ARCHIVE -- SEPT. 2001
September 19-20 --
Profiling, again. There's a fairly wide consensus at the
moment that airport detectives, border guards and various other kinds of
security personnel are sometimes, at least, entitled to apply closer scrutiny
to groups of youngish men of Middle Eastern extraction than to groups of
elderly women of Scottish descent. Does that mean abandoning our
longstanding ideal of equality under the law, or is there some place to
draw a principled line? (Joyce Purnick, "Last Week, Profiling Was
Wrong", New York Times, Sept.
WORTH READING: Michael Brus, "Proxy War", Slate,
9, 1999; James Forman Jr., "Arrested Development: The Conservative
Case Against Racial Profiling", The New Republic, Sept.
10; Randall Kennedy, "Suspect Policy", The New Republic, Sept.
13, 1999; Yahoo
Full Coverage; Heather Mac Donald, "The Myth of Racial Profiling",
George Will, "Racial profiling may be more myth than reality", Washington
23; and see (linked already Sept. 14-15) Tarek E. Masoud, "American
Muslims Are Americans. Let's Act Like It", WSJ OpinionJournal.com,
September 19-20 --
Welcome Insure.com, Atlanta Constitution, Houston Chronicle,
About.com readers. Plenty of press mentions lately
for this site, its editor or both, including comments on the litigation
likely to follow the Trade Center bombing (Vicki Lankarge, "Insurers and
airlines face years of litigation over terrorist attacks",
and in particular the possibility that major airlines could be ruined by
liability actions on behalf of victims on the ground (Nancy Fonti and Dave
Hirschman, Atlanta Constitution, Sept.
18 -- quotes included in earlier but not current online version).
Earlier, we were selected as a weekly web pick by the Houston Chronicle:
"It's written in nonlegal terms, so you'll be able to dive right in and
understand what you're reading." (Cay Dickson, "What's Online", Houston
10). In another article published before the attack, this one
for Money magazine, Amy Feldman quotes us on lawsuits by investors
against brokers ("You screwed up? Sue!" (excerpt of longer article), Money/CNNfn,
We've also recently been linked to by several pages at Robert Longley's
Government section of About.com, including the sections on Gun
Control (nominating us as "excellent" and "Best of the Net") and Environment
("Do some environment laws go just a 'bit too far?' Overlawyered.com
suggests they might and offers some fascinating reading to back this up.")
September 19-20 --
Washington Post on airline liability. The
newspaper is properly skeptical about a generalized bailout of the airlines
as such, but sees merit in the idea that they ought not to face near-infinite
liability for the terrorists' actions. "Congress should accept some
liability costs, taking care that these are not costs already covered by
private insurance. It should also pass legislation to ensure that
liability payments are held to a reasonable level and that trial lawyers
do not pocket large chunks of the money." ("The Airline Bailout" (editorial),
Washington Post, Sept.
September 19-20 --
Michigan tobacco fees. The $450 million award "works
out to an hourly rate of $22,500, based on claims by law firms in South
Carolina and Mississippi that they spent 20,000 hours on the Michigan portion
of the tobacco case,"
reports the Detroit Free Press's Dawson Bell. Arbitrators
conceded that lawyers had done only a "modest" amount of work specifically
on behalf of the Wolverine State, but said their efforts on the litigation
on a national level deserved kudos, besides which it had been a coup for
them to have recruited then-Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley, considered
influential among his fellow AGs. Sure sounds to us like it's worth
$450 million! ("Panel awards big pay in suit", Sept.
7; Yahoo/Reuters; William McQuillen, "Michigan Tobacco Lawyers Awarded
$450 Mln From Accord", Bloomberg.com, Sept.
September 18 --
Settle a dispute today. A story with a moral from
Lawyer: "With America under attack by terrorists, lawyers involved
in the trial of a bitter, highly personal fee fight agreed the dispute
was trivial in the wake of the horror and tragedy of the events of Sept.
