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Archive for the ‘Get the Ca$h’ Category

How expensive is it to file a Medical Malpractice claim?

In broken tort reform, debunking the myth, Get the Ca$h, ideology, medical malpractice, undo tort reform on May 9, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Inherent in any claim is the cost of bringing the action.  Who is going to pay is the question, cutting both ways, in every

The Barrister's Dream

The Barrister’s Dream (Photo credit: Bonnetmaker)

case.  Will the medical practitioner/institution pay its fair share for the pain, suffering and death it/they inflicted?  Will the plaintiff pay the cost of bringing suit in an environment where the odds are greatly stacked against her?  The real answer is too often on the latter.  The plaintiff, hurt, injured or dead (the survivors seeking justice) will, all too often, bear the costs of trying to obtain justice.

Please be advised that under Michigan’s ethical rules, all costs of litigation (copies, postage, deposition fees, expert fees) are the ultimate responsibility of the client, even under contingent fee arrangements.   All of our clients sign written detailed fee agreements (citation).

So, you walk into a Med Mal attorney‘s office, or are wheeled in or such, and immediately you are, gently it is hoped, brought up to realize a strict and brutalizing reality: if the stars do no align, you will be the one on the hook for the pleasure of the experience.

It is well thought, although incorrect, that the plaintiff attorney will bear the costs of bringing suit.  With that line of reasoning, the argument runs like this: since the costs of litigation are high, and the plaintiff’s attorney takes such cases on a contingency basis, then the plaintiff attorney will only take the “valid” or “non-frivolous” cases as the plaintiff attorney will be on the hook for all of the costs of bringing the case (copies, postage, deposition fees, expert fees).

That commonly held belief is incorrect.  Patients are victimized by their physicians and then by the judiciary.  Once bitten, twice bit.

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Stealthy wealthy: How Harold Simmons’ political giving has benefited his business empire – Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group

In broken tort reform, buying elections, Campaign Finance, Donors, Get the Ca$h, medical malpractice, propoganda on March 14, 2012 at 8:25 pm

I no sooner post about a curious super PAC donor then I see how one really rich guy can wage war against what he sees as an injustice to the social order and get his way.  Even though I disagree viscerally, I don’t have a billion dollars to counter his efforts.

I will quote at length from the article,  Stealthy wealthy: How

BUDA, TX - NOVEMBER 2:  Conservative supporter...

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arold Simmons’ political giving has benefited his business empire – Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group, for it sums the situation up neatly.  Bill Allison writes:

In Texas, Simmons has contributed to limit the ability of plaintiffs to sue. Among the larger recipients of his largesse is the Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC, which in May 2011 celebrated Gov. Rick Perry’s signing of a bill it lobbied for that contains provisions–including requiring plaintiffs in tort cases that lose to pay the fees of those they sued–long sought after by business interests. Simmons gave the group $1.9 million between 2000 and 2011. Perry has gotten more than $1.3 million in support from Simmons in his gubernatorial and presidential runs. Simmons also contributed $100,000 to the Yes on 12 campaign, a ballot referendum that allowed the Texas legislature to cap damage awards for pain and suffering in lawsuits against medical providers; Texas voters approved the ballot initiative in 2003. (emphasis added)

Under the guise of being pro-business (which is code for anti-individual), such social engineering is achieved through the judicious use of large amounts of cash.

While his harm is in Texas, and, arguably, the citizenship voted it in (the citizenry often votes against its own self interest), such activity occurs in Michigan.  Lower the dollar amounts and focus attention on electing the Supreme Court judges, and the mechanism is the same.

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Super PACs $500,000-Plus Donors Account For Majority Of Money

In buying elections, Campaign Finance, Donors, Get the Ca$h, medical malpractice, propoganda, Think tank on March 14, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Super PACs $500,000-Plus Donors Account For Majority Of Money.

I was reading an article about the top 49 donors to Super PACs, seeing familiar and expected information.  49 donors have contributed $500,000 or more, making them the 1% of the current election cycle.  Again, expected and not surprising.

Then, as I was clicking through the slideshow of top donors (their pictures and a little blurb about who they are and to whom they contribute), when I came across slide number 5: Cooperative of American Physicians.  Let that sink in.  With the mega-rich donors (Harold Simmons from Dallas, funder of Swiftboat, giving to Romney; Sheldon Adelson prodding Newt Gingrich to the next state; etc.) and typical lobbying groups (AFL_CIO) appears an insurance company that specializes in medical malpractice coverage.  Interesting.

What interests a med mal insurance company in the Presidential Election to the point that they contribute $2,470,292 to their own super PAC?  In business, every investment demands a return, and this is a sizeable investment from a firm that supports, purportedly, a niche market.  The company states on its web site that it is physician owned and governed.  Its mission: “We support  and protect California’s finest physicians.”

