Posts Tagged ‘hospitals’

March 23 roundup

“Sperm donor kids win estate”

Most memorable detail: the kids used “tweezers to pluck his eyebrows for DNA testing as he lay dead in a hospital morgue.” The fact pattern in this Australian case was not exactly typical, however: the donor had had a previous romantic relationship with the children’s mother, who subsequently used his donations to conceive three times without informing her lawful husband that the kids were not his. (Janet Fife-Yeomans, AAP/PerthNow, Mar. 16).

Fieger files: $30M medical malpractice verdict tossed in South Carolina

Geoffrey Fieger (May 5, 2006; Mar. 24, 2005; Mar. 13, 2005; Aug. 31, 2004; etc.) got some favorable rulings in a South Carolina medical malpractice case. Fieger claims that the hospital fatally overdosed the plaintiff’s dead husband; the hospital argues that, as an autopsy showed, he died of a rare heart condition. Because the hospital only had copies of the original records, and not the original records themselves, Fieger persuaded the judge to instruct the jury that the defendant hospital had engaged in a cover-up and that the jury could draw an adverse inference; moreover, the jury wasn’t told about a side-deal Fieger cut with a co-defendant that apparently resulted in that defendant making only a token defense at trial in exchange for a limitation of damages, a sequence that a non-settling co-defendant doctor protested futilely as Fieger directed his closing argument at her, calling her a killer and a liar. Fieger asked for $55 million including punitives, the jury returned $30 million in “compensatory” damages but the judge threw the whole verdict out as obviously the product of passion or prejudice. Fieger says he looks forward to retrying the case. The case was brought before South Carolina capped malpractice awards. (John Monk, “$30 million verdict overturned”, The State, Mar. 9; John Monk, “$30 Million awarded in death of physician”, The State, Aug. 12).

It’s not about the money

No, really. This time, it might not be.

In January 2006, retired New York Times reporter David Rosenbaum was mugged in Washington, D.C.; the muggers hit him over the head with a pipe. When his body was discovered and emergency workers responded, they somehow missed the fact that he had been bashed over the head (Oops!), and decided he was merely drunk. Because of that mistake, every aspect of the response was botched; police failed to investigate the crime right away, and emergency workers and the hospital where they eventually took him failed to immediately treat him for his serious head injury. Two days later, he died.

Last November, his family sued the city and the hospital for $20 million. On Thursday, they settled their lawsuit with the city, for no money (Washington Post):

The family of a slain New York Times journalist yesterday agreed to forgo the potential of millions of dollars in damages in exchange for something that might be harder for the D.C. government to deliver: an overhaul of the emergency medical response system that bungled his care at nearly every step.

David E. Rosenbaum’s family said it will give up a $20 million lawsuit against the city — but only if changes are made within one year.

Under a novel legal settlement, the city agreed to set up a task force to improve the troubled emergency response system and look at issues such as training, communication and supervision. A member of the family will be on the panel.

Although legal experts said the family could have won millions had it pursued the case, Rosenbaum’s brother Marcus said he and other relatives were more interested in making sure that the city enacted measurable changes.

The family hasn’t abandoned the path of litigation entirely; their suit against Howard University Hospital continues. And the family can reinstate the lawsuit against the city if it fails to implement the reforms it has promised within a year.

Interestingly, a search of news coverage about this lawsuit did not reveal even one instance of any of the plaintiffs or their lawyers uttering the immortal mantra, “It’s not about the money.”

U.K. roundup

Because you were clamoring for one:

  • Police warn householders of three convicted burglars but say they cannot describe them for fear of violating their human rights [Telegraph]

  • Eight year old Connor McCreaddie is very fat indeed, so North Tyneside officials are considering taking him from his mum into protective custody [Gillespie, Reason “Hit and Run”]

  • Sounds promising but haven’t seen: author Simon Carr has published compendium of legal horror stories entitled “Sour Gripes” [Telegraph]

  • As in the U.S., prospect of discrimination suits has deterred efforts to keep unhealthily thin fashion models off the catwalk [Guardian]

  • Ban on fox hunting not only is widely evaded but in fact has led to renaissance of the sport [Telegraph]

  • “An incompetent expert [witness] can cause more misery than a psychotic gang member.” [Slapper/Times]

  • Vacationing cop busted for Swiss Army knife [Daily Mail]

  • In hospitals, perhaps a surfeit of privacy [Huddersfield Daily Examiner via KevinMD] and sensitivity [Daily Mail via ditto]

  • Man obsessed by sex after motorcycling injury expected to get multi-million-pound award [Telegraph]

  • Children’s sack race scrapped for lack of liability insurance [Telegraph]; industrialist says inordinate playground risk-aversion is bad omen for economy [ditto]

  • Convicted armed robber “given legal aid to sue over a telephone message that reveals that his phone calls come from prison” [Telegraph]

  • Familiar ring? Controversy mounting over “ambulance chasing”, allegations of sharp practices as no-fee-no-win injury work makes fortunes for some well placed solicitors [Times here, here, here, here]

March 8 roundup

  • Why the tort reform movement is really a civil justice reform movement. [Point of Law; University of Dayton Law Review]
  • What to do about private securities class actions. [Wallison @ AEI]
  • Law firm sued when witness trips, dies, in courtroom accident. [Lattman]
  • Nifong responds to criticism of his handling of Duke Lacrosse case; KC Johnson not impressed.

  • Big corporations have bogus consumer fraud lawsuits, too: NutraSweet maker sues Splenda maker over “Made from sugar so it tastes like sugar.” [Legal Intelligencer]
  • The effect of a malpractice suit on a physician. [Levy via Kevin MD]
  • “Are our institutions or is our sense of justice stronger because of [the Libby] prosecution?” [Fred Thompson; WaPo oped; also many posts by Frum]

Rex Carr med-mal case fails

In 1999, Maria Storm had a mole on her right shoulder that was rubbing against her bra strap; Dr. Patrick Zimmerman removed it at her request. The mole did not have an irregular shape or color. Four years later, she was diagnosed with a fatal melanoma on a different part of her body (“Louis Dehner, M.D., a pathologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, testified that the mole Zimmermann removed was not the primary spot of the melanoma”), and her family sought to blame her death on Zimmerman, seeking $10.9 million. (Zimmerman biopsies 30% of the moles he sees, and less than 1% of the ones he orders for testing are malignant, suggesting he’s already practicing heavily defensively.) A Madison County jury rejected attorney Rex Carr’s pleas; Carr (Feb. 6; Dec. 6, 2005; Nov. 6, 2005; Dec. 23, 2004; May 4, 2004; POL Dec. 28, 2004) says he’ll appeal. (Steve Horrell, “No award in med-mal case”, Edwardsville Intelligencer, Jan. 31; Leah Thorsen, “Doctor sued over cancer death defends his prognosis of mole”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jan. 30; Steve Gonzalez, “Collinsville physician cleared in Madison County med mal trial”, Madison County Record, Jan. 31).

February 22 roundup

January 22 roundup

FTC snares doctors in price fixing trap

The Federal Trade Commission ended its year by prosecuting a 1,900-member physician group in Chicago for price-fixing. Since 2001, the FTC and DOJ have coerced 29 physician groups—some with as few as six members—into signing consent orders that restrict the right of doctors to negotiate contracts.

The FTC and DOJ apply a double standard to doctors and third-party payers. Payers may represent thousands of individual consumers and present doctors with a “take it or leave it” contract offer. But if even a handful of doctors get together to present a counter-offer, it’s a “per se” antitrust violation.

Read On…