Posts Tagged ‘Kentucky’

Fen-phen: were client’s medical records mishandled?

The story is from Kentucky, but it’s different from and evidently unrelated to the much-publicized episode in which three lawyers from that state arranged to divert large sums from the proceeds of a group settlement of fen-phen claims. Patricia Fulkerson of Nelson County sued the lawyer and law firm that had represented her in her fen-phen claim, saying that the lawyer sexually harassed her and that the law firm (quoting Andrew Wolfson in the Louisville Courier-Journal) “exaggerated her heart injuries — and those of other clients — so it could collect higher fees”:

A former paralegal in the firm, Fonda Walters, testified in a deposition that it exaggerated the injuries of a half-dozen clients, and that their initial test results, which had showed little or no heart damage, were altered. …Walters acknowledged she was fired from the firm in connection with a dispute over a bonus she claims she was owed.

The law firm’s defense raised (inter alia) an interesting argument:

Those lawyers also have argued that the alleged altering of Fulkerson’s medical records by the Florida-based firm of Wasserman Riley & Associates also doesn’t amount to negligence because “the claimed goal of the alleged malpractice was to get her more money.”

Apparently the judge rejected that argument, though. In a second Journal-Courier report dated June 22 — the same date as the above item, but presumably subsequent to it — Wolfson reports that Fulkerson’s lawsuit “has been successfully mediated and will be dismissed, lawyers for both sides said.” Speaking to the Broward-Palm Beach (Fla.) New Times, partner Jay Wasserman called the claims of diagnosis-embellishment “absolute nonsense”:

Wasserman also says there were only about six claims filed among the many prospective clients who received the complimentary tests. “If [falsifying results] was going on, why didn’t we have a much bigger number?” Wasserman asks, adding that since the reports were produced by experts and would be part of the case, it wouldn’t be possible to fake them, even if he wanted to.

More: Ronald Miller.

Breaking: Guilty verdict in Kentucky fen-phen criminal retrial

You may recall the earlier trial of the Kentucky fen-phen attorneys who had stolen tens of millions of dollars from their clients ended in a mistrial for two and an acquittal for their third compatriot. This time around, a federal court jury, after ten hours of deliberation, found William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham Jr. guilty of eight counts of fraud and one count of conspiracy. A streamlined prosecution case no doubt helped make a difference; defense attorneys sought to blame the matter on Stan Chesley, who negotiated the underlying settlement and received millions more than he was contracted to receive, and it remains mysterious why he was not charged. [Courier-Journal]

February 26 roundup

  • “God convinces woman to withdraw her voodoo-related lawsuit” [Minneapolis Star-Tribune via Obscure Store]
  • Federal, state judges differ on whether wildlife officials can be sued over fatal Utah bear attack [Heller/OnPoint News]
  • GPS helped trip him up: highest-paid Schenectady cop sure seems to spend a lot of time off patrol in a certain apartment [Greenfield]
  • More coverage of Luzerne County, Pa. corrupt-judge scandal, including reputed mobster link [Legal Intelligencer/Law.com, ABA Journal, earlier here and here]
  • Reductio ad absurdum of laws dictating where released sex offenders can live: proposal to keep them from living near each other [Giacalone and sequel]
  • Defamation suits: “What happens when it’s the plaintiff that is anonymous, and wants to stay that way?” [Ron Coleman]
  • Scalia: “Honest Services” fraud statute lacks any “coherent limiting principle” to restrain runaway prosecution [Grossman/PoL, Kerr/Volokh, Hills/Prawfsblawg]
  • Because they’d never enact a law except to deal with a real problem: “Kentucky Prohibits First Responders from Dueling” [Lowering the Bar]

Don’t you mention that tax

The state of Kentucky enacted a new sales tax on the services of telecommunications companies. It also forbade the companies from breaking the tax out as a line item on customer’s bills — that might get people mad at the legislators, after all. The Sixth Circuit, Sutton, J., ruled that under the intermediate level of First Amendment scrutiny applied to limitations on commercial speech, the “no-stating-the-tax” provision was unconstitutional. (BellSouth v. Farris, Sept. 9).

