Archive for the ‘Litigation’ Category

Remember all the hand-wringing over medical malpractice litigation that opponents of health care reform brought to bear during last winter’s debate? This month’s Health Affairs includes three articles that empirically confirm what common sense told us all along: their claims had nothing to do with reality.

To recap, Republican House leader John Boehner last winter called “medical malpractice and the defensive medicine that doctors practice” the “biggest cost driver” of all in health care. Former House Speaker and 2012 presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich pegged the nation’s bill for “defensive medicine” at $625 billion a year, which is about 180 times the sum of actual medical malpractice payments.

Boehner and Gingrich were careful to tout “defensive medicine” – care rendered out of fear of litigation – because actual litigation costs are universally acknowledged to be tiny in relation to total health care spending – less than 0.6 of 1 percent by our estimate. Defensive medicine cannot be definitively measured. As in Gingrich’s wild estimate, the fear mongers usually rely on (more…)

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A New Jersey man who was left legally blind after supposedly botched lasik eye surgery decided to criticize his surgeons online to inform others of his dissatisfying experience. He ran into more trouble than he anticipated, though, after sticking the surgeons’ names in the domain name.

The surgeons, Herbert Nevyas and Anita Nevyas-Wallace, who have offices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, sued the patient for trademark violation. Public Citizen attorney Paul Alan Levy, who is representing the patient in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, says that argument doesn’t fly.

“The domain names in question do not violate the Nevyases’ rights under trademark laws, and their efforts to obtain the names constitute reverse domain name hijacking,” he said. “The Nevyases’ attempts to close the website stifle [the patient’s] free speech rights.”

Find out why.

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A daily look at news from the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal that caught our eye:


Congressional Charities Pulling in Corporate Cash (NYT)

The Courts

Polarization of Supreme Court Is Reflected in Justices’ Clerks (NYT)

Obama getting fewer judges confirmed than Nixon – (WP)

Energy and Environment

A Necessary Moratorium (NYT – Editorial)

Mr. Obama vs. the greens [WP editorial]

U.S. Won’t Say if Blowout Preventer on Way to Shore – (WP)

Economy and Financial Reform

Lehman’s Last Hours – (NYT)

New Council of Regulators to Tackle Systemic Risks – (WP)

Bankruptcy Court is Latest Battleground for Traders – (WSJ)

Obama to Push Tax Break – (WSJ)

Obama in Infrastructure Push – (WSJ)

Washington and the “Recovery Summer” that Wasn’t – (WSJ)


Who Should Provide Anethesia Care? -( NYT)

Health Care Wastefulness Is Detailed in Studies – (NYT)

When is a hospital patient not an inpatient? (WP)


New lawsuit to challenge laptop searches – (WP)

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This video doesn’t exist

We got a special preview of Susan Saladoff’s excellent new documentary, Hot Coffee, Monday at Public Citizen. The movie opens with a look at the case of Stella Liebeck, who famously sued McDonald’s after she was seriously burned by a 49-cent cup of the fast food chain’s hot coffee. Of course, Liebeck, who was 79 at the time of the accident, became the butt of jokes and her case became a cause célèbre as exhibit #1 of a justice system overrun with frivolous lawsuits.

If a woman could sue McDonald’s for spilling coffee on herself, was there any limit to what the courts might be forced to rule upon? But as Saladoff shows, the punchlines and misinformation put forward by so-called tort “reformers” didn’t begin to tell the story of Stella Liebeck. The facts are that McDonald’s brewed its coffee at 180 degrees, a temperature hot enough to seriously burn anyone who might spill it on themselves. In fact, Liebeck’s injuries were so serious she required skin grafts. And she wasn’t the first person burned by McDonald’s hot coffee — at least 700 others had reported (more…)

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Two interviews with Public Citizen President Robert Weissman at last month’s Netroots Nation convention on the need to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That ruling opened the door for unlimited corporate spending on elections. Up top Weissman talks to The Uptake’s Jacob Wheeler about the need to overturn Citizens United and about Public Citizen’s and People For the American Way’s Pledge for Democracy campaign in which candidates for Congress are asked to take a pledge to support a constitutional amendment to undo Citizens United. And after the jump, an interview with Sum of Change that delves a little deeper into the legal issues behind the ruling. (more…)

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The forced arbitration of claims arising out of statutory protections for consumers and employees has become a hot topic at the Kagan hearings. The parade of comments by Senators started even before the hearings began, with a written statement by Senator Leahy criticizing the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Rent-a-Center v. Jackson, and similar remarks on the Senator floor by Senator Franken (video of which we’ve already posted here). The topic was raised again in Senator Whitehouse’s opening statement on Monday and in an extended colloquy between Franken and Kagan this morning.

In his statement, Leahy called the Rent-a-Center decision “a blow to our nation’s civil rights laws and the protections that American workers have long enjoyed under those laws.” He noted that (more…)

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From Consumer Law & Policy Blog: On the Senate floor, Senator Al Franken condemned the Supreme Court’s decision in Rent-A-Center v. Jackson (in which a 5-4 majority of the Court upheld the power of arbitration agreements to remove even threshold questions of validity from review by a court) and discussed how the case of Jamie Leigh Jones illustrates the effect of cases like Circuit City Stores v. Adams.

“Clearly this is a ruling that Congress needs to fix and I look forward to working with my colleagues to do so,” said Franken. “Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Supreme Court matters to average people, to our neighbors and our kids.”

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