Soundbites: Message Point Archive by Date
2011

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DECEMBER 2011

Patients or Commodities? “So-called hospitalists are medical personnel who contract with hospitals to manage large numbers of patients – sometimes two dozen or more in a shift. They are typically compensated per patient “encounter,” an incentive to maintain a high volume of patients.”

“IPC, the country’s largest publicly-traded hospitalist practice, has been named in seven unrelated, local malpractice lawsuits…[Some] involve allegations that hospitalists failed to review medical histories or consult with primary care physicians before authorizing powerful drugs. Many studies say these types of deaths are preventable. But institutional change is needed across corporate health care, which often regards patients as commodities, making some doctors more accountable to shareholders than the Hippocratic Oath. This is exacerbated in Texas with tort reform, which often means families…can never expect medical justice.” Excerpted from: Reliance on high-tech and high-turnover leading to lawsuits in ‘hospitalist’-heavy San Antonio, by Robert Crowe, San Antonio Current, December 7, 2011


⇒Over and Over (and Over) Again...“…a comprehensive review of the impact of the 2003 law by The Associated Press concludes that the growth in physicians tracks population increases.”

“The AP also found that most new doctors have opted to practice in urban areas that weren't facing a doctor shortage rather than underserved communities that most need those new physicians.”

“Health care costs at both the family level and the overall system level are up dramatically since 2003.”

“The fact is that so-called tort "reform" has done nothing to improve patient safety.”
“While special interest groups… and the insurance industry crow, Texas patients continue to struggle under a broken health care system.” Excerpted from: Spin-doctoring by doctors, by N. Alex Winslow (Texas Watch)/Contributed, Corpus Christi Caller Times, 11-30-11


NOVEMBER 2011

Texas beats the trend. “Texas employer-sponsored health insurance is costing more and buying less….”

"The state-by-state report [by the The Commonwealth Fund]…found that between 2003 and 2010 such premiums in Texas rose 52 percent for families and 46 percent for individuals. In addition, both groups' deductibles more than doubled…”

"This is a national trend, but Texas' numbers are particularly pronounced," said Cathy Schoen, the report's lead author…”

“Schoen noted that Texas' numbers stand out because incomes in the state remained below the national average during the same time.”

“Schoen said average premiums will rise by 72 percent by 2020 if current trends are not slowed.” Excerpted from: Texas health premiums cost more, buy less, by Todd Ackerman, Houston Chronicle 11-17-11.


Eight years later.  “An analysis of Perry's tort reform initiative in Texas reveals a more complicated bottom line than his campaign rhetoric on the issue would suggest. State medical data show that the number of physicians practicing in Texas has increased since the initiative passed in 2003, though by considerably less than the total Perry cites. And the bulk of that influx has come in larger cities where health care was already abundant, leaving large rural swaths of Texas still without doctors.”

“The statistic Perry most often cites — 23,000 newly licensed doctors after tort reform — includes about 10,000 who sought licenses in Texas but took jobs elsewhere and physicians practicing telemedicine in other states.” Excerpted from: Doctor gaps in Texas persist despite Perry's stats, by CBS News (Associated Press) 11-8-11.


Wish I’d never said that. “…AMA News continues reporting on some fascinating statements coming out of the Texas “tort reform” movement in response to Public Citizen’s recent report called "A Failed Experiment; Health Care in Texas Has Worsened in Key Respects Since State Instituted Liability Caps in 2003… “

"The Texas Medical Assn. called the report misleading. ‘First of all, we never promised the tort reform bill would lower the cost of medical care. We said it would increase access to medical care,’ said TMA President C. Bruce Malone, MD.” Ooh, sound familiar?”

