From 14.1 million to 3.2…

May 30, 2007

SI Advance Newslog

A Manhattan judge has slashed the $14.1 million verdict in a personal-injury lawsuit of a woman from the Huguenot section of Staten Island down to $3.2 million, saying the jury award deviated “greatly” with typical awards in such cases.

Lori Keating, a 52-year-old former legal secretary, run down by a taxi cab on a Manhattan street almost four years ago suffered a compound fracture of her right leg in the July 2, 2003, incident on East 49th Street.

Over the years, she has endured six surgeries, including bone and muscle grafts and had rods inserted into her leg, with minimum success. Her injuries have prevented her working and curtailed her physical activities.

Last year, a jury in Manhattan state Supreme Court, awarded her $14.1 million — among the highest for a Staten Islander in a personal-injury trial.

The breakdown was $7 million for future pain and suffering, $5 million for past pain and suffering, more than $1.1 million for lost earnings and almost $900,000 for medical expenses. Her husband, Kevin Keating, was awarded $100,000 for past loss of his wife’s services.

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2.6 Million Verdict in Accutane Bowel Disease Suit

May 30, 2007

International Herald Tribune

Pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. was hit Tuesday with a $2.6 million (€1.9 million) jury verdict over Accutane, the first such verdict in a case blaming the severe acne treatment for inflammatory bowel disorder rather than other, more well-known side effects, lawyers say.

A six-woman, four-man jury in Atlantic City awarded compensatory damages to a Moody, Alabama, man, but did not assess punitive damages against the Nutley, New Jersey-based drugmake

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Memorial Day 2007

May 28, 2007

They are so young and so brave. Let us hope that this War will end soon.

Remembering the fallen

In December of 2005, Professor Bill Estill read an article that identified Vermont as the state with the highest per capita loss of soldiers from the Iraq war. That was when the idea hit him.

Estill approached students in his television production classes with the idea to make a documentary that would serve as a memorial to those fallen soldiers. The film would celebrate the lives of these Vermonters, through interviews with the friends and family members they left behind.

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AAJ's New Advertisement

May 25, 2007

AAJadvert

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High Premiums for High Profits

May 25, 2007

Medical malpractice insurers recently filed their financial statements for 2006, known as Annual Statements, with state insurance departments.

The data contained in these Statements demonstrate that the premise on which the insurance industry based its “tort reform” campaign of the last several years–that malpractice claims payments have been increasing–is false. Specifically, the 2006 Annual Statements reveal that the amount the leading malpractice insurers project they will pay out in claims in the future has declined; that the amount they have actually paid out in claims has declined; and that their surplus–the extra cushion they have accumulated over and above the amount they have set aside to pay claims in the future–has increased to an all time high. In addition, the 2006 Annual Statements reveal that notwithstanding the record surplus and profits of these carriers, they have generally declined to issue any dividends to their policyholders.

No Basis for High Insurance Rates – pdf

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A Changing Lott

May 25, 2007

“Are you kidding me?” says Senator Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican, when asked why he’s so critical of insurance companies.Lott, 65, launches into a critique of the industry, peppering it with words such as “arrogant” and “mean- spirited,” statistics about company profits and executive pay and angry questions about why its lobbyists are fighting a clutch of bills he is pushing — including one that would strip companies such as State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and Allstate Corp. of their 62-year-old exemption from federal antitrust laws.

The Senate’s No. 2 Republican has become the industry’s No. 1 critic in Congress ever since he lost a house to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. While Lott recently settled with his insurer, State Farm, after a year-long court battle, he is continuing the fight in the Senate. His experience, the senator says, has convinced him that an industry he defended his entire career is in need of reform.

“I’m like a woman scorned,” Lott says. “I’m prepared to continue to kick their fanny until the last day I’m alive on this Earth because they have mistreated too many people.”

 Lott, `Scorned’ After Katrina, Targets State Farm, Allstate

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FDA Missing in Action on Avandia

May 25, 2007

An analysis linking the widely used diabetes drug Avandia to higher risk of heart attacks represents a serious blow to GlaxoSmithKline PLC and underscores how outside critics have been empowered to challenge big-selling drugs after the outcry over the withdrawn painkiller Vioxx.

Glaxo rang up more than $3 billion in world-wide sales of Avandia last year. Its share price fell more than 7% after the New England Journal of Medicine released the analysis by prominent cardiologist Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic, who helped raise early safety concerns about Vioxx. The analysis suggested that people on Avandia have a 43% higher chance of suffering a heart attack.

[…]

One issue coming under congressional scrutiny is whether the Food and Drug Administration should have acted faster to alert the public about possible risk from Avandia. Glaxo performed its own meta-analysis, which also showed a potential danger. It shared an early version of it with the FDA in September 2005 and a more complete one in August 2006. The findings weren’t reflected on the U.S. label, which is supposed to give a comprehensive review of the drug’s risks.

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The Value of Personal Injury Cases: A Jurisdictional Comparision

May 24, 2007

In the last couple of weeks, the Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer blog has put out a lot of data on compensation awards in medical malpractice cases and in auto and truck accident cases. In my research on these posts, I found some other data comparing different states’ verdicts. Although this data is a little dated (1994-2000), I thought it was interesting for lawyers in different jurisdictions to compare verdicts:

New York ……….. $275,000

South Dakota ….. $120,913

Minnesota ………. $111,488

New Jersey …….. $104,750

Pennsylvania …… $100,000

Louisiana ……….. $ 95,000

Georgia ………….. $ 12,000

Oklahoma ………. $ 10,282

Tennessee ……… $ 10,891

Arkansas ……….. $ 10,000

North Carolina …. $ 10,000

South Carolina ….$ 10,000

National overall … $ 45,000

This data is arguably misleading because to the varying thresholds to get to a jury trial in a particular jurisdiction. If a jurisdiction allows, or even requires, jury trials for cases where the plaintiff’s lawyer is seeking, for example, over $10,000, the awards are going to be a lot lower.

In Maryland, for example, where the average verdict in personal injuries cases is around $12,000, many small claim type personal injury cases find their way to Maryland juries. This is because defense lawyers in personal injury cases in Maryland have the ability to remove a case to the Circuit Court from the District Court (if the plaintiff seeks more than $10,000 but less than $25,000). Defense lawyers often do primarily to increase the burden on Maryland personal injury lawyers in jurisdictions where juries are less favorable (counties other than Baltimore and Prince George’s). Still, I think the data is interesting because it gives personal injury attorneys some idea of the jurisdictional differences.

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