11, and they resolved their disagreement." The $105 million battle
over division of fees from tobacco
and other litigation had pitted celebrated plaintiffs' lawyer John O'Quinn
against former associate Kendall Montgomery, who was represented by prominent
attorneys Joseph Jamail and Ronald Krist; it had riveted the Houston legal
community with a series of highly unflattering revelations about both sides.
Then came the blasts in New York and Washington, which helped put a lot
of other things in perspective. We hardly ever find ourselves writing
favorably of Messrs. O'Quinn and Jamail, but here's hoping their example
adds a new item to our national to-do list: 1) make
a donation for NYC and Washington relief; 2) book some air travel;
and 3) clear the decks of some old dispute that doesn't seem nearly as
important as it used to. (Brenda Sapino Jeffreys, "Crisis Catalyst
for Settlement", Texas Lawyer, Sept.
17 and Houston
coverage typified by Bill Murphy, "Ex-partner covered for drunken O'Quinn,
lawyer says", Sept.
6; "O'Quinn reneged on agreement, jurors told", Sept.
7). (DURABLE LINK)
September 18 --
More on asbestos in WTC. Less and less seems clear
about this subject, notwithstanding the reports we linked
yesterday. Here's Newsweek/MSNBC: "Reports have been conflicting
about how much asbestos was installed in the twin towers, which were built
between 1966 and 1973, or how much might have remained there at the time
of the collapse. ... Guy F. Tozzoli, the physicist-engineer who headed
overall development of the World Trade Center throughout its construction
and remained there until 1987, says asbestos was only used in the first
39 floors of the Tower One, the first building struck Tuesday and the second
one to fall. After that, other materials were used at an additional cost
of over $400,000, he says. 'There was no asbestos used anywhere else in
the buildings,' says Tozzoli, who currently is president of the World Trade
Center Association." (David France and Erika Check, "Asbestos Alert", Newsweek/MSNBC,
14). The reports linked yesterday from Steven Milloy and JunkScience.com,
on the other hand, describe much more of the complex, including the lower
64 floors of Tower 2, as having been given asbestos insulation.
How much of the original insulation was still there as of Sept. 11?
Yesterday's linked articles seemed to proceed from the premise that it
remained in place. But here's Newsweek/MSNBC again: "Subsequently,
the asbestos was encapsulated in a honeycomb of plastic, and in the early
'80s, after a 'fastidious, painstaking process,' it was entirely removed,
he [Tozzoli] says. 'If they are finding asbestos in the ash, it is not
coming from us.'" The Port Authority, the buildings' owner, engaged
in prolonged litigation with asbestos
manufacturers and its own insurers seeking to shift to them $600 million
in costs of asbestos abatement. (British Asbestos Newsletter,
1996, item #2; Mound, Cotton, Wollan & Greenglass, "What's
New", "Cases"). Reader Maximo Blake writes to say: "To the best
of my knowledge a majority of the asbestos coating the beams and elsewhere
was removed in the 1980s. My information comes from a Port Authority employee
who supervised the removal." Just to add a bit more complication, a web
search reveals a relatively recent Sept.
12, 2000 entry from the Port Authority's Construction Advertisements
Archive in which the authority solicits sealed bids for ongoing "Removal
and Disposal of Vinyl Asbestos Floor Tiles and Other Incidental Asbestos-Containing
Building Materials" at the WTC, with bids due October 17, 2000.
Plus: Today's New York Times quotes specialists with a
range of opinions on whether the change in materials might have made a
difference. (James Glanz and Andrew C. Revkin, "Did the Ban on Asbestos
Lead to Loss of Life?", New York Times, Sept.
September 18 --
"Civil liberties in wartime". Just-started Slate
dialogue between Stewart Baker (Steptoe & Johnson) and Eugene Volokh
(UCLA School of Law, Center-Right)
looks like it will be a good one, as we'd expect from these two (began
September 17 --
Renewed in alabaster. Our friend (and frequent contributor
to this site) John Steele Gordon, author of The
Business of America, contributed this commentary on the afternoon
of the blast to National Public Radio's Marketplace, still relevant today:
"The beating heart of world capitalism will beat again, and soon.
