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Florida

Politics roundup

by Walter Olson on April 11, 2014

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The charts in this Washington Post article get steadily more interesting as they go along, and the most informative is the last: the top nine states or state-equivalents for per-capita medical malpractice outlays are, in order, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. Basically, that describes the Boston-Washington corridor with the exception of Delaware (Vermont makes for an even more notable break in the pattern because its outlays are among the lowest.) Most states outside the Northeast have reformed their malpractice law; most states in the Northeast have too powerful a trial lawyers’ lobby to let that happen.

Fortunately for residents of the rest of the country, the inconveniences of an unreformed high-litigiousness system — things like $100,000 premiums for doctors with good records who practice high-risk specialties — seem mostly to be borne by residents of the states in question. Overall, incidentally, as the chart previous to that shows, national payouts went through a decade-long decline but now have resumed climbing.

Until recently, Florida would have been a likely pick when enumerating states with the highest medical malpractice exposure, but the Sunshine State legislature finally got tired of being a target of the derision of the national medical profession and reformed its malpractice system. Or perhaps the better phrase would be, “thought it reformed”; the Florida Supreme Court, dominated by justices cozily allied with the plaintiff’s bar in re-election campaigns, just annihilated that reform. No one will be particularly surprised if Florida vaults up to top-ten status in future payout lists.

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Town installs traffic cam by hospital emergency room, snags patient rushing in with coronary symptoms. The judge is no help, either. [Marianela Toledo, Florida Watchdog via Fergus Hodgson, PanAm Post]

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Medical roundup

by Walter Olson on March 14, 2014

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Speed traps paved the way to corruption in tiny Hampton, Fla., critics say [CNN] More: Lowering the Bar.

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  • New insight into Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) casts doubt on criminal convictions [Radley Balko, earlier here, etc.]
  • “The Shadow Lengthens: The Continuing Threat of Regulation by Prosecution” [James Copland and Isaac Gorodetski, Manhattan Institute]
  • Police busts of “johns” thrill NYT’s Kristof [Jacob Sullum, earlier on the columnist]
  • Sasha Volokh series on private vs. public prisons [Volokh]
  • “Police agencies have a strong financial incentive to keep the drug war churning.” [Balko on Minnesota reporting]
  • Forfeiture: NYPD seizes innocent man’s cash, uses it to pad their pensions [Institute for Justice, Gothamist] “Utah lawmakers quietly roll back asset forfeiture reforms” [Balko] “The Top 6 Craziest Things Cops Spent Forfeiture Money On” [IJ video, YouTube]
  • After Florida trooper nabbed Miami cop for driving 120 mph+, 80 officers accessed her private info [AP]

“Patrick Coulton’s lawyers ripped him off to the tune of $275,000 and left him to rot in prison.” But few stories end this way: he’s living in one of the former lawyers’ houses. [Sun-Sentinel, auto-plays video]

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Bullet overflight

by Walter Olson on February 7, 2014

Does it violate your rights when someone’s flying bullet enters your property? Should the law attempt to prohibit that? Or does it depend on the setting and customary land uses in the community? [Insurance Journal on Fla. law]

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Meet the lawyer who sued the Fort Lauderdale Bridge Club in a dispute over its having ended his membership. The club proceeded to declare bankruptcy under his courtroom onslaught: “Since then there have been more than 600 docket entries in the bankruptcy case as Rosen pursued numerous motions and litigation.” [Joe Patrice/Above the Law, Daily Business Report]

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December 18 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 18, 2013

  • California judge tells three large companies to pay $1 billion to counties under highly novel nuisance theory of lead paint mostly sold long ago [Business Week, The Recorder, Legal NewsLine, IB Times]
  • Coincidence? California given number one “Judicial Hellhole” ranking in U.S. Chamber report, followed by Louisiana, NYC, West Virginia, Illinois’ Metro-East and South Florida [report in PDF; Daniel Fisher/Forbes (& thanks for mention of Overlawyered), Legal NewsLine]
  • Frivolous ethics charge filed by Rep. Louise Slaughter, Common Cause and Alliance for Justice against Judge Diane Sykes over Federalist Society appearance is quickly dismissed [Jonathan Adler]
  • On heels of San Antonio Four: “Texas pair released after serving 21 years for ‘satanic abuse’” [Guardian, Scott Greenfield]
  • White House delayed onerous regulations till after election; Washington Post indignant about the delay, not the regs [WaPo, Thomas Firey/Cato]
  • “GM vs Bankruptcy – How Autoworkers Became More Equal Than Others” [James Sherk, Bloomberg]
  • According to one study, North America’s economically freest state isn’t a state, but a Canadian province [Dan Mitchell]
  • “If you thought it wasn’t possible to lower the bar for lawyer advertising, of all things, you were wrong.” [Lowering the Bar, first and second round]

