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Pain and Suffering

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Local Rebel
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0 posted 02-24-2003 11:59 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

It's too true to be good.  The face of Compassionate Conservatism has unveiled itself and now we see that it is -- just like every other face of conservatism.  Jeedubya, the former Governor of Texas, the state most prolific in application of the death penalty -- and the Governor who presided over more executions than any other in recent history -- has now declared that the justice system is broken.  At least when it comes to money.  It still works for evaluation of criminals who may get a lethal injection.  But when it involves a malpractice lawsuit the same constitutional trial by a jury of peers and judge doesn't work.  No.  The compassionate conservative cannot trust the juries.  A cap must be placed on pain and suffering damages.

This, ostensibly, to reduce the cost of malpractice insurance for doctors.  We all watched it in awe as, for the first time in recorded history, doctors went on strike in West Virginia over the cost of malpractice insurance premiums.   The poor insurance companies point to damages awarded to victims of malpractice and say hey, if you doctors would quit putting the wrong organs in people we wouldn't have to charge you so much.  

Somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty states now have pain and suffering caps on the books and Jeedubya wants to put a lid on the whole nation.  A $250,000 dollar lid.  Never mind the fact that even in states that have caps the malpractice insurance premiums continue to go up.  This is just more, failed, trickle down theory at work.  Why are the conservatives who are so quick to criticize liberals for social engineering equally as quick to do the same thing from the other side of the coin?  When will they finally get it that the ultimate Republican (Teddy Roosevelt) was right.  The enemy of capitalism and freedom is big business.  

George has put himself right in the pockets of the insurance companies on this one.  The insurance companies that are only second to the Federal Government in property ownership in this country.  The insurance companies that gamble, and win, everyday with you that you aren't going to get sick, that you aren't going to have an accident, that you will not die.  And they take the pot to the bank.  There they have to do something with it.  So they buy real estate.  They buy stocks.  They buy bonds.  They buy presidents.  

The real reason insurance premiums are going up is because the stock markets have taken such a hit that the insurance companies are actually faced with losing value (not the same thing as losing money).  I'm not even going to get back into the economy on this one folks.

Rather -- I'm going to say -- now that I know that my life is only worth a quarter million dollars -- I'll agree to that cap if doctors and hospitals will agree to never charge me more than I'm worth to treat me for a catastrophic illness.  And, if insurance companies will agree to never charge doctors so much for malpractice insurance that they can't afford to be doctors while not charging me more than a quarter million for treatment.  Doesn't that sound like a fair deal?

At least with domestic policy Jeedubya is drawing the real distinction between himself and Saddam Hussein.  We always knew that to Saddam human life is worth nothing.  To George it's worth a quarter million dollars.

suthern
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1 posted 02-25-2003 09:12 AM       View Profile for suthern   Email suthern   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for suthern

If he truly wants to talk insurance reform, he should look at the mess he left behind in Texas. It's taken me two months to find a gynecologist because those who are continuing to practice are booked for months unless you're about to give birth... and I'm a bit old to get to the front of the line with that diagnosis. *G* My old doctor retired... and it really is a loss both to the medical community and his patients because he was one of the old-fashioned types that believed he was treating PATIENTS... not just running a herd through and sending out invoices. And because he didn't try to see 200 women per day, he can't afford his malpractice insurance.
Cause yassee... the statute of limitations on suing a OBGYN here in the great lone star state runs until the kid is 20 years old! Kid doesn't get into the college you want? Sue the doc who delivered him! Kid isn't perfect? Sue the doc... ignore the fact that neither parent would know perfect if it bit them on the behind.
Heaven knows we don't have to look any farther than the debacle in North Carolina to know that doctors make tragic mistakes... but the lawsuits should be limited to those errors... not every disappointment in life.
Poet deVine
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2 posted 02-25-2003 09:26 AM       View Profile for Poet deVine   Email Poet deVine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poet deVine


So doesn't it come back down to the people who sue doctors frivolously? I understand legitimate claims but there are a lot of 'sue happy' people out there wanting to get some money for nothing!
Balladeer
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3 posted 02-25-2003 08:38 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Couldn't agree more, devine one. I can't believe a conversation that points to doctors, insurance companies, the President, conservatives....and not a word about the lawyers who have made this whole fiasco possible...Shakespeare had the right idea.
Brad
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4 posted 02-26-2003 07:29 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

How many people are frivolously suing?

Indeed, I can think of two people I know who have done just that (Not quite, both were hurt). Are they bad people? Are they immigrants? No, not at all. But when one feels that one is being cheated, it is easy to cheat back.

