"Open societies flourish because they are driven by intelligence and information; the U.S. tort system creates an enclave of idiotic whimsy in the heart of the most open society in the world. But the Vioxx litigation does not merely celebrate dumb prejudice. It's extraordinarily expensive &. The Vioxx lawsuits could eventually cost it between $10 billion and $50 billion &. The midpoint of those estimates - $30 billion - is six times more than the federal government spends annually on cancer research. Or, to put it another way, $30 billion is about five times Merck's annual earnings, meaning that one of the world's top pharmaceutical research establishments is fighting for survival. At a time when Americans fret over relative decline in science and business, it's insane to sink a flagship scientific company in order to line the pockets of unscrupulous lawyers."

– Commentary by Sebastian Mallaby,
The Washington Post, May 1, 2006

3 Lawyers Kept Millions from Victims

"Her heart seriously damaged by the diet drug fen-phen, Connie Centers was supposed to collect $2.6 million, after attorney's fees, from a $200 million settlement in 2001 with the drug's manufacturer. Instead, Centers says in court papers, one of her attorneys first told her she would get $1 million. When she balked, he raised it to $1.5 million. She ultimately collected $1.8 million -- $800,911 less than the $2.625 million she should have netted, according to court records. Like hundreds of other plaintiffs in Kentucky's massive fen-phen case, Centers, of Lawrenceburg, said she was never told the amount she was allotted, nor the total amount of the settlement. For concealing those amounts -- and overpaying themselves -- a judge previously found that the three Lexington attorneys who represented the fen-phen plaintiffs breached their duty to their clients. Special Judge William Wehr said the lawyers passed out money from the settlement 'like it was theirs to do with as they wish.'" The Courier-Journal (KY), May 29, 2006 Read More »

Exposing the Truth behind Silicosis

"In the speculative world of high-stakes lawsuits, where the right idea or the right illness can mushroom into a financial windfall, Carl Thomas was the next big thing&Thomas' value lay in his claim of silicosis &. Never mind that Thomas, a 61-year-old Pearland longshoreman, like most of the others, showed no ill effects from the alleged silicosis. Never mind that he, like the majority of them, had years earlier filed lawsuits claiming an entirely different lung ailment, asbestosis. What mattered was that Thomas had an abnormal X-ray and a doctor offering a diagnosis. Small settlement checks from Thomas' first lawsuit came in every so often. He had no reason to think the silicosis claim wouldn't pay similar dividends." Houston Chronicle, May 7, 2006 Read More »

Flashy Lawyer Accused of Swindling His Clients

"Big-time lawyer Louis S. Robles could have starred in Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous -- then, poof, he was disbarred, divorced and forced to sell his Key Biscayne mansion. On Monday afternoon, Robles' life went from bad to worse when he unexpectedly surrendered to federal authorities on charges of swindling more than $13 million from some 4,500 aging law clients ailing from asbestos exposure.... Robles, once dubbed the 'king of torts' for his high-flying personal-injury practice, came under scrutiny of federal prosecutors in 2003 after the Florida Bar found he had committed serious wrongdoing. Among his violations: pilfering his clients' damage settlements and orchestrating a Ponzi scheme in which he used new settlements to pay part of the old ones. He also over-billed fees and expenses to those clients." Miami Herald, May 23, 2006 Read More »


The Stats

Four in ten: Number of medical malpractice cases filed in the United Sates that are groundless – meaning the lawsuits contained no evidence that a medical error was committed or that the patient suffered any injury. (Harvard School of Public Health, May 10, 2006)

15: Percentage of groundless medical malpractice lawsuits in which plaintiffs filing suit still received money paid out in settlements or verdicts. (Harvard School of Public Health, May 10, 2006)

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