Show could use the judge's talent for sarcasm in his writing pool.

June 11, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Another Jailhouse Conversion

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There are times when I stand in awe of the American system of criminal justice.

How can anyone not be impressed by its impact on Paris Hilton?

Hilton Says She'll No Longer `act Dumb'

Associated Press

Paris Hilton says she will no longer "act dumb."

The reality TV star and relentless publicity-seeker spoke with Barbara Walters by phone Sunday, a day after releasing a statement saying she hoped the media would focus on "more important things" than her 45-day jail sentence, according to ABC News' Web site.

"I used to act dumb. ... That act is no longer cute," ABC quoted Hilton as saying.

Hilton has been saying that she is changed by her jailhouse experience, and she repeated that theme with Walters: "Now, I would like to make a difference. ... God has given me this new chance."

God and the judge, apparently.

June 09, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Yale Club Is Borked

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Why take note of a fall by an 80 year old man who files a personal injury lawsuit over the incident?

Robert Bork , the one-time U.S. Supreme Court nominee, has sued the Yale Club for negligence. He is seeking $1 million in damages for injuries he sustained from a fall at the club last year. [...]

Bork was at the Yale Club last June to speak at an event sponsored by The New Criterion, a monthly review of the arts and intellectual life. According to the suit filed in federal court in Manhattan, the club failed to provide steps and a handrail to climb onto the dais. Mr. Bork fell backward as he was attempting to climb the dais, striking his leg on the stage and his head on a heat register, the suit says.

Bork, 80 years old, suffered a large hematoma, or swelling of blood, in his lower left leg as a result of the fall and the hematoma eventually burst, according to the lawsuit. The injury required surgery and months of physical therapy, according to the complaint. He claims to have suffered "excruciating pain" as a result of the injury and continues to walk with a limp, according to the complaint.

Robert Bork, tort-reform advocate, files slip-and-fall lawsuit

Of course, what makes this precious is that Bork is a long-time advocate of "tort reform," which would limit the right of injured people to file exactly these kinds of suits.

It's also a reminder that the key to social progress in the United States is to get conservatives to have more life experiences. They're against gay rights, until someone close to them is gay. They're against separation of church and state, until they feel like the minority faith. They're against rights for the accused, until they're charged with a crime. They're against personal-injury lawsuits, until they get hurt in an accident. They're against....

Thanks to The Carpetbagger Report for bringing this to our attention and for the observations on the nature of conservative philosophy.

Is the medical malpractice action soon to follow?

June 07, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Speaking Humor To Power, Judicial Version

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Some people take themselves too seriously. Judges may be among the most sensitive to criticism or what they perceive as as even slight disrespect. Yet, they hand both out almost daily. How many times has a judge cut off a legal argument in mid-sentence? How often has an appellate court made an appellate lawyer dance for 15 to 20 minutes, never letting the attorney fully present his thoughts? What about the imperial hand waive from the bench coupled with the dismissive, "Move on, Counsel."

Maybe William P. Smith, Esq., had endured similar grief for too many years. Maybe he had just experienced the 1,000th nonsensical ruling of his career. Who knows exactly what caused him to toss a comical and harmless verbal grenade at a bankruptcy judge? No matter. Judge Sensitivo [I believe that was his nickname] was not amused. Well, I think the grenade was incredibly funny and deserved sustained laughter not disciplinary action.

What NOT to Say to a Judge

If you ever find yourself addressing a judge, you're trying to influence that person. Perhaps influenced by "Judge Judy" and other media depictions of "tough judges," real judges don't want to hear your jokes and especially don't want to hear your putdowns.

In that regard, when lawyer William P. Smith told a bankruptcy judge in Florida that the judge was "a few french fries short of a Happy Meal," he might have anticipated a less-than-enthusiastic response. And he got it.

After insulting bankruptcy judge Laurel Myerson Isicoff, Smith may lose the ability to practice in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida. He's already lost his client--Miami Beach's Mount Sinai Medical Center & Miami Heart Institute.

Source: Mark Nestmann, Preserving Your Privacy and More

June 01, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Your Honor, Is Juror Number 3 Blogging?

Category: Right On!