Why do they feel cheated?

Trivia test: which administration in the last forty years imposed price controls?

Trivia test 2: Why did they lift price controls?

Do rich people, however defined, cheat?

"Everybody is equal under the law. It is against the law for the rich and the poor to sleep under the bridge at night."

Balladeer
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5 posted 02-26-2003 11:00 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

et tu, Brad? Why do people reach for such justifications to such an obvious situation. Administrations? Presidents? Rich sleeping with poor? These have nothing to do with anything. If you want to target presidents then the question is which president has shown the American people that morals are optional because that;s what we have here. We have a country of falling morality spurred on by lawyers out on feeding frenzies. Honesty and integrity are disposable items. The rest of the world laughs at sue-happy Americans. How many lawyers scour the newspapers and police reports every morning to find prospective clients that they can get to file lawsuits? The legal system and the jury system has run amok. The system is set up to allow it to be abused. Congress will not pass a law stating that the loser in a lawsuit has to pay all costs. As one senator said on a tv interview "that would make people afraid to sue." DUH! It SHOULD make people afraid to sue unless they feel that they are right and will win. It's not that way. Lawyers have made a nice living from this. My lawyer could say, "Brad, Mike is suing you for 10,000 for punching him last night" to which you reply "I didn't even see him last night" to which he can say "maybe, but you're going to have to get a lawyer, make depositions, prove where you were, go to court, lose time at work, etc,,etc,,etc...of course, if you want to avoid this, give us 1000 and we won't press charges". You think that hasn't been done, Brad? You think the woman who spilled coffee on herself from MacDonald's decided on her own to sue the restaurant? Hah!! She had a list of lawyers who contacted her, trying to convince her to sue by telling her how much money she could squeeze out of it. Then you come to the jury system, average citizens who don't mind sticking it to a large company regardless of whether they are right or wrong. There was a special on 60 minutes on how Mississippi has now become a major sue area favored by lawyers. Being a state that is financially deprived, juries have a great reputation of awarding huge sums against major companies. The lawyers on the show even laughed about it that MIssissippi was the place to go. There were also quite a few jurors there who seemed to come into a sizable sum of cash right after the cases were concluded. No morality, no integrity...not among the legal system, the suers or the lawyers...that's the crux of the problem...not administrations or whatever inconsequential straws one can grab at. Your friends do that...because it's easy to cheat when one feels he is being cheated? With all due respect.....bull. If they had the right moral fiber they would not be doing it...period.

There are, of course, valid lawsuits, which are the ones LR is referring to concerning the setting of limits. What about those limits? There are two payments - actual and punitive. The actual are microscopic in comparison to the punitive and the punitive damages have indeed gone berzerk. What are the punitive damages? They are not for the pain and suffering the victim endured...that's covered under the actual. The punitive damages are meant to "punish" the offenders - teach them a lesson. Have you ever heard of this "punishment" doing any good? Why should this amount go to the victim and lawyer? You punish a tobacco firm by giving a billion to the attorneys who try the case? Sweet deal for them, isn't it? They can stand in front of the jury in their best Hollywoodian pose, scream at the jury to punish that evil company that would do such a horrible thing entreat them to "sock it to them" in a way that will really teach them a lesson and them smile as 30-40% of it finds its way into their pockets. No wonder we have a glut of lawyers in this country.

LR is concerned that we are officially only worth a quarter of a million? Hell, in many countries, life is not worth the proverbial plugged nickel..I'd say 250 grand ain't bad.

Anyway, my rant is done. Come up with all of the reasons that point in all directions you want....they are all smoke and mirrors. Throw politics into it if you want for good measure. If more people were honest and if more lawyers had integrity the problem would be solved....

Local Rebel
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6 posted 02-26-2003 11:33 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Deer,
Maybe I better ply you with Nehi before we go into this too deep? Of all the talking points I laid out you picked one I didn't even put in!! But since you brought up lawyers lets go ahead.  I love lawyer jokes.  I have a collection of them I was going to post at my website if I ever got around to it.  This one is my favorite:

A bunch of geese is a gaggle.  A bunch of sheep is a flock.  What do you call a bunch of lawyers?  

Answer:  A sleaze.

Usage:  If you try to file a medical malpractice lawsuit the doctor's insurance company is going to have a whole sleaze of lawyers working on the case against you.
___________________

On the topic of frivolous lawsuits here are some quick facts:

About 70% of all malpractice lawsuits end in no settlement for the claimant.  They do cost the doctor/insurance company about $30k a pop to defend.  So to say they have no impact on the cost of healthcare would be misleading.  To say they are THE cause of rising costs of premiums and healthcare is GROSSLY misleading (more on this later).