“Support and protect” sounds like a security firm…which I guess it is.  By heading off potential litigation before it is able to come to verdict, the “finest physicians” need not worry about paying for mistakes.  Purchase access and influence to the lawmakers and erect enough barriers and hooks to dismissal, then litigation swings in favor to the Defendants.

Does the Cooperative of American Physicians wish to extend its reach outside of California?  Their name seems to indicate such, but the website lists only coverage for California physicians.  Their FAQ page may be found here.

2.4 million can buy a lot of law.

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ProPublica’s Podcast: The Shrouded Role of Special Interest Groups in Influencing Election

In buying elections, Campaign Finance, Get the Ca$h on November 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm

If you would like more information on how big money is being funnelled int

Journalism in the public's interest.o the election machine, give this podcast a listen.  You may also find the transcript here.

ProPublica defines itself as “journalism in the public’s interest.”

Check out this representative quote:

The Supreme Court has a really mixed record on partisan gerrymandering. There are definitely Supreme Court justices who think that it’s totally unconstitutional, and that it’s really appalling that most redistricting that happens in the United States is done on a partisan basis, and ends up really benefitting particular politicians and particular parties, but not benefitting voters.

But it’s a little bit tricky because there is no Voting Rights Act for partisan politics and there are Supreme Court justices who just really don’t think that the 14th Amendment and equal protection of the laws applies to Democrats and Republicans as separate citizens. That’s the first thing that’s tricky about partisan gerrymandering.

Another Tort retort

In broken tort reform, Get the Ca$h, ideology, undo tort reform on November 1, 2011 at 6:53 pm

I have previously posted about writing a comment on a defense-attorney led site defending the documentary Hot Coffee.

I did it again.   My thoughts are too good to only post once 😉 , so here they are:

I think, by denigrating the main use of the Liebeck case in popular culture, that you are missing the point of both its use in the documentary and in political discourse. For just the very reasons you cite (it was, duh, coffee–nothing to sue over), that case has a special power. For those of your ilk, it embodies the over-reaching of those out for a free ride, meal ticket, or the like. In short, an abuse or misuse of the court.

For others, it is an example of how the courts act as a corrective agent against abuse, corruption, and incompetence (especially medical personnel). Without the correction of a good tort case, industry and business may well still be employing 10 year olds to pull the coal carts, attend segregated schools and the like.

Back to my point…the hot coffee case, suing for being stupid, is the distillation of talking points: until one learns more about it. Point is, the tort in that case worked. McDonald’s altered its practice (which had hurt 900 others to varying, shall I say it, degrees) to the point that such “accidents” (one of McDonald’s arguments–echoed here–was that with such a high number of servings that the accident rate was statistically insignificant: until it happens to you or to one you love) have been reduced.

What you fail to point out is that “tort reform” does nothing to mitigate such suits. Caps on damages, reduced statutes of limitations, affidavits of merit, pre-suit notices, witness requirements, etc., these work to bias a case toward the defense.

“Tort reform,” rather, provides defense with a ready stable of tactics and defences which to attack a case, shielding their clients from a frontal assault. It is defensive jujitsu.

So, with that, I wonder why, as defense counsel, you should complain so much… Nothing could be better for business than more examples of suing for being stupid.

Michigan Courts dead last in Judicial Independence

In broken tort reform, buying elections, Campaign Finance, Get the Ca$h, MI Supreme Court on October 19, 2011 at 7:18 pm

I came a little late to this report

(WHICH STATES HAVE THE BEST (AND WORST) HIGH COURTS?)

Unfairness for All

(published in 2008), but the information and methodology presented (see below) probably has not changed in the ensuing years.

Taking to task the ranking put out each year by the Chamber of Commerce (the largest provider of republican court campaign money in Michigan), this study does NOT ask senior lawyers at large companies (Fortune 500) which states they like and don’t like (which are pro-business leaning and which are not).  The CofC:

… surveys ask senior lawyers at corporations that earn more than $100 million per year in revenues to grade state court systems, from A to F, and aggregate their responses.

No, this survey tabulated independence on how often a judge, affiliated with a stated party, went along with or dissented from that stated party.  That is, how much did they go along with their party (please note that a judge is SUPPOSED to vote as an independent arbiter of the law, NOT to be a representative of a political party).

According to the numbers, Michigan Justices vote in lock-step (I assume that the Democrats are just as bad as the Republicans on this).

Overall, it doesn’t make Michigan look good in a national survey…

At least the Parties are getting their monies worth.