I feel it is necessary for me to announce that I am not a defendant in any legal malpractice case. And, I have not accused any jurors of sleeping during any trial. (But, I did have a Federal District Court Judge doze off once during my case in chief - he was not pleased when I awakened him.)

Why am I providing this information? Well, it happens that at least one medical doctor/blogger has been commenting on his experiences during his medical malpractice trial. Talk about getting the inside view of the litigation process!

The story is from Real Lawyers Have Blogs. Obviously, Real Malpractice Defendants Have Blogs, too.

Blogging malpractice defendant exposed : Case settled

As Ivy League-educated pediatrician Robert P. Lindeman sat on the stand in Suffolk Superior Court this month, defending himself in a malpractice suit involving the death of a 12-year-old patient, the opposing counsel startled him with a question. Was Lindeman Flea?

Flea, jurors in the case didn't know, was the screen name for a blogger who had written often and at length about a trial remarkably similar to the one that was going on in the courtroom that day.

In his blog, Flea had ridiculed the plaintiff's case and the plaintiff's lawyer. He had revealed the defense strategy. He had accused members of the jury of dozing.

Lindeman admitted that he was, in fact, Flea.

The next morning, on May 15, he agreed to pay what members of Boston's tight-knit legal community describe as a substantial settlement -- case closed.

Will we soon have blogging judges, jurors, criminal defendants and district attorneys?

May 30, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The VA's Medical Records System Has Much Going For It

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The New York Times Opinion section is probably not where the medical profession turns for records management advice, but it should.

Physician, Upgrade Thyself, written by Thomas Goetz, informs us of a very low cost software program that has vastly improved the VA's records system and can do the same for medical facilities throughout the country.

GO into almost any medical office, hospital or clinic in the United States and your records will still be handled the old-fashioned way -- on paper. You can use a computer to pay your taxes, to program your TiVo or to read a message from your great-aunt, but your doctor has to practically level a forest just to examine your medical files. The cost, however, isn't calculated in trees but in human lives: Electronic medical records would reduce the risk of medical errors and spare hospitals the expense of missing records and unnecessary treatment.

Health care providers have been dreaming about electronic records for so long that the idea has begun to seem like vaporware, a never-to-be-realized fantasy similar to flying cars and jetpacks. But there is already a clear software standard, an open-source system that's low-cost, easy to use and readily available. It could be the key to the health care system we ought to have already.

The program, WorldVistA, is based on the Veterans Affairs Department's electronic-records system, called VistA (short for Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture -- and yes, they beat Bill Gates to the name). VistA stands as perhaps the greatest success story for government-developed information technology since the Internet itself.

...in 2002, a group of former Veterans Affairs programmers and open-source advocates formed WorldVistA. They set about making a version of VistA that was simple for health care providers to use, and the fruit of their effort is now ready for market. Like VistA, WorldVistA is robust and fast. In April, the software was approved by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology. The certification means that WorldVistA is ready for broad adoption.

WorldVistA isn't perfect. It isn't as customizable as some proprietary systems, and its graphical interface isn't as intuitive or as polished. Worse, its back-office functions -- staffing and billing -- aren't all that strong. Major hospitals and health maintenance organizations in search of a Cadillac are free to spend the dollars to buy one.

But for the vast majority of health care providers, WorldVistA is what they've been waiting for: a low-cost, simple-to-use system that makes it easier to provide quality health care.

Even a greedy trial lawyer can appreciate the benefits of an electronic medical records system.

May 23, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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FDA's Speedy Response To Avandia Heart Risk

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The Food and Drug Administration has set a new record in its rapid response to the cardiac risks of the drug, Avandia.

Gooznews.com headlines the story of your FDA in action: FDA Told To Act on Avandia Five Years Ago

Safety analysts at the Food and Drug Administration told the top brass five years ago that thiazolidinediones like GlaxoSmithKline's Avandia (rosiglitazone) posed a heart attack risk to diabetics. Public Citizen released the internal memo today.

Other federal agencies and departments are studying the internal processes of the FDA in order to apply them to their work. FEMA is especially interested in reducing its response time to hurricanes and other disasters.