Part of the problem with malpractice lawsuits is (as Brad has pointed out) in almost every case -- including the ones that result in no settlement or dismissal -- the claimant has actual disabilities.  The task is to determine if it is outright malpractice or merely an adverse outcome.

Before a consumer attorney is going to take your case and wage it against the insurance companies sleaze of lawyers he has to be pretty damn sure that it is a case with merit because he's going to take it on contingency -- meaning he has to invest his time and money in it -- usually not getting any payback for two to three years.

Before the case can go to trial the Judge is going to determine if the case has merit or not.  If it is clearly frivolous he will dismiss it and the ambulance chaser is out his time and money and you're out -- at a minimum depending on what venue -- court costs.

If the case goes to trial a Jury will be impaneled -- probably of 12 depending on venue.

The Jury will then hear the merits of the case -- just like in a capital murder case -- and render a verdict.  Perhaps it will be an award -- perhaps the defendant will be found not liable at all.

If the Judge feels an award is too high based on the merits of the case he can reduce it.

If the defendant is still not satisfied he can frivolously appeal.

______________

So, no Sharon it does not come back to frivolous lawsuits.

quote:

Medical malpractice premiums charged by insurance companies do not correspond to increases or decreases in payouts, which have been steady for 30 years. Rather, premiums rise and fall in concert with the state of the economy. Medical Malpractice Insurance: Stable Losses/Unstable Rates, Americans for Insurance Reform (www.insurance-reform.org), under the direction of J. Robert Hunter (Director of Insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, former Federal Insurance Administrator and Texas Insurance Commissioner) October 10, 2002.

I dont like to hear insurance-company executives say its the tort system its self inflicted. Donald J. Zuk, Chief Executive of Scpie Holdings Inc., a leading malpractice insurer in California, Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2002.



The whole basis for the current debate before the nation is the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) that was passed in California in 1975 that did impose a pain and suffering cap of $250k (which was a lot more money then).  The insurance companies would have you believe this (bad) law was the pill that fixed California's medmal premium problem.  (Why is it that when Big Tobacco says their products aren't addictive consumer's naturally distrust them -- but when Big Insurance says anything anybody would trust them at all?)

In actuality though -- malpractice premiums rose 175% over the subsequent ten years in California and then miraculously started going down in 1988.  This (according to the insurance companies) was because the California Supreme Court finally made a ruling on MICRA upholding it in 1985.  Aha!  You say?  No... they continued going up until 1988 -- what happened that very same year?  Ralph Nader put together a grass roots campaign to put prop 103 on the books which passed -- what did it do?

Created an elected, not appointed, insurance commissioner

-Forced insurers to justify their rate increases to the insurance commissioner

-Opened up insurance company books so regulators could determine if they needed rate increases

-Allowed citizens to challenge proposed rate increases

The insurance industry sponsored three alternate propositions that would cancel out Proposition 103. They funded an $80 million campaign to defeat 103.  The Proposition 103 people spent less than $3 million in their campaign. The average donation was $10.

The insurance companies threatened to leave the state.  They didn't.  

Now -- 15 years later -- everyone wants to copy California -- but they're copying the wrong law!  (Because Bush is in the Insurance Industry's pockets... but hey -- Truman had Pendergast -- it's the American way -- it's just payback time for George now -- and time for the rest of us Americans to not let them get away with it.)

The following is a letter from a parent of a damaged child under the California Tort system written to the incoming President of the AMA:

quote:

January 21, 2003

Kathy Olsen
Board Member, FTCR
Scott Olsen

President-Elect Donald J. Palmisano, MD
American Medical Association
515 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60610

Via Facsimile & US Mail

Dr. Palmisano:

On The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer you spoke of a California child who at two years of age was blinded and brain damaged as a result of medical negligence. You argued for a national limit on legal damages for victims, claiming that "$42 million was given to that child" for medical care and rehabilitation. In truth, "that child", our son Steven Olsen, eventually received less than $2 million from the jury for a lifetime of care and other costs. You should immediately issue a correction to be broadcast to the nation and an apology to our son, Steven, and his family.

Your claim inflated Steven's compensation by 2,000% in an attempt to blame victims, and the juries that bring them justice, for runaway malpractice premiums. Here are the facts of the case.

Steven fell on a stick in the woods while playing. The hospital pumped Steven up with steroids and sent him away with a growing brain abscess. We brought him back to the doctor three times, and asked for a CAT scan because we knew Steven was not well. After being denied the CAT scan, Steven returned to the hospital comatose. At trial, medical experts testified that had he received the $800 CAT scan, which would have detected a growing brain mass, he would have his sight and be perfectly healthy today.