"The New York financial market -- a potent and emotional symbol of American
power -- has been struck before. In 1863 the draft riots, sparked
by opposition to the Civil War, engulfed the city from downtown to its
northern edge, then in the east forties. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, died
in the three days of looting, fire, and lynching. But as soon as order
was restored -- by army regiments rushed in from Gettysburg -- the banks
and the stock exchange reopened. Business went on.
"In 1920, a deliberate attack on Wall Street itself resulted in an explosion
in front of the Morgan Bank. Hundreds of pounds of cut up iron chunks,
intended as people killers, were hurled throughout the neighborhood, and
awnings as high as twelve stories up burst into flame. Thirteen were killed
and dozens injured. Had the bomb exploded a few minutes later, when
lunch-hour crowds would have thronged the corner of Wall and Broad, the
death toll would have been in the hundreds. But the next day, the
Morgan bank, and the stock exchange across the street, were open for business,
their shattered windows boarded up, their courage intact.
"New York City is a tough place, both when it comes to dishing out misfortune
and when it comes to absorbing it. And no part of this city is tougher
than its oldest part, where people have come for three hundred and fifty
years to seek their fortunes. Too many hearts have been broken there,
and too many dreams fulfilled, to be more than momentarily shaken even
by an outrage of the magnitude of this attack.
"We New Yorkers will bury our dead -- however many they may be -- comfort
our wounded, plan our revenge. But most of all, New York will go
"It will go on doing what New York does best, buying and selling, searching
for opportunity, reaching for the stars.
"Two thousand years ago, St. Paul said, 'I am a citizen of no mean city.'
On this terrible day, millions of New Yorkers know exactly what he meant."
September 17 --
How many lives would asbestos have saved? Don't-miss column
from FoxNews.com's Steven Milloy, associated with the Cato Institute and
known for his JunkScience.com
page: "Until 30 years ago, asbestos was added to flame-retardant sprays
used to insulate steel building materials, particularly floor supports.
The insulation was intended to delay the steel from melting in the case
of fire by up to four hours. In the case of the World Trade Center,
emergency plans called for this four-hour window to be used to evacuate
the building while helicopters sprayed to put out the fire and evacuated
persons from the roof. ... In 1971, New York City banned the use of asbestos
in spray fireproofing. At that time, asbestos insulating material
had only been sprayed up to the 64th floor of the World Trade Center towers."
[see addendum/correction below] Both planes struck higher floors,
and the substitute material did not prove notably effective in preserving
the steel, whose melting caused the towers to collapse 56 minutes in one
case and 100 minutes in the other after fire broke out. Moreover,
Milloy argues, by the time of the WTC's construction, "wet-spraying" techniques
of asbestos installation had been developed that made it possible to drastically
lessen the danger to construction workers of breathing in harmful
fibers during application. The late Herbert Levine, "who invented
spray fireproofing with wet asbestos ... frequently would say that 'if
a fire breaks out above the 64th floor, that building will fall down.'"
("Asbestos Could Have Saved WTC Lives", Sept.
Addendum: reader Thomas Sanderson, mechanical and aerospace engineer,
writes: "Given that I read your site every day because of the quality and
common sense, I was deeply disappointed to find you referring this article
without appearing to recognize the problems with its argument.
"Fire insulations for buildings are designed to protect the structure
against the heat from a fire fueled by the building's contents:
paper, furniture, carpet, etc. This is true of asbestos insulations
and their replacements. When you add several hundred thousand pounds
of jet fuel you create a fire that is far hotter than anything the designers
planned for. In addition, the crash itself would have stripped most
of the insulation from the steel columns, rendering the insulation useless
no matter what material was used. The collapse of the towers short
of the 4 hour mark specified in the article was due to the size and heat
of the fire being well outside the specifications of the insulation and
building codes; there is no reason to believe that asbestos insulation
would have performed any better than the insulation that was used and every
reason to believe that asbestos would have failed in the same way.