May 21, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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TV For ED May Be Just A Click Away

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Narrow-casting, which has already fathered hundreds of cable TV networks focusing on smaller and smaller subjects, may now produce an entire channel exclusively for drug commercials. I would support the idea if it means I will never have to see another toe fungus spot.

Big Pharma TV?

Four of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies are proposing to launch a television station to tell the public about their drugs, amid strenuous lobbying across Europe by the industry for an end to restrictions aimed at protecting patients.

Big Pharma TV would be a dedicated interactive digital channel funded by the industry with health news and features but, at its heart, would be detailed information from drug companies about their medicines.

A 10-minute pilot DVD, seen by The Guardian, featured a white-coated doctor discussing breast cancer and a woman patient who reassured viewers that "there are many new treatments available".

Under the proposals, viewers could use their remote control to click on treatment options and read what manufacturers have to say about the latest branded breast cancer drugs.

Source: Pharmagossip

I would also endorse an entire channel of lawyer commercials if I would not have to endure them 24/7 on all the other channels.

May 20, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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U.S. Attorneys, Arise And Resign!

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When your boss (Alberto Gonzales) is a political hack who allows your governmental department (the Department of Justice) to be run like a franchise of Karl Rove, Inc., is it enough to privately express concern to him?

In Closed Meeting With Gonzales, Prosecutors Express Their Dismay

Many Remain Upset, Fear Damage to the Justice Department's Image

Even as he came under renewed political pressure in Washington this week, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales faced sharp criticism from many of his own U.S. attorneys at a private meeting in San Antonio, prosecutors who were there said.

At an executive session Wednesday during the Justice Department's annual U.S. attorneys conference, Gonzales met with most of the nation's 93 U.S. attorneys to apologize for the controversy over the firings of nine prosecutors last year and to attempt to shore up sagging morale.

More than a dozen U.S. attorneys spoke during the morning session, most of them expressing concern to Gonzales about the scandal's impact on their own offices and the overall image of the department, several participants said.

When will there be a group resignation of United States Attorneys in protest of the incompetence and politics? That would be the greatest legal service these public servants could perform for the American citizen.

February 06, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The AMA Decides To Do Some Good

Category: Right On!

The benefits of the November election results keep coming in.

American Medical Association Adjusts Strategy On Lobbying For Medical Malpractice Legislation

Physician lobbyists are redirecting their focus on medical malpractice legislation this year as they face a new Democratic Congress, which is unlikely to pass any bill that would cap noneconomic damages in malpractice lawsuits, The Hill reports.

The Democratic majority "has forced [physician lobbyists] to adjust their strategies not only in dealing with Congress but also in responding to their members and clients," The Hill reports.

Although there might be "some form of legislative activity" on medical malpractice insurance or lawsuits this year, AMA has indicated that it will place more focus on issues supported by Democrats, such as expanding health coverage to the uninsured and preventing a 10% reduction in Medicare payments to physicians, according to The Hill (Young, The Hill, 2/1).

Maybe, just maybe, the AMA will now have some free time to devote to actually reducing medical errors. That would be special, as they say.

February 04, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Elba Was Not A Bad Idea

Category: Right On!

I am compiling a list of evildoers and bad actors who should be banished to Elba, the little island off the coast of Italy. The idea came to me when I saw this Boston.com article:

N.H. man banished from state for 3 years

Jeffrey Phillips had lived half his life in New Hampshire, but this week he was given a few hours by authorities to gather his belongings and then was sent across the border and told not to return for three years.

Phillips, 56, was banished from the Granite State for threatening the judge assigned to his divorce case. Tempers often flare in such cases, but prosecutors said yesterday that Phillips's threat to shoot the judge in the head, scribbled in a note, was an attack on "the very fabric of the constitutional system."

So, like Napoleon Bonaparte and other enemies of the state sent into exile before him, Phillips left his home in Kingston, N.H., journeying to Massachusetts on Thursday.

So far I have around 5 individual citizen exiles, several government departments and agencies, a short list of corporations and a Vice President to ship out. All of my nominees, in my opinion, have attacked "the very fabric of the constitutional system." My fear is that the plan will be labeled hogwash and delayed until the 2008 election.