After numerous defense delay tactics and frivolous appeals, Steven received $1.975 million, not $42 million, from the jury to pay for his lifetime of care. Steven's legal fees and court costs were $914,000. The jury supplemented this amount with $7.1 million in "non-economic" damages for Steven's avoidable life of darkness and suffering. However, the judge reduced this to $250,000 because of California's cap on non-economic damages, which you recommend for the nation. This amounts to little over $4000 a year for the rest of Steven's life.

Congress may begin debate on a similar cap on damages as early as next month. As the prominent head of a national physician's association, you have an obligation to be honest with doctors who pay premiums, victims whose recovery may be limited, and lawmakers who will be asked to trust your testimony. Steven has been victimized by the medical system, the tilting of the scales of justice in the tort system, and now by you and the organization you represent. We request that your correction and apology be to NewsHour by January 31 in order to set the record straight before Congressional debate begins.

Sincerely,


Kathy Olsen
Scott Olsen




suthern:
you may not be able to convince them you're pregnant -- but if you took toerag along you could tell them you were with child!!!  Heh..


Brad:
Your trivia question may be a tad broad -- price controls on what???  I distinctly recall Nixon's price freezes and wage freezes -- there have been numerous other regulations put on other industries --

The most recent failed de-regulation you probably wouldn't be aware of is the cable industry -- prices have soared and service has sucked...ever more.


[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (02-27-2003 12:03 AM).]

Balladeer
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7 posted 02-26-2003 11:40 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Ah, yes, contingency...

When the lawyer told the prospective client what contingency meant, the lawyer said "That means if we lose I don't get anything and if we win, you don't get anything..."
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8 posted 02-26-2003 11:52 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

LR writes...."Before the case can go to trial the Judge is going to determine if the case has merit or not.  If it is clearly frivolous he will dismiss....."


Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas, was awarded $780,000 by a jury
of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was
running inside a furniture store. The owners of the store were
understandably surprised at the verdict, considering the misbehaving
little toddler was Ms. Robertson's son.

19-year-old Carl Truman of Los Angeles won $74,000 and medical
expenses when his neighbour ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Mr.
Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the
car when he was trying to steal his neighbour's hub caps.

Terrence Dickson of Bristol, Pennsylvania, was leaving a house he had
just finished robbing by way of the garage. He was not able to get the
garage door to go up since the automatic door opener was malfunctioning.
He couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the house and
garage locked when he pulled it shut. The family was on vacation, and
Mr. Dickson found himself locked in the garage for eight days. He
subsisted on a case of Pepsi he found, and a large bag of dry dog food.
He sued the homeowner's insurance claiming the situation caused him
undue mental anguish. The jury agreed to the tune of $500,000.

Jerry Williams of Little Rock, Arkansas, was awarded $14,500 and
medical expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his next door
neighbour's beagle. The beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard

The award was less than sought because the jury felt the dog might have
been just a little provoked at the time by Mr. Williams who was shooting
it repeatedly with a pellet gun.

A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay Amber Carson of
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, $113,500 after she slipped on a soft drink and
broke her coccyx (tailbone).  The beverage was on the floor because Ms.
Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an
argument.

Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware, successfully sued the owner of a
night club in a neighbouring city when she fell from the bathroom window
to the floor and knocked out her two front teeth. This occurred while Ms
Walton was trying to sneak through the window in the ladies room to
avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental
expenses.

This year's favourite could easily be Mr. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma
City, Oklahoma. Mr. Grazinski purchased a brand new 32-foot Winnebago
motor home. On his first trip home, having driven onto the freeway, he
set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the drivers seat to go
into the back and make himself a cup of coffee. Not surprisingly, the
R.V. left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Mr. Grazinski sued
Winnebago for not advising him in the owner's manual that he couldn't
actually do this. The jury awarded him $1,750,000 plus a new motor home.
The company actually changed their manuals on the basis of this suit,
just in case there were any other complete morons buying their
recreation vehicles.


Oh, really?????
Ron
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9 posted 02-27-2003 12:03 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

From lawfuel.com:
quote:
Last summer New York City attorney Sam Hirsch filed a suit against McDonald's on behalf of a class of obese and overweight children. He alleged that the fast-food chain "negligently, recklessly, carelessly and/or intentionally" markets to children food products that are "high in fat, salt, sugar, and cholesterol" while failing to warn of those ingredients' links to "obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, elevated cholesterol intake, related cancers," and other conditions.