Medical roundup

by Walter Olson on November 13, 2013

  • Pressure from HHS leads day cares to ban practice of baby-swaddling, and not everyone’s pleased about that [Abby Schachter, Reason]
  • “If Big Pharma likes your healthcare plan, you can keep it” [Tim Carney]
  • For “those of us with polycystic kidney disease… stringent FDA regulation seems to be taking away hope” [Bill Brazell, Atlantic] And: speaking of the FDA, “Dallas Buyers Club Is a Terrific Libertarian Movie” [David Boaz, Cato] Also: New Peter Huber book, “The Cure in the Code: How 20th Century Law Is Undermining 21st Century Medicine” [Basic/Manhattan Institute, Wired]
  • $7,440 annual expected loss per hospital bed in Florida vs. $810 in Minnesota, and other med-mal loss statistics [Becker's Hospital Review via TortsProf]
  • Charge: black lung defense firm finds ways to conceal medical expert reports from adversaries [Center for Public Integrity via Joe Patrice, Above the Law]
  • Prescribing drugs for off-label uses is perfectly legal, but Johnson & Johnson will pay $2.2 billion for promoting the practice [Ann Althouse]
  • Jury awards $4 million legal malpractice verdict against prominent D.C.-based plaintiff’s firm [Richmond Times-Dispatch via White Coat]
  • “Can You Secretly Record the Medical-Legal Exam?” [Eric Turkewitz]

Seeking help with an auto accident claim, Robert Friedrich was in a meeting with an attorney at a personal injury law firm in 2003 when a chair collapsed under him. He won a $2.2 million jury verdict against the law firm of Fetterman & Associates and a retailer that sold the chair, but an appeals court directed a verdict against him, finding a lack of needed causation. Now the Florida Supreme Court has reinstated the verdict [Legal Profession Prof, ABA Journal, earlier]

Perhaps the most remarkable passage in the ABA Journal’s coverage:

An expert for Friedrich said an inspection should have revealed the “weak joint” in the chair blamed for the collapse and said it should be standard procedure for businesses to test chairs every six months, the court recounts. An expert for the law firm said the only test for defects in chairs is to sit in them, and no other test would have revealed the defect that caused the Friedrich accident. …

A dissenting judge would have upheld the directed verdict against Friedrich. Even if the jury agreed that businesses should inspect chairs every six months, the dissenting judge said, there was insufficient evidence to prove that an inspection would have revealed the defect in the chair at issue.

Commenter DKJA at the ABA Journal writes:

So every business in Florida now has to “inspect” every piece of furniture every six months in perpetuity?

Maybe we should just replace all furniture with beanbag chairs. Although I’m sure someone would figure out how to injure themselves on one of them as well.

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It’s being litigated contentiously in a Florida courtroom. After the lad got a D in an Honors algebra class and his family filed extensive protests, the school transferred him to an easier class. That generated a new grievance in turn: “He’s just not being challenged,” the “mathlete”‘s lawyer-father says now. [Orlando Sentinel]

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Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on October 3, 2013