February 01, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Chronic Pain No Longer Keeps Workers From Work

Category: Right On!

Whatever happened to the malingerers?

Chronic Pain Up Almost 40 Percent Among U.S. Workers In Past Decade

Persistent, chronic pain has risen dramatically among full-time U.S. workers in the past 10 years, but workers today opt to go to their jobs rather than call in sick, leading to a growing trend of presenteeism -- a negative impact on work despite being physically present at the job.

Chronic pain, defined in the survey as pain that lasts for at least six months, was more common in the workplace in 2006 than it was in 1996 (26 percent vs. 19 percent).

Today, almost nine in 10 employees with chronic pain (89 percent) typically go to work rather than stay home when experiencing chronic pain, the survey found. The same percentage of employees (89 percent) reported experiencing chronic pain at work "often" or "sometimes." Ninety-five percent of employees with persistent, chronic pain reported that their pain must be moderately severe or very severe to cause them to stay home from work.

New signs in the workplace are urging employees to Suck It Up & Go Home.

January 27, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Take A Bow, Civil Lawsuits

Category: Right On!

Oh, my God! Praise for litigation (read that as civil lawsuits).

Role of Litigation in Defining Drug Risks (JAMA and BMJ)

Below are excerpts from two timely articles that offer persuasive arguments backed by evidence demonstrating that litigation provides vital drug safety information that physicians and the public need to protect consumers from drug-induced hazards. Documents uncovered during the course of litigation shed light on real risks of drug-induced harm that would not otherwise be known.

From the Alliance For Human Research Protection.

January 15, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Teach Your Daughters To Seethe Inside

Category: Right On!

We now have good reason to encourage women to bite their tongues.

Outwardly Expressed Anger Affects Some Women's Heart Arteries

While previous studies have shown that anger and hostility, in and of themselves, can increase risk of heart disease in men, little of the research has included women.

Results of a new study, conducted exclusively with female subjects, suggest that anger and hostility alone are not predictive for coronary artery disease in women, but women who outwardly express anger may be at increased risk if they also have any of several other risk factors: age (risk increases as women get older), history of diabetes and history of unhealthy levels of fats (lipids) in the blood.

Cardiologist C. Noel Bairey Merz, M.D., medical director of the Preventive and Rehabilitative Cardiac Center and medical director of Women's Health at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said the overt expression of anger toward other persons or objects appears to be the most "toxic" aspect of hostility in women. In fact, the researchers analyzed a variety of measures related to anger, including cynicism, hostile temperament, aggression and suppressed anger. Only expressed anger described as Anger Out on the rating scale had predictive value, and only when the age, diabetes or dyslipidemia risk factors also were present.

January 10, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Trial Lawyers Praised For Speaking Plain English

Category: Right On!

At the Justia Blog the talk turned to, well, lawyer talk.

Watch Your Words

Today, former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki posted an interview with Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick. I enjoy reading Guy's blog because he writes in an engaging and easy-to-read style that most of us would love to emulate. Anyways, in the interview, the Heaths explain the Curse of Knowledge:

Think of a lawyer who can't give you a straight, comprehensible answer to a legal question. His vast knowledge and experience renders him unable to fathom how little you know. So when he talks to you, he talks in abstractions that you can't follow. And we're all like the lawyer in our own domain of expertise.

I was sickened to read that lawyers have earned the image of poor communicators. I know the special effort all of my partners and associates make to speak in ordinary language. We know that nobody wants gobbledygook. Then, as I continued to read the article, came this positive news:

Many trial lawyers are able to breakdown complex legal concepts and explain them to a client or a juror without resorting to jargon.

This could mark the first time trial lawyers have been praised by someone other than their clients and themselves.

January 05, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Is This Medical Science Or Monty Python?

Category: Right On!

If the British Medical Association is correct, hospitals may take on the look of nudist colonies. It appears superfluous clothing, beginning with neckties, scarves, wraps and watches, is banned as part of the effort to reduce the incidence of MRSA infections. Monty Python and the Infection Busters will be released as a feature film in July, 2007.