Another instance of "falling morality spurred on by lawyers on feeding frenzies?" (The feeding pun, I assure you, is far too bad to be intentional.)

I'm not so sure. Would so many in the civilized world be overweight if not for fast food? Isn't it reasonable and justified to blame McDonald's for making us all fat and unhealthy?

No? You don't think it's McDonald's fault?

Then how can we blame lawyers for making us greedy and immoral?

I don't think McDonald's tricks people into eating their food (which would be fraud), and I doubt many lawyers trick clients into instigating law suits. We make our own choices, persuasion not withstanding, and the responsibility for those choices can't be easily or legitimately laid at the feet of others. Blaming lawyers for frivolous law suits is absolutely no different than blaming McDonald's for obesity. The choice lies with the people. So, too, must the responsibility.

On the other hand, should Hirsch ultimately prevail, I think I've got a pretty good case against Hershey's


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10 posted 02-27-2003 12:16 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

I certainly understand your point, Ron, but MacDonald's dangles a Big Mac under our noses while lawyers on the hunt dangle the promise of millions (minus their cut, of course.)...and that ain't small potatoes - or fries.

But, yes, the final decision lies with the individual...you know, the one whose fault it never is
Local Rebel
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11 posted 02-27-2003 12:21 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Do they serve Nehi at McDonalds?  I understand your favorite President liked to eat there Deer???  

Would it make you feel better if I said Clinton was in the Trial Lawyers Association's pockets?

Do you support the Death Penalty?  if so -- how can a justice system that is so broken properly administer it?
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12 posted 02-27-2003 12:47 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

How can a justice system that can't administer the death penalty fairly administer ANY penalty fairly?

FYI. For most of the twenty years my company wrote applications for small business, over half of our clients were small MGA (Managing General Agent) Insurance houses. And, yea, that certainly includes the years of the Prop 103 fiasco.

Unfortunately, LR, I don't think you're digging nearly deep enough. You're just describing that green stuff that floats on the surface of the pond. You're talking about symptoms, not causes.

Ask yourself a different question. If you're not happy with insurance rates or claim payments, why should it even matter? What do you do if you don't like the price or performance of stocks? You refuse to buy stocks, right? So, why don't doctors simply refuse to buy malpractice insurance? Why don't you refuse to pay (even if indirectly) for health insurance? Or (more directly, I suspect) for car insurance? Why does people and businesses and even governments seem to feel that insurance is necessary?
Local Rebel
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13 posted 02-27-2003 01:17 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Ron,

If I recall correctly the Doctors in California did just that -- they self insured through a Not-For-Profit organization they set up.  I think some of them still use it?

At any rate -- I didn't call Bush pond scum... lol...

Seriously though -- I don't have the time to be an investigative reporter these days -- and tomorrow -- due to this economy -- I have a 16 hour day -- so nite nite!

But do tell more about your company and experience in the industry... love to hear it -- this topic is here for discussion -- discuss!!
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14 posted 02-27-2003 02:17 AM       View Profile for Poet deVine   Email Poet deVine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poet deVine


Take a minute or two and read John Grisham's latest book "King of Torts". Then we'll talk!! It's pretty scary!
Brad
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15 posted 02-27-2003 06:47 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Well, I was attempting to question the specific action taken, not to question that there was a problem. The two people I was referring to both had their lawsuits in the 1980's -- Michael, are you questioning Reagan's ethics?

My point (A side note: am I getting more vague these days? Okay, I do make allusions and 'in jokes' but, c'mon, my first question wasn't rhetorical, I intended it honestly. I don't know what's happening about this stuff these days.) was that most people cheat because they 'feel' cheated (It doesn't make a difference if they were actually cheated, you just have to feel it.). Why is that?

Thus, the prevalence of victimization.

My second point was an attempt to connect this feeling with what I think is a kind of American obfuscation of a rich/poor divide. Something like ninety percent of Americans claim to be in a middle class but if everybody's the same, it becomes very difficult to differentiate, to understand why, some people are better off than others except to see them as cheating:

"Money for nothing and your chicks for free"

I think this attitude pervades America and it breeds resentment. I also think this attitude allows governments to pursue policies (in the name of egalitarianism, we all have to be equal right?) that hurt the poor and benefit the rich.

I think that's a bad thing.

There's a lot more to say but I'm out of time, but that would be my first tentative stab and getting below the pond scum but I'll try to suggest a few more things:

1. American apathy to democracy is the result of believing that it doesn't matter whose in office, their lives won't improve.

2. The judicial system promises to make their lives better quickly and immediately.

Thus, they choose the court over politics.