"By citing this column without pointing out its obvious flaws, you are
encouraging the kind of unjustified lawsuits your site intends to stamp
Further addendum: Milloy's JunkScience.com
(first Sept. 15-16 item) adds the following correction/amplification in
response to reader emails: "Apparently, One World Trade Center was completely
insulated with asbestos. But Two World Trade Center was insulated
with asbestos only up to the 64th floor. One World Trade Center lasted
almost 45 minutes longer than Two World Trade Center. It's possible --
no guarantees -- that more people might have gotten out of Two World Trade
Center had it been fully asbestos-insulated. Nothing would have prevented
the buildings from collapsing eventually given the heat generated by the
combustion of jet fuel." (& see Sept. 18:
MSNBC quotes an authority who contradicts the above account and says the
asbestos was removed in the 1980s)
September 17 --
$3 million verdict for selling gun used in suicide. Ryan
Eslinger, 19, committed suicide with a gun
he bought after lying on the application at Kmart to conceal his history
of paranoid schizophrenia; the 17-year-old clerk, an acquaintance of his
from high school, mistakenly accepted Eslinger's passport as adequate identification,
which it isn't under federal gun laws. Now a federal court jury in
Utah has told the retailer to pay $1.5 million in compensatory and $1.5
million in punitive damages to Eslinger's family, saying it acted with
"reckless indifference". (Patty Henetz, "Kmart Pays Punitives to Utah Family
Over Shotgun Sold to Suicidal Teen", AP/Law.com, Sept. 17; "Kmart sued
for wrongful death in suicide case", AP/Nando, Sept. 5).
"Why they hate us". "It was a novel thing in 1776 to treat
people as ends in themselves, not as the instrument of some higher purpose.
In many places, it still is. As a rule, Americans don't subordinate
individuals to grand and noble causes -- we let them decide whether to
subordinate themselves. ... Our deference to the pursuit of happiness exasperates
critics who see it as frivolous and shallow. They think life is meaningless
and even wicked unless it is devoted to some cause greater than yourself."
Best column we've read lately on why premodern fanatics of every stripe
and on every continent hate our society for its supposed decadence, materialism,
and moral laxity. (Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune/TownHall.com,
September 14-16 --
Security holes: to the North... December 1999's interception
of Ahmad Ressam as he crossed from British Columbia into the U.S. with
bomb-making materials, and the apparent use of Nova Scotia and other parts
of Canada as staging areas for this
week's outrage, points to a persistent problem: "Canada, according to David
Harris, former CSIS chief of strategic planning, is 'a big jihad aircraft
carrier [terrorists use] for launching strikes against the U.S.'" While
actual carrying out of terrorist schemes is against Canadian law, the country's
authorities allow surprisingly wide scope for organizing and fundraising
in support of such schemes. ("With friends like us" (editorial),
Post, Sept. 13; Mark Steyn, "A very curious nation where Canada once
was", National Post, Sept. 13; Tom Arnold (& files from Reuters),
"U.S. to call for tighter security at borders", National Post, Sept.
13; Elizabeth Nickson, "Evil resides among us, in our hearts", Sept.
13; Paul J. Smith, "The Terrorists and Crime Bosses Behind the Fake
Passport Trade", Jane's Intelligence Review, July
1; Mary Anastasia O'Grady, "Threat from the North", WSJ OpinionJournal.com,
September 14-16 --
...and at home. Often quite unfairly, organized Arab-Americans
and Muslim-Americans find their loyalty to this country put in question.
As the surest way of dispelling such imputations, "they should help in
every way possible to smash the network within their own communities that
provides money and shelter to terrorists. It's the least they can
do for their neighbors". (Nolan Finley, "Arab-Americans can help
cause by exposing terrorist sympathizers", Detroit News, Sept.