NHS BANNING NECKTIES

In an attempt to deflect blame for MRSA from where it really belongs -- dirty hospitals and negligent staff

Doctors have been banned from wearing ties in an effort to contain the spread of superbug MRSA. An NHS trust has told hospital staff, including senior consultants, that the wearing of ties and "other superfluous clothing" could result in disciplinary action. The rules have been introduced by the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust in a bid to reduce its rate of MRSA infection, which is one of the highest in England. The new dress code policy also bans staff involved in direct clinical care from wearing jewelry, watches, scarves and wraps.

But doctors say the new rules stem from political correctness rather than scientific evidence and fear that patients will have less confidence in casually dressed medics. Dr Michael Dixon, chairman of the NHS Alliance, which represents primary care trusts, and wears a bow-tie at his GP surgery, told the paper: "This is political correctness rather than science. Patients need to be able to respect and trust their doctors and going around without ties might damage that relationship."

Earlier this year the British Medical Association suggested that doing away with functionless items of clothing such as ties may help reduce rates of MRSA and other hospital acquired infections. Over 3,500 cases of MRSA blood-stream infection were reported in NHS hospitals between October 2005 and March 2006 and the number of deaths where the superbug is mentioned on death certificates has increased each year from 1993 to 2004. A spokeswoman for the trust said action was needed to improve infection control rates and that the new measures were introduced following consultation with staff.

December 21, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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You Can Forget The Expert Affidavit Baloney In Oklahoma Malpractice Cases

Category: Right On!

There must be something about the air in Oklahoma, something that gave eight of the justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court the guts to rule a medical malpractice tort reform provision passed in 2003 unconstitutional.

And, when you hear the simple logic of their reasoning you wonder why so many of the Supreme Court justices in other states have been so gutless in the face of special laws for special folks, the medical profession.

Tort reform issue ruled unconstitutional: Supreme Court: Expert testimony not required after decision

The Oklahoma Supreme Court made it easier Tuesday for Oklahomans to file medical malpractice lawsuits, striking down a legal provision it said sabotages equal access to the courts.

The court ruled as unconstitutional a provision of a 2003 tort reform law that required someone suing a medical professional to get an expert in the field, usually a doctor, to say in an affidavit that the lawsuit had merit.

Without the affidavit, the lawsuit could not be filed.

With eight of nine justices concurring, the court said the provision was a special law that unconstitutionally applies only to people filing medical negligence claims. People filing any other negligence claim don't have to comply with the provision, it said.

The law also creates an unconstitutional monetary barrier to access to courts because a person filing the malpractice lawsuit must spend between $500 and $5,000 for an expert opinion on the lawsuit's merit, the court said.

It also said the provision created a windfall for insurance companies that benefit from a decreased number of cases to defend but aren't required to implement post-tort reform rates that decrease medical malpractice insurance for physicians.

Source: The Daily Oklahoman

December 11, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Doctors, Would You Prefer Japanese Justice Or Greedy Trial Lawyers?

Category: Right On!

Doctors and hospital administrators in the U.S. should be thrilled that personal injury lawyers (sometimes affectionately called greedy trial lawyers) are their major concern when a medical error (often properly called medical malpractice) occurs. Point of Law tells us that in Japan it is the police who police the medical profession.

Medical mistakes in Japan

Prof. Robert Leflar spent a year at the University of Tokyo's law school studying the response of Japanese law to medical error. There is, as everyone knows, far less medical malpractice civil litigation there; peer review and professional discipline structures also turn out to be weak. A surprising counterbalance?

In Japan, injury or death due to medical error is often treated as a criminal matter. When medical error causes injury or death, patients or their family members call the police to investigate the incident. Arrests and prosecutorial decisions are based on results of investigations. In other words, medical error in Japan is considered a crime against the state. ... [Japan's] criminal code also contains sanctions for attempts to cover up mistakes by altering patients' charts.

December 05, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Pleasure Of The Runaway Verdict

Category: Right On!

I have come upon a new and exciting campaign theme to counter the tort reform movement. It came to me when I read about a new approach being proposed for safe sex campaigns. (Even a Greedy Trial Lawyer tries to stay abreast of important developments in public health.)

