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 Volume XXII February 23, 2005 

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"Across the country, American businesses, doctors, plaintiffs, court systems and taxpayers are being victimized by out of control litigation &. Since our country's founding, our tort system has often been a force of justice and positive change. But, today, justice is being junked by trial attorneys looking for multi-million dollar windfalls." - Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), comments on legal reform, February 2, 2005

Lawsuit Abuse News

More lawsuit abuse news on

Caught Double-Dipping
"Thousands of people who have said they were injured by one potentially lethal material are apparently double-dipping - now asserting separately that they were injured by the other. More than half the plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit in Texas seeking compensation for exposure to silica - used in making glass, paint, ceramics and other materials - previously filed claims against a trust set up to compensate those injured by asbestos, a cancer-causing flame retardant &. According to testimony by Lester Brickman, a law professor at the Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University, 'As with asbestos, the tragedy of silica exposure is being transformed into an enormous money-making machine in which baseless claims predominate.'" New York Times, February 2, 2005

Report: Doctor Shortage Compromises Patient Care
"A new report, commissioned by the Palm Beach County Medical Society, confirms that the county's emergency room crisis has compromised patient care &. It found that the majority of doctors think patient care has been affected by the crisis, and local hospitals consider the availability of some specialists - especially neurosurgeons, hand surgeons and pediatric neurologists - to be a problem now and one that will continue &.

This is because conditions here have created a so-called perfect storm in health care &. [making] the emergency room an unattractive place for local doctors to work. In fact, Florida had 32,683 licensed physicians last year, down from 50,003 in 1999, according to the state health department. But Palm Beach County's exploding population means it needs more doctors now more than ever." The Palm Beach Post, February 15, 2005

Fen-Phen Fraud
"When word spread that people injured by the fen-phen diet drug cocktail could share in a multibillion-dollar legal settlement, law firms began sponsoring health screenings so large that a judge quipped that one doctor's work 'would have been the envy of Henry Ford.' Tens of thousands of people took echocardiograms - sometimes on machines set up in hotel rooms - to see if they had heart-valve damage caused by the drugs. Doctors earned hefty fees evaluating tests for lawyers, with some handling as many as 10,000 diagnoses apiece &. Years later, people are still arguing whether the scramble to identify victims was corrupted by fraud. 'Our data suggest that medical professionals may have subordinated their clinical judgment to create the appearance of payable claims,' wrote Dr. Joseph Kisslo, a Duke University cardiologist who led the study. 'In at least one case, the result was apparently unnecessary heart-valve-replacement surgery.'" The Associated Press, February 14, 2005

Sick Of Lawsuits

West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA) this month filed an ethics complaint with the State Bar against a personal injury lawyer who appears in a judge's robe in television advertising for prescription drug lawsuits. The advertising in question features former state Supreme Court Justice Margaret Workman wearing a judicial robe and acting as if she were an active judge.

Legislative Update

President Bush signed into law the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (S. 5), legislation designed to end the abusive practice of forum shopping - a practice some personal injury lawyers use to find local, plaintiff-friendly venues. Don Wolfe, Executive Director of Silicon Valley Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, attended the bill signing ceremony as a guest of the President. - The Associate Press, February 17, 2005

The Georgia state legislature passed medical liability reform, including a $350,000 limit on pain and suffering damages. The measure was approved just days after it appeared to have failed in the state Senate. The bill now heads to Governor Perdue, who is expected to approve the measure. - The Atlanta Constitution-Journal, February 14, 2005

Our Broken Healthcare Liability System

The Stats

10: Number of Fayette, Mississippi residents who have pleaded guilty to forging Fen-Phen prescriptions in order to collect from the $400 million settlement. "Fen-Phen Case Expected to Net More Guilty Pleas," Jackson Clarion Ledger, February 12, 2005

45: Minutes it takes for some women in central Georgia to drive to find an obstetrician due to the state's malpractice crisis. "OB-GYNs See Hope in Law," The Atlanta Constitution-Journal, February 9, 2005

60: Percentage of 8,629 plaintiffs in a federal silica lawsuit in Texas that previously filed asbestos claims. "Asbestos Accord Called in Peril," Bloomberg News, February 3, 2005

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