“Of course they claimed that. (Straight from their materials: "More patients will be able to afford health insurance;" "Passage of Prop 12… would keep medical care affordable and accessible for all Texans.") But that’s not even the point. The point is that these folks now say, "don't expect 'tort reform' to lower your healthcare costs." Finally, consensus!” Excerpted from: "Tort Reformers" Caught in Texas, www.thepoptort.com, October 31, 2011, (Center for Justice & Democracy blog)

OCTOBER 2011

The story behind the headlines. “A new study released… by the national consumer rights organization, Center for Justice & Democracy, finds that news coverage of civil jury verdicts fails to provide an accurate picture of the civil justice system and that certain new media trends are making the situation worse. The study, “Headline Blues: Civil Justice In The Age Of New Media,” follows up on CJ&D’s January 2001 study, Reading Between the Headlines: The Media and Jury Verdicts. That report found the media’s coverage of verdicts to be deeply skewed, fueling common misperceptions that civil juries routinely award plaintiffs eye-popping verdicts for frivolous claims. Headline Blues finds this still to be true but certain new trends are producing even more distorted reporting.” Excerpted from: Press Release - NATIONAL CONSUMER GROUP RELEASES NEW STUDY CRITIQUING MEDIA’S COVERAGE OF THE CIVIL JUSTICE SYSTEM, 10-19-11.


Media Mumbo Jumbo.   A new study released today by the national consumer rights organization, Center for Justice & Democracy, finds that news coverage of civil jury verdicts fails to provide an accurate picture of the civil justice system and that certain new media trends are making the situation worse. The study, “Headline Blues: Civil Justice In The Age Of New Media,” follows up on CJ&D’s January 2001 study, Reading Between the Headlines: The Media and Jury Verdicts. That report found the media’s coverage of verdicts to be deeply skewed, fueling common misperceptions that civil juries routinely award plaintiffs eye-popping verdicts for frivolous claims. Headline Blues finds this still to be true but certain new trends are producing even more distorted reporting. Headline Blues: Civil Justice in the Age of New Media, Center for Justice & Democracy, October 19, 2011


Debunking another TX urban legend. “A common perception among policymakers and pundits is that medical malpractice litigation is significantly, or even chiefly, to blame for skyrocketing health care costs and steadily diminishing access to care. But analysis of data in Texas, which in 2003 imposed some of the strictest liability caps in the country, tells a far different story. While litigation over malpractice in Texas has plummeted dramatically since the caps were imposed, residents of Texas (except for people with financial connections to liability insurance companies and, to a lesser extent, doctors) have realized few, if any, benefits. Instead, the health care picture in Texas has worsened significantly by almost any measure.” Public Citizen Report: A Failed Experiment - Health Care in Texas Has Worsened in Key Respects Since State Instituted Liability Caps in 2003, October 12, 2011.


Welcome Wagon. “The fabulous group Texas Watch has been closely following the case(s) of Dr. Stefan Konasiewicz, Texas brain surgeon.”

“In Dr. Konasiewicz’s former state, Minnesota, he was…only the second neurosurgeon to be disciplined…as a result of charges prompted by allegations of harming patients…Konasiewicz was also disciplined by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice for ‘unprofessional and unethical conduct’… “

“Dr. Konasiewicz made a bee line for [Texas], where in 2008 he joined the South Texas Brain and Spine Institute in Corpus Christi…Apparently, Texas was so happy to have him operate on the brains of Texans…the Texas Medical Board has taken no such action against him, meaning his license is not restricted and he does not need to have his work supervised.” Excerpted from: Where do Incompetent and Unethical Doctors Go?, www.thepoptort.com (Center for Justice & Democracy) 9-27-11

SEPTEMBER 2011

Not medically necessary.  “While 22 other states have considered changes tightening their workers’ compensation programs in recent legislative sessions, it would be hard to find one that keeps legal fees as low, denials as high, and efforts of doctors and others to scam the system as plentiful as in Texas.”  Excerpted from: Insult to Injury: Texas Workers’ Comp System Denies, Delays Medical Help, by Terry Carter, ABA Journal Oct 2011


Chilling effect. “A law that took effect this month bars the Texas Medical Board from considering complaints against doctors if they come from anonymous sources like the complaint from two Winkler County nurses who lost their jobs after anonymously urging the board to investigate a doctor in 2009.”

“Since a 2003 tort law made it tougher for consumers to sue doctors, the Texas Medical Board has become the sole recourse for some patients who can't find lawyers to take their malpractice case because of damage limits. Those patients might not get justice — or money — in court, but they still want the doctor punished and the public to know about it.”