3. American no-nonsense, pragmatic attitudes tend toward final answers, not compromises, the courts give final answers (or lawyers promise these things), democracies are an endless muddle.

So, that America is a litigious society isn't so much a loss of morality but of America being America, Americans being Americans.

    
Local Rebel
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16 posted 02-27-2003 02:17 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Sharon -- no time for novels but I pulled this quote from a review which is apropo:

quote:
"Mass torts are a scam, a consumer rip-off, a lottery driven by greed that will one day harm us all. Unbridled greed will swing the pendulum to the other side. Reforms will take place, and they'll be severe. . . . The people who'll get harmed are all the future plaintiffs out there, all the little people who won't be able to sue for bad products."




Where are the leaders who are willing to address the problems our country faces without, again, hurting the people the government is supposed to protect?

Brad -- agreed -- will discuss more later.
Ron
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17 posted 02-27-2003 04:00 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
So, that America is a litigious society isn't so much a loss of morality but of America being America, Americans being Americans.

I disagree. I know I'll never be able to prove my contention, but I strongly believe that if the same laws and legal philosophies were set in place in ANY other culture, the long-term results would be identical.

I've said this before: Any freedom will be abused by some. The corollary is that any rule designed to be fair will also be abused. And for exactly the same reasons. The only way to eliminate abuse is by restricting freedom (sound familiar to anyone?) or by making the rules less fair to all. Most of the suggestions in this thread, such as a law that the loser in a suit has to pay all costs, are an attempt to make the rules less fair to everyone (especially the poor). In an imperfect world, Justice seemingly can't exist without injustice.

The changes that need to be made, in my opinion, begin at a much lower level. Yea, some of the rules need to be revised. Not many, I think, but some. What we really need to do, though, is start changing people's attitude and expectations.

Wish I had more time, but lacking that, I'll marginally expound on my earlier post.

Insurance is a shifting of responsibility and just another word for a guarantee.

Brad
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since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


18 posted 02-27-2003 08:15 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

quote:
I disagree. I know I'll never be able to prove my contention, but I strongly believe that if the same laws and legal philosophies were set in place in ANY other culture, the long-term results would be identical.


Sure. When I talk about America and Americans I'm not talking about something immutable. What's great though is that you accept the contention. We can talk about America and Americans. One of the biggest problems is that this idea is somehow off limits. It isn't wrong to generalize, it's wrong to generalize wrongly.

quote:
I've said this before: Any freedom will be abused by some. The corollary is that any rule designed to be fair will also be abused.


Yes, thus my first question. But this applies to anomalous cases. If it's an epidemic, we have to change the culture (You say that later of course, you just use the word attitudes and ideas. That is culture, part of it anyway.)

Newt Gingrich (anybody remember him?) once made a comparison between the Germans and the Americans. In Germany, if they put speed limits on the autobahn, everybody would obey the speed limit but vote the guy out of office in the next election. Americans would simply ignore the law.

quote:
And for exactly the same reasons. The only way to eliminate abuse is by restricting freedom (sound familiar to anyone?) or by making the rules less fair to all. Most of the suggestions in this thread, such as a law that the loser in a suit has to pay all costs, are an attempt to make the rules less fair to everyone (especially the poor). In an imperfect world, Justice seemingly can't exist without injustice.


People turn to the courts for self-interest, yes, but also because they still believe that the courts are just (they still work). They don't believe that about politics because they think they have no power there. If we need injustice in order to have justice either in the court or in politics, then the injustice should move in the direction of the rich, not the poor. Why? Because those with power should have more responsibility.

As long as everybody sees themself as rich or potentially rich, this isn't going to happen. The focus is still on self interest and not, as Jim and I used to bandy about a while ago, enlightened self-interest.

quote:
The changes that need to be made, in my opinion, begin at a much lower level. Yea, some of the rules need to be revised. Not many, I think, but some. What we really need to do, though, is start changing people's attitude and expectations.

Wish I had more time, but lacking that, I'll marginally expound on my earlier post.

Insurance is a shifting of responsibility and just another word for a guarantee.


There are no guarantees. Instead of insurance companies and courts, we should shift the discussion to where it should have been all along: the political arena.

Ah, but you can lose even if you're right in the political arena.

Yep. There are no guarantees. Let's stop pretending that there are.

Balladeer
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19 posted 02-27-2003 10:07 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

No, no Nehi at MacDonald's, LR, and you have no idea who my favorite president is. Also I don't get offended by potshots at any President..that goes with the territory...so there's no need to be overly concerned about my feelings   All politicians will crawl in bed with SOME groups (that's how they get blocks of votes) and they will always have to reciprocate in some way. That's our wonderful system at work.