Michlib Exclusive: Michigan Campaign Finance Network Exec. Dir. Rich Robinson (part 1 of 3)

In broken tort reform, buying elections, Campaign Finance, Donors, Get the Ca$h on August 23, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Rich Robinson, over at the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, presents some important reasons why the money in judicial politics makes for interesting justice.

 

Buy yourself some influence…

In buying elections, Campaign Finance, Court recusal, Donors, Get the Ca$h, MI Supreme Court on August 17, 2010 at 9:58 pm
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How to buy the MI Courts is proud to say that we were here first.  Writing well into the first of this year, we called on readers to try their hand at purchasing access and influence.

Now the story has gone national.  NPR discusses, in not too great detail, the growing influence of money in court elections.

It is even worse than NPR knows.  They didn’t even scratch the surface.

Listen/read is here.

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Supreme Court Ruling Constitutes Abuse of Democracy | DomeMagazine.com

In buying elections, Campaign Finance, Donors, Get the Ca$h, ideology on February 13, 2010 at 10:16 pm
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When he mouthed, “Not True” during Obama’s State of the Union Address, Justice Alito, one of 5 to vote away funding caps by corporations, took a definate partisan stance.  Read more about the ruling here: Supreme Court Ruling Constitutes Abuse of Democracy | DomeMagazine.com.

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The Methods: viral e-mails: Health Care example

In buying elections, Get the Ca$h, ideology on December 2, 2009 at 7:02 pm
viral happens
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One effective means of distributing ones agenda is to have random people do the distribution for you.  With the web 2.0’s social nature, a document, screed or set of talking points can easily “go viral” in that one person sends it to their friends and family, a sub-set of which sends it to theirs…on and on until an exponential distribution has been made, for free.

One such example landed in my inbox this morning.  An unnamed member of my family sent what was purported to be a letter from a doctor to his congressman outlining the deficiencies in the debated health care overhaul bill.  By ascribing the author as an authority on the matter (a physician, one assumes, would know the business of healthcare), the e-mail carries as much implied weight as an editorial (see yesterday’s note).  By presenting the note as a template, there is the implied, if not outright desire, for the recipient to copy/paste the letter to her congressman.

However, the problem/trick/tool (depending on your use of this method) is that the information provided in the viral e-mail may not be accurate.  In fact, viral e-mails are often ideological talking points that pass themselves off as “fact” or, in this case, learned opinion.

The e-mail reads, in part for it is rather long:

Senator Bayh,

As a practicing physician I have major concerns with the health care bill before Congress. I actually have read the bill and am shocked by the brazenness of the government’s proposed involvement in the patient-physician relationship. The very idea that the government will dictate and ration patient care is dangerous and certainly not helpful in designing a health care system that works for all. Every physician I work with agrees that we need to fix our health care system, but the proposed bills currently making their way through congress will be a disaster if passed.

I ask you respectfully and as a patriotic American to look at the following troubling lines that I have read in the bill. You cannot possibly believe that these proposals are in the best interests of the country and our fellow citizens.

Page 22 of the HC Bill:

Mandates that the Govt will audit books of all employers that self-insure!!

Page 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill:

YOUR HEALTH CARE IS RATIONED!!!

Notice that a good viral e-mail has a liberal use of capitalization–gets one excited.

Once the information/talking points is placed in its final form (extra points for extensive punctuation, exciting rhetoric and apocalyptic portents), it may not only be e-mailed around, it will also be posted on blogs and other web-sites by the true-believing choir.

In essence, the viral message (it can be e-mail, video, etc.) uses crowd-sourcing technologies to disseminate an ideological group’s propaganda.

Was the e-mail sent by a real doctor?  There is a physician of the same name (a link provided by a helpful re-blogger), but even if the physician is real, and even if he believes his points (two large assumptions when dealing with viral media), that really only comes into play if what he says is true.

Here is a portion of a site that has taken the time to refute, point by laborious point, the entire e-mail.  I give only a snippet:

• Page 22: Mandates audits of all employers that self-insure! False: Section 113  of the bill requires the Health Choices commissioner to conduct a study to make sure health reform does not unintentionally create incentives for businesses to self-insure or create adverse selection in the risk pools of insured plans. There is no mandated audit.

• Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed! False: Section 122 outlines broad categories of benefits that must be included in an essential benefits package. It prohibits cost-sharing for preventive care and limits annual out-of-pocket spending to $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a family, indexed for inflation. It says nothing about rationing or limiting treatment.

So, quick-format follows:

  1. gather your talking points,
  2. attribute them to an “expert,” wise person or some other authority,
  3. send it to your friends and family,
  4. encourage them to pass it along, and soon, you will be viral.
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