“Alex Winslow, executive director of Texas Watch… called the law "a step in the wrong direction" that "could endanger the safety of patients."  Excerpted from: New law bans anonymous complaints about doctors, by Mary Ann Roser Austin American Statesman, Sept. 18, 2011


Crony Capitalism. “In its brief but controversial life, the Texas Residential Construction Commission won far more detractors than admirers.”

“The TRCC, however, had at least one friend who mattered: Houston homebuilder Bob Perry...An advocate for the agency from its creation in 2003 until it closed its doors in 2010, the homebuilder’s imprimatur was significant.”

“Now dormant, the TRCC serves as a case study of how wealthy contributors can shape public policy. In this year’s hard-fought Republican presidential primary, the agency likely will get renewed scrutiny as Perry’s Republican competitors search for ways to distinguish themselves from the Texas governor. In a speech last week in Iowa, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin took aim against career politicians who reward their campaign contributors with government favors.”
Excerpted from: One agency highlights the link between Perry and his donors, by Patti Hart, Houston Chronicle 9-10-11.


What's fair and right. "The problem is that military members and their families aren't allowed to seek the same kind of compensation for egregious harm they could if they were civilians -- even civilians suing the same government employees."

“Congress could make the law clearer about which kinds of suits are allowed and which aren't. By not doing so, lawmakers could be agreeing with a long-standing court precedent -- or avoiding the responsibility of making a difficult choice after thorough and thoughtful debate.”  Excerpted from: Editorial - The right remedy for government negligence, Ft Worth Star Telegram Sept 5, 2011


Hogwash! “After analyzing thousands of records, the I-Team found Texas ranks second to last in the nation when it comes to nursing home staffing.”

“An advocate for the elderly says she has seen Texas nursing homes flat out lie about their workforce.”

“It’s hogwash. It is hogwash,” said Gay Nell Harper, with Advocates for Nursing Home Residents (TANHR). "I've seen them count the cooks. I’ve seen them count the maids. I've seen them count the office staff.”

“But that's not direct care," she said.” Excerpted from: Texas nursing homes rank near bottom for staffing, by Jeremy Rogalski, KHOU 11 News 8-25-201

AUGUST 2011

Quandary: File a lawsuit or make a good faith offer? “Energy companies are increasingly suing South Texas landowners as they work to build pipelines to accommodate surging oil and gas production.”

“In 2011, pipeline companies have filed at least 184 lawsuits against landowners in four South Texas counties, compared with 28 all of last year. The increase in lawsuits comes ahead of a change in state law that will make it harder for pipeline companies to condemn land for easements after Sept. 1…”

“…the number of lawsuits brought by pipeline companies so far this year is "highly extraordinary," said W.C. Kirkendall, a district court judge who sits in Lavaca County, which has registered 62 lawsuits this year…”

“The new law requires entities with eminent-domain authority to make a good-faith offer before filing suit, and gives landowners more time to respond to offers.” Excerpted from: Lawsuits Flow Over Texas Pipelines, by Daniel Gilbert, WSJ 8-19-11


Corporate Stamp of Approval. “Whatever the cause, the result is a predominantly Perry-appointed Supreme Court that Alex Winslow, the executive director of the liberal consumer advocacy group Texas Watch, said upholds the governor’s “staunchly pro-defendant and anti-consumer” ideals…Winslow’s organization analyzed the Supreme Court’s decisions during the 2008-09 term and found it sided with consumers in 27 percent of cases involving an individual against a corporation or government agency — and it reversed jury verdicts in 72 percent of cases.” Excerpted from: Supreme Court is Elected, but Bears Perry's Stamp, by Beth Brown, Texas Tribune 8-12-11


WAKE UP!  “Maybe this will finally jolt people into understanding what happens when a state severely reduces a hospital’s accountability for negligence.”

“Parkland Memorial Hospital (Dallas, Texas)… has now become such a "serious threat" to patient safety that government is considering throwing it out of the Medicare program.“

“In addition to the state’s severe “cap” on compensation and other restrictions on patients’ legal rights… cases involving medical malpractice in emergency rooms have been knocked out almost completely, making Texas ER’s some of the most dangerous in the country.”

