Civil Rights – N.S.A. Phone Data Collection Illegal

May 7, 2015

nsa, national security agency

For more than a decade this unconstitutional activity has been going on without any breaks. It is about time that the parts of the Patriot Act be given a thorough review by the lawmakers–some of whom voted for it in the first place without really reviewing it. This is a positive news!

A federal appeals court in New York on Thursday ruled that the once-secret National Security Agency program that is systematically collecting Americans’ phone records in bulk is illegal. The decision comes as a fight in Congress is intensifying over whether to end and replace the program, or to extend it.

In a 97-page ruling, a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that a provision of the USA Patriot Act permitting the Federal Bureau of Investigation to collect business records deemed relevant to a counterterrorism investigation cannot be legitimately interpreted to permit the systematic bulk collection of domestic calling records.

The ruling was certain to increase the tension that has been building in Congress because the provision of the Patriot Act that has been cited to justify the bulk data collection program will expire in June unless lawmakers pass a bill to extend it.

via N.S.A. Phone Data Collection Illegal, Appeals Court Rules – NYTimes.com.

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Tort Reform – A Busted Myth

March 2, 2015

tort reform definition

Tort Reform: A definition

Most of us who practice tort law on the victim’s side have been saying this for years only to be faced with deaf politician ears who, on behalf of their deep pocketed masters, continued to spew the myth of Tort Reform. It is time to face reality and stop actively hurting the victims of medical negligence and instead focus on ways by which to reduce the numbers of medical malpractice cases by providing incentives to medical providers to engage in safe and negligent free medical treatment.

The second greatest trick may be the insurance industry’s success in getting more than half the states to implement “tort reform.” That achievement was based on the promise that restricting victims’ ability to bring medical malpractice suits would improve healthcare and reduce its cost. Those myths have now been completely dispelled.

The last bubble to burst was that because doctors are fearful of getting sued, they practice “defensive medicine,” prescribing unnecessary and costly tests and procedures. That myth was dispatched by the recent publication of a major study in the New England Journal of Medicine. A team of five doctors and public health experts found that tort reform measures passed in three states – specifically designed to insulate emergency room doctors from lawsuits — did nothing to reduce the number of expensive tests and procedures those ER doctors prescribed.

This latest study follows numerous others that deflated other tort reform myths: that making it harder for victims to file medical malpractice lawsuits would reduce the number of “frivolous” suits that “clog the courts;” that imposing caps on the damages victims could receive would reign in “out of control” juries that were awarding lottery-size sums to plaintiffs; and that malpractice insurance premiums would fall, thereby reversing a doctor shortage caused by specialists “fleeing the profession.”

via On Tort Reform, It’s Time to Declare Victory and Withdraw – Forbes.

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Prescription Drugs – Why Is This So?

October 8, 2014

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Fraud & Diagnosis – Is Your Dentist Ripping You Off? – Dental Malpractice

October 6, 2014

DentistMy office has represented several patients in the past who have been victims of various nefarious activity by their dentist. One I remember was when the doctor supplied his patients with credit card applications to complete and pay for the sort of creative diagnosis he would come up with. In one instance, he even forged the signature of my client on one such application. When my client objected, the dentist filed a lawsuit against my client who then came and saw me. My office vigorously defendant the dentist’s lawsuit which ended up not only be dismissed but resulted in a settlement where the dentist ended up paying my client. Unfortunately, I see this sort of behavior by dentists is not very uncommon.

The article, by longtime pediatric dentist Jeffrey Camm, described a disturbing trend he called “creative diagnosis”—the peddling of unnecessary treatments. William van Dyk, a Northern California dentist of 41 years, saw Camm’s op-ed and wrote in: “I especially love the patients that come in for second opinions after the previous dentist found multiple thousands of dollars in necessary treatment where nothing had been found six months earlier. And, when we look, there is nothing to diagnose.”

“In recent years, I have been seeing more and more creative diagnosis,” Camm told me when I called him at his practice in Washington state. A dentist, he said, might think, “‘Well, the insurance covers this crown, so I’m not hurting this patient, so why don’t I just do it?’ That’s the absolutely wrong approach.”

Poking around, I found plenty of services catering to dentists hoping to increase their incomes. One lecturer at a privately operated seminar called The Profitable Dentist $389 aimed to help “dentists to reignite their passion for dentistry while increasing their profit and time away from the office.” Even the ADA’s 2014 annual conference offered tips for maximizing revenue: “Taking time to help our patients want what we know they need,” notes one session description, “can drive the economic and reward engine of our practice.”

via Is Your Dentist Ripping You Off? | Mother Jones.

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Tort Reform – Study Shows Savings Are Mythical

September 22, 2014

Tort Reform

Tort Reform

The idea that Tort Reform was going to have any effect on the cost of American Health Care system has been shown time and time again to be nothing but a myth. Tort Reform has been, and continues to be an effort to prevent victims of medical negligence to seek reasonable compensation for their injuries and the cost of dealing with those injuries in the past, present and more importantly the future. It stands to reason that the Insurance Industry gains but limiting recoveries and even reducing verdicts–never mind that a verdict in favor of a plaintiff is by definition evidence that the case just tried was not frivolous!–after a jury has deliberated on the evidence presented.

