June 2005

"While sleazy lawyers have traditionally chased ambulances, attorneys in the silica case didn't trail anyone to a medical facility. Instead, they set up their own, putting an X-ray machine and a doctor in a trailer in a restaurant parking lot. Seriously. Not only that, but the X-ray machine was owned by a real estate broker, the doctor wasn't a radiologist, and no one had a license to take X-rays."

Luke Boggs, The Atlanta Constitution-Journal, June 14, 2005

Lawsuit Fears Shift Drug Research Focus

"Drugmaker Wyeth is redirecting its research and development to ailments like cancer, multiple sclerosis and degenerative neurological diseases. Forget about routine medical maladies such as allergies, high blood pressure and arthritis. Many other pharmaceutical companies are following the same strategy rather than concentrating on so-called primary care drugs …. The chase for drugs that treat ordinary conditions is now an extraordinarily risky endeavor for drug companies …. So expect more primary care drugs to be sold over-the-counter …. That means better remedies for routine medical conditions may not get developed. If breakthroughs in primary care medicines do occur, they will be accidental discoveries from research into more serious disorders." Forbes, June 6, 2005
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Questioning the "Experts"

"Are the facts the facts when they are bought and paid for and there are no repercussions for - shall we say - a skewed interpretation? This is an increasingly relevant question in a world where expert testimony, especially in health care-related lawsuits, can play a pivotal role in winning or losing a case worth millions. Like all who testify in a trial, expert witnesses must promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But just because they take that oath and are termed an 'expert' doesn't mean that what they say is credible. In some medical claims, for instance, the witness on the stand is likely to be an out-of-state doctor employed by a personal injury lawyer to present the 'scientific fact' that fuels the plaintiff's lawsuit …." Commentary by Bill Summers, Harlingen Valley Morning Star (TX), May 25, 2005
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Doctors' Fears Alter Care

"So you want to be a doctor? Make top grades during long, grueling training …. Carefully fulfill continuing medical education requirements and attend lawsuit prevention seminars. You are now making hundreds of tough decisions each day while trying hard to prevent being sued …. In each year they bear a 1-in-7 chance of being sued, and certain highly qualified specialists are at greater risk because they are referred the sickest patients. With no change in today's legal climate, premed students could now be told to expect several lawsuits during their careers, and they will hurt. With fear of liability inhibiting medical decisions, doctors are reluctant to use innovative procedures or make reasonable judgment calls. This fear is harmful to doctor-patient relations and fosters defensive medicine, which hikes the cost of health care…. For some doctors, lawsuit trouble is the unmentioned beast on their shoulders, causing them to retire early or to advise their children not to enter medical practice." Commentary by Webster Riggs Jr., The Commercial Appeal (TN), June 10, 2005
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Illinois and Alaska saw progress this month on legislation placing reasonable limits on non-economic damages in medical liability cases. After years of debate on medical malpractice reforms, the Illinois legislature passed legislation that would limit awards to $500,000 when defendants are doctors and to $1 million when hospitals. The bill now heads to Governor Blagojevich, who has said he will approve the legislation. Alaska's Governor Frank Murkowski approved a bill that will allow non-economic damage awards up to $250,000 for single injury malpractice cases and $400,000 for wrongful death or severe permanent physical disability cases.

West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse continued its campaign to challenge irresponsible personal injury lawyer advertising. The results of their survey on West Virginians' attitudes toward personal injury lawyer advertising has made headlines around the state, including the lead story on the evening broadcast of the state's most watched station. Former Executive Director Bill Bissett discussed the findings on AM talk radio in Charleston and was interviewed for a story in the Beckley Register-Herald. Click here to read the full story.

Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch has also been active on raising awareness around the state of the harmful effects of personal injury lawyer advertising. Commentaries by Executive Director David Knowles have appeared in the Belleville News-Democrat and St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


The Stats

93: Percentage of Pennsylvania doctors surveyed who said they sometimes or often practice defensive medicine' due to lawsuit fears. The Associated Press, May 31, 2005

60: Percentage of payouts from the largest asbestos trust fund that have gone to non-injured plaintiffs. Fortune, June 13, 2005

36: Percentage increase of medical malpractice lawsuits that personal injury lawyers have rushed to file in Cook Country, IL in the week after the legislature passed malpractice reforms. This number is three to four times the normal filing rate. Chicago Sun-Times, May 30, 2005

$60,000: Estimated amount that non-injured asbestos plaintiffs receive in payouts despite their lack of injury. Fortune, June 13, 2005

Take Action

YOU can help stop dangerous and irresponsible personal injury lawyer advertising!

Personal injury lawyer advertising that often uses misleading, inflammatory and baseless claims that can confuse and scare consumers. Send a letter TODAY urging the Federal Trade Commission to pursue stricter guidelines on these ads. Personal injury lawyers should not be allowed to scare and mislead consumers with sensationalism and half-truths.