“…you wonder how this happens "The 15 largest donors to Texas politicians and PACs gave a total of $4.7 million in the first six months of 2011, according to a Texas Tribune analysis of Texas Ethics Commission filings. The biggest beneficiary of their largesse: the Texans for Lawsuit Reform Political Action Committee." Excerpted from: Tort Reform and the Risky Perils of Texas Hospitals, www.thepoptort.com, 8-11-11


Wow, that's some crisis.  “In the Business Insurance magazine…the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have announced their new, or rather recycled PR messaging trying to link the relatively infrequent litigation by consumers against corporations, and job loss.”

“Nothing like trying to exploit the country’s economic crisis with myths and fear-mongering to pad the bottom line of their members. Seem like a shrill thing to say?”

“Well, we decided to see what businesses themselves really think about this argument…So we checked out the most recent…survey issued by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB)….We started to look down the list of 75 issues that are important to NFIB’s members. And we looked. And we looked. Finally, we hit #65: “Cost and Frequency of Lawsuits/Threatened Lawsuits.” That’s right, this issue ranked 65 out of a possible 75 matters that small businesses care about, just below "Solid and Hazardous Waste Disposal."  Excerpted from: "Tort Reform" and Jobs - No Link At All, Center for Justice & Democracy (www.thepoptort.com) 7-25-11

JULY 2011

Exactly.  “A West Virginia judge who helped West Virginia’s Supreme Court hear a recent medical malpractice case is blasting the outcome.”

“First Circuit Judge Ronald Wilson dissented sharply on Friday with last month’s ruling that upholds limits on jury verdicts...”

“His dissent said that the courts should instead be protecting malpractice victims as well as doctors who are overcharged by insurance companies.” Excerpted from: Judge Blasts West Virginia Medical Damages Cap, Insurance Journal 7-25-11


Judicial Triage. “A judge is forced to make a "Sophie's choice" when divvying up damages after a horrendous passenger train crash.”

“It is one of the most interesting and important legal opinions of the year (Chatsworth Metrolink Collision Cases Re: Allocation of Funds) because in it you see the true cost of "tort reform" and, on a larger scale, the real cost of the nation's current crest of corporatism. Here you have innocent victims whose rights and liberties were limited so that corporations could have litigation certainty. Here you have an honorable American judge hamstrung by statute to do right to the litigants before him. Justice in America in tort cases does not have to be, as the judge said, a "Sophie's Choice" Yet in many respects it is.”  Excerpted from: The Real Victims of 'Tort Reform' by Andrew Cohen, The Atlantic 7-18-11


Hidden in Plain Sight. “For a decade, the people of Libby have longed for the day when they will be rid of the asbestos that turned their town into the deadliest Superfund site in America.”

“Now they are being forced to live through the agony all over again, thanks to two giant piles of bark and wood chips on the edge of town. An Associated Press investigation found that the federal government has known for at least three years that the wood piles were contaminated with an unknown level of asbestos, even as Libby residents hauled truckload after truckload of the material away from the site and placed it in yards, in city parks, outside schools and at the local cemetery.”

“Regulators still do not know what effect the material could have on public health…"

"The source of Libby's asbestos was a W.R. Grace vermiculite mine that at its peak produced 2 million tons of ore annually…only for authorities to later discover the ore was loaded with deadly asbestos."
Excerpted from: AP IMPACT: New danger found in asbestos town, by MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press, 7-5-11


In 1912 who warned, "...privilege has entrenched itself in many courts…?"* “The United States Supreme Court now sees its central task as comforting the already comfortable and afflicting those already afflicted.”

“If you are a large corporation or a political candidate backed by lots of private money, be assured that the court’s conservative majority will be there for you, solicitous of your needs and ready to swat away those pesky little people who dare to contest your power.” Excerpted from: The Supreme Court’s continuing defense of the powerful by E.J. Dionne, Jr., Washington Post 6-30-11  * Theodore Roosevelt

JUNE 2011

Jury has spoken… “Advocates for nurses and a top state medical official praised the conviction Tuesday of the Winkler County sheriff for retaliating against two nurses who complained to state regulators about a physician who is a friend of his.”

