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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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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Tort Reform – Florida Supreme Court Strikes Down Caps in Florida

March 14, 2014

Florida Supreme Court

Florida Supreme Court

In yesterday’s 5-2 decision striking down Florida’s cap on non-economic damages in wrongful death cases, the Supreme Court of Florida criticized in withering detail the arguments used by medical malpractice insurance lobbyists and organized medicine to push for caps and other “tort reforms.”

For all the physicians out there, please know that according to the Court, you have been lied to most of all.

Since the industry uses these same arguments to push for laws that limit compensation to sick and injured patients in every state – as well as in Congress – we thought we would take some time to list some highlights from this brutally honest Florida Supreme Court decision.

via ThePopTort: Florida Supreme Court to Med Mal Insurance Industry: Stop Lying.

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Mediation – 678 Partners Ask CFR on How Mediation Can Yield Lower Costs, Produce Win-Win Results And Leave Less Emotional Strain in Comparison Vimeo

January 13, 2012

678 Partners ask CFR on how mediation can yield lower costs, produce win-win results and leave less emotional strain in comparis from Amir Homayoun Rafizadeh on Vimeo.

Had an eye opener discussion with Erin Johnston CEO and Founder of CFR an IL based mediation business. Idea Chef and I have been talking to different groups in the prior weeks about the Gulf Oil Spill and its consequences to the BP brand. Today we also decided to invite Nima Taradji as well to get the perspective of a trial attorney. Very educational and interesting findings when comparing mediation, arbitration and also litigation. Big cost and time differences between the techniques, better outcomes when both parties agree to some aspect rather than having one looser and one winner. Something very few people know: Emotional toll on the case looser, something mediation avoids because both parties decide, and not one or the other. Grab a cup of coffee over a Saturday or Sunday and listen to this interview.

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Product Liability – FDA Requires Increase Warning For Yaz Blood Clot Risks

January 12, 2012

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel voted 21-5 to require drospirenone-containing birth control pills – including Yaz, Yasmin, Ocella, Beyaz, Safyral, and Vestura – to warn about increased risk of blood clots.

via Yaz Side Effects: FDA Requires Increase Warning For Yaz Blood Clot Risks | InjuryBoard Kansas City.
msnbc video: Panel: Benefits of ‘Yaz’ outweigh risks.

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The 10 Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2011

January 7, 2012

I am posting this against my better judgment… but then again, this made me smile.

The top ten Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2011 are:

  • Convict sues couple he kidnapped for not helping him evade police
  • Man illegally brings gun into bar, gets injured in a fight, then sues bar for not searching him for a weapon
  • Young adults sue mother for sending cards without gifts and playing favorites
  • Woman disagrees with store over 80-cent refund, sues for $5 million
  • Mom files suit against exclusive preschool over child’s college prospects
  • Man suing for age discrimination says judge in his case is too old
  • Obese man sues burger joint over tight squeeze in booths
  • Woman sues over movie trailer; says not enough driving in “Drive”
  • Passenger’s lawsuit says cruise ship went too fast and swayed from side to side
  • Mother sues Chuck E. Cheese – says games encourage gambling in children

via The 10 Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2011 – Yahoo! News.

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Wrongful Death – Personal Injury – Frivolous lawsuits Are Not The Issue – Carelessness Is.

January 3, 2012

We have heard so many tales of woes about how medical malpractice lawsuits are ruining the medical health of this country by making healthcare expensive for all and by causing the exodus of doctors from the so-called “judicial hellholes” (of which Illinois is supposedly one) toward States where there are limits on justice that a victim of a doctor’s carelessness can hope to obtain.

The problem with that proposition is that it is simply not true. What causes medical malpractice lawsuits are not patients and/or juries and their verdicts or lack of caps on those verdicts, but medical malpractice. The best way to prevent a lawsuit based on medical malpractice is to not commit carelessness.

Note that here, we are not talking about things that may go wrong in the natural progression of a treatment: there are times when a treatment goes wrong through no fault of the medical provider and/or the attending physician. Things may go wrong because Medicine is an art. What we are talking about here are actual damages caused to individuals that are the direct result of carelessness–that is different from simply not getting the intended result. For example, damages that could cause for failure of a doctor to simply read objective tests that are performed and that are ready to be reviewed but the doctor simply decides not to avail himself f the useful information those tests provides him. That is when medical malpractice lawsuits may be expected.

NYT: Doctors at Harlem Hospital Didn’t See Most Reports

Nearly 4,000 tests for heart disease performed over the last three years at Harlem Hospital Center – more than half of all such tests performed – were never read by doctors charged with making a diagnosis, hospital officials acknowledged Tuesday.
The echocardiogram tests, a type of ultrasound used to evaluate heart muscle and valve functions, were ordered by doctors at the hospital. The tests were stored on a computer and basically forgotten, officials said. The lapse occurred because the cardiology service at the hospital had developed a system by which technicians were given the responsibility to scan all tests and flag any that looked abnormal, so that they would be given priority when doctors read them.

It appears, officials said, that the tests that were not flagged were put aside and forgotten.

The city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, which runs the public hospital system, including Harlem Hospital, and Columbia University, whose medical school supplies the cardiologists who work at Harlem Hospital Center, acknowledged the problem in a joint statement on Tuesday, after being asked about it by The New York Times.

“While the process the doctors followed may have alerted cardiologists to those echocardiograms that were most likely to be abnormal, the failure to read the echocardiograms in a timely manner is inexcusable and may have placed patients at risk,” Alan D. Aviles, hospitals corporation president, said in the statement. It was unclear who developed the screening system, hospital officials said.

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