13; Tarek E. Masoud, "American Muslims Are Americans. Let's Act
Like It", WSJ OpinionJournal.com, Sept.
What you knew was coming. Lawyers "say they expect an
avalanche of lawsuits against the airlines, the security companies the
airlines hired to screen passengers at the airports and the government
agencies that run the airports." (Joseph B. Treaster and David Cay Johnston,
"Billions in Claims Expected, but Compensation Could Vary Widely", New
York Times, Sept.
13; Robert Manor and Rick Popely, "U.S. airlines face trouble in aftermath
of attack", Chicago Tribune, Sept.
13). After the earlier bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993,
New York's Port Authority unsuccessfully sued companies that made fertilizer,
one of the bomb's components (Aug. 23,
1999). The Association of Trial Lawyers of America yesterday
called for a "moratorium" of unspecified length on the filing of suits
over this week's calamity (ATLA website, "A
National Tragedy"). On lawsuits against the U.S. government over
terrorism and their tendency to give the terrorists a second victory, see
5, 1999 (Kenya and Tanzania embassy bombings). On the problematic
nature of recently passed laws that permit victims of terrorism to sue
responsible foreign states and then recover part of the resulting jury
awards from U.S. taxpayers, see June 18,
May 9; July
Today's Times reports that the two airlines whose planes were
hijacked, American and United, are urging Congress to curtail suits against
them by victims on the ground (as opposed to their own passengers and crew),
a step that might be taken in conjunction with a federally legislated compensation
scheme for victims in lieu of litigation; trial lawyers appear to be mobilizing
to oppose such measures, even though a federal scheme of legislated compensation
would be likely to get cash to survivors earlier and with more certainty
than would lawsuits. "Lawyers who specialize in representing plaintiffs
said the airlines were the most likely targets for negligence and wrongful
death suits for victims on the ground and in the air. Potential payments
could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, the lawyers said."
For those new to this topic, this figure of "hundreds of millions" apparently
represents not airlines' aggregate liability, but of what they could pay
in individual cases where high-paid businesspersons perished (such
payments by airlines to families having ranged well into the tens of millions
of dollars in individual cases in the past). Missing from the article
is any plausible estimate of airlines' aggregate liability should lawyers
succeed in getting them held responsible for ground losses (a theory which
of course the courts may not accept). Counting wrongful-death, injury,
property damage and business interruption claims, it seems unlikely that
the totals would stop short of many tens of billions of dollars, a prospect
likely at some point to exhaust the airlines' available insurance coverage
and drive them into bankruptcy, with resulting destabilizing effects on
the U.S. air transport system and economy (again, assuming courts go along,
which they may not). Today's Times coverage also cites "plaintiff's
lawyers" as having spread word in recent days that insurance companies
might be preparing to deny WTC claims by resorting to war exclusions in
policy coverage, a report well calculated to alarm and anger policyholders
and make them more likely to consider hiring lawyers, but for which the
evidence so far appears remarkably scanty; every insurer spokesperson we've
seen quoted has contradicted the report. (Joseph B. Treaster, "Airlines
Seek Restrictions on Lawsuits Over Attacks", New York Times, Sept.
September 13 --
Before going to war, declare war. Formal declarations
of war paradoxically help make the world a more civilized place, at least
when compared with the alternative, the modern practice of waging war without
declaring it: like other legal formalisms, they help put an end to self-serving
guessing games among both combatants and third parties as to who owes obligations
to whom. "We should seriously consider a congressional declaration
of war," writes columnist Charles Krauthammer. "That convention seems
quaint, unused since World War II. But there are two virtues to declaring
war: It announces our seriousness both to our people and to the enemy,
and it gives us certain rights as belligerents (of blockade, for example)."
("To War, Not to Court", Washington Post, Sept.
12). There are also various precedents Congress might consult
for steps other than the conventional declaration of war against a named
enemy state; among them are letters of marque and reprisal, employed in
the early history of American navigation. (Washington Post,
letter to the editor from Wade Hinkle, Annandale, Va., Sept.