“Robert L. Roberts Jr. automatically lost his job as sheriff when jurors returned the guilty verdicts on four felony counts and two misdemeanor charges.”

"The verdict sends a message that nurses, patients and family members can bring a complaint about a doctor to the Texas Medical Board without fear of retaliation," said Mari Robinson, the board's executive director. Robinson testified at Roberts' trial.”

“Roberts was found guilty of retaliating against Anne Mitchell and Vickilyn Galle, nurses at Winkler County Memorial Hospital, after they sent an unsigned letter to the Medical Board in 2009 about Dr. Rolando Arafiles Jr.”  Excerpted from: Nurse advocate, state medical official happy with verdict against sheriff, by Betsy Blaney (AP) Ft. Worth Star Telegram, 6-16-11


Deny, delay, collude…"The House Insurance Committee passed a bill overhauling the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. Gov. Rick Perry put the matter on the special session's agenda…The bill now goes to the full House for consideration and if approved, on to the Senate."

"Following Hurricane Rita, there were numerous allegations of collusion between claims adjusters and the association. More than 1,900 policyholders sued the association for failing to pay for legitimate damages. The Texas Department of Insurance placed the association under administrative oversight in February."

"The proposed bill would eliminate claims for punitive damages."

"Ware Wendell, legislative director of the consumer advocacy group Texas Watch, said the measure takes away vital rights to sue that people with policies issued by for-profit insurance companies can currently use to force insurers to fulfill their policies."

"Those protections are important for a number of reasons. They do deter bad conduct, they do compel prompt payment," Wendell said. "And more importantly, they make more likely that the aggrieved, deserving policy holder will be made whole." Excerpted from: Texas lawmakers OK changes to hurricane insurance, by CHRIS TOMLINSON, Beaumont Enterprise (Associated Press), June 7, 2011


Less lawsuits does not equal less malpractice. “But not everyone agrees that tort reform was good for patients.”

“Just because there are fewer lawsuits doesn't mean there's any less malpractice being committed,” said Alex Winslow, executive director of Texas Watch, an Austin-based consumer advocacy group. “It simply made it more difficult for patients who are harmed to exercise their rights and hold the doctor accountable.”  Excerpted from: Malpractice lawsuits plummet by Don Finley, San Antonio Express News, 5-30-11

MAY 2011


Frivolous Legislation.  “…the Texas House passed a bill that is laughingly called a "loser pays" bill.”

You may think that means that if someone files a frivolous lawsuit, he or she pays the legal fees from the other side. That may be how the bill started out, but it's not how it ended up.

“Perry put this bill (HB 274) on the agenda as an "emergency." Apparently the state's judges don't agree.”

“Four years ago the Baylor Law Review published a survey of the state's 389 district court judges, 78 percent of whom responded. More than 86 percent said they saw no need for more tort reform laws.


“Looking at Harris County statistics, you can see why. Medical malpractice lawsuits fell from 574 in 2002, just before major tort reform went into effect, to 219 last year.” “Some emergency.” Excepted from: 'Loser pays' is false advertising By Rick Casey, Houston Chronicle, May 10, 2011


Willful failure. “BP will pay $25 million in civil fines to settle charges arising from two spills from its network of pipelines in Alaska in 2006 and from a willful failure to comply with court orders to properly maintain the pipelines to prevent corrosion, federal officials announced on Tuesday.”

“As a result of corrosion and poor maintenance of its pipelines in Alaska, BP was found responsible for the discharge of more than 5,000 barrels of oil onto the Arctic tundra and into a lake on the North Slope in March 2006…” Excerpted from: BP Is Fined $25 Million for ’06 Spills at Pipelines by John M. Broder, NYT May 3, 2011


⇒The Frivolous Lawsuit Fallacy. "Stripped of all their political baggage, the notions that frivolous lawsuits should get kicked out before they cost anyone much money and that those who wrongly drag others into court should bear the financial brunt sound fair and right.”