Safer Sex Campaigns Need To Promote Condoms As Offering Pleasure As Well As Protection

Promotion of pleasure in use of male and female condoms - alongside safer sex messages - can facilitate consistent use of condoms, state the authors of a Viewpoint in this week's issue of The Lancet.

Public health campaigns to promote condom use usually focus on the adverse consequences of sexual acts. This may, in part, explain their limited effect so far, says Anne Philpott (The Pleasure Project, London, UK) and colleagues in their Viewpoint. They discuss the potential for increasing condom uptake and safer sexual behaviours by promoting the pleasurable aspects of condom use in public-health campaigns.

Condom-promotion campaigns that have been bold enough to include pleasure as a motivating factor - those that link the use of condoms to enhanced sensitivity and sensuality - have noted a rise in uptake of condoms and safer sex.

The promotion of pleasure by citizen-jurors who have the ability to give a victim a really big award may counter the often-featured adverse consequences of runaway juries. After all, it is the runaway jury that produces the spectacularly high verdict and the high fives by the plaintiffs and their counsel. If jurors could see this as a really pleasurable moment and a happy result, there would be no more talk of caps on damages. We need to permit the ringing of a bell, the dropping of balloons, the playing of "We Are The Champions" and the popping of corks when huge verdicts are read. The judge could even toot a festive horn.

OK, maybe, it is not such a good idea, but it is no more absurd than a cap on damages.

November 18, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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I Am Thinking About Money - Good For Me...And, Good For You

Category: Right On!

Finally...research has shown that thinking about money is a good thing. If these findings are correct, being a greedy trial lawyer is a civic duty.

Money May Change How People Act

Having money, or just thinking about money, may affect behavior, a study in Science shows.

"The mere presence of money changes people," says researcher Kathleen Vohs, PhD, in a University of Minnesota news release.

Vohs' team studied nearly 300 undergraduates at the University of Minnesota and Canada's University of British Columbia.

In nine experiments, the researchers reminded some students about money.

For instance, some of those students received play money. Others sat in front of computers with money screen savers.

For comparison, other students didn't get any play money. They sat at computers with screen savers showing landscapes or other scenes without money.

Money Matters

In every test, students who received or were reminded of money were more self-sufficient than those who weren't given or reminded of money.

For example, the students in the money group worked longer by themselves on a task assigned by the researchers before asking for help.

"The results of nine experiments suggest that money brings about a self-sufficient orientation in which people prefer to be free of dependency and dependents," write the researchers.

I appreciate the tip re the money screen savers, but will not accept play money in settlement of any of my claims..

November 03, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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My Name Is "Scooter", Not "Memory Bank"

Category: Right On!

I am sure Scooter Libby is disappointed his defense counsel failed in the effort to introduce the testimony of a memory expert during the upcoming trial in the Valerie Plame matter.

Judge rejects Libby memory expert testimony

Libby sought to use memory experts to show that he innocently mis-remembered facts, and did not intentionally misrepresent his knowledge of the leak.

"the Court has no doubt that aided by the normal trial processes, and the assistance of very capable legal counsel, the jurors will have the ability to collectively draw upon their common-sense understanding of memory and render a fair and just verdict."

It is possible Libby will be able to introduce the memory evidence during the trial, which should be quite long and complex, when the trial judge and prosecutor mis-remember this pre-trial decision.

October 19, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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I May Develop A Tortellini Habit

Category: Right On!

Time for the drum roll and the 21 gun salute for Stephanie Mencimer at a new blog, The Tortellini.

Welcome to the Tortellini

This new blog on law and politics is a companion to my forthcoming book, Blocking the Courthouse Door: How the Republican Party and its Corporate Allies are Taking Away Your Right to Sue

"Tort reform" has become a staple of Republican politics. Limits on lawsuits are offered as a solution to everything from the health care crisis and economic stagnation to America's moral decline. Americans overwhelmingly believe that the nation is awash in frivolous lawsuits.

And that's just where The Tortellini comes in. Because most of what you've heard about "lawsuit abuse" is wrong. The majority sentiment on legal reform comes courtesy of a long disinformation campaign by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other big business sponsors like the tobacco, insurance and automobile industries. These folks have managed to convince voters from to Hawaii to Maine that plaintiffs in civil actions are whiners, hustlers, and layabouts, and that their attempts to win the "lawsuit lottery" have created a "litigation explosion."