12; scroll to near bottom) (via Instapundit).
September 13 --
Self-defense for flight crews. Issuing them guns
(employing ammunition of a type unlikely to pierce a metal fuselage) might
be better than today's practice of mandating their defenselessness, and
a whole lot more meaningful than (to name one newly announced step) forbidding
airport shops to sell plastic dinner knives. A less drastic approach
"would be to give all flight crews
tasers, pepper spray, and the training to use them. This approach
has the added benefit of dealing with 'air rage,' which is still far more
common than hijacking, but the airlines would probably need some legislative
protection from lawsuits to adopt the practice." (Virginia Postrel, Dynamist.com,
12; Dave Kopel, "Making the Air Safe for Terror", National Review Online,
September 13 --
Non-pregnant rescuers, please. "The D.C. Fire Department
and Emergency Medical Services is in all kinds of hot water for disqualifying
its pregnant female applicants." Would this be an okay time to agree
that society, women included, has a compelling reason to want to hire the
strongest, quickest, and hardiest prospects for jobs
that may involve pulling victims from the rubble of disasters? ("The
law vs. common sense" (editorial), Washington Times, Sept. 10).
September 13 --
Message to the killers. "What was it you hoped we would
learn? Whatever it was, please know that you failed. Did you want
us to respect your cause? You just damned your cause. Did you want
to make us fear? You just steeled our resolve. Did you want to tear
us apart? You just brought us together." (Leonard Pitts Jr., "The
barbarians will learn what America's all about", Miami Herald/Seattle
12) And: Mark Steyn, "West's moral failure at root of
tragedy", National Post, Sept. 11; Dave Barry, "Just for being Americans
...", Miami Herald,
13; Jeff Jacoby, "Our enemies mean what they say", Boston Globe/Jewish
World Review, Sept.
13; eyewitness account with pictures: The Fine Line blog, Sept.
September 12 --
"From the dust will come justice". "[J]ustice may not
be swift. It is important, though, that it be sure.
"For those who on Tuesday took a part of America's heart, there must
be one uneasy assurance: Life is long. We are not finished.
And it is they who must feel the terror." (Chicago Tribune (editorial),
11). We also recommend the coverage on Virginia
Postrel's and Glenn Reynolds'
September 12 --
Barbara Olson, 1955-2001. The attorney, commentator, author,
and wife of Solicitor General Ted Olson (and no relation to this site's
editor) was on board American Airlines Flight 77 and used her cell phone
to call her husband and relay details about the flight's hijacking.
A former prosecutor, Mrs. Olson rendered many services to this country,
and it would be fitting if by this final act she helped assist law enforcement
in the inquiries that lead to bringing the murderers to justice (John Solomon,
"Barbara Olson, wife of U.S. solicitor general, dies in Pentagon attack",
AP/Boston Globe, Sept. 11).
September 12 --
Transsexual passenger's airline hassle. We were preparing
a light, jolly sort of item about the lawsuit charging United Air Lines
with discrimination against transsexuals because they over-hassled Richard
Ward/Sarah West at boarding time: "according to the lawsuit, Ward was told
he wouldn't be able to fly until he looked more like his passport photo,
which shows him as a man." But we knew there was a serious point
at the incident's core: airline personnel
aren't just being spiteful when they insist that passengers match up fairly
closely with their picture IDs. Could we agree that this is a bad
moment at which to assert a new civil right to board airliners in disguise?
(WJLA, "Airline Orders Man to Change Out of Women's Clothing", Sept.
September 12 --
Self-defense: an American tradition. In his much-praised
book ''Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture'', Emory University
historian Michael A. Bellesiles delivered a novel thesis many reviewers
were eager to hear: that America's identification of gun
ownership with individual liberty is a recent invention, and that "gun
ownership was exceptional in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth
century, even on the frontier". Now a front-page Boston Globe
article backs up a growing furor over the book's methods and veracity.
(David Mehegan, "New doubts about gun historian", Boston Globe,
11; Melissa Seckora, National Review, Oct.
