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What Do Those Signs Mean?

When I saw this picture, I knew I had to start the blog with it. I think I live by this mantra!



We signed up a new client yesterday, who was hit by a truck while leaving a grocery store parking lot. The grocery store has signs hanging on several of their poles that say, “These premises are under closed circuit camera surveillance for your protection“.

Immediately, our investigator walked into the store to ask about the surveillance video, to help us prove our case. The manager just smiled and then admitted that they really didn’t have any cameras, just the signs. I guess it’s a bit like having a “Beware of Dog” sign… without owning a dog.

The “surveillance signs” seem like a good metaphor to lead into a quick discussion of some legislation being debated in Congress. H.R 1215 has been introduced by Representative Steve King (R-Iowa). It is known as the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017. For the purposes of this blog, I won’t get into an entire discussion of  the pros and cons of Obamacare or providing health care for the entire country. That would put us into a blog of sleepy time. Instead, I am just going to mention a few highlights of this bill.

The title of the bill relates to health care, but amendments also include (H.R. 382) which indicates the bills intent to “provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system”. That has a special meaning to insurance companies.


(Or just meander through)

A. A federal $250,000 non-economic damage cap on lawsuits to override state laws; B. elimination of naming doctors and drug companies in a single lawsuit that involves a claim relating to a prescription; C. establish a statute of limitations federally that restricts filing a lawsuit after 3 years, even if any state has a longer statute of limitation or even if the person injured did not know that they were hurt from something; a restriction of a percentage that a lawyer can charge for representing someone (although, there is no restriction on what can be charged by lawyers to defend the claims), D. and an elimination of joint liability for economic and non-economic damages in the same claim.


This bill would require PLAINTIFF experts in any malpractice case to meet the following requirements: First, an expert would have to sign an affidavit 90 days prior to filing suit to outline the areas of malpractice by the defendant. Second, the expert must be in the same field of expertise as the defendant. And Third…. and the real amazing item to me: Any expert must be from the same state as the doctor who committed malpractice, or else must be in a contiguous state to the state where the malpractice has been supposedly committed.

Why am I focusing on the Third item, out of all the things I have mentioned? For instance, under this bill, a doctor at Duke, who might even be chairman of the department, cannot testify as an expert in a case in Pennsylvania.

Why do they do this? To restrict the ability to prove malpractice. If an insurance company can restrict experts that can be hired and restrict what lawyers can be paid, then they can restrict malpractice claims. They want to make it hard to hire an expert. And, they know how hard it is to get a doctor to testify against another doctor that they know, in the same state.


That’s why I say that those signs hanging in the parking lot are a good metaphor for such legislation.  I just wanted to give you something to think about. No wonder people want to drain the swamp!

And finally; yes I admit it, I do enjoy cake which causes me to post cake pictures:


The Debt Ceiling Constitutionality

Nobody says it’s a good law.  Nobody says it’s a bad law. But, it’s a law. Did you see the Giants game on Sunday? They lost 31-7. Do you know what the Giants didn’t say after the game? If you don’t give us 25 more points by midnight Monday, we will be shutting down the ***** NFL!  They didn’t say that! What I’m saying is: Wouldn’t it be nice if the United States Congress aspired to the maturity and problem solving of football players.”

The above quote is a portion of what John Stewart said on The Daily Show, when discussing the debt ceiling. I decided to lead the blog with that quote because I think that it sums up what most people think… What is going on up there?”

The purpose of the blog is not to give a political opinion on Obamacare or the debt ceiling. Instead, without boring you to tears but living in fear of doing so; I wanted to just mention White House press secretary Jay Carney’s thoughts on the debt ceiling. And yes, I could not remember the name of the press secretary. Please stick with me on this brief thought.

Carney says that the President has no Constitutional power to increase the debt ceiling to deal with our current shutdown. Now, just stick with me briefly. The 14th Amendment provides that “The validity of the public debts of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

I know, Constitutional analysis is a bit like dry toast. If you made it through that, then you deserve a picture break. Maybe this is how it looks right now in Congress. Yep…commercial break from Constitutional law:

our differences

The point of this blog thought is the question, “Can the President just ignore the debt ceiling and blame it on Congress?”. Well, According to the New York Times, some say yes and some say no. How’s that for certainty?  No wonder John Stewart just thinks that we should let football players decide.

I could go into more detail but I can see that your eyes are no longer moving in a reading formation. This concludes my foray into Constitutional law blogging. Just a thought on the powers of Congress and the powers of the President. With the government shutdown, everyone is effected somehow. For instance,  all of our social security hearings are cancelled.  Do you think that there is any chance that they won’t fund the IRS? … Didn’t think so.

DID YOU KNOW that there are 132 rooms in the White House? I wonder if that counts the secret rooms?

And for pic o’ day:

Bark at me

The Back Room Stuff

     A man called a repairman to his house. He had a leak in his roof, right over the kitchen table. When the repairman came, he asked, “When did you notice the leak in your kitchen”. The man replied, “Last night, when it took me two hours to eat my soup”.

     The story reminds me of the back room politics that surrounds the national health care debate. If you watched the President’s State of the Union address the other night, you might have noticed that he indicated that he  was open for compromise, to work through the differences in the health care law.  

     That brief mention came as a result of some of the leaks that we are hearing from the back rooms of the halls of Congress. The debate on health care reform has brought out the tort deformers and Big Business.

     There are many ideas  being floated for compromise, to try to get the Health care legislation sailing through. Some include ideas of medical malpractice limits, which President Obama has already indicated that he would be willing to consider. In fact, during his Presidential campaign, he had suggested that there needed to be reforms relating to the frivolous lawsuits that are brought against doctors.

     There are many other “reform re-runs” that are being brought up again. Such as, there is discussion to limit Pharmacuetical liability and to introduce limitations on how long a person has to file an injury lawsuit. “One leak” on the idea of filing would include putting a limitation of one year to bring a lawsuit. That way, Big Business could better quantify what exposures they may face, relating to bad products.

     I blog on two other items that have leaked out. Those are the concepts of “Loser Pays” and the idea of limiting lawyer contingency fees.

     On the surface, it seems that those two ideas, as amendments or compromisees to the health care legislation, should have plenty of momentum. Who doesn’t think that “Loser pays” would help stop frivolous lawsuits?

     Limiting contingency fees is an easy argument. Most people don’t like lawyers and think that law is a license to steal. So, when there is a discussion of limiting contingency fees, there probably is little concern from the public.

     For the purposes of looking at that; instead of arguing against it, let’s look at the alternative. Whenever there is an argument to limit contingency fees to lawyers, you will notice that there never is a movement to limit  how much a defense or corporate lawyer can charge for the defense. Basically, what Big Business and their pushers are saying is that, “we want to limit your representation but our lawyers have no limitation”. If they can affect the opposition, they can reduce responsibility.

     The same argument applies to “loser pays”. If you look closely, they always want to put the responsibility on the party bringing the action. If you are going to introduce legislation like that, then why not make it apply both ways? Whoever loses should pay the costs and attorney fees of the opposing party. Believe me, you will see them scurry when that is proposed.

     That is just a brief discussion of some of the leaks from the back room. I guess a greater question would be, what does that really have to do with health care? The spinsters can figure out an answer to that because Big Business has no limitations on what they can pay.

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