  • University of Montana professors who refuse Title IX training to be reported to federal government [FIRE, more, Missoulian] Professor yanked from public-university classroom over offensive out-of-class tweet [Popehat, Peter Bonilla/FIRE]
  • Preacher/historical fantasist/horrible human being Scott Lively has probably accomplished more actual evil in life than the picketers of the Westboro Baptist Church, yet it raises disturbing First Amendment questions to let him be sued in U.S. court for having urged foreign governments to be more oppressive [NBC News]
  • Speaking of wacky preachers, Florida sheriff says Terry Jones arrested for unlawful fuel transport and open gun carry, not because anyone disagreed with his speech [Orlando Sentinel, Volokh]
  • Critical speech annoys elected officials and that’s one reason we keep having to fight about campaign regulation [Barton Hinkle, Brad Smith on McCutcheon case, Ilya Shapiro on Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus]
  • Minnesota: “Ban on ‘Advis[ing or] Encourag[ing] … Another’ to Commit Suicide Violates First Amendment” [Eugene Volokh] Pennsylvania: “Crime to ‘Disparag[e]‘ an Under-18-Year-Old ‘With Intent to Harass’?” [same] Liking Facebook page presumptively protected speech [same] Veto override fails, so Missouri won’t enact proposed ban on publishing names of gun owners or concealed carry permit holders [same, followup]
  • Danish-Iranian artist convicted of “racism” after critical comments re: Muslim men [Copenhagen Post via @ClaudiaHajian]

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Police and prosecution roundup

by Walter Olson on September 30, 2013

  • Stop and bleed: Tennessee rolls out “no refusal” blood-draw DUI driver checkpoints, which already go on in Texas [WTVF, Reddit, Tom Hunter/Liberal America, Charles "Brad" Frye (Texas practice)]
  • Issues raised by growing practice of placing government “monitors” inside businesses to police compliance [Veronica Root, Prawfs]
  • “Faulty Justice: Italian Earthquake Scientist Speaks Out against His Conviction” [Scientific American]
  • California: suit could probe patterns of harassment against Orange County officials who’ve resisted police union demands [Krayewski, earlier]
  • Illinois “[makes] it a felony to flick cigarette butts onto streets for the third time” [Gideon's Trumpet]
  • Before making laws intended to benefit sex workers, take time to listen to them [Popehat via Maggie McNeill]
  • Report: state of Florida investigating Zimmerman prosecutor Angela Corey over sacking of alleged whistleblower [Washington Times, earlier] “A Visitor’s Guide to Florida’s Most Notorious Law Enforcement Agencies” [Mike Riggs, Atlantic Cities]

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September 3 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 3, 2013

  • The bureaucracy in India brings Gilbert & Sullivan to life: “He has been corresponding with himself for the last 26 days as an officer wearing different hats.” [Deccan Chronicle via @tylercowen]
  • “Certificate of Need” laws: “You Shouldn’t Have to Ask Your Competitors for Permission to Start a Business” [Ilya Shapiro]
  • No massive shift to arbitration clauses in franchise world since SCOTUS rulings [Peter Rutledge and Christopher Drahozal via Alison Frankel; Andrew Trask]
  • Evergreen headline in slightly varying forms: “Anti-abuse group’s director quits after arrest in assault” [Sacramento Bee; related here, here, etc.]
  • Economic liberalization increases growth [Alex Tabarrok]
  • “With Auto Amber Alerts, We’re Opted In By Default To A ‘Little Brother’ Surveillance Society” [Kashmir Hill]
  • How Florida trial lawyers plan to crack the tobacco-verdict vault [Daniel Fisher]

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July 18 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 18, 2013

  • “This is just stunning. DOJ is soliciting tips from the public in order to build a case against a single citizen.” [@radleybalko, William Jacobson, @andrewmgrossman] Apparently, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has the power to remove prosecutor Angela Corey from office, and her post-verdict description of Zimmerman as “murderer” is the sort of unprofessionalism that might advance that day [Ian Tuttle with much more about her career, earlier] Ken doesn’t hold back from telling us what he thinks of Nancy Grace [Popehat, earlier]
  • Washington Post covers USDA mandate of disaster plan for magicians’ rabbits [Lowering the Bar, David Fahrenthold/WaPo, earlier]
  • “Joel Tenenbaum’s $675,000 Music Downloading Fine Upheld” [AP]
  • “Hey look, an actual Third Amendment case” may be premature regarding this Nevada dispute, especially if we’re not sure cops = soldiery [Ilya Somin]
  • “Why The State Attorneys General’s Assault On Internet Immunity Is A Terrible Idea” [Eric Goldman, Forbes]
  • Connecticut: “Supreme Court Upholds $2.9 Million Award For Injured Bicyclist” [Courant]
  • The ABA’s annual Blawg 100 nominations are now open, in case, you know, (nudge)

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