1; Dave Kopel and Clayton Cramer, "Check the Footnotes", National
Review Online, Jan.
September 11 --
Soaring medical malpractice awards: now they tell us.
We couldn't have said it better than SmarterTimes did yesterday:
"Unreformed on Tort Reform: An article on the front page of today's
[i.e. Monday's] New York Times reports that jury awards in medical
malpractice cases reached an average of $3.49 million in 1999, up from
$1.95 million in 1993. The article reports that in California, 'juries
awarded more than $1 million in 39 malpractice lawsuits, up from 28 seven
years earlier. ... The average award rose to $2.9 million, from $2 million.'
Well, the Times looks a bit silly, in retrospect, for that largely
uncritical report in its national section on August 6, 2001, which ran
under the headline, 'A Study's Verdict: Jury Awards Are Not Out of Control'
and concluded with a quote from a law professor who asserted, 'The evidence
is that juries are not out of control.' That August article didn't
mention any of these statistics about the increase in jury awards in malpractice
cases. Today's article, meanwhile, is flawed because it doesn't say
how many of these large jury awards are reduced by judges on appeal." [on
which, see our Sept. 7-9 entry: the National Law Journal finds that
judges appearing to be leaving intact a larger share of big awards].
(Joseph B. Treaster, "Malpractice Rates Are Rising Sharply; Health Costs
Follow," New York Times, Sept.
10 (reg); Yahoo
version (no reg, but shorter shelf life). Earlier Times
report: William Glaberson (who else?), New York Times, Aug.
6 (fee-based archive), Googlecached
at Seattle Post-Intelligencer site).
Here's more, from the trade journal Business Insurance, on the
looming crisis in med-mal insurance: "In response to losses on medical
malpractice liability business, The
St. Paul Cos. Inc. has raised rates and is walking away from some health
care risks. ... The St. Paul, Minn.- based insurer said it has raised
its medical malpractice liability rates for large hospitals an average
of 76% on policies that have renewed this year and has not renewed some
policies. Rate increases have become steeper in recent months, with
the average renewal in July up 103% from last year's rate. ... because
of the serious losses recorded by large hospitals, St. Paul plans to exit
some geographic regions and not renew policies with certain hospitals,
[company official Michael] Miller said." ("Updates: Med Mal Rate
Hikes", Business Insurance, Aug. 27, fee-based
archive). And a report from July 2 on the crisis facing nursing
homes: "In Florida, for example, nursing homes, would merely
be swapping dollars for liability coverage, according to Mr. Henderson
[Jim W. Henderson, vp-marketing division of insurance brokers Brown &
Brown in Daytona Beach, Fla.]. 'You can probably purchase insurance,'
he said, 'but it would be almost dollar-for-dollar based upon exposure
and premium. You'll spend $3 million for $3 million worth of coverage.'
Buyers in Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania that can get nursing home liability
coverage at increases of less than 200% to 300% will be lucky, Mr. Henderson
said." (Michael Bradford and Lee Fletcher Rosenberg, "Brokers the bearers
of bad pricing news", Business Insurance, July 2, fee-based
September 11 --
The view from Arsenictown. In the controversy over arsenic
levels in drinking water, Chicago
columnist Steve Chapman does something remarkable: he actually checks out
what residents think in one of the towns (San Ysidro, N.M.) meant to benefit
from the tighter rules (Sept.
version) (& see Aug. 17-19, April
September 11 --
P.D. James on compensation culture. Columnist George Will,
in London, interviews mystery writer P.D. James: "She is mildly disdainful
of what she calls 'the climate of compensation,' which Americans call the
entitlement mentality of a therapeutic culture. 'People,' she says
bemusedly, 'expect to be counseled if they suffer trauma.' Recalling
the soldiers returning from two wars, she says tartly, 'I don't remember
them all coming home expecting to be counseled about what they went through.'"
("The edge of a moral sleuth", Washington Post, Sept.