Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly by mmcsx


									Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly
March 2003 (Volume 2, No. 3)
A report on how predatory trial lawyers profit by depriving victims
of justice and undermining the Rule of Law in the United States.

Send the Disability Checks c/o Leavenworth                            Like We Really Needed a Poll to Discover this?
A Los Angeles jury has ordered two insurance                          A national poll commissioned by the American Tort
companies to pay a 66-year-old Beverly Hills lawyer                   Reform Association found 83 percent of Americans
$371,000 for stopping the man’s $8,200-a-month                        think there are far too many lawsuits filed in the United
disability payments in 1999. The insurance companies                  States and that greedy personal injury lawyers are to
believed he was faking his ailments. One of the                       blame. Seventy-five percent think health care costs have
companies will have to continue paying him $4,700 a                   gone up in the past year due to excessive malpractice
month in disability until he dies. It’s a bit of a hollow             litigation, and 76 percent believe their access to quality
victory, however. The lawyer is serving seven-and-a-                  health care is being threatened as a result. Tort reform is
half years in federal prison for sinking his 76-foot yacht            favored by 42 percent of those surveyed; only 6 percent
off the Italian coast to collect on a $3.5 million insurance          oppose reform. Even Democrats favor tort reform by a
policy; the entire jury award in his disability case must be          ratio of four to one (39 percent vs. 10 percent). From a
put toward the $2.8 million he must pay in restitution for            press release posted on the website of the American
his insurance fraud sentence. From the Associated                     Tort Reform Association (

                                                                      Cerebral Palsy Claims Drive Malpractice Insurance
Crime Pays ... Sort Of                                                The Top Ten Jury Awards of 2002, a list compiled
The family of a man who was electrocuted by a                         annually by Lawyers Weekly USA, was dominated by
homemade booby trap when he tried to break into a                     awards against three traditional targets of the plaintiffs’
Chicago-area bar after hours was awarded $75,000 in a                 bar: tobacco companies, car makers, and doctors. Three
wrongful-death jury trial. The bar owner installed the                of the awards—for $94.5 million, $91 million, and
anti-theft electronic device around a window after his                $80 million—were for children who developed cerebral
establishment had been burglarized three times in a                   palsy as the alleged consequence of oxygen deprivation
month. Warning signs were placed outside the building,                during a botched delivery. It has been estimated that
including near the booby-trapped window. Jurors were                  such cerebral palsy claims are the single greatest factor
not allowed to be told the victim was drunk and on                    in the huge recent increase in malpractice insurance
cocaine, nor that he had served time for two previous                 rates for obstetricians.
burglary convictions. From the Chicago Sun-Times

                                                                      Never Let Facts Get in the Way of a Lawsuit
Sorry for Your Loss, Here’s My Card                                   While we’re on the subject of cerebral palsy-related
Relatives of people trampled to death during the tragic               lawsuits, a recent widely publicized study by the
stampede at the E2 nightclub in Chicago have ben                      American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
besieged by offers of “help” from funeral homes, the                  and the American Academy of Pediatrics found less
clergy, and, of course, lawyers. The Chicago Sun-                     than 10 percent of cerebral palsy cases result from so-
Times reported two lawyers actually showed up at the                  called birth asphyxia; most cases, therefore, are not the
morgue where the bodies were laid out for identification              result of a doctor’s malpractice. Reacting with their
and began passing out business cards. Another has                     normal restraint, one Boston plaintiffs’ attorney called
offered to pay for funeral services if a family signs up              the report “dangerous, intellectually indefensible, and
with him, and a funeral home director has offered free                morally irresponsible.” From a variety of sources,
services to any family that retains the lawyer he                     including The New York Times and The Wall Street
recommends.                                                           Journal
Catch an Airline by the Toe                                    monitoring devices to provide security for employees and
A federal judge in Kansas City is allowing a                   guests. From The National Law Journal
discrimination case over a nursery rhyme to go to trial.
In February 2001, in an effort to get passengers to take
their seats on a crowded Southwest Airlines flight             If You’re Sick, Don’t Call Us in the Morning
boarding in Las Vegas, a 22-year-old white flight              A federal court ruled in February that Pennsylvania
attendant said over the intercom, “Eenie, meenie, minie,       Medicaid patients who suffer from various smoking-
moe; pick a seat, we gotta go.” Two African-American           related diseases are not entitled to share in the loot the
women standing in the aisle at the time said the rhyme         commonwealth is collecting from tobacco companies as
immediately struck them as racist and felt it was directed     part of the 1998 $200+ billion national settlement. The
solely at them. The attendant said she had never heard         court found the 1999 amendments to the Medicaid Act
the racist version of the rhyme and had used the phrase        give states the right to dispose of the settlement funds
on several flights as a humorous way of getting                for whatever purposes they deem appropriate. At least
passengers to take their seats. Southwest is denying any       in the Keystone State, helping sick smokers is not one of
discrimination and has not asked the attendant to stop         those purposes. From The National Law Journal
using the phrase, although she no longer does so because
of the incident. From The Kansas City Star
                                                               An Apology
                                                               A number of our loyal readers have wondered why we
Next Time We’ll Just Let Them Mug You                          haven’t used the item about a Montana resident named
A recently hired desk clerk at a Comfort Inn in Cross          Bob Craft who changed his name to “Jack Ass” five
Lanes, West Virginia was appalled to discover the motel        years ago as part of an anti-drunk driving campaign
had installed audio and video surveillance equipment in        (don’t ask for the details). Seems Mr. Ass recently
the front desk and lounge areas. He sued his employer          stumbled across the MTV show “Jackass” and has
under the state’s wiretapping act and was awarded              decided to sue the network for “plagiarizing” and
$500,000 in a jury trial. The defense argued, unsuccess-       “defaming” his name. The reason we haven’t used the
fully, it is common practice for motels to install such        item is because we find the whole matter jack-asinine.
                                                               From The New Yorker, among others

 Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly                                   Information on lawsuit abuse can be found on these Web
 Published by The Heartland Institute,
 a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization founded in 1984.
 Publisher: Joseph L. Bast
 Editors: Diane Carol Bast, Paul Fisher, Dan Hales

The Heartland Institute
19 South LaSalle Street #903
Chicago, Illinois 60603

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