“A Colorado man, despite acknowledging that he’s lucky to be alive after being trapped in a submerged car, has filed an intent to sue his rescuers for half a million dollars.” Roy Ortiz says “he needs help paying medical bills,” and his attorney Ed Ferszt adds, perhaps not entirely helpfully, “It’s unfortunate to have to try and cast liability and responsibility for this act of God on the men and women who risked their own lives.” [ABC, CBS Denver, The Denver Channel, Broomfield Enterprise]
WordPress is fighting back. [its blog via BoingBoing, Popehat] Will YouTube? [Popehat re: Colorado assembly hopeful]
Next time someone says big money calls all the shots in American politics, remember that an 8-1 money advantage fueled by Michael Bloomberg and other national donors wasn’t enough to save the seats of two lawmakers who’d helped push a gun-control package through the Colorado Senate, thus infuriating constituents in a marginal Colorado Springs district and in the blue-collar Democratic stronghold of Pueblo. [Denver Post, David Kopel, Volokh Conspiracy, The Denver Channel]
Meanwhile, New York City Democratic primary voters decided against nominating whited sepulcher Eliot Spitzer as the city’s next comptroller, thus foiling Spitzer’s plan to get his hands on billions of pension fund dollars with which to engage in grandstanding and litigation [WABC, Lawrence Cunningham]
P.S. Less happily, voters in Richmond, Calif. are going to let the city administration proceed with a scheme to seize underwater mortgages by use of eminent domain [Daniel Fisher, more, earlier]
“At the risk of losing their homes if they didn’t, scores of Colorado homeowners struggling to avoid foreclosure in the past year were each forced to pay hundreds of dollars in lawyer charges for phantom court cases against them, a Denver Post investigation has found.” In 126 of the episodes, the paper reports, no foreclosure lawsuit was actually filed. Related reporting on allegations against Colorado foreclosure law firms here, here, etc.
Along with the Colorado attorney general, various other law enforcers both state and federal are scrutinizing the billing practices of creditors’ law firms looking for evidence that they’ve been evading the fee and cost reimbursement limits for foreclosures that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA prescribe on loans they own, guarantee or insure. [Paul Jackson, Housing Wire via Funnell]
Here’s why: it turns out that many of the major law firms responsible for managing foreclosures for the GSEs also have a controlling interest in the ancillary service firms that generate the variable fees that appear as “costs” on the lawyer’s bill. Many law firms either outright own, or their partners have a significant interest in, the company that is posting and publishing notices; or they may own or have an interest in the company that manages process of service, as well.
Such arrangements are not illegal, but could land the firms and mortgage servicers in hot water if it develops that they have connived at fee padding by the ancillary firms. (& welcome Above the Law readers). More: Heather Draper, Denver Business Journal (and thanks for quote).
It seems Colorado lawmakers are given special license plates that don’t get speed-camera tickets or parking ticket collections. [CBS Denver] Five years ago the Orange County Register reported that hundreds of thousands of state and local employees, spouses and children in California were covered by programs allowing them to exclude their addresses from the system, supposedly to safeguard them against criminal threat — though a great many of the jobs were exceedingly low-risk — with the incidental benefit that toll and red-light-ticket collectors could not reach them, and many parking tickets were left unenforced as well. “This has happened despite warnings from state officials that the safeguard is no longer needed because updated laws have made all DMV information confidential to the public.”
The Colorado Supreme Court, wisely resisting a national campaign of school funding litigation, has turned down a lawsuit arguing that the state is obliged under its constitution to step up school spending. [Denver Post, KDVR, opinion in State v. Lobato]
I’ve got a post up at Cato at Liberty about the Colorado decision, noting that although school finance litigators make a lot of noise about educational quality, they are actually on a mission of “control —specifically, transferring control over spending from voters and their representatives to litigators whose loyalty is to a mix of ideologues and interest groups sharing a wish for higher spending.” I quote from a section on school finance litigation that I wound up cutting from my book Schools for Misrule about the enormous impact such suits have had in other states:
Vast sums have been redistributed as a result. Lawmakers in Kentucky enacted more than a billion dollars in tax hikes. New Jersey adopted its first income tax. Kansas lawmakers levied an additional $755 million in taxes after the state’s high court in peremptory fashion ordered them to double their spending on schools.
The results have been at best mixed: while some states to come under court order have improved their educational performance, many others have stagnated or fallen into new crisis. Colorado is fortunate not to join their ranks. (& reprint: Complete Colorado)
P.S. From a Colorado Springs Gazette report, Jul. 31, 2011:
“Putting more money into a broken system won’t get a better results. There are improvements that could be made without money,” says Deputy Attorney General Geoffrey Blue. …
He points to a Cato Institute study that showed spending on education across the country has skyrocketed but test scores didn’t improve.
“That would mean that potentially every cent of the state budget would be shifted over to K-12 education,” says Blue, who heads the office’s legal policy and government affairs.
“…collects and distributes dead eagles and their parts.” [Jay Wexler, PrawfsBlawg] Earlier here, here, here, etc.
Yes, it’s a lawyer — and from a reasonably well-known New York firm at that — blaming the theater operator for the Aurora, Colo. attack [Abnormal Use ("It is interesting that Mr. Bern chose to say the 'primary responsibility' for the shooting lies with Cinemark. I would have probably placed the primary responsibility on the guy with the gun who was actually doing the shooting"), earlier; BBC]
Attorney Donald Karpel, representing a theatergoer, plans to sue the theater in Aurora, Colo., the doctors who prescribed medications for the killer, and Warner Brothers, for “rampant violence” in its Batman movie. [TMZ] Suits against movie studios, at least, unlikely to prevail, so let’s be thankful for small sanities [Reuters] “That a cinema should prepare to repel a concerted paramilitary attack is only reasonable In Times Like These.” [George Wallace] More: Ken at Popehat.
I’ll be joining host Krista Kafer at “Backbone America” this afternoon at 5:30 Mountain Time to discuss food nannyism in Mayor Bloomberg’s New York and elsewhere. It’s 710 on your dial.
Colorado really intends to regulate day-care centers to a fare-thee-well [Popehat, KKCO]
P.S. As Hans Bader rightly points out, the requirement that day cares publicly avow enthusiasm about diversity also gets into some troubling First Amendment territory of government-compelled speech.
According to the Colorado Civil Justice League, the decision by the state’s high court last fall in Volunteers of America v. Gardenswartz prohibits juries from learning the amounts actually paid, as opposed to “billed,” for medical services whose reimbursement is demanded in accident cases. The distinction is important because those who cover medical bills in practice (e.g., health insurers with their bulk buying clout) often pay much lower sums than the “rack rates” that hospitals and others officially charge (more on HB 1106, which would restore the evidence of paid as well as billed amounts).
P.S. As Jack Leyhane notes, the Colorado controversy is related to, though not identical with, the longstanding controversy over the “collateral source” rule, which provides that payments by third parties to a plaintiff over an injury will not reduce or offset the liability of a tortfeasor. “It is the lien or subrogation rights of third parties — [which] vary widely from state to state — that make sweeping generalities about the collateral source rule difficult to formulate.”