“But proposals to change Texas' civil justice system aren't ever mainly about fairness and right.”

“They're about money: Who's making it, who's spending it and who's giving it to which candidates.”

“That means less money for trial lawyers…who tend to support Democrats. Republicans, who usually are backed by moneyed business interests, want to make sure they keep the upper hand.”

“Thus, Gov. Rick Perry continues promoting the fallacy that Texas runs amok in frivolous suits and unhinged juries, thereby needing emergency legislation to remain business-friendly.” Excerpted from: Editorial: Tort reform's about money more than fairness, Fort Worth Star Telegram, May 19, 2011


Proceed with prudence. “The Texas House produced a deeply flawed tort reform measure. The Texas Senate has done a good job of cleaning it up.”

“That [House] version of loser pays would mean that even winners could end up paying attorney's fees, and in a big way.”

“The Senate bill generated an unusual consensus of support… Nevertheless, the high court needs to craft its rules with prudence.”

“Limiting lawsuit abuse is a worthy goal. But the justices must also ensure that the fear of economic ruin does not close the doors of Texas justice to people of limited means.” Excerpted: Editorial: Tort reform bill greatly improved, San Antonio Express News 5-26-11

 

APRIL 2011

It's kind of shocking, the lack of care and attention. “It took three days for the MRSA infection to spread throughout Barbara McCornack's body, shut down her vital organs and kill the 95-year-old grandmother.”

“After she died April 16, the hospital advised McCornack's relatives to alert the assisted living center. But they say the facility's staff was not responsive to their concerns.”

“Despite the threat posed by MRSA infections…community-based facilities in Texas are not required to report such cases to local, state or federal health officials.”

“Nor are hospitals required to report cases or notify residents of the same facility.”

“Although Texas approved an information reporting system for hospital-acquired infections in 2007, it was never funded.” Excerpted from: Family cries foul after fatal bacterial infection in Grapevine, By Jan Jarvis, Fort Worth Star Telegram 4-27-11


Straight Talk. “Texans believe in personal responsibility. When you’ve done wrong, you fess up and accept the consequences. Corporations should be no different. They should be held accountable when their actions cause harm to the citizens of this great state.”

“So what has “lawsuit reform” done for Texas? It has crippled our citizens’ constitutional right to trial by jury, just so corporations can protect their bottom line. It’s time we showed some appreciation for working Texans by not using their successes as a means to strip them of their rights.” Excerpted from: Letter-to-Editor: Reform crippled citizens’ rights By Caroline Sellars, Texas Watch Outreach Director, Corpus Christi Caller Times 4-12-11


In recognition of the outstanding achievements…“Although five Transocean executives will donate their safety bonuses—a total of $250,000—to families of 11 workers killed in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the executives retain other awards associated with the 86-day oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.”

“Transocean Ltd. announced the donation on Tuesday amid outrage over an Annual Report that described 2010 as “the best year in safety performance in our company’s history.”

“The $250,000 is the portion of bonuses tied to the company’s safety formula. The five executives will retain about $650,000 in cash incentives that are not so encumbered.”

“They will also retain much more valuable “long-term incentives” in the form of stocks and options.”

“For example, the Annual Report justifies executive compensation because executives performed additional duties as a result of the spill…” Excerpted from: Transocean Execs Keep Most Of Their Bonuses by Jeff McMahon,
The Ingenuity of the Commons (blog) Forbes.com 4-6-11


The Pinto Legacy: Heinous Calculations. “With all it didn’t have going for it, the Pinto’s greatest legacies arose from its unfortunate propensity to explode its gas tank when hit from behind. Bad press and a general vibe killer, such explosive tendencies…also remind us, frankly, why all the blather we’re treated to every few years about tort reform is so misguided.”