The truth, as The Tortellini will attest, is more complex. The number of personal injury filings are falling, not rising, according to sober government data, median awards are falling, and plaintiffs are taking it on the chin, in everything from medical malpractice to products liability lawsuits.

With daily posts, original reporting, useful stats, and other features, The Tortellini will give you the skinny on the latest in the fight for the courthouse: from legislative proposals and court decisions, to the clever tactics companies are employing to minimize legal exposure. Not to mention gossip!

October 17, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Blogging For Political Change

Category: Right On!

Legal Underground blogs on the need for Plaintiffs' Lawyers to join the political discussion in America via the media, including our weblogs.

POLITICS, WEBLOGS, AND PLAINTIFFS' LAWYERS

At a national seminar last week for plaintiffs' lawyers, I was surprised when one of the keynote speakers urged the audience to learn more about weblogs and podcasts.

The seminar was Mass Torts Made Perfect. The speaker was Mike Papantonio of Levin Papantonio. Papantonio's topic: "Corporate Controlled Media: What Lawyers Everywhere Are Up Against."

Speaking to an audience of plaintiffs' lawyers, Papantonio urged them to become more involved in the country's political discussion. The vehicle? If not radio, then weblogs or podcasts. "The only thing holding you back is your own damned selfishness," Papantonio said.

Since I am not a Selfish Trial Lawyer I say, vote the Republicans into early retirement where they can concentrate on bingo reform.

September 01, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Have A Camel, Osama

Category: Right On!

"Your Honor, would it be OK if we continued our fraudulent and deceptive cigarette marketing practices overseas?"

"Only if you limit the marketing to states that sponsor terrorism."

With this simple ruling, America's most promising covert weapon in the War on Terrorism has received the green light. It may take decades for the ranks of the terrorists to be dramatically thinned by smoking-related diseases, but every dead or impaired smoker is one less Muslim-Fascist enemy trying to destroy freedom and democracy.

Who knew what President Bush meant when he promised we were going to smoke the terrorists out!

You have to marvel at the brilliance and irony of using Camels to bring down fanatical Muslims.

Big Tobacco asks to keep marketing 'light' cigarettes overseas

A group of tobacco companies are asking a federal judge to let them continue marketing ``low tar'' and "light'' cigarettes overseas.

The request comes two weeks after the same US District judge banned the practice in the United States.

The judge ruled August 17th that the nation's top cigarette makers violated racketeering laws and deceived the public for years about the health hazards of smoking.

The companies were ordered to stop using terms such as "light'' on their products, saying such cigarettes are no safer than others.

They were also ordered to publish in newspapers and on their Web sites "corrective statements'' on the adverse health effects and addictiveness of smoking and nicotine.

In court documents filed Thursday, tobacco lawyers asked the judge to clarify that ruling to let them continue their marketing practices and selling so-called "light'' and "low-tar'' cigarettes overseas.

August 25, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Nobody Rats Out A Buddy

Category: Right On!

Deep within this bizarre tale of cell phones in a courtroom is an inspiring example of adherence to the childhood admonition, Never A Tattler Be.

Can You Hear Me Now?

After someone's cell phone rang for the third time, an angry Indiana judge detained a row of spectators in her courtroom and -- after she couldn't get an answer as to who owned the chirping phones -- held two people in contempt for not fessing up. After unsuccessfully questioning the five potential suspects, Lake County Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell ordered them all to sit in chairs reserved for prison inmates. There they sat for more than an hour until the court session ended.

One woman agreed to pay a $100 fine after finally admitting that her phone went off. The judge ordered her to perform community service, but she demurred because a disability prevented her from doing work.

A man also admitted he had two phones -- one was off, and when he shut down the other after the judge warned the gallery, it made a loud powering-down sound. He admitted he didn't speak up to explain that when the judge had first asked. Another woman said she knew it was the man's phone shutting down, but didn't tattle on him. They were both ordered to serve 40 hours of community service.