"[T]wo of the doctors hired by these fly-by-night firms, Glyn Hilbun and Robert Altmeyer, offered …inventive new perspectives on the Hippocratic Oath. Dr. Altmeyer, a pulmonologist from West Virginia who worked for RTS, explained to Members that, even though he wasn't licensed in Texas, he thought it was okay to read X-rays, examine patients and offer diagnoses in that state since he wasn't 'practicing medicine.' Dr. Altmeyer explained (as have many asbestos doctors recently) that he was simply a 'consultant.' Which makes us wonder why anyone bothers to go to medical school."

Editorial, Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2006

The Asbestos-Fraud Express

“If the Milberg Weiss indictments are anything to go by, federal prosecutors are finally getting serious about tort lawyer corruption. So let's hope they've also noticed a federal lawsuit in West Virginia that describes some of the most sordid asbestos fraud to date …. It begins in early 2000, when CSX employee Ricky May learned that the Peirce firm was going to conduct an asbestos ‘screening’ in June …. Mr. May had already attended such a mass screening prior to 2000, and had tested negative for asbestosis. Enter Robert Gilkison, a former CSX employee …. The suit alleges that, faced with Mr. May's unfortunate good health, Mr. Gilkison suggested that Mr. May get someone who had previously tested positive for asbestosis to impersonate him at the June exam.” The Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2006
Read More >> (subscription required)

New York Courts Back Expansive Lawyer Ad Restrictions

“Sweeping new restrictions on attorney advertising are apparently on the horizon as the four presiding justices of New York's appellate divisions this week agreed on comprehensive reforms of the disciplinary rules as they relate to lawyer solicitations …. Under the reform proposals embraced Tuesday, lawyers would be barred from soliciting mass tort clients within 30 days of a disaster, unless a filing requirement makes earlier contact critical. The rules also would be updated to encompass computer and Internet-based ads. Significant restrictions would be imposed on the use of fictionalization, and lawyers would be banned from using nicknames or monikers -- such as 'heavy hitter' or 'dream team' -- that imply an ability to obtain results.” New York Law Journal, June 15, 2006

The Asbestos Waterloo

“As retreats go, few have matched the one now being conducted by promoters of the great silicosis and asbestos legal scam. Their flight was on full display this week in both Congress and a federal courtroom, with redolent details you couldn't make up. This comes, appropriately enough, almost exactly a year after federal Judge Janis Graham Jack first blew the whistle by documenting how lawyers, doctors and X-ray screening companies had ‘manufactured’ silicosis diagnoses ‘for money.’ The rot at the heart of these suits is slowly but steadily being exposed, and now the co-conspirators are running for cover faster than Napoleon's infantry. The latest news is that a Texas grand jury has convened in Corpus Christi to investigate Judge Jack's findings.” The Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2006
Read More >> (subscription required)


Legislative Update

The U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation continued its investigation into silica litigation fraud this month with another round of hearings with doctors and screening companies involved in diagnosing fraudulent claims.
Read the transcripts of witness testimony from the hearings >>

As part of Sick of Lawsuits’ ongoing Bad Science Investigation (B.S.I) campaign to expose junk science and “bad actors” in our courtrooms, Sick of Lawsuits hosted a Web chat this month with Dr. David Priver, a California-based OB-GYN active on the issue of expert witness testimony.
Read the full transcript of Dr. Priver’s Web chat >>

West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA) has been turning up the heat on the ethics of personal injury lawyer advertising this month. In a commentary in the West Virginia Record, WV CALA Executive Director Steve Cohen talked about the need for reforms in West Virginia in light of a New York state appellate court decision that would put reasonable limits on personal injury lawyers’ advertising and plaintiff recruitment.
Read Cohen’s op-ed >>

The Stats

71,000: Number of drug lawsuits that have been filed in federal courts since 2001, outnumbering asbestos, tobacco and auto safety lawsuits by a widening margin since 2002. "California Vioxx Trial to Open as Drug Litigation Booms," Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2006

10: Number of days in an average month when there are no general surgeons available in Gulfport, MS. The area, which was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, has had trouble retaining physicians due to the effects of the storm and lawsuit fears that have limited emergency care across the country. "Surgeons, Doctors Hard to Find on Hurricane-Damaged Gulf Coast," Associated Press, June 28, 2006

Take Action

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Sick of Lawsuits needs your help. Send a letter TODAY urging the Federal Trade Commission to pursue stricter guidelines on personal injury lawyer advertising that uses misleading, inflammatory and baseless claims to scare consumers. Tell them you’re not going to stand for personal injury lawyers’ scare tactics.

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