“Consider the matter of Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Company, wherein it emerged that Ford had put its new Pinto on sale with its executives’ full knowledge that a chassis bolt had been placed in a position where it was likely to cause the gas tank to explode in rear impacts.… it was shown that the company openly chose to overlook the gas tank hazard after running an internal analysis which concluded that the $130 million cost of making a design change would outstrip that of settling an anticipated 180 wrongful death and 180 additional burn injury cases each year. Ford’s heinous math turned out all wrong.”
Excerpted from: Don’t Like Government Regulation? How’d You Like Another Pinto? by Jamie Lincoln Kitman (New York Bureau Chief for Automobile Magazine), Car Talk Blog March 24, 2011

March 2011

437 Bad Apples. “The Texas Medical Board was among 33 nationally that did not discipline a high percentage of doctors who either lost their hospital privileges or were restricted in their hospital practices, according to the report by Public Citizen’s Health Research Group.”

“In Texas, 60.4 percent of 725 doctors during the two decades escaped medical board action, according to the group’s state-by-state breakdown.”

“One unnamed Texas doctor who did not receive discipline by the state board had 22 medical malpractice payments totaling $2.6 million between 1996 and 2008 that included claims that he operated on the wrong part of the body and damaged three patients permanently, the report said.” Excerpted from: Report: Texas fails to discipline doctors hospitals have punished by Mary Ann Roser, Austin American Statesman March 16, 2011


Our suits are the right thing to do, yours are frivolous. “In his state of the state address this year {Governor} Perry said that Texas needs a system "in which those who sue and lose are required to pay the court costs and legal expenses of those they sued."

“Is Governor Perry ready to follow his own rule?”

“Over the last year, the Governor, his appointees…have spent tremendous resources fighting the Environmental Protection Agency…In fact, the various suits and maneuvers by Perry…to block enforcement of the EPA’s GHG rule were rejected not once, but four times by more than one court.”

“Maybe we should be asking him if he will guarantee to pay the taxpayers back for the costs of these lawsuits he has lost thus far…” Excerpted from: “Loser Pays” in Texas vs. EPA by Jim Marston, Environmental Defense Fund (blog) 3-11-2011


A sobering statistic. “More than 90 percent of nursing homes employ one or more people who have been convicted of at least one crime, federal investigators said…in a new report. In addition, they said, 5 percent of all nursing home employees have at least one criminal conviction.”

“The report was issued by Daniel R. Levinson, inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, who obtained the names of more than 35,000 nursing home employees and then checked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to see if they had criminal records.” Excerpted from: Study Finds Criminal Pasts of Nursing Home Workers by Robert Pear, NYT 3-2-11


I, Jack, accept full liability for the genetically modified beanstalk.  “Monsanto has an interesting clause in its seed [GMO] contract. The Monsanto Technology Stewardship Agreement has a waiver that shifts all liability from any incidental, direct, indirect consequences from its seeds from the company to the farmer.”

“Apparently, Monsanto is so sure that their seeds are problem-free that they refuse to take responsibility for them...” 
Excerpted from: Not Monsanto's Fault! Ever. By Eric Holt Gimenez of Food First/Institute for Food & Development Policy, Huffington Post 3-2-11

February 2011

Righteously litigious dudes… “A new study finds that some of the biggest donors to Texans for Lawsuit Reform - whose agenda is curbing lawsuits against business by injured people -- are themselves pretty active users of the court system. TLR was Texas' biggest political committee in last year's elections…Forty top donors accounted for 81 percent of the group's money in the 2010 election cycle, according to the study by Texans for Public Justice, a nonprofit group that tracks campaign contributions.”

“While the group's agenda has been to limit personal-injury lawsuits against business, it generally has not sought to restrict suits filed by businesses themselves.” Excerpted from: Big donors to group limiting lawsuits against business are no stranger to the courts by Wayne Slater, DMN (blog) 2-23-11


Don’t say I didn’t warn you. “A former official [Kevin Lacy] with BP’s drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico resigned just months before last year’s oil spill because of disagreements with the oil giant over its commitment to safety, according to a class-action federal lawsuit related to the spill.”

“[Lacy] reached a mutual agreement with the company to resign in December 2009 because he believed the company was not adequately committed to improving safety protocols in offshore drilling operations to the level of its industry peers.” 

Excerpted from: Lawsuit says BP official resigned over safety issues by JUAN A. LOZANO, Associated Press 2-15-11.


