A guestblogger will be joining us momentarily, and I’ll be posting less over the holidays. Meanwhile, my pipeline is still backed up with items from the past year that deserve a more serious treatment than a hurried roundup mention permits. Here are four of them:
- More docs moving to Texas? Watch out, they must be quacks! After the New York Times reported that doctors seemed to be showing fresh interest in practicing in Texas since its enactment of litigation reforms, our frequent sparring partner Eric Turkewitz of New York Personal Injury Law Blog quickly countered by noting that disciplinary actions in the state are way up, and — quite a jump here — concluded with a suggestion that the newly arriving docs must be causing quality problems. Among bloggers who took this idea and ran with it: Phillip Martin of Burnt Orange Report. Then Prof. Childs had to spoil the fun by asking whether the doctors being disciplined were in fact newcomers to the state and found that, to judge by an initial sampling, no, they’re not. And the medical blogs then knocked the remaining props out from under the reform-made-care-worse theory by linking to coverage documenting how the increase in disciplinary actions reflected the Texas medical board’s concerted recent effort to get tough on doctors — too tough, said many critics. In other words, the Texas medical profession was doing exactly what many skeptics demanded it do — submit to stricter oversight in exchange for liability reform — and now that very submission was being cited as if it proved that standards of care were slipping.
- Uninjured car owners can sue GM over seatbacks. No class members claim to have been injured, but Maryland appeals court allows class action over cost of replacing allegedly weak seatbacks in GM cars. [DLA Piper; opinion, PDF; Maryland Courts Watcher]
- The litigious stylings of Jonathan Lee Riches. We mostly ignore litigants who file handwritten pleadings from prison cells complaining of obviously hallucinated events, but there’s no getting around it: the South Carolina convict has become a pop culture phenomenon with his scores of lawsuits against sports figures, President Bush, Perez Hilton, William Lerach and Elvis Presley over a host of imagined legal injuries. Some of the coverage: The Smoking Gun, Dreadnaught, Deadspin, Justia, Above the Law. He even has several Facebook fan groups.
- Taxpayers and vaccine-compensation lawyers. Under the federally enacted vaccine-compensation program, notes Kathleen Seidel, “a petitioner who brings a claim in good faith is entitled to reimbursement for reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, regardless of whether the claim is successful.” (Forget about loser-pays; this ensures that taxpayer-defendants can win but pay the other side’s fees anyway.) What sorts of bills do you think attorneys file for reimbursement under those circumstances? Yep, very optimistic bills, in which they expect taxpayers to shell out for their attendance at “advocacy group meetings, and attendance at a conference of trial lawyers representing autism plaintiffs”. In this case, HHS successfully appealed (PDF) an order that it pay the fees. Seidel’s Neurodiversity blog offers a remarkable trove of insight into litigation relating to autism causation theories, vaccines and thimerosal, and this post is no exception. (Updated to include links.)