October 22 roundup

  • Bulgarians employ “decoy lawyers” to get around corruption in official bureaus [Cowen, MargRev]
  • Forum-shopping vol. MMMCCXII: Taiwan company claims Apple broke California unfair-practices law so of course it sues in Texarkana [AppleInsider]
  • “U.S. produces far too many lawyers for society to absorb” and one reason is that law schools want warm seats on chairs [Greenfield]
  • Second Circuit: lawyers can’t buy their way out of sanctions for filing meritless lawsuit [Krauss, PoL]
  • Some reasons furor over free speech in Canada is relevant this side of the border [Bernstein @ Volokh]
  • We’re quoted on the subject of those websites that offer “point-and-click access to trial lawyers” [Business First of Columbus]
  • Tight lid kept on study of disposable diapers’ environmental impact since findings were … inconvenient [Times Online (U.K.) via Stuttaford]
  • Judge backs Kentucky’s bid to seize domains of online gambling sites, implications for everyone else [Balko, “Hit and Run”; earlier here and here]

October 9 roundup

  • Appeals court upholds Ted Roberts “sextortion” conviction [Bashman with lots of links, San Antonio Express-News]
  • Alito incredulous at FTC: you guys have failed to raise a peep about bogus tar & nicotine numbers for how long? [PoL]
  • Please, Mr. Pandit, do the country a favor and don’t litigate Citigroup’s rights to the utmost in the Wachovia-Wells Fargo affair [Jenkins, WSJ]
  • Docblogger Westby Fisher, hit with expensive subpoena over contents of his comments section, wonders whether it’s worth it to go on blogging [Dr. Wes, earlier]
  • “Title IX and Athletics: A Primer”, critical study for Independent Women’s Forum [Kasic/Schuld, PDF; my two cents]
  • Case of whale-bothering Navy sonar, often covered in this space, argued before high court [FoxNews.com]
  • More on Kentucky’s efforts to seize Internet domain names of online gambling providers [WaPo, earlier]
  • Exposure to pigeon droppings at Iraq ammo warehouse doesn’t seem to have affected worker’s health, but it was disgusting and she’s filed a False Claims Act lawsuit against private contractor for big bucks [St. Petersburg Times, Patricia Howard, USA Environmental; but see comment taking issue]

September 29 roundup

  • Watch where you click: “Kentucky (secretly) commandeers world’s most popular gambling sites” [The Register/OUT-LAW]
  • Erin Brockovich enlists as pitchwoman for NYC tort firm Weitz & Luxenberg [PoL roundup]
  • U.K.: “Millionaire Claims Ghosts Caused Him to Flee His Mortgage, I Mean Mansion” [Lowering the Bar]
  • Prosecution of Lori Drew (MySpace imposture followed by victim’s suicide) a “case study in overcriminalization” [Andrew Grossman, Heritage; earlier; some other resources on overcriminalization here, here, and here]
  • Exonerated Marine plans to sue Rep. John Murtha for defamation [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
  • Snooping on jurors’ online profiles? “Everything is fair game” since “this is war”, says one jury consultant [L.A. Times; earlier]
  • Allentown, Pa. attorney John Karoly, known for police-brutality suits, indicted on charges of forging will to obtain large chunk of his brother’s estate; “Charged with the same offenses are J.P. Karoly, 28, who is John Karoly’s son, and John J. Shane, 72, who has served as an expert medical witness in some of John Karoly’s cases.” [Express-Times, AP, Legal Intelligencer]
  • School safety: “What do the teachers think they might do with the Hula-Hoop, choke on it?” [Betsy Hart, Chicago Sun-Times/Common Good]

Hot coffee data point: Thomas Skaggs v. Pilot Travel Center

If you recall, the theory of defenders of the McDonald’s coffee case was that McDonald’s, and only McDonald’s, served coffee so hot as to burn, and thus merited special disapprobation.

As Overlawyered readers know, that just ain’t so. The recommended serving temperature of coffee can cause third-degree burns; coffee-drinkers prefer coffee that is that hot. Thus, lots of vendors sell coffee that causes third-degree burns when spilled.

Add to that list the Pilot Travel Center truck stop in Mount Sterling, which is the defendant in a Kentucky suit brought by Thomas Skaggs, who says he spilled coffee on his leg in December and got a third-degree burn. The skimpy press coverage on WLKY.com gives no further details other than an unimpressive photo.