Depends on your definition of frivolous.  “The lawmaker and retired obstetrician [Representative Phil Gingrey, R-GA] sponsoring a Congressional bill to sharply cut medical malpractice awards was involved in a $500,000 settlement of a malpractice lawsuit. The action was brought by a pregnant woman who charged that inappropriate care caused the loss of her fetus and other complications.”

"Since then, the Georgia Republican has introduced earlier versions of the bill and has been among the leading Congressional advocates of efforts to limit malpractice awards, arguing that such cases are often frivolous.”

“In a pretrial deposition, Dr. Gingrey testified that he had been sued at least three other times over malpractice during his long career. In one case, a jury found against him; in another case, there was a settlement; and in another case, the patient dropped the action, he testified.” Excerpted from: Malpractice Bill Raises Issues About a Lawsuit By Barry Meier, New York Times, 2-8-11

 


English Rule: Appalling the Founding Fathers.  “But we don't have the same moral and legal framework as the rest of the world, and never have. If you told the framers of the Constitution that we're after is to, you know, do something that will be just like Europe, they would have been appalled.” Justice Scalia Quote.  Excerpted from: The full written transcript of Scalia-Breyer debate on foreign law, American University, Jan. 13, 2005


January 2011

Warning: Tweet with Caution. “Now there's another reason to be careful about what you post on Facebook: Your insurance company may be watching.”

“Investigators who once followed people with cameras now …[mine] databases and searching Facebook," said Frank Scafidi, spokesman for the National Insurance Crime Bureau…”

“More ambitious insurance companies are even exploring the possibility of using online data to help underwrite policies.”

“…life insurance companies could find social media especially valuable for comparing what people will admit about lifestyle choices and medical histories in applications, and what they reveal online.”

"The situation is coming up more and more in court where lawyers for insurance companies lay traps for the insured based on pictures or postings on Facebook or Twitter…"

Excerpted from: Insurers are scouring social media for evidence of fraud, LA Times by Shan Li, 1-25-11.


Jury Returns Verdict of Hope  “Jurors awarded $10.1 million in damages to the family of an overdose victim Tuesday, hoping the multimillion verdict strikes fear into other "pill mills…”
"Our verdict shows how much our community is against these pill mills and wants things to change," said juror Lauren Simmons, after finding gross negligence led to the overdose death of Michael Skorpenske of Conroe.”

“Another juror, Tim Bammel, agreed, saying the verdict…should discourage others who might be improperly churning out the addictive drugs that killed Skorpenske.”

“Skorpenske's sister, Sandra Smith, referring to more than 1,200 pill deaths recorded in the last two years, says "the jury has given a lot of hope to other families of those who are dying all over the place from this."

Excerpted from: Family of overdose victim awarded $10.1 million in damages By CINDY HORSWELL, Houston Chronicle 1-19-2011


Tom’s Boogie Shoes  “Former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said today that he's headed to jail not because he is guilty of any wrongdoing, but because of the politicization of his trial.”

"I was tried in the most liberal county in the state of Texas; indeed, in the United States," DeLay said on NBC's "Today" Show. "This is a political campaign."

“DeLay was sentenced to three years in prison after a jury found him guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The charges relate to an alleged plot to illegally funnel corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002.”

Excerpted from: DeLay: I was Tried in "Most Liberal County" in U.S., CBS News, January 13, 2011


Outta my way, it’s my turn! “Hundreds of disgruntled drivers have sued Toyota Motor Corp. over its sudden acceleration issues…. The Japanese automaker now faces a more formidable opponent that legal experts say has plenty of time, money and resources to challenge it in court: insurance companies.”

“Seven insurers filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles last week, looking to recoup…to cover crashes blamed on sudden acceleration.”

“Insurers likely revel in suing another major entity because often times they find themselves as defendants, said [a] Los Angeles-based lawyer…”

"It's like giving a kid the keys to a candy store," [he] said. "If I was Toyota I would just groan."

Excerpted from: Goliath vs. Goliath? Well-heeled insurance companies sue Toyota over acceleration issues by Greg Risling, Associated Press 1-4-2011