"The silicosis lawsuit scandal rolled into Congress & and it was quite the spectacle. The highlight was the sight of three doctors raising their right hands to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and then taking nothing but the Fifth Amendment &. The doctors declined to appear voluntarily, so they were subpoenaed. They still haven't provided documents to the committee, and in the hearing last week all three were lawyered up and hunkered down. You can decide what this says about their honesty, or their potential vulnerability before the federal grand jury now probing sham diagnoses."

– "Silicosis Clam-Up,"
Editorial, Wall Street Journal, March 13, 2006

$22 Billion Gold Rush

"Trial lawyer Marc Bern trolls for targets by browsing arcane medical journals in search of drugmakers bound for trouble; then he collects clients by placing ads in tabloid newspapers. One of his biggest payoffs came from spotting an article in the New England Journal of Medicine in August 1997. It told the story of five women at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. who had needed heart-valve surgery. All five had taken fen-phen, the new diet drug that had quickly spread to 2 million pudgy patients &. He instantly alerted an ally in the tort business, lawyer Paul Napoli of Great River, N.Y., telling him Redux "presented a fabulous opportunity, another mass tort litigation" &. Napoli and Bern wound up with 5,600 cases and landed a rumored $1 billion in settlement payments – most of it without providing much evidence proving their clients were sick. If Napoli and Bern took the typical 33% fee, then they raked off $333 million in legal fees." Forbes, April 10, 2006 Read More » (Free Registration Required)

Experts for Hire?

"They have been called hired guns and prostitutes. One 1997 book about them was titled simply, 'Whores of the Court.' Expert witnesses have been the objects of derision since at least 1897, when a Harvard Law Review writer said there are 'three kinds of liars: the common liar, the damned liar, and the scientific expert.' And for just as long, there have been questions about how to regulate the experts, who are hired by opposing sides in criminal and civil trials – and even proposals to replace them with experts appointed by the court. Yet experts are now more ubiquitous then ever. One directory alone, expertpages.com, lists 3,700 in more than 400 categories, from amusement park rides to aerosol sprays, feng shui to fungus, memory recall to metaphysics." Louisville Courier-Journal, March 12, 2006 Read More »

Questionable Diagnoses Under Scrutiny

"Once seen as the next asbestos or tobacco for class-action lawyers, silica and the lawsuits related to it have instead become a messy legal morass for the doctors, X-ray screening companies and plaintiff law firms that have wound up as the subjects of numerous investigations &. The intensifying investigations into the validity of silicosis claims are having a spillover effect in litigation involving asbestos, and other suspected hazards, with defense lawyers looking for doctors who repeatedly turn up in diagnosing fairly rare occupational-related diseases." New York Times, March 8, 2006 Read More »


The Florida Senate approved a measure that would eliminate a state law that can require defendants involved in a lawsuit to pay for damages they did not cause. The House passed a similar measure earlier in the year. The bill now heads to Governor Jeb Bush, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

Sick of Lawsuits' launched a campaign this month to highlight "bad actors" in our legal system with the Bad Science Investigation (BSI) campaign. To kick-off the ongoing campaign, Sick of Lawsuits named the winner of its first BSI Awards. Read the full list of BSI Award winners »

West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA) spokesperson Steve Cohen highlighted the important role played by state doctor Ray Harron in the silica fraud that is being investigated by the U.S. Congress. In the spirit of Hollywood's Oscar awards, Cohen presented Dr. Harron with an award for "Best Editing," noting "Editors certainly help a film tell its story by keeping the good parts and tossing out the bad, but here in West Virginia we have an 'editor' who left a lot of the story on the cutting room floor." Read the full story in the West Virginia Record »

The Stats

42: Percentage of women surveyed who believe the current medical litigation environment leads providers to perform cesarean sections that are not really needed because of lawsuit fears. "Listening to Mothers® Survey," Childcare Connection, March 20, 2006

$886: Cost of the U.S. tort system to each individual in 2004. Overall, the tort system cost Americans $260 billion in 2004, up 5.9% from 2003 in part due to the rise in medical lawsuits and claims against small businesses. "U.S. Tort Costs Update: 2004," Tillinghast-Towers Perrin, March 2006

99: Percentage of revenue for a Mississippi X-ray screening company that diagnosed asbestos and silica patients that came from personal injury law firms. One law firm only paid the screening company for positive diagnoses. Mobile Register (AL), March 9, 2006

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