Tort reform,” which is usually billed as the answer to “frivolous malpractice lawsuits,” has been a central plank in the Republican program for healthcare reform for decades.

The notion has lived on despite copious evidence that that the so-called defensive medicine practiced by doctors merely to stave off lawsuits accounts for, at best, 2% to 3% of U.S. healthcare costs. As for “frivolous lawsuits,” they’re a problem that exists mostly in the minds of conservatives and the medical establishment.

A new study led by Michael B. Rothberg of the Cleveland Clinic and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association aimed to measure how much defensive medicine there is, really, and how much it costs. The researchers’ conclusion is that defensive medicine accounts for about 2.9% of healthcare spending. In other words, out of the estimated $2.7-trillion U.S. healthcare bill, defensive medicine accounts for $78 billion.

As Aaron Carroll observes at the AcademyHealth blog, $78 billion is “not chump change … but it’s still a very small component of overall health care spending.” Any “tort reform” stringent enough to make that go away would likely create other costs, such as a rise in medical mistakes generated by the elimination of the oversight exercised by the court system.

Since it doesn’t appear that “tort reform” would have any effect on this spending, Carroll says, “there seems little reason to pursue it as a means to dramatically reduce health care spending in the United States.”

via New study shows that the savings from ‘tort reform’ are mythical – LA Times.

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Medical Malpractice – Feds Will Release Hospital Mistake Data

September 9, 2014

This is very important news. Releasing publicly and naming providers who commit easily preventable mistakes such as leaving a foreign object inside a patient after a surgery is done will go a long way in helping these Hospitals to improve their practices. The important thins to remember is that these are mistakes that are preventable and leads to patient death or further injuries and complications.

This is very different and distinct from an operation that does not lead to an expected result–medicine is an art and human body is a complicated machine and bad results may occur absent any sort of negligence.

Federal regulators are reversing course and will resume publicly releasing data on hospital mistakes, including when foreign objects are left in patients’ bodies or people get the wrong blood type.

USA TODAY reported last month that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services quietly stopped publicly reporting a host of life-threatening mistakes, after denying in 2013 that it would do so.

CMS says it will make this data on eight “hospital-acquired conditions” HACs available on its website.

“We are working to make it available as a public-use file for researchers and others who are interested in the data,” CMS spokesman Aaron Albright said in an e-mail. “It’s been requested, so we will make it available.”

via Feds reverse course, will release hospital mistake data.

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Insurance – Napa Rushes to Fix Quake Damage

August 27, 2014

Wineries and hospitality businesses in and around Napa, California, near the epicenter of the worst earthquake to hit the area in 25 years, rushed to clean up rubble and broken glass ahead of the expected influx of tourists for a drought-accelerated grape harvest.“We are right in the thick of it,” said Steve Matthiasson, a Napa-based grape grower and vintner who produces wine under the Matthiasson label. “It could not be a worse time” for a quake.

via Napa rushes to fix quake damage as drought means early harvest | PropertyCasualty360.

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Motorcycle Personal Injury – Plaintiff Awarded $5.4M Against Government

July 8, 2014

motorcycle-accident

motorcycle-accident

I see this happening all the time. A City or a City owned entity simply refuses to even negotiate a reasonable settlement, preferring to take the matter all the way to trial instead of coming to the table where reason can prevail and chances are that a settlement for a lesser amount can be reached. Unfortunately, this strong arm tactic works in the long run. Because, even if the defendant ends up paying more in litigation cost and/or verdict amount, knowing the defendant hardline position serves as a warning to others who may want to file a lawsuit against this defendant that they will be in for the long haul. That alone, probably causes many trial lawyers to forgo taking on cases where the liability may be hard to prove or damages too small to worth the lengthy battle.

A judge in San Diego awarded $5.4 million in damages against the US government and in favor of a motorcyclist, whose severe injuries in a collision with an on-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent ended his music recording career.After a four-day trial, US District Court Judge Larry H. Burns of the Southern District of California, awarded over $6.3 million on July 20, 2014 to John B. Hendrickson of Chula Vista, CA. The judge apportioned fault 85% to the U.S. Government and 15% to Hendrickson, for a net verdict of nearly $5.4 million.

[…]

“During the five years of litigation leading up to the trial, the government denied responsibility for Hendrickson’s injuries and refused to engage in settlement negotiations,” Francavilla said. “There was a zero offer heading into trial, and we are pleased justice has been served after all these years. The verdict acknowledges the responsibility the government has to do its job safely and protect the public.”

via Government to Pay $5.4M to Recording Artist in Career-Ending Motorcycle Crash | The National Trial Lawyers.

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