Thursday, April 03, 2003

Following up the previous post, where's Scott Speicher? The world wonders. Here's a blurb, based on a FoxNews site, indicating Speicher may have been seen in the past minth, in Iraqi hands.

A disturbing thought is that, when faced with imminent defeat, the Iraqis may well dispose of Speicher, to cover up for their perfidy in holding him for over 10 years.

Poster child for the war: Jessica Lynch! She singlehandedly fought off her Iraqi captors, continuing to fire at them even after suffering multiple gunshot wounds. That's guts.

Now, as to the multiple fractures she sustained, does anyone else wonder whether they were the result of torture by the Iraqis? Was she raped? Given the level of physical injury, rape seems consistent with these bastards' mentality.

In any event, in my book, Jessica Lynch = Soldier. Oh and by the way, why can't women serve as soldiers in fighting units? Jessica proves women are tough enough. Any married men will already have figured this out, of course.

And one more:

Even another!

And another:

Here's a photo of the pro-USA rally:

Check out this statement from Iraq's Information Minister:
Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, however, called coalition reports that their forces were on the outskirts of Baghdad "an illusion."

They're not even [within] 100 miles," he said. "They are not in any place. They hold no place in Iraq. This is an illusion ... they are trying to sell to the others an illusion."

Some information minister. Pop quiz: who's divorced from reality here, us or them?

We just had a roving pro-USA rally come by my office here in Knoxville. Probably 75 to 100 people, waving american flags, boisterously shouting "USA, USA!" They came up the block from the Duncan Federal Building, turned left on Main Avenue, and were still yelling when I lost sight of 'em. Nice punctuation to my morning, even though they moved too fast for me to shoot a photo of them.

UPDATE: They're in front of the City-County Building now, singing "God Bless America."

More UPDATE: I just emailed long range photos to Instapundit, who can store them on his site. Look soon. I'll put them up here if I can remember how....

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Tort limitations on life support in the Senate?
Meanwhile, Bush's proposal to place a $250,000 cap on jury awards for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, in medical malpractice cases has stalled in Congress. Frist was working with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on changing the plan by doubling the cap in most cases, and quadrupling it in extreme cases. But Feinstein backed away from the deal after physicians groups objected to it.

That's encouraging. Interesting read on on the Senate's best doctor [and worst senator?], Bill Frist, who is shown himself unable to hold moderate repubs in line with their party leader. The story thinks it's because maybe Frist wants to distance himself from the Administration and prove himself his own man. I think it's because Frist is an amateur trying [metaphorically] to play quarterback in the NFL, and he, like his president, isn't big enough for the job. Also interesting is the report in the story that Bush is ignoring Congress now that war is under way. That's consistent with his past behavior, in that many repubs were publicly critical of Bush's lack of focus and people skills with Congress in the months prior to 9/11.

Maybe he's got Attention Deficit Disorder?

They're calling it the way they see it in Dayton, Ohio:
Just like in small-town coal country, business interests find people and institutions they can't control to be a nuisance. And nothing bugs them more than having to answer to ordinary citizens sitting in judgment of them as jurors.

So their strategy — not just in Ohio, but nationally — is to remove an important part of juries' traditional power to dispense justice in civil cases.

That's what "tort reform" is all about — at least in the radical form Republican state senators are expected to roll out this week.

This editorial discusses something not often discussed: the delay factor in how defendants litigate cases:

If these ideas are adopted, no defendants will be in a hurry to take responsibility for their mistakes. Why should they? There's no downside to duncing around injured parties for a couple of years. In fact, that's a smart business calculation under tort reform. Maybe the victim will get tired and settle for less.

Anyone who thinks corporations and their lawyers won't take full advantage of tort reform's money-saving tricks — including delay, delay, delay — is kidding themselves. Risk of larger liability and fear that a jury could be offended by a company's carelessness or misconduct encourages offending parties to be reasonable. This version of tort reform removes that pressure.

An excellent point, highlighting a facet of litigation not generally recognized or understood by the public -- delay is usually a deliberate tactic by the defense, in the big cases especially.

Delaware courts offer best protection against excessive jury awards:
Many, if not most, lawyers take medical malpractice suits on contingency; that is, they get paid only if they are successful. Such lawsuits are almost always complicated and involve not only doctors backed by big insurance companies but well-financed medical institutions as well.

An intelligent lawyer is unlikely to take a case on contingency without believing it has merit. Accepting bad cases on contingency leads to financial ruin.

In addition, there can be other consequences of serious negligence besides economic loss. Injuries can damage lives for years in ways difficult to determine financially. Shouldn't victims receive some compensation? Shouldn't the negligent pay?

Of course, the editorial also posits that punitive damages should be paid to the state. If that was the case, then what lawyer, who knows that neither he nor his client will be paid based on a punitive award, will pursue such damages? His duty is to protect his client; punitives that don't go to his client not only don't benefit his client, they also draw the focus away from the client's case. Thus, it would be unethical to spend effort and focus on a claim that does not work to the client's benefit.

It's getting nasty: New Hampshire's governor to docs: "When I pick up a paper and read about how some doctors in New Hampshire beat up a poor Democratic candidate driving through the snow in his station wagon, I'll know you're doing your job."
The Oregonian opposes federal tort limitation legislation, and says leave it up to the individual states:
But an artificial limit isn't the right answer. Not only has it been soundly rejected by Oregon voters, but it also would put the civil courts out of reach for most consumers. Lawyers can't afford to pursue contingency-fee civil lawsuits that call for expensive research and expert testimony unless they have a chance to recover their costs.

Further, it's not entirely clear that damage awards are the sole drivers of premium increases.

Unfortunately, the editorial also proposes, in a shot from the hip, "rational analysis that connects awards to the degree of negligence involved." Let's not forget that the more serious the injuries as a result of malpractice, the higher the verdict should be. And, how does one determine the "degree" of negligence in any particular situation? I like our current setup better: The question of deviation from standard of care [negligence] is basically a yes/no question. If "yes," then consideration is given as to whether the negligence caused the injury, and the degree of injury. What's wrong with this procedure? It makes sense to me

Sorry about the lack of blogging. I'ts hard to do this when they expect you to work for a living, too.

The Volokh Conspiracy is a little critical of the ACLU cyberchief's concerns over potentially eroding privacy. The thought is that the discussion should focus on what the law is now, as opposed to the potential for abuse in the future.

I see where the ACLU guy is coming from, though. It's important to consider how trends may affect us. Often, legislative initiatives or regulatory mandates might not have an immediate effect on us, but are simply the first salvo in a longer term effort toward a goal that's kept in the dark. Prognostication as to what might happen in the future based on the current state of affairs is valid, and valuable.