Personally, getting off on another tangent, I would like to see the entire jury system scrapped. To me the "jury of one's peers" is useless. With laws being so complex that only lawyers and judges can half-understand them, what chance does Sally Housewife or Joe Six-Pack have? Trials become contests of 'who has the best lawyer'. Normal citizens can't be expected to know the complexities of law, even though they are given a five minute explanation before the trial begins. I believe it would be much more preferable to have a panel of judges decide verdicts. THEY are the ones who know the law...they are the ones that will not be swayed by empassioned pleas, or smoke-screens or obvious lawyer tricks. I can assure you OJ would not be walking around free with that type of system. Of course if you tried to change ot that, the American public would be up in arms, screaming that their rights are being taken away however, in a logical world, that would be the correct system.....unfortunately, logical worlds are very hard to find...even by Jean Luc  

[This message has been edited by Balladeer (02-28-2003 10:57 AM).]

Opeth
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since 12-13-2001
Posts 2224
The Ravines


20 posted 02-28-2003 09:30 AM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

Newt Gingrich was an extremely intelligent politician. I'd vote for him for any political office.

The problem is most people only know of Newt by how he was "painted" by the media ~ A frankenstein monster.
hush
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since 05-27-2001
Posts 1693
Ohio, USA


21 posted 02-28-2003 12:30 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Ron:

'Why don't you refuse to pay (even if indirectly) for health insurance? Or (more directly, I suspect) for car insurance? Why does people and businesses and even governments seem to feel that insurance is necessary?'

Why? I don't know... maybe because when my mother didn't have insurance (because she was being systematically denied SSI for 2 years even though she's in the hospital on a monthly or bi-monthly basis) she got a hospital bill for about $45,000. And, y'know, since she doesn't have a mortgage, or utility bills, and since food is free, and since she has that much cash sitting around, she was easily able to pay that bill, right?

Fortunately, Medicare coverage is retroactive to the date you first applied. Unfortunately, it only covers 80% of your bills, prescriptions excluded. So... my mother's in the hospital monthly to bi-monthly... and it usually costs a minimum of about $30,000 for the amount of time and the type of care she requires. She spent a weekend in ICU a couple of weeks ago... because her oxygen mask was faulty, and her oxygen sats consequently feel. Even though she recovered when put on a functional mask, they still moved her to ICU, which is significantly more expensive than a regular room. But, hey, you know, she only has to pay 20% of it.  

Without assuming that you haven't, I have to ask if you've ever had to deal with medical bills when you don't have insurance. It is essentially a full time job for my mother to file her bills, to make calls and arrangements explaining that she simply cannot pay even the 20%... because SSI barely covers regular living expenses as it is. Insurance is not an option in this society. This is capitalism, right? We're not in the habit of giving handouts... but we're also not in the habit of making services essential to life affordable.

Balladeer-

'I would like to see the entire jury system scrapped. To me the "jury of one's peers" is useless. With laws being so complex that only lawyers and judges can half-understand them, what chance does Sally Housewife or Joe Six-Pack have? Trials become contests of 'who has the best lawyer'. Normal citizens can't be expected to know the complexities of law, even though they are given a five minute explanation before the trial begins. I believe it would be much more preferable to have a panel of judges decide verdicts.'

So, you are quite obviously in favor of representative democracy over direct democracy? Sorry, but I don't buy that 'the common people are too stupid' argument. Because, you know, it's not like the judges are going to be bought out, and it's not like poor and uneducated people are going to be screwed even worse in the judicial system, and well-paid judges are obviously going to relate to the problems of a poor defendant. Puh-lease. While I agree that the current system isn't all silver lining, taking power completely out of the hands of common citizens will only make things worse. You know, kind of like the Electoral college... but that's a whole different can of worms.

[This message has been edited by hush (02-28-2003 12:32 PM).]

Balladeer
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22 posted 02-28-2003 03:08 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Hush, with all due respect you write the "common people are too stupid' in quotes as if it were something I said. I assure you I did not, nor do I believe that. Law is very complex. that's why lawyers go through so much schooling to learn it. To not be an expert at it is not a question of stupidity - it's a question of not having the experience to be familiar with it. If you feel any normal person can do it, please try to sue someone or defend yourself from a charge on your own without employing a lawyer. Trials should be based on knowledge of the law and logic. In the jury system, emotion outweighs logic. Simply look at all of the examples I placed in a previous reply and tell me where the logic is in the result. Show me the logic in the O.J. decision. Personalities come into play - biases come into play...flambouyancy by lawyers come into play...confusing the jury comes into play. There was a ladder-maker on 60 minutes who gets sued over 300 times a year. He has 17 warning stickers on his ladders. The last person to sue him set the ladder on ice, propped it against his barn, climbed it (it slipped on the ice) fell, broke his leg, sued and won. The jury was sympathetic to his injuries and ruled in his favor. Wanna explain the logic or justice in that one?  Many countries, including England I believe, use a panel of judges and you do not see the same travesties of justice we experience here.

