Britain: “The government is to ban referral fees in personal injury claims in an attempt to curb the ‘compensation culture’. It says the current system in which personal injury details are sold on by insurance companies to lawyers has led to rising insurance costs.” [BBC]
Eugene Volokh, Michael Cannon and Ed Morrissey react to the Secretary’s announcement that her Department of Health and Human Services will show “zero tolerance” for regulated health insurers who inflict “misinformation” on the public in the course of blaming ObamaCare for rate increases. More: Monday WSJ editorial (“Zero tolerance for expressing an opinion, or offering an explanation to policyholders? They’re more subtle than this in Caracas.”) And Michael Cannon at Cato at Liberty has a further roundup post of reactions.
How litigious can insurance companies be when they find themselves in the plaintiff’s seat during the process known as subrogation? This litigious, per Patrick at Popehat.
A compulsory subpoena could follow if they don’t fork over information on “compensation of highly paid employees” and “expenses stemming from any event held outside company facilities in the past 2 1/2 years”, among other topics. As AP notes, industries that vocally support, rather than oppose, health care reform aren’t targets of the investigation. More: Politico.
Their lawyers are locked in a dispute over who gets to use the phrase “aha moment”. [L.A. Times, Omaha World-Herald, Yakima Herald-Republic]
I discuss a silly new lawsuit at Secular Right; those who would like a more thorough treatment should check out what Eugene Volokh has to say.
Coyote also points to this page, which magically promises simultaneously to reduce health premiums while requiring insurers to cover pre-existing conditions and doing lots of other generous stuff. Total discussion of medical liability issues consists of the following bullet point:
Prevent insurers from overcharging doctors for their malpractice insurance and invest in proven strategies to reduce preventable medical errors.
Yes, because suppressing current malpractice insurance rates by adopting artificially rosy premises as to future payouts worked out so well when tried in New York. Update Monday: transition yanks entire “Agenda”, this section and others.
The Andrew Cuomo (as HUD secretary) connection (Wayne Barrett, “Andrew Cuomo and Fannie and Freddie”, Village Voice, Aug. 5)(via Bader, who has much more). I have more on the credit crisis here, here, and here at Point of Law.
Related: Jack Shafer has a bipartisan list of Fannie Mae friends.
On June 1, 1998, Clark Seeley left the house while leaving Pop-Tarts heating in a toaster. Poor decision: there was a fire in the unattended toaster, and his house was damaged. Seeley blames not himself, but the toaster manufacturer. (The press doesn’t mention it, but Seeley’s insurance company initiated the suit before apparently settling.) The story is in the news now because (paging Peter Nordberg) the judge (probably correctly) held Wednesday that an expert’s study that a frosted-sugar pastry could conceivably start a toaster fire was admissible because it was falsifiable. The real question is why a court has let this case get to the stage where parties need to hire lawyers to supervise and submit reports from frosted-sugar pastry experts. (Michael Virtanen, “Judge Allows Expert on Pop-Tarts To Testify in Flaming Pastry Lawsuit”, AP/NY Sun, Dec. 17; Liberty Mutual Ins. v. Hamilton-Beach, 1:99-cv-01162-LEK-DRH (N.D.N.Y.)) The maker of Pop-Tarts was not sued, perhaps because the box warns consumers not to leave pastries unattended in the toaster. (Sean Carter, “Pop-torts”, November 2, 2001). Previous suit: Jul. 30, 2001. Update: New York Lawyer weighs in. (John Caher, “Engineer Ruled Expert Witness in Flaming Pop-Tart Case”, Dec. 21).
Or, “Not only loose lips sink ships.”
Bloggers Grace and Wallace point us to the tale of the infamous (and now suspended) attorney Rex DeGeorge, which has important lessons how the plaintiffs’ bar has made insurance more expensive for all of us: because insurers who suspect fraud risk substantial liability for “bad faith” denial of coverage (e.g., May 5, where an insurer who merely investigated an $8,000 chiropractor’s bill was hit with a $150,000 judgment), insurance scamsters can manipulate the system by threatening a suit. For an individual case, simply defending the non-payment may be more expensive than making the payment; even on a systematic basis, the risk of losing a case and facing punitive damages can put insurers in a bind. This is lengthy, but worth it.
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