"There is a great concern that the courts are being hoodwinked by liars. This is undermining the very foundation of our court system." - Wayne Blackmon, The George Washington University, on the questionable credibility of expert testimony in litigation. ("Tough Questions Are Raised on How Fen-Phen Compensation is Handed Out," New York Times, October 7, 2003)
Personal injury lawyers and unharmed plaintiffs abuse the system.
Personal injury lawyers often recruit unharmed plaintiffs in an attempt to win big money. These unharmed plaintiffs take compensation away from those patients who have truly been harmed.
- Personal injury lawyers have found attacking our healthcare system to be a gold mine. From 2003 to 2004, personal injury lawyers received more than $18 million from medical malpractice lawsuits alone. ("Trial Lawyer Investment Pays Dividends," PRNewswire, May 8, 2006)
- In a scandal that has rocked the U.S. legal system, Dr. Ray Harron made more than $5 million for his work as an "expert-for-hire" in diagnosing many fraudulent silicosis and asbestosis claims. Harron is one of several doctors who contributed diagnoses for more than 20,000 lawsuits. In one day alone, Harron diagnosed 515 people – meaning he had less than one minute a piece to read X-rays and make diagnoses if he worked an eight-hour day. Harron and others were paid significantly more by screening companies for making positive diagnoses. ("Beware the B-Readers," The Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2006)
- Millions of dollars in compensation that should be going to critically ill and dying victims of asbestos exposure is being paid to people who are not sick.
- A study by Academic Radiology had a board of independent doctors reviewchest X-rays that had been entered as evidence by trial lawyers in asbestos lawsuits. In the original trials, doctors paid by trial lawyers to serve as "expert" witnesses concluded that 96 percent of the X-rays showed asbestos-related abnormalities. Doctors conducting the study found that fewer than 5 percent of the X-rays showed such damage. ("The Great Asbestos Deception," San Diego Union-Tribune, August 13, 2004).
- Of the money paid out to date from the largest asbestos trust fund, 60 percent of those payouts have gone to non-injured plaintiffs – each of whom have received an estimated $60,000 despite their lack of injury. (“Diagnosing for Dollars,” Fortune, June 13, 2005)
- The legitimacy of evidence used in Fen-Phen class action lawsuits across the nation has been called into question in light of the arrests of former class action plaintiffs in Jefferson County, Mississippi. The former plaintiffs allegedly faked prescriptions of the diet drug in order to collect $250,000 from the $400 million settlement. ("Fen-Phen Arrest Revive Rap on County," Jackson Clarion Ledger, August 7, 2004)
- Since its widely used cholesterol-lowering drug Baycol was withdrawn from the market, Bayer is facing more than 8,000 lawsuits. The New York Times notes that at least 6,000 of those lawsuits, however, are being filed by people who did not suffer any side effects whatsoever. (Scott Gotlieb, M.D., The New York Times, February 26, 2003)
Outrageous personal injury lawyer advertising frightens doctors and patients.
- Almost 80 percent of Americans believe advertising by personal injury lawyers encourages people to sue even if they have not been injured. (Sick of Lawsuits National Survey, Conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, August 16-18, 2005)
- Twenty-five percent of patients said they would immediately stop taking a prescribed drug if they saw an ad for a lawsuit involving that drug. (Pharmaceutical Liability Survey, Harris Interactive, July 15, 2003)
- Nine mental health patients in South Mississippi stopped taking their prescribed medications after seeing personal injury lawyer advertising regarding Zyprexa and Risperdal - drugs used to treat patients with schizophrenia and bipolar mania. "People see these ads and they think that they're bad for them, so they quit taking them," said Teri Breister, executive director of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in Mississippi. "But these patients' lives have come apart again. Every time they stop taking their medications, the episodes become worse." ("Tort Advertisements Worry Some Health Advocates," Biloxi Sun Herald, March 21, 2004)