It is not a changing of democracy. People would simply oppose it because it is a change. Sometimes changes are necessary. I would be interested in hearing your logical view, without the cynicism, of why you feel a panel of judges would be inferior to the jury system...if you feel like it. Otherwise...have a nice day
Local Rebel
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since 12-21-1999
Posts 5742
Southern Abstentia


23 posted 02-28-2003 10:57 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Did you mean a panel of judges like the panel of three on the 9th U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals that decided the Pledge of Allegience was unconstitutional?

A panel of judges like that won't commit a travesty of justice?  Ya sure?

If everyone wants to spend time talking about tort reform that's fine -- this is -- after all -- an entertainment venue.   I'm all for interest driven learning.

Just for the record though -- I've already stipulated there are frivilous suits.  Deer -- you haven't posted any of the follow-ups to the outrageous rulings you mentioned -- like appeals or knock-downs -- which did happen to the poster child for absurd lawsuits -- the McDonalds Coffee incident -- which by the way -- did have some extenuating circumstances.

None of this changes the fact that caps haven't and don't work to bring down the costs of medical malpractice insurance premiums.  Suthern has offered her own evidence above (G.W's own tort reform in Texes obviously has had no effect).

In West Virginia the largest medmal carrier spent somewhere on the order of 88 cents on the dollar defending cases (translation "paying lawyers") but that was a management decision of the company.  It's competitors only spent about 30 cents.  

The major culprit of cost hikes is a bad investment climate.  Period.

I will agree with one point made though -- the one's with the best lawyers do win -- now who has the money to afford the best lawyers?   Big insurance?  or you and me?

That's why some of the most blatant cases of malpractice -- a portion of the 70% of cases dismissed -- never recieve a penny.

I'll get back more into this over the weekend and explore some of the tangents here.

Thanks to all for participating.
hush
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since 05-27-2001
Posts 1693
Ohio, USA


24 posted 03-01-2003 06:20 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Balladeer-

you're right, I'm sorry to have put words in your mouth. No, it's not a matter of being stupid... however, I do feel it's a matter structuring things in a way that common people can't understand so that it's easier to do your (the lawyer's) job without any of your clients or the jury bogging you down with questions. (It's kind of like the biased Jim Crow laws- literacy tests, voting fees- that kept black people from voting, even though they were constitutionally allowed to.) Do I think that works? No... it really irritates me that 'professionals' try to word things (laws, taxes, medical terminology without sufficient explanation) in a way that makes it difficult for everyday people to understand. That's why we need lawyers and accountants to help us- the system isn't intended to be a thing that just anybody can understand. It needs to be a commodity- because hey, you might end up getting a better return on your taxes even after you pay the person who's doing it for you. You have to spend money to have a chance.

I think that having professionals come in to do the thinking that we normal citizens can't do on our own is a) taking even more power out of the hands of average people and b) condoning the way the system is rigged.

And the sad thing is, we're so conditioned into this kind of marketing that we don't even feel we need to understand laws anymore... at least not a lot of the people I know. Who has time to study the law and understand what they can and can't do, and what their rights are, when they work 40+ hours a week? Or when they haven't been educated in a way that allows them to understand laws? Of course, upper-middle to upper-class citizens don't have to worry about that; they can afford a good, well-educated lawyer. But the less-educated, poorer people who don't have the time or resources to understand laws are precisely the ones who are going to be most affected. They are the ones who are going to be pushed into plea bargains because the system doesn't want to offer them a fair trial with a decent public defendant- that costs money.

My (too idealistic?) solution (or partial solution, I should say) is better education on legal rights in high school. The way it is now, juveniles essentially have no rights in the legal system. There is no such thing as pleading the fifth, there are no Miranda rights. Why would we want to educate our kids on all the rights they're missing out on? It's time to start. Otherwise, we keep pumping out graduates who know little about laws or rights beyond the Bill of Rights. Unless these people go on to actually study law, they are essentially illiterate to the legal system, and excessively dependent on professionals to interpret it and do all the legwork. We need to give high school students the basic knowledge